Monday, March 31, 2014

Review of 2013

Every year when we submit our accounts to the Electoral Commission we are also required to provide a ‘Review of Political Activities’ covering the year just gone.

The 2013 Review has recently been agreed and here is what it says:

“The Eastleigh by-election in February provided an unplanned but welcome opportunity to raise the Party’s profile.  This was fully taken up, despite the attempts of pro-establishment groups such as 38 Degrees to deny us a legitimate share of the platform.  Our candidate, Colin Bex, canvassed voters, attended hustings and gave interviews, one of the highlights of the campaign being an appearance on BBC2’s Newsnight in which he exchanged jibes with Paddy Ashdown of the FibDems.

The wyvern flag of Wessex appeared in some shots and was given an added, official boost in May when the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, arranged for it to be flown outside his London headquarters to mark St Ealdhelm’s Day.  ‘Today,’ announced his press release, ‘the only way is Wessex’.  We agree, and look forward to these cultural concessions being backed up by solidly political ones.

Paradoxically, our vote at Eastleigh – the Thinking Thirty – was much less spectacular than the publicity.  Like all the smaller parties, we were squeezed by a well-oiled UKIP effort to mop up the protest vote.  In the long-term, the publicity gained will matter more, since media interest has been sustained through the course of the year that followed.  This has since borne fruit in the form of several interviews with the BBC, including two local radio stations, focused mainly on the implications for England of the Scottish referendum on independence.

There is a well-founded perception that ‘politics-as-usual’ is no longer an option in Scotland, whatever the outcome of the referendum.  The fact of holding the referendum has changed the nature of Scottish politics.  It has also begun a debate over whether other parts of the UK can also benefit from a tide that is now moving towards radical constitutional change.

For the first time in perhaps a decade, the national debate about England’s future is not just about the merits of an English Parliament.  With London’s wealth and influence continuing to massively outstrip those of the ‘provinces’, a self-governing England that lacks a regional tier is being exposed as an idea offering ‘more of the same’.  We expect the idea of regional assemblies to be revisited and will be doing all we can to prevent Labour once again imposing their ill-considered vision of an ‘Iron Curtain’ between eastern and western Wessex.

Colin Bex has continued to manage our London bureau, attending meetings on our behalf on matters such as the HS2 railway, which we oppose.  He has also raised concerns that London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is seeking to pioneer repressive methods, such as the use of water cannon by the Metropolitan Police, that may then be extended to other areas.

Along with the Secretary-General, David Robins, Colin attended the Annual Conference of Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall, at Truro in November.  It is always good to be able to cheer on those further up the political ladder and learn from their achievements.  We have also continued to develop our online presence, with visits to our blog again breaking records.”

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