A Voice in Europe?

Postal ballot papers for the Euros have started to arrive, allowing some of us to see what ‘choice’, if any, the ‘democratic’ process has thrown up this time.

Although WR has contested European elections in the past, this was when the constituencies were smaller, single-member ones that did less damage to regional identity.  We have no candidates this time, having been systematically disadvantaged both geographically and financially.
The geography doesn’t help because the ‘regions’ used for the regional constituencies are still the (supposedly abolished) Prescott zones, not real regions with historic identities.  Wessex is split between two, the west added to Cornwall, the east embraced by the outer Londonian belt.
To contest two ‘regions’ would cost £10,000 in deposits before even a single leaflet could roll off the presses.  The election deposit is essentially a tax on smaller parties.  You get the money back if you poll more than 2.5% – but while you’re building up that support you’re repeatedly punished for having the nerve to challenge the established cartel.
Surely it would be worth it to get a party election broadcast though?  If only.  Stand in Scotland or Wales and you get your airtime even if you stand nowhere else.  Stand in one English ‘region’, or even two, and you don’t get a thing.  To qualify, you have to stand in all nine English ‘regions’.
That’s nonsense, of course.  It dismisses the whole point of a regional party.  Our audience is in Wessex, not Northumbria or East Anglia.  As Scotland and Wales show, there’s no technical reason why it can’t be done, since broadcasting in England still has a regional basis.  It’s pure ideological spite on the part of the London regime: a refusal to facilitate debate about the future of England, insisting that we are One – and that THEY are that One.
It would be possible to get round the rules by having some sort of ‘English regionalist list’, but why should it come to that?  It’s clearly not our business to stir up other parts of England that aren’t interested in rousing themselves.  And there’s no ‘Celtic nationalist list’, for good reason: the Celtic nations are all different, with different priorities.  And so are the English regions.  One thing we don’t want to do is play down our differences at the very point where proper constitutional accommodation of those differences is coming to be recognised as the real alternative to a dysfunctional UK dominated by London.
So you’re a Wessex Regionalist.  There’s no WR candidate.  Can you vote for any of the others?  Last time, in 2009, there was a Mebyon Kernow list in ‘The South West’, but that was a one-off.  MK were fortunate enough to find the funds to fight.  Despite polling 6.8% in Cornwall, they still lost their deposit because they weren’t so popular outside Cornwall.  Hardly surprising.  But hardly fair.  In the absence of both WR and MK, what about the Greens then?  Well, what about the Greens?
The Greens are not regionalists.  They may talk about ‘small is beautiful’ but they don’t practise it, preferring to remain organised as ‘the Green Party of England & Wales’ and putting up candidates against nationalists and regionalists whose policies are actually far more green than the Green Party’s.  (The Greens, for example, favour renationalisation of the railways, not the decentralised common ownership that is needed but simply a return to the catastrophe of micro-management from London, meaning London’s demands get priority treatment every time.)
Recently, the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, was spotted in Cornwall lending support to the campaign for an assembly there (rather as the FibDems did, long ago).  The Greens’ No 2 candidate for ‘The South West’, Emily McIvor, has a positive record on devolutionary issues.  But if you do vote Green, you won’t get Emily.
If the Greens are lucky, they will win one seat in ‘The South West’.  It would take a landslide to win two.  Which means that a vote for the Greens is not a vote for Emily but for the No 1 candidate, Molly Scott Cato, who currently leads the Green Group on Stroud District Council (but works in London).  And has a past.
In 1992, Cynog Dafis was elected as Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion & Pembroke North, with Green Party support.  The deal worked well enough for most members in both local parties, the Greens recognising that half an MP is better than no representation.  Not so Molly Scott Cato, who was one of the pact saboteurs who worked to break it.  An exasperated Dafis eventually withdrew from the deal, leaving the Greens with no presence in the House of Commons until the election of Caroline Lucas in 2010.
On his own website, Cato’s former partner, Chris Busby, explains the anti-pact campaign as motivated by a belief that the Blaid as a whole wasn’t green enough, on issues such as nuclear power or travellers’ rights.  However, a pamphlet co-authored by Busby, Cato and others in 1995, Nationalism in Wales, exposed the real agenda as one hostile to any way of thinking that failed to match their arrogant metropolitan prejudices.  (An example: they defined nationalism in Wales not empirically but by reference to selected dictionary definitions that enabled them to conflate it with Nazism.  Facts were not allowed to spoil their argument: the nationalists, obviously, were just concealing their true nature.)  Cato, settling in a community where Welsh was the normal medium of communication (and had been for many, many centuries), refused to learn the language and then complained of being lonely.  Given this track record, it is difficult to see her championing the cause of regional autonomy or cultural identity.  More a case of ‘save the world but sod the locals’.
Greens and regionalists share much in policy terms – and sit together in the European Parliament.  But they come to the same policies from very different starting points that must influence how those policies are understood and applied. 

Greens appear to have no concept of history, of being one part of a continuing local or regional story set in linear time and from which it is possible to learn useful things about the nature of the area.  Including its ecological nature.  According to Simon Schama, “Green politics is sited in the present and the future, with only the very remote past (at least in Europe) invoked as a sacred ancestor.”  This fits well the tired, post-war narrative of suppression that views all Europeans as incapable of making healthy use of their heritage.  (Interestingly, the intervening millennia of experience judged illegitimate are those not shared with the USA.)  The Greens, given their oft-alleged far-Right origins, are more sensitive than most to such accusations and therefore all the more keen to throw mud proactively.

Molly Scott Cato remains a fervent advocate of bio-regionalism, a neo-Jacobin project to erase all historic human communities and replace them with new identities defined solely by objective geographical resources.  For the Greens, ordinary humans are the problem, so their varied cultures obviously cannot be allowed to shape the universal solution.  Regionalism it may be, but not as we know it.  The question of power remains absent, especially the question of power projected from without.  Greens can be easily caricatured as those who have come to a community with the deliberate aim of undermining the sense of difference that attracted them in the first place, once that sense of difference demands anything of them in return.  Sometimes the caricature is really quite fair.
We have to conclude that there is no party standing in the Euro-elections in Wessex that we can support sufficiently to recommend a vote in its favour.  All to some extent oppose Wessex and desire its continued destruction by the London regime.  There is nothing concrete to suggest otherwise and therefore nothing to be gained by voting.
So you’re a Wessex Regionalist.  What do you do?  What you can do is the following (modified as necessary if yours is a postal vote).  Take a thick felt pen to the polling station.  Spread out the ballot paper.  Write WESSEX REGIONALIST across it.  Fold it, and place it in the ballot box.  Those supervising the count will notice such things: the papers end up in a separate pile.  Let’s aim for a record number of spoilt papers.  A wasted vote?  No.  A negative action?  Far from it.  Under the current electoral system, anti-democratic and centralist to the core, it is the only positive step we are allowed to take.

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