Colin Bex, WR Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, was out in Witney today testing the ground for a possible challenge to David Cameron. No final decision has been made on the choice of constituency to be fought but the Leader of the Opposition does make a very good target. Voters who've had enough of the Government's voodoo economics will be thinking twice about an alternative out to outdo it in nastiness.
We met at the Angel, a pleasant pub in the Market Square, chatting to locals about their discontents before we got down to the main business of the day. Down on the High Street, with myself waving the Wyvern flag to attract interest, Colin handed leaflets to passers-by and engaged with their reactions.
The idea of Wessex was clearly attractive, especially to older folk who feel robbed of history itself by the Blairite project of 'modern' Britain. Being lumped in for regional purposes with Kent - on the other side of London - was unpopular too. There was some puzzlement over boundaries from those whose idea of Wessex is shaped too sharply by Thomas Hardy but once the local background was explained all doubts were dispelled. Oxfordshire was where Wessex started, where its first capital is recorded and where the Wyvern itself first flew as the battle standard of our kings. The town of Witney owes its existence to the Bishops of Winchester, who built one of their 24 palaces there in the Middle Ages.
Older voters and first-timers alike welcomed the possibility of a WR candidate, whose presence would at the very least widen their choice and at best provide real colour to what was expected to be a generally drab election campaign. David Cameron was seen as pre-occupied with posturing at Prime Minister's Questions and far too busy to be an effective local representative with time for his constituents, their problems or their views. Life-long Labour voters promised 'never again' and grasped at the opportunity to back a fresh alternative. With its Leveller, Chartist and William Morris connections, the Witney constituency has a radical heritage second to none. The WR message of local self-determination and freedom from London diktat met with particularly strong approval from all sides.
Heavy rain after lunch forced a change of plan. The afternoon was spent in Chipping Norton and Burford collecting local information, such as town maps and bus timetables. If Witney is the chosen seat, Colin intends to campaign by public transport, speaking to voters on the move. And in stark contrast to David Cameron's token greenism, there won't be a chauffeur-driven car coming along behind.