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 2015 Review has recently been forwarded to the Commission and here is what it says:
“The major event of the year was the General Election, which saw our President, Colin Bex return to Oxfordshire to again challenge David Cameron for the safe Tory seat of Witney. The overall result was no surprise but Colin was pleased to see a 77% increase in his own vote and a midway ranking among the candidates, concluding that if voters remain willing to keep their options open this bodes well for the future. Indeed, it was our best result since 2001. The first-past-the-post voting system continues to disadvantage smaller parties; it creates presumptions about who is worth hearing that prevent a minor party candidate even putting forward an alternative point of view. This was again the case at Witney, where Colin and other minor party candidates were barred from even attending the hustings. Local press coverage was seriously incompetent, even to the point of publishing inexcusable untruths, though full colour feature articles in both editions of the Wall Street Journal ensured global awareness of the Wessex cause.
The importance of online activities was underlined by a sharp spike in viewing figures for the Party’s blog during the campaign. In April, there were nearly 3,000 page-views, nearly double the peak of interest during the Eastleigh by-election in 2013. In May, the Party was left without a core website following the catastrophic failure of the Zyweb platform that hosted it. Thanks to Rick Heyse, a new Full Member with the requisite skills, the Party now has a new site – www.wessexregionalists.info– to which are gradually being added the range of features increasingly expected of a party website in the 21st century. Colin Bex has been an active ambassador for the Party, attending conferences on climate change, in Paris, and democracy, in Brussels, and the June march in London against austerity. On the march, he spoke with Jeremy Corbyn, soon to be the Labour Leader, about the need for regionalism.
A wholly Conservative Government took office in May with some two-thirds of the electorate either not supporting or actively opposing it. It has demonstrated a deep hostility towards regionalism and local democracy, even as financial pressures compel public services to re-organise on a regional basis. It continues to advance the view – shared with Labour – that the imposition of unwanted elected mayors is a preferable substitute for substantial devolution to democratic regional assemblies. In the second half of 2015 our attention shifted to the May 2016 local elections. Nick Xylas was endorsed as the Party’s candidate for Bristol City Council, Eastville Ward and much activity has focused on developing a framework for that campaign.
Policies adopted during the year have emphasised our radical difference from the current mainstream. The Party now explicitly supports a confederal ‘Europe of a Hundred Flags’, more democratic governance of public limited companies and a referendum on the future of the monarchy, while opposing child genital mutilation, ritual slaughter and the renewal of Trident. We continue to benefit from the ‘Scotland effect’ as the SNP consolidates its hold and voters in England also look around for alternatives to the failed London parties. The level of justifiable optimism within the Party is higher than for many, many years.”