After nearly eight centuries as a political unit, the Princely County of Tyrol was dismembered at the end of the First World War. Today, North Tyrol and East Tyrol form the federal state of Tyrol within Austria. Separating them is South Tyrol, part of an autonomous region within Italy that goes by the name of ‘Trentino-Alto Adige’. The frontier follows the Alpine watershed, in defiance of both historic and linguistic identities. But Italy is in crisis. And that spells opportunity for the Tyroleans, who are beginning to demand still greater freedom from Rome.
Change, if it happens, may not result in any redrawing of formal national borders, but that is beside the point. If regions have the power to make their own decisions and to co-operate across the borders that notionally divide them it doesn’t matter what the maps say, because the maps are no longer reflecting reality.
We look forward to similar insubordination in Wessex, with co-operation between councils in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire, and Dorset and Hampshire. The Prescott zones still appear on many a map but have now lost their driving force. It’s time to ignore them, and get on with building the Wessex alternative. When the London regime is forced by its own contradictions to revive the devolutionary project it so typically bungled, there can be only one response echoing from Wessex territory – the deafening roar of the Wyvern.