I see that my colleague, Duncan Borrowman, has been having a bit of trouble with the English Democrats. I don't intend to involve myself in that, apart from to associate myself with his response to them.
However, I note that the South East Area Chairman of the English Democrats has seen fit to write to representatives of each of the 'British' (his word, not mine) political parties, complaining about the behaviour of a number of named individuals and warning that they retain the right to seek the protection of the Race Relations Act against anyone who suggests that they might be racist and/or fascist.
I haven't had any experience of the English Democrats as a campaigning force, in part because I have spent my adulthood in areas where right-wing nationalism is unlikely to make much headway. Those of my colleagues who have are yet to be convinced that they are anything other than a reactionary party of the fringe right.
However, they do have one thing in common with some of history's less palatable political forces. The Nazi Party, as it rose to power, tended to use an increasingly corrupted legal system to hamstring political opponents, and dictatorships of left and right often used the law to persecute legitimate alternative movements.
Some might describe it as 'getting your retaliation in first'. Others might describe it as a desperate attempt by a bunch of fringe fanatics to gain a modicum of attention that their normal campaigning wouldn't achieve. Me, I think of it as an attempt to suppress potentially legitimate criticism. And you know, even the constitution of the German Democratic Republic, that well known democratic utopia that failed to survive the fall of communism, was constitutionally opposed to such an approach.
The English traditionally believe in a sense of fair play, of tolerance, a degree of give and take. Are the English Democrats therefore opposed to these fine attributes? And if so, might they like to remove the word English from their name?...