In yesterday’s Western Daily Press, Veronica Newman of the Campaign for an English Parliament wrote that “One of the arguments often raised against the establishment of an English parliament is that it would be playing into the hands of the European Union… dividing the UK into bite-sized chunks for the delectation of Brussels.”
It’s delightfully refreshing to see English centralists hoist by their own petard, after all these years of telling us that regionalism is a Brussels conspiracy to cut up England. The ‘Euro-plot’ gets waved about like a demonic scarecrow in a bid to deter any rational debate about much-needed constitutional reforms. Those who do so do not see the irony of their position. If to embrace regionalism is to be positively influenced by the continent, then to shun regionalism is to be negatively influenced just as much. Neither extreme allows an independent assessment of the case on its own merits. The fact is that the case for regionalism in England would hold together even if the continent did not exist. It has been talked about and written about in this country since at least Edwardian times. ‘Home Rule’ agitation generally goes back a further century.
That other European countries have decentralised suggests not a conspiracy but a wide measure of open agreement that taking decisions regionally makes sense. If Germany has 16 regional legislatures and Switzerland has 26, this does not appear to have weakened them. On the contrary, it may be one reason why they are more successful than most.
Wessex Regionalists are not fundamentally anti-EU, nor fundamentally pro-EU: we will not be drawn into a beauty contest between the frying pan and the fire. We are against unnecessary centralisation and committed to genuine subsidiarity. By ‘genuine’ we mean a system in which autonomy is always there to be claimed from ‘below’, as of right and without quibbling, not dispensed, grudgingly, from ‘above’.
Our position is one of principle, not expediency. We are happy to explain it but not to alter it. It is what sets us apart from the London parties, whose whole rationale is about deciding what can or cannot ‘safely’ be left to ordinary folk to decide.