WR at 50

Party President Jim Gunter and Secretary-General Nick Xylas unfurled the flag at Shearwater’s Bath Arms on Saturday, 25th May, St Ealdhelm’s Day. WR members and friends were gathered there for a lunch – postponed from February – to mark 50 years since the first Wessex Regionalist candidate – Alexander Thynn, later 7th Marquess of Bath – stood for Parliament. The excellent Bath Arms once formed part of the Longleat Estate. Although our founder died in 2020, his project for regional self-government lives on.

In 2024’s election, we’d love to fight every Wessex seat, but moral support alone doesn’t raise the funds needed. Tempting as it is to revisit Alexander’s achievement by fielding at least one candidate, WR will be merely spectating. We fought Devizes in 2017, but in 2019 judged that, with Brexit dominating the debate, alternative perspectives would be allowed little publicity. This time, with polls strongly indicating a Labour victory, its size alone uncertain, stimulating interest in the choices on offer will be difficult for everyone. As a party with serious ideas, we want to run a serious and well-resourced campaign. We recognise that a purely paper candidate could be counterproductive and a poor use of available money.

Smaller parties are united by their disdain for the two-horse race and in normal times therefore the outcome favourable to us is whatever favours electoral reform. The fewer Tories and Labourites are in the next Parliament, the more likely it becomes that this could happen. So, it’s not just ABC (Anyone But Conservative) but also ABLINO (Anyone But Labour-In-Name-Only).

It’s not necessary to vote for a candidate in order to express an opinion. Staying at home is another way. A better one is to write the correct answer – Wessex Regionalist – across the ballot paper. So-called ‘spoilt’ papers mount up at the count. Candidates and their agents get to look at them. The bigger the pile, the louder the message.