Doncaster’s newly elected mayor

// 7 June 2009

In among the many elections held last week, Doncaster elected Peter Davies from the fringe, hard right ‘English Democrats’ party as mayor.

The right-winger ran on an ‘English devolution’ and anti-political correctness platform, and the party wants to withdraw from international conventions protecting refugees. Davies has already said he will “stop translation services for immigrants”.

On their website, the fringe party have only three key issues listed: 1) Immigration, 2) English Identity, 3) The EU, 4) Political Correctness

And he’s barely in office before ‘promising’ to slash funding for Doncaster Pride:

Peter Davies, of the English Democrats, said: “My policy on gays and lesbians is very simple.

“I don’t think councils should be spending money on them parading through town advertising their sexuality.”

Doncaster Pride said the event, which attracts up to 8,000 people, would still take place on 16 August.

A statement from the Doncaster Pride Committee said: “We believe everyone has a right to their opinion and if the newly elected mayor of Doncaster holds personal opinions about the staging of a Pride event in the borough we feel he is entitled to that view.

The simple message is the show goes on…with or without support from Doncaster council

Doncaster Pride statement

“However, in the last two years we have brought over 6,000 visitors into Doncaster and anticipate an audience this year of up to 8,000.

“These people spend money in Doncaster and come to enjoy a great day out.”

The organisers said they had received “massive support” from other agencies, including South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Yorkshire Police, the Home Office and a number of trade unions.

In the BBC’s story, the chair of the party unironically calls him “the Boris Johnson of the north”.

The only bright spot might be that, according to the Guardian, his policies during the campaign included: “reducing councillors’ numbers by two thirds to 21 (which he almost certainly has no power to do) and holding a referendum on whether his own post should exist.”

Comments From You

Emme Erics // Posted 7 June 2009 at 4:17 pm

Oh oh, this might be slightly off topic – but did you hear? ABBA’s Benny gave about 125 Thousand Dollars to support the campaign of the Feminist Initiative party in Sweden. How cool is that?

polly styrene // Posted 7 June 2009 at 7:41 pm

I think the cuts to the Doncaster pride aren’t quite as alarming as the cuts to translation services personally.

I don’t see – on a side issue – how this is legal anyway, but certainly some of the most vulnerable women in the UK are those who don’t speak English as a first language. They can be incredibly isolated if they are, for example, experiencing domestic violence, and it’s vital they can get good advice on issues like benefits and housing.

This isn’t about ‘political correctness’ it’s about saving lives in a lot of cases.

Jess McCabe // Posted 7 June 2009 at 8:27 pm

I agree, it’s an alarming development as the translation services exist to make sure everyone is able to access basic services.

This isn’t about ‘political correctness’ it’s about saving lives in a lot of cases.

Indeed, it’s obvious that all this disparaging talk of ‘political correctness’ is a euphemistic way of complaining about efforts being made to restructure society, or culture, or language, or government, so it’s not just purely concerned with and catering for white men (in this case, given their focus, I guess I should add English-speaking and whose ancestors are nominally English…)

karen // Posted 7 June 2009 at 9:10 pm

Thats funny, I thought they had got rid of section 28 of the Local Government act, regarding “promotion of sexuality”. I feel sorry for Doncaster, Burnley, Lancashire and Leicestershire as some of their residents have been foolish enough to elect extremists. This and the increasing acceptibility of degrading and pornification of women in this country, does anyone know know a women-friendly country I can take my skills to? No, didn’t think so somehow.

Schnee // Posted 8 June 2009 at 6:51 am

Emme – That’s totally brilliant, we need men like Benny from Abba to balance out the Clarksons.

Karen – I’ve found the part of Canada I live in (West Coast) RELATIVELY woman friendly (apart from the appalling over-use of the term, ‘you guys’) but good luck with using your skills here. A piece of research published last week showed pretty damn clearly that they only value Canadian work experience, a finding born out by my own experience and that of many, many others.

It’s beyond scary that someone could be referred to as the Boris Johnson of the north without wanting to sue someone else for libel. What a horror, and how easily the fragile rights we do have as women will be eroded.

polly sytrene // Posted 8 June 2009 at 8:18 am

Try Sweden Karen. It’s about your best bet. And the Swedes I’ve met are lovely. And Abba are feminists. Hurrah!

phil // Posted 8 June 2009 at 10:57 am

Thanks for blogging about this. I was visiting my parents in Doncaster this weekend and we were all fairly despondant at this result. The announcement that he doesn’t intend to fund Pride comes as no surprise – it was listed as an ‘aim’ underneath his manifesto (alongside the halting of funding for IDAHO, Gay History Month, International Women’s Week, Black History Month, etc). I think one of the most telling of his manifesto pledges was the removal of ‘politically correct non-jobs’ and encouragement of those in them to go and get ‘meaningful employment’. How this will play out is anyone’s guess, but it might not be too long before DMBC finds itself on the wrong end of the DDA or similar. Doncaster and the people of Doncaster deserve better than this.

Butterflywings // Posted 8 June 2009 at 12:58 pm

Abba are feminists! YAY!

Sue E // Posted 8 June 2009 at 6:51 pm

OMG what has happend to Doncaster – I fear we are going to be the laughing stock of the country yet again.

woody // Posted 9 June 2009 at 1:03 am

Classifying the English Democrats as hard-right is a misnomer. Many of their policies on devolving power to local councils and mayor’s are broadly in line with that of the liberal democrats. England achieving a level of devolution comparible with Scotland hardly seems a hard-right agenda either.

phil // Posted 9 June 2009 at 8:59 am

Woody, I suspect that it’s not the devolution platform which makes people suspect the party of far-right leanings. Cherry picking a few relatively anodyne proposals from a much more illiberal and xenophobic series of commitments will not wash the dirt away.

Aside from this, the man used to teach at my old 6th form. To be honest I’m surprised he isn’t BNP.

woody // Posted 9 June 2009 at 7:21 pm

@ Phil. Possibly a fair point, but the English Parliament, devolution is the raison d’etre of the party as far as I can ascertain hence the name and the links to CEP etc

If there was an English parliament [or something similar] and large scale devolution would this party have a unique selling point?

Possibly not, but its noticeable that this party has emerged since Labour’s 1997 constitutional changes. If the settlement hadn’t been un-even in relation to the different nations in the UK would this party have even been formed? I suspect not.

Right wing – yes, albeit devolution was part of the original Labour founding principles

Hard right – I wouldn’t say so. As far as I can tell the EDs are Tories with a devolution agenda whereas UKIP are Tories with an anti-EU agenda. I wouldn’t classify ED with BNP … they are quite different.

JenniferRuth // Posted 10 June 2009 at 9:10 am

Listen to Toby Foster at Sheffield BBC take Peter Davies to task here (at about the 2hour mark):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p003994x/The_Toby_Foster_Bigger_at_Breakfast_Show_08_06_2009/

Foster rips Davies policies apart! A taster:

TF: Well, I mean… these are the reasons people voted for you. Very bold points, as you said. Er, you’re going to cut translation services for non-English speakers – that’s a very bold point. It’s more than likely illegal, isn’t it?

PD: I dunno… again, I’ve got to find this out. It’s-

TF: Well it is – let me tell you it is, under the European Court of Human Rights it’s illegal.

AND

TF: The Gay Pride march. 8,000 people in town for a day.

PD: I don’t know. They can still come. There’s nobody stopping them coming.

TF: So you don’t know what it costs, you don’t know what it earns, but you’re banning it?

PD: I’m saying that… hard-pressed taxpayers money should not be spent on promoting any type of sexuality whether it’s straight or gay.

TF: But for all you-, but for all you know it could be making a fortune for the town – you don’t know, you’ve not even looked at it.

This is WELL WORTH a listen!

Mike // Posted 11 June 2009 at 11:01 am

This is sadly another reason to be embarased about being from Doncaster but despite that Doncaster is a good place to be. It used to be said about Doncaster politics that the Labour Party could put up a donkey and it would get elected. The only thing that has changed is the Labour Party part of that saying. If it wasn’t the falling out in the Labour ranks then PD would not be the elected mayor of Doncaster. The Labour vote was split. Former Labour Party member and Deputy Mayor, Stuart Exleby stood on behalf of the Community Alliance instead of that groupings leader, taking votes away from Labour candidate Sandra Holland.

What seems strange about this whole business is that PD picked up a lot of protest votes with people not voting for the major parties because of MP’s expenses but it has been made known on facebook that PD was once a member of the Conservative Party and was expelled because of tax evasion. If this is true, how ironic is that?

Hannah // Posted 12 June 2009 at 12:02 pm

I’m glad some-one posted the Toby Foster Interview!

I’m from doncaster – but now in Essex at uni – to be honest i was very shocked at hearing the result! As we’re many! The Toby Foster interview was brilliant as it highlighted the fact that Peter Davies has never been a councillor before and therefore has no experiance, that he has very little support within the council, and that the majority of his promises are things he can’t deliver on! This is particularly true of cutting the number of councillors because, while he has no support he will not be able to get aggreement for the council losing their jobs.

I’m glad that F-word have posted this though! I’ll be interested to see in which direction he takes doncaster – and I hope he goes back on his word in terms of Pride funding and the translation services.

Just as a last comment on the translation services, in the interview Toby Foster said that it would be illegal to cut them. Later in the interview Peter Davies said that the law needs changing…

PD: No, look… I’m going to do my best to do it. If I can’t, I shall tell the electorate why I’ve not been able to do it, and who’s stood in the way of it. The-

TF: Well, the law’s standing in the way of it.

PD: -Just a minute, just a minute. The electorate clearly want me to do that. The law needs changing, then, doesn’t it?

TF: Well, you say the law needs changing-

I’m not sure I like the sound of that – changing the law would mean pulling out of the Council of Europe and forfeiting our human rights. As a human rights student I would fight all the way!

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