The Wealth of Wessex


Here is a link to the case for Scottish independence, set out in maps and numbers.  The second map shows the extent to which the wealth of England, measured in GDP per head, is concentrated along the M4 corridor.  It’s our wealth: our answer to the claim that we all depend on London’s cleverness with noughts.  It’s a diverse wealth too, based on our natural resources as well as our talents.

The M4 corridor has been the engine of England’s real economy all the way back to the 80s.  When our constitutional policy document, The Statute of Wessex, appeared in its third impression, in 1996, we highlighted that three county areas in the M4 corridor (Avon, Wiltshire and Berkshire) had significantly above average GDP/head and that three in the peninsula (Devon, Dorset and Somerset) had significantly below average GDP/head.  The Isle of Wight came bottom in our list, below both Scotland and Wales.

The matching of high and low output areas within Wessex indicated then, as now, that as a whole it could be financially viable as a self-governing region of the future.  It was neither dependent on extreme and unsustainable wealth, as London is, nor poorly-resourced, as the former industrial regions are (and will continue to be until regional self-government gives them the powers they need to recover from the effects of centralism).  For ourselves, self-government offers the opportunity to spread the prosperity base wider within Wessex so that the lower output areas do not remain dependent retirement zones.  (Dividing GDP by population will inevitably tend to produce a below average figure so long as the economically inactive population are an above average proportion of the whole.  Reducing the influx of retirees has the same effect as increasing economic development, which is why control over our housing stock is so vital.)

Had Wessex responded at that time to the call for self-government we could by now be as rich as the Swiss and possessed of the best public services in the world.  Instead folk sat back and watched as that wealth was systematically squandered by the London regime.  On wars.  On bank bailouts.  On prestige projects that have rarely worked and are often of no conceivable benefit to Wessex.  And above all on maintaining the system of micro-managing local affairs from the centre for London’s benefit. 

The Scots are waking up to the fact that they’re being robbed.  We need to do the same.

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