Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Traditional Choice

One member of the public commented on the website of The Guardian (a London newspaper) yesterday that:

“I feel our sense of tradition and our warmth towards our old institutions needs to change, we need to stop thinking they are there to take care of us. If they are to continue to exist, they need to do so within a mandate of our choosing, rather than us existing within one of theirs.”

That truly is about the sum of it. And it’s also worth adding that there is in many cases a choice to be made between one set of traditions and another, between those of a folk culture from within and a ‘high’ culture from without. Often it is the outside view looking in that is privileged and the inside view looking out that is condemned to silence. The media will always seek out the local who agrees with their metropolitan outlook and dismiss the rest as quaint.

The Crown, the Church, the City, and, of course, Parliament, are traditions we are supposed to value. Our own traditions – our shires, our boroughs, our whole culture, especially our dialect – are not valued but are pulled and kicked about for advantage and amusement. Which is why central to any programme for constitutional reform must be a true empowerment of the regions, not as agents of whatever party happens to command a Commons majority but as something much, much more valuable than anything national can be. A living heritage with roots deep in the land of Wessex. THAT is a transformation to take us far beyond mere politics.

We Are WR

From time to time we are advised, usually by non-members, that we ought to drop the word ‘Wessex’ from our name. Or drop ‘Regionalist’. Sometimes to drop the status of ‘Party’. Needless to say, we do not welcome advice from anyone who hasn’t paid a subscription. Saving Wessex is not a spectator sport. We are the Wessex Regionalist Party, always have been and in all likelihood always will be. Our founder got the name right – by thinking it through.

The last suggestion of the three is the easiest dealt with. We are a registered political party because there is still no better way to alter things than to seek to unseat those who are getting things so badly wrong. For us to abandon that ambition would be to consign Wessex to continuing rule by the London parties, each of which offers simply a slightly different version of the same anti-Wessex agenda.

We are proud to be The Party for Wessex. We are NOT “regionalists” in the sense of subscribing to some all-England or wider creed with which Wessex has to comply. We have no reason to be patient with those who believe in building regionalism but not in building regions. Yet. (If not now, then when? Or do we go forever round in circles while the metropolitan chattering classes either fail to make their minds up or back the wrong horse, as they did so spectacularly in the case of the Prescott zones?) We are not interested in settling for less autonomy than we need, out of sentimental respect for a “national unity” that in practice means we get outvoted and suffer the imposition of irrelevant policies. But we ARE regionalists in the sense that we are not separatists who would deny the interconnectedness of the world, or despise voluntary co-operation to address the pressing issues that confront humanity. Those are debates to which we hope to contribute the distinctive Wessex perspective, informed by a cultural heritage that we safeguard for all. That is why we are WESSEX Regionalists.

We have a vision for Wessex and it is not a nationalist one: it is a regionalist one and our name makes that clear. For us, the region is but one link in a chain of subsidiarity stretching from the parish to the planet. It is, however, of pivotal importance and its total absence from the political structure of England is a hole we strive first and foremost to fill. We emphasise the region because it is what allows the other components of the structure to function properly, neither struggling with matters beyond their capacity nor bloated with detail, remote from the citizen. The region is big enough to cope, small enough to care. That is why we are Wessex REGIONALISTS.