Wessex Electricity, Wessex Trains, Wessex Water. All run by managements located solely in Wessex. All democratically accountable to a Wessex Witan. Interfering London lawmakers and exploitative global finance just a fading memory of less pleasant times.
We can dream. And why not? A poll last autumn showed that two-thirds of the public – including some Tories – want to see public services taken back into public ownership. One thing that transport and the utilities all have in common is a regional structure, so why not group them under regional assemblies? There has always been a huge potential synergy between the case for devolution and the case for renewed public ownership. The region – and its small nation equivalents – is the appropriate scale at which to rebuild our damaged democratic society.
What are the options?
Option 1 is a Labour government, scared of the City of London, that ignores public opinion, takes nothing into public ownership and – if past Labour governments are anything to go by – only speeds up the re-organisation of public services into foreign-owned profit centres.
Option 2 is a Labour government that attempts to re-run the 1940s, perhaps as part of a plan to re-invigorate ‘the nation’ in the aftermath of a ‘No’ vote in Scotland. Services are re-nationalised but under monolithic British or Englandandwales corporations run from London. Regional boards or offices, if they exist, are not really autonomous, their areas don’t match those used by other services and the folk they serve have no say over them except via Westminster and Whitehall.
Option 3 is a government, of any description, that devolves power to Wessex. It’s the scenario described in the opening lines above.
Options 1 and 2 are real possibilities, 1 far more so than 2. Option 3 is nothing but pure fantasy, if we expect Labour to deliver it. Like it or not, the only way it will be delivered is through the Wessex Regionalist Party. That will take time, of course, but no other way is possible. (Prove us wrong!)