- While many may still think of it as the land of King Alfred or of Thomas Hardy, Wessex is an identity for today. Wessex Regionalists seek regional self-government – for Wessex.
- The problems local communities now face spill out beyond even the most generous local government boundaries. Central Government is too remote – and too busy – to deal with them. Instead, a complex patchwork of regional institutions has grown up: Government Offices for the Regions, Regional Development Agencies, arts councils, sports councils, planning conferences, tourist boards, and more, alongside regional offices even of those organisations that are organised for England as a whole. Unelected. Unaccountable. Undemocratic. And unacceptable.
- In Scotland and Wales, devolution has democratised the quangocracy. The unbalanced constitution that results from devolution in the Celtic countries cannot be re-balanced by an English Parliament. It would represent 83% of the UK population and fail completely to address the democratic deficit at regional level. The argument is sometimes heard that England, unlike continental countries with successful federal or regional structures, has no tradition of decentralised government. Wessex Regionalists respond that we should not be badly governed just because that is how things have been all the way back to 1066.
- Unfortunately, Central Government’s alternative would be worse even than an English Parliament: to cut England up arbitrarily into artificial regions like ‘the South West’ and ‘the South East’, areas first defined for civil defence purposes in 1938 and carried along by bureaucratic inertia ever since. The areas Central Government finds convenient for its organisation bear no relationship to where people feel they belong. Cornwall – an area with a strong sense of its Celtic national identity – is lumped in with ‘South West England’, while most of Hampshire is cut off from its traditional affinity with Dorset and Wiltshire and forced into a ‘South East England’ that has no identity whatsoever.
- Wessex can be seen to be the comparatively rural region lying west of London, east of Cornwall and south of the industrial Midlands. The boundaries of Wessex will be determined by its people. Provisionally, Wessex Regionalists see as the heartland of Wessex the six shires of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire Including the Isle of Wight), Somerset and Wiltshire but we recognise that Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire may choose to join this region in preference to becoming part of Mercia.
- We assert that the only region for Wessex is Wessex. The Wessex Regionalists alone of the political parties have consistently and clearly stated that vision. Our region has a unique sense of identity rooted in our distinct cultural heritage and it is not negotiable. Our identity could be our greatest asset, nourishing a real sense of place and purpose, providing a unifying element for the whole population. It must be supported and re-inforced through new institutions of democratic self-government that will give it a voice.
- The geographical position of Wessex means it is ideally placed to forge direct links to the other peoples of Europe. This would also allow us to bypass the dead hand of Westminster and its insular view of international relations which holds areas like Wessex back. Ours is an outward-looking region with maritime links to the countries of the Atlantic seaboard and beyond. For example, Hampshire is twinned with the région of Haute Normandie, and Dorset and Somerset with the Norman départements of Calvados and Orne respectively. We look forward to building on such traditions.
A regionalist government in Wessex will:
- defend the territorial integrity of Wessex and promote the region as a cultural community within England, Britain and Europe
- encourage local patriotism, actively seeking to identify with and preserve the geographical and cultural land and heritage of Wessex
- seek to ally itself, politically and economically, with other regions within Europe in defence of common interests and against those forces seeking to make Wessex more urbanised and industrialised
Meanwhile, the Wessex Regionalists will:
- continue to campaign at General and European elections
- seek cross-party support for the work of the Wessex Constitutional Convention in campaigning for regional self-government for Wessex and against its continuing partition into ‘South West’ and ‘South East’ regions
- support Wessex Society in its work of popularising the symbols of Wessex identity, culture and history.