We are the dispossessed. Dispossessed of our liberties by the Norman Conquest. Dispossessed of our livelihoods by the enclosures. And now dispossessed by the Coalition as it flogs our communities’ assets to pay bankers their bonuses. Bonuses then spent squeezing us out of our homeland to make way for commuter mansions and weekend cottages. The speech of King Alfred is mocked as that of rustic idiots, while quislings in our councils try to gag users of our dialect. Today is St Aldhelm’s Day, still unacknowledged by the UK authorities as the feast day of our patron saint, as important to Wessex as St Andrew is to Scotland and St David is to Wales.
At least we can freely fly the flag of Wessex, the Wyvern, recently added to the Flag Institute’s UK Flag Registry, the first step towards its long-awaited official recognition. Surely we can?
No. We can’t. We can freely fly the Scottish flag in Wessex. Or the Welsh flag. Or the Cornish. Or the national flag of any country anywhere, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. But it is technically an offence to fly the Wessex flag in Wessex, unless planning permission has been obtained. Which can cost up to £335 and has to be renewed every five years.
This month the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, announced his “intention to launch a consultation to allow a wider variety of important and historic flags to be flown by people keen to celebrate their local and national heritage and culture”. We can’t wait. The last time the rules were reviewed, under Labour, county and saints’ flags were deregulated but regional flags were not. East Anglia’s flag, dating from the early 1900’s, has continued to be widely flown regardless. The Wessex flag is also flown by a growing number of individuals and organisations, including local councils. Labour, control-freakery at Warp 10, refused to decriminalise these harmless expressions of identity and continued to levy what is in effect a ‘stealth tax’ payable on our patriotism.
Pickles too has chosen his words with care: “local and national heritage”, not ‘regional’. His press release tells us that the Coalition will “make it easier for communities wanting to celebrate the contribution of our armed forces by easing rules on flying local regimental flags. Other local flags, and projects like environmental awards, could also all be freed up from existing bureaucratic restrictions.” The man himself says, “If people want to celebrate something that is important to them by flying a flag they should be able to do so without having to fill in forms or paying town hall officials for the privilege. We will make it easier for people to celebrate their allegiance to a cause, a county or a local organisation if they choose to do so.” The ‘R’ word we are looking for is still conspicuously missing. Ominously, the press release ends with the warning that any flags outside the extended categories will “continue to be prohibited without express consent.” No doubt Pickles, deluded fool that he is, genuinely believes that the United Kingdom is a model of human rights and democracy. One where it is expected that folk will ‘celebrate’ the contribution of the Queen’s Own British Murderers to the needless deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. But that it must remain out of the question to allow an oppressed minority the freedom to fly our own flag in our own land.
We can and will fight back. Fly your Wyvern with pride. Drop Pickles a line. Let him know that our region is here to stay. And that he cannot fine or jail everyone who cares for Wessex.
UPDATE 1: here
UPDATE 2: here
UPDATE 3: here