Wessex Regionalist Party
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The Wessex Regionalist Party is a minor political party in the United Kingdom that seeks a degree of legislative and administrative home rule for Wessex, an area in the south and south-west of England loosely based on the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of that name. It is also known, less formally, as the Wessex Regionalists, the name under which it usually campaigns.
The party has contested selected Wessex-area parliamentary constituencies in most elections since it was established, but with little success. In the 2015 general election the party contested one seat, Witney, and received 110 votes. It has, however, secured representation at parish council level.
According to its Electoral Commission records, the party had income of £100 (including £95 subscriptions), and expenditure of £35.52, for the year 2004, in which it contested no elections. In the year 2008, it had an income of £153, and an expenditure of £25.
The party was formed by Alexander Thynn, then styled Viscount Weymouth in 1974 in response to growing demands for home rule in both Scotland and Wales. After a number of years' informal existence, the party organisation was constituted in 1981. The first President (party leader) was Weymouth; subsequent Presidents have included Anthony Mockler, John Banks and Colin Bex. The current President is Jim Gunter.
The party's archives for the 1970s and 1980s are deposited at the University of Bristol.
How the party defines Wessex
The party originally used Thomas Hardy's definition of Wessex as consisting of the ancient counties of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire (which includes the Isle of Wight), Somerset and Wiltshire, but recently accepted a proposal to add Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire to this list, bringing their definition into line with that used by the Wessex Constitutional Convention and the Wessex Society. The areas now constituting Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire did not form part of the kingdom of the West Saxons, but were for a time ruled by that entity under its earlier name of the Gewisse. Subsequently, the areas came under Mercian control and today they are claimed by movements for autonomy in both Wessex and Mercia.
The party opposed plans (later abandoned) by the British government to give South West England some form of elected assembly along the lines of the London Assembly, and continues to oppose current administrative regional boundaries. These place Hampshire – the heart of Wessex, and the site of its traditional capital, Winchester – in the separate South East region, as well as bisect the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They also divide two major transport corridors, the M4 corridor and the South Coast Metropole, which the party argues has adverse economic effects that further regionalisation on the basis of current boundaries would increase.
The party's overarching goal is to secure self-government for Wessex within the United Kingdom, on a similar basis to Scotland and Wales. Its constitutional policy document, The Statute of Wessex, first published in 1982, detailed those powers which the party believed should be devolved to a Wessex parliament or "witan", with between 150 and 230 members. The list, reproduced below, is modelled largely on the powers which were exercised by the devolved administration in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1974. Current policy is that the powers devolved should be "broadly" those of the Scottish Parliament, though the list below remains the only comprehensive statement.
The party has actively participated in the Wessex Constitutional Convention since its establishment. The party's political ambitions are roughly equivalent to those of Mebyon Kernow and the Cornish Constitutional Convention's proposals for the future of Cornwall.
During the 1990s, the party codified its fundamental aims and principles in the form of a charter, which in its most recent form lists six:
- Identity – To promote the cultural and economic identity of Wessex.
- Democracy – To bring into existence devolved, direct democracy in order to give the people of Wessex maximum control over their own lives.
- Quality – To optimise the quality of life for everyone residing, working in or visiting the region.
- Environment – To minimise the adverse impact of human activity on the environment.
- The World – To contribute to the creation of a sustainable and equitable global economy in which the health, security and liberty of all is paramount, regardless of race or creed.
- Enjoyment – To make the whole process of politics relevant and enjoyable.
Westminster election candidates
|1974 (February)||Viscount Weymouth||Westbury||521|
|1979||Colin Bex||Windsor & Maidenhead||251|
|Henrietta Rous||Devon North||50|
|Gwendoline Ewen||Dorset West||192|
|Colin Bex||Windsor & Maidenhead||68|
|Henrietta Rous||Devon West & Torridge||113|
|David Fox||Dorset North||294|
|1997||Colin Bex||Portsmouth North||72|
|2005||Colin Bex||Dorset South||83|
European election candidates
|Anthony Mockler||Somerset and Dorset West||930|
In 2016, Wessex Regionalist candidate Nick Xylas unsuccessfully contested the Eastville ward in the Bristol City Council elections, gaining 62 votes (0.85%).
- "Statement of Accounts for Wessex Regionalist Party for the year ending 2008" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2010.[dead link]
- Wessex Regionalists (1996)
- Banks (1986)
- Banks, John C. (1986). The Regionalist (No. 8). Houghton-le-Spring: John Ellis. ISSN 0264-522X.
- Wessex Regionalists (1996). The Statute of Wessex. Cheltenham: Wessex Regionalists. ISBN 0-9508721-0-5.