Friday, May 8, 2015

Onwards and Upwards

Defying expectations, David Cameron, far from being locked out of Downing Street, now has the full bunch of keys (with just 37% of the vote), at least until his slim Commons majority is whittled away over the next five years.  He has promised a land of hope and glory, a Britain greater still and greater, one nation, with further devolution to some of the smaller nations the ‘nation’ paradoxically contains.  ‘Fairness’ for England even.  But the self-governing devolved assemblies that are good enough for others will not do for the English.  We can look forward only to more unwanted metro mayors, city ‘deals’ and a continuing denial of regional realities.  If things are done for the regions they will be done to the regions, not by them.

Witney might seem unpromising territory for WR.  Oxfordshire is a border shire which, despite the defining role of Burford, Dorchester-on-Thames and Oxford in Wessex history and culture, can sometimes seem unsure of its place.  Yet we do have growing support there and a good candidate can make a lasting positive impression.


At Witney, our candidate (2nd from left) almost doubled his previous vote there, finishing 7th of 12 candidates.  It was our best result since 2001.  Colin’s campaign attracted widespread and sincere interest, even from those who ended up placing their cross elsewhere.  One emailer to Colin and his team confessed that, “I just wanted to write and say how touched I am by your passion to make this world a better place.  And that is so appreciated.  You are beautiful human beings.”  It is a particular pleasure to record the assistance of the McLoone family, who volunteered as WR counting agents for the long night at the leisure centre, awaiting a declaration that came just before 6.

By then the wider picture had been largely coloured in.  Above all there was the unmistakeable roar of the Scottish lion.  The fact that Ed Miliband could not do the juggling act of simultaneously keeping on board both the Scots and middle England shows how far rigid, class-based politics is no longer fit for purpose and has to be superseded.  Don’t expect fully synchronised universal trends.  The Scots will perhaps want to ask why Plaid Cymru and the Greens failed to increase their representation at Westminster, despite a good showing in the leaders’ debates.  In the north of Ireland, nationalism actually lost a seat.

This was Nicola Sturgeon’s night as much as it was David Cameron’s.  Two Scots with very different visions for Scotland and for the rest of us.  Never mind who got the power this time: it's the direction of travel that matters.  The Unionist debacle north of the border will change the Unionist parties, leaving them much less Scottish, while increasing Scots’ sense of being let down by others.  Not even the strongest devolved government in the world will alter that very much.  Salmond is the new Parnell, and the nationalist tide is still rising.  Trident replacement will propel it higher.  If Cameron believes that Scotland can be fixed he is likely to be disappointed.  Labour will now have to decide whether to go back to Blairism; having dipped their toe into socialist waters and got it shockingly wet, they won’t be offering a real alternative ever again, and so will remain damned in the eyes of the Scottish electorate.  Anti-austerity won a landslide; austerity-lite flopped, and deservedly so.

UKIP’s results have generated a new enthusiasm on the Right for proportional representation, once the lonely preserve of a minority on the Left.  (It would, among other things, make the SNP’s triumph a lot less triumphal.)  The UK’s relationship with the EU will move centre-stage, at least for a short while, during which time our relationship with the UK will be conveniently elbowed off the agenda.  Mistrust of the Conservatives, given their abuse of the word ‘localism’, especially over planning issues, is almost tangible in Cameron’s constituency and throughout Wessex.   

Anyone who expected this election to resolve the key constitutional issues – who gets to decide what, and what qualifies as real democracy – should now be plainly aware that interesting times are only going to get more interesting.  We shall be looking to position ourselves to benefit from the debates unfolding over the next five years, meanwhile looking into the possibility of entering the fray at local government level.  We urge supporters of a regional Wessex, wherever they live, to join us in making sure that the wyvern’s roar is heard loud and clear too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For the Record

Guest contribution by Colin Bex, Wessex Regionalist candidate for Witney

The Editor
The Oxford Times
Newspaper House
Osney Mead
Oxford
OX2 0EJ

Sir,

I refer to your report 'One of the safest seats in Britain' (Oxford Times 30 April 2015 p.7) by Luke Sproule.

Under the caption 'THE CANDIDATES', there is no mention of four of the candidates standing for Witney including myself – Colin Bex Wessex Regionalists – the party for Wessex.

A cursory note at the end of the report patronisingly lists 'other' candidates (including myself), two of whom already are featured as 'THE CANDIDATES'.

Contrary to the allegation so called 'other' candidates did not provide biography details – on Wednesday 22 April I personally visited Newspaper House at Osney Mead and hand delivered the press release attached together with my details, and further, I provided my biography to a reporter in person, and attended a photo-call at his request in which I saw results of some twenty images taken of my likeness all of which I was assured would be available for choice for future publication both in your organ and in your sister daily, the Oxford Mail.

For the time being as you should well know, all candidates standing in British elections do so on the same terms as all the others, so at the very least these omissions constitute journalistic incompetence – at worst they constitute culpable bias not least in depriving the Witney electorate of information crucial to their being able to cast a vote intelligently based on the information provided which must be made available to them.

Following the flagrant abuse by Churches Together against democracy on Friday 10 April in which seven candidates not only were excluded from addressing the 1% selectively cleansed minority of constituents, also they were banned from so much as witnessing this travesty of democracy – as were both the national and local press photographers present, I should have expected that local press such as yourselves would have made sure you would redress such democratic deficit – not compound it.

No wonder people need the opportunity to vote for me and others who are standing against such shenanigans being allowed to occur ever again.

Before deciding how to vote, all voters are entitled to know that I am standing to make Witney one of the safest seats in Britain – safe that is from the damage and betrayal being planned as I write by the three people whose likenesses feature at the head of the report, and that my aim is to poll more than 22,000 votes to be able to win Witney for a majority of its good people to be able to reclaim their lives and rightful freedoms from malicious debt and from any further damaging diktat from the next Westminster government – from what ever most likely unlawful concoction it may be contrived.

Kindly note, if you fail to publish this letter in the next issues both of the Oxford Times and the Oxford Mail together with a report on both the press releases attached, before and on the day of the election – in full together with a full and unambiguous apology, not only shall I lodge an election petition declaring the results of the election void – also I shall take legal advice on what action may be available to me against both your organs on account of your part in depriving me and the electorate of our respective democratic rights as set out by the Electoral Commission, the Representation of the People Act and the Levison Report.

Kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter and respond without delay.

Yours sincerely,
Colin Bex
Candidate, Witney,
Wessex Regionalists – the party for Wessex
tweet – X for Bex for Witney

Friday, May 1, 2015

X for Bex for Witney

This is the five-word tweet Colin is suggesting to all those he meets who are too young to vote, to send amongst their friends in Witney, to provide them with input to influence their parents to benefit the Wessex cause – and which has produced an enthusiastic response.

Meanwhile, Colin’s leaflet has been finalised for distribution to all households in the constituency, and uploaded to our website.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Long And Winding Road

The vilification of Nicola Sturgeon in the London press is delightful, not because it is at all pleasant but because here at last is a phenomenon that ‘they’ can do nothing to stop.  No matter what their rage, no matter what their war chest, they cannot win, and the SNP cannot lose.  The only detail left to determine is whether any other party gets a Scottish seat.  It’s looking increasingly unlikely, which means a second referendum within 10 years is not just inevitable, it’s a huge waste of time and money.  Scotland has left.

Four weeks ago, the main parties started out more or less where they seem likely to end up.  What’s all that about then?  So long as David Cameron has no chance of achieving an overall majority, the outcome is pre-determined: Ed Miliband in power, even if he comes second.  Because the SNP were never going to renew Cameron’s tenure and the FibDems weren’t ever going to be numerous enough to out-vote them.  The real shifts come between elections: voting only confirms them.  Wessex had better get used to five more years of Labour control-freakery, five more years, that is, to think more deeply about the regional alternative that is now the only really worthwhile game in town.

A recent article points out that, with the end of the two-party system, hardly any MP south of the border will be returned with over 50% of the vote (let alone the backing of over 50% of the electorate).  Because of the SNP surge, the position north of the border will be the exact opposite.  It will be very ungentlemanly if anyone complains about Scottish nationalist influence over the government of the UK if the SNP turn out to be only ones with any democratic mandate at all.

If it’s ‘the economy, stupid’, then stupidity over the economy, putting all the eggs in the London basket, is about to deliver some very nasty shocks to an Anglo-British establishment that has been splendidly outmanoeuvred.  The SNP, with their special appeal to the young of a reborn nation, do think not tactically, nor even strategically, but transgenerationally.  We in Wessex must do the same, continually making the future of our own young people central to everything we do.  Those passing through our schools and universities today will be those to govern a free Wessex: make no mistake about that.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of a small book entitled Our Three Nations.  It was sponsored jointly by Plaid Cymru, the SNP and, from England, Common Wealth, each of the parties contributing three representatives to undertake the writing.  Gwynfor Evans from Plaid Cymru and Robert McIntyre from the SNP are well-known names, John Banks, Douglas Stuckey and Don Bannister from Common Wealth much less so.

John Banks later wrote Federal Britain?, the 1971 classic on regionalism, and served WR as both President and Secretary-General, drafting our 1982 constitutional policy document, The Statute of Wessex.  Douglas Stuckey, now in his 90s, is another long-standing WR office-holder.  Today he offered the view that instead of flying into a constitutional panic, those in charge might just re-read O3N, 79 pages of advice that has dated remarkably little.

O3N proposed that the UK be replaced by a “confraternity” of free and equal nations; of Common Wealth it said that “Not the least of its tasks is that of making the programmes of the two National Parties as acceptable to ‘progressive’ circles in England as Irish Home Rule was in the early part of the century.  As Dr McIntyre has said, Nationalism in the British Isles is an English rather than a Scottish, Welsh or Irish problem.  Let England replace the conception of Empire with that of Commonwealth, within these islands as well as beyond the seas, and the problem is solved… 

The Imperial power wielded by England over centuries would receive a mortal blow.  The proof of this will be the bitter opposition of all who believe that imperialism, colonialism and playing a part in Power Politics is still a desirable policy for the people of the British Isles to follow.  Only those who believe that the future for the English people lies along the road of freely accepted co-operation between friendly but independent peoples at home and abroad will welcome these developments and will seek to re-orientate English political life and institutions accordingly…

Under the new conditions brought about by Confraternity, the impact of new ideas about politics will relax the grip of the two-party system.  With Welsh and Scottish examples before them, workers in English industries will start talking about a share in running their own show…  Paradoxically, there may even be a resurgence of English patriotism and national consciousness to take the place of the lost sense of Empire…  Under the pressure of these accumulative influences we would expect to see a fairer system of election at last introduced into Parliamentary contests and a considerable measure of devolution to new Provincial Assemblies…  On a small scale the experience of the Isle of Man and of the Channel Islands can be very instructive, and may provide the model for the future administration of such highly individualistic areas of England as Cornwall.”

No cavilling please.  This was five years after the formation of Mebyon Kernow put Cornish nationalism in the spotlight.  It was on the basis of that fact that John Banks insisted that the reference to Cornwall go in.  And not without some scepticism from the Scots and the Welsh.  Transgenerational thinking, by its very nature, takes time to reach fruition.  It often seems as if no fruit will ever be forthcoming.  Persevere though, and the bountiful harvest will be a most memorable occasion.

Empire at Sunset

All is explained so beautifully... here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Raising the Standard

Concerning the reputed 'hustings' held at Witney by Churches Together recently, Colin Bex states that:

"Of the twelve candidates nominated for Witney – all duly paid up to stand for Parliament – only five were chosen and just 1% of constituents were allowed to witness this 2015 travesty of democracy in a third millennium British general election."

Colin today issued a press release in response; the following is the draft circulated within the Party:

PRESS RELEASE
ELECTION SPECIAL – 28th April 2015

CONSTITUENCY – WITNEY, OXON, WESSEX

FOLKMOOT HUSTINGS
On Saturday 2nd May 2015 at noon – by the Butter Cross on Church Green (St. Mary's), Witney

Hosted by Colin Bex, candidate for the Wessex Regionalists

FORMAT

Weather permitting, this traditional Folkmoot on a town church green will be entirely informal, free and open to all including of course Freemen and Freewomen of Wessex and England in accordance with traditional common law rights to enjoy open space in the shire county of Oxon in Wessex.

A Town Crier will be elected from amongst those assembled by a minimum two-thirds majority, and will act as moderator for the proceedings – boos, cheers and applause proportionably permitted as and when may be appropriate.

Especially welcome will be any of some 35,000 Witney people who sought but were refused entry to witness the sanitised charade of theatrical hypocrisy staged on Friday 10th April by Churches Together against democracy.

Wessex Regionalists candidate Colin Bex will provide a welcome and he will present a summary of some of the Party’s key proposals and policies for which he seeks support for the region in the election.  This will be followed by a session for questions and answers from those in attendance.

Upon indication by the Moderator thereafter, each and any other candidate present who was excluded by Churches Together against democracy will be welcomed to speak for five minutes on matters of their choice, likewise followed by up to ten minutes of questions and answers to allow as many people as possible – especially the young – to participate in the moot.

Upon conclusion of the contributions, Colin Bex will summarise the main points and, after the Moderator's declaration of formal adjournment (and weather permitting), there will be an opportunity, for those who wish, to enjoy a picnic on the Green taking care to dispose of all wrappings, bottles and other debris in waste-bins nearby.

Whilst not confirmed – responses from invitations to Morris dancers from Wessex and Mercia are being awaited to provide entertainment if available.

Alternatively, and /or in addition, those so inclined may prefer to adjourn across the road to The Company of Weavers, or to one of many other inns and hotels in the vicinity.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Wealth of Possibilities

Last week, BBC1 aired a programme called Millionaire Basement Wars.  It described how, over the past decade, some 2,000 new basements have been excavated beneath high-value properties in central London, most notably in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.  The buildings are often listed, so there’s little scope to extend up or out.  That only leaves down.

Some basements are merely one-storey.  Some are two-storey.  Some, known as ‘icebergs’, are bigger than the house above them.  They provide room for all those essentials that wouldn’t otherwise fit.  The cinema.  The gym.  The sauna.  The swimming pool.  The hairdressing, manicure and pedicure suite.  The garage for five classic cars.  In one case, the developer provided an indoor, underground waterfall, 30 feet high.  Why?  Rich people get bored easily, he explained, so they need something to talk about.

That’s the problem with extreme wealth.  It’s so boring.  There’s a point beyond which increased wealth doesn’t make you any happier.  All it does is deprive others of the happiness that that wealth, better distributed, could have given them.  Economic efficiency without social efficiency doesn’t deliver the greatest good of the greatest number.  ‘Trickle-down economics’ just distorts priorities, increasing the production of, say, caviar rather than hospitals.

Saying this isn’t ‘envy’ at all.  Envy is wanting a better life for yourself and expecting somebody else to do something about it.  Wanting a better life for everyone isn’t envy.  It’s justice.  The Scandinavians have a phrase for their supportive social welfare system that explains why they also have a culture of enterprise: ‘secure enough to dare’.

Of course, the same is true of power.  When you think what could be done, locally and regionally, with just a fraction of the taxes we send up to London every year to subsidise the infrastructure of imaginary money-making, it’s enough to leave you feeling genuinely sick.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become the easy victims of a narrative of aspiration.  One in which the minor folk turn on each other and not on those whose industrial-scale grasping is what makes us minor.  ‘Hard-working families’ has become the must-have soundbite for all politicians with ambition.  You can almost hear the anxious twitching of curtains and the rumbustious rustling of today’s Daily Mail.  There are two things wrong with it.  One, naturally. is the idea that only families count.  That those working too hard to have time to form a family contribute nothing to society.  The other is that ‘hard work’ is easily recognisable.  It isn’t.

In the commercial sector, hard work will get you nowhere if what you’re working hard on isn’t profitable.  It’s the quality – that's to say, the relevance – of what you’re doing that matters, not its quantity.  Working smarter, not harder, is the key to productivity and profitability.  All economy, as Karl Marx noted, is economy of labour time.  In 1932 Bertrand Russell wrote a very perceptive essay entitled In Praise of Idleness, in which he pointed out that ultimately the purpose of work is to create the ability to stop doing it.  That in turn poses other questions.  How much of the work we currently do is necessary work?  How much of it would we miss if it weren’t there? 

Arguably, a lot, perhaps most, of the work we do is highly damaging, psychologically, socially and environmentally, in which case our quality of life would be greatly improved not by economic growth but by economic shrinkage.  High net immigration is a sign of an unhealthy economy, one that is taking more than its fair share of the world’s resources and so dragging in the inhabitants of other countries who have come here to follow their wealth.  Internal migration, with London as the magnet, is another aspect of the same phenomenon, driven in that case by the power that London has to tax the provinces for its benefit.  The only solutions that the London parties can imagine – like HS2 – do not enable those provinces to serve themselves but only reinforce metropolitan dominance.  Underpinning them all is the silly idea that we can have more growth in total, let alone that we need it or want it.

We can see the outlines of a better solution forming but before we examine it further, let’s remind ourselves how irrelevant the London parties are to it.

The Blue Tories have been so busy lately promising give-aways it’s a wonder they’ve not been arrested for corrupt electoral practices.  Right-to-Buy is always a vote-winner because who’s going to vote against free money?  Since the super-rich don’t pay tax, it’s the squeezed middle who’ll foot the bill and they always vote for the Blue Tories anyway.  Plus, they can be pacified by exempting up-to-one-million-pound properties from Inheritance Tax.  Those whose homes have accelerated in value while they sat back and did nothing will enrich their children and consider it all their own really ‘hard work’.  As we’ve shown, half of all Inheritance Tax receipts come from London and the south-eastern corner of England.  It’s the taxes of every other corner that have created the boom economy there and it’s the taxes of every other corner too that will make up the shortfall in UK Government revenue if no tax is paid on homes up to £1 million.

Do we have the right to be angry?  Wait and see.

The Yellow Tories’ pitch to the public is that they’re the party to rein-in the extremes.  Without their moderating presence we could see radical change.  Cameron-Farage.  Or even Miliband-Sturgeon.  Time was when the Liberals viewed themselves as radicals.  Middle-of-the-road radicals maybe, but at least nominally radical.  There’s a strong possibility though that they’ve misread the times in which they now operate.  There’s a thirst for change, with Scotland leading the charge.  And that thirst for change operates in the wider context of a European revolt against Wall Street corporate colonialism and its dismantling of democracy.  The way money is being shovelled into the Purple Tories shows how far even the old guard have lost trust in the established parties and want things shaken up, just a little.

The Greens are promising to build 500,000 homes, against the 200,000 promised by both Blues and Reds.  (The Yellows want 300,000, including at least ten new garden cities.)  In the areas under pressure, there isn’t enough derelict land to provide anywhere near those sort of figures.  So if you’re not comfortable with seeing the Wessex countryside transformed into New West London, that’s yet another option to cross off the list.  What’s “green” about turning (mostly) greenfield sites into half a million houses?

The Red Tories look every bit as irrelevant as the rest.  When Miliband tries to position them as the voice of working people throughout the UK, it’s a muffled echo from the 70s that won’t do any more.  Who are really the selfish nationalists?  The SNP, who speak for Scotland and ignore the other home nations (while practising a genuine internationalism)?  Or Labour, who speak for the UK and ignore the rest of Europe (while boldly going wherever the White House directs)?  Labour are trying to tap into a sense of British-based solidarity that died with the industries Thatcher slaughtered.  For three decades they’ve been trying to get it back.  They can’t admit they’ve failed.  And that’s why they’re being superseded.

We look forward to the continuing wipe-out of the Unionist parties in Scotland.  In Wales, it will take longer.  Despite Leanne Wood’s master stroke in describing the London parties as four shades of grey, the fact is that the Welsh seem to like their bondage too much to break free of it right now.  It is, however, only a matter of time.  Renewed interest in regionalism and federalism within England points to a generalised demand for self-government that will not stop at Celtic borders.  And will not be content with any cobbled-together nonsense of metro mayors or combined authorities either.

What we’re seeing is a convergence of several themes.  Perhaps the most pivotal is the rise to real power of the first generation who lived through Thatcherism as young adults, who watched the kindlier world of their childhood being shattered by brash London loadsamoneys, backed up by a semi-fascist State with no respect for local democracy.  (A State that aped Labour instead of really challenging it.)  No wonder there’s a thirst for change: vengeance has been long awaited.

Such change requires a framework for action, one which the idea of a Europe of small nations and historic regions readily provides.  The scale of change throughout Europe over the next decade, as one country copies another, could well match that which followed the fall of the Berlin Wall.  This time it will be the turn of the old imperial states of western Europe and the smug elites they defend.  The only role here for dinosaurs like France, Spain or the UK is to keep getting in the way until patience can be contained no longer.

At the regional level, and that of small nations of equivalent scale, there’s a lot of work to be done, in creating new institutions, breathing life into long-suppressed identities, and in taking back our stolen wealth and power from London and its co-conspirators.  At the European level, there’s even more to be done.  To break the economic and political stranglehold of the USA and awake to our common interest as Europeans.  To take the banking system apart and bring to justice the thieves who run it.  To create the climate of thought that will allow our vital industries and services to be taken back into common ownership with little or no compensation payable to those who have sucked them dry.  To end private landed estates not through the minor irritant of taxation but through a radical re-evaluation of title.

Those who wait for the Labour Party to even consider such a programme will wait for ever.  The programme is one that needs to be more radical than anything on Attlee’s agenda in 1945.  Even to do as much as Attlee did is impossible in today’s Britain.  It won’t be done at the British level, because the British level is now irrelevant.  It’s a job for the Europe of a Hundred Flags.  Change will come about through the growth of nationalist and regionalist parties that are not afraid to define London as their adversary.  Not the London of ordinary Londoners but the London of assumptions, assumptions of innate superiority in politics, economics and culture.

Labour cannot deliver that.  Labour have their sights on way too many marginals in London and the surrounding shires to ever be credible as an authentic voice for marginalised Britain.  Labour have no plans to cut off London’s drip-feed of our tax money.  Labour have no plans to abolish entire Whitehall departments in favour of genuine localism.  They have no plans to get even with the parasitical City of London.  They have no plans to shut down huge swaths of London's cultural funding and disperse it across the UK.  That is why the nationalist and regionalist parties must do all of this for them.