Views on the EU Referendum Report from the Wessex Regionalists Annual General Assembly Reclaiming Wessex from Westminster A history of the county flags of Wessex 1
Editors Keith Southwell & Rick Heyse
The European Question I suppose you could call this issue an ‘EU Referendum Special’ as many pages are devoted to this important subject. By the time the next issue of Wessex Citizen is released, we will know one way or another whether the future of the UK is as part of the European Union or not. We do feel the debate so far has been dominated by the business interests, and what effect leaving the EU will have on the future of the economy. Although we need a strong economy we also need a greener and cleaner world and social welfare which protects all. To a large extent these issues have not been debated by either the ‘In’ or the ‘Out’ campaigns. One thing the campaigns have seen is the emergence of some pretty strange bedfellows, none more so than Nigel Farage and George Galloway. These two politicians are poles apart politically, yet united in opposition to Britain’s continuing membership of the EU. In the other camp we see George Osborne and David Cameron siding with Jeremy Corbyn and John Mc.Donnel. With the focus on Europe, the case for regionalism has largely been ignored, despite increasing success by regionalist parties and decentralist parties across Europe. However when the EU referendum is out of the way, in or out, the focus will be once more on Westminster and the inadequacies of its centralist, top down diktat. In this respect, it will be difficult to judge the results of May’s local elections in any great detail from a regionalist angle. However to change things, we know power has to be wrestled from Westminster, so as well as a time to decide on Europe its a time to get behind our regionalist parties in May. 2
Europe– Wessex in or Out., A view from 3 people and 2of England’s other regionalist parties 3 - 10 Politics – Report from the 2016 Wessex Regionalists Annual General Assembly held in Weston Super Mare 11 -13 Elections – A look at the campaign of Wessex Regionalists, Nick Xylas, in Bristol’s Eastville. 13 – 14 Culture & History – What’s behind the county flags of Wessex 15 – 20 Campaigns –Reclaim the Region. A call to promoting Wessex identity 21 - 22 Radical History – The Battle of the Beanfiled. A look at the often forgotten battle during the Thatcher years 23 - 27
Wessex Citizen Wessex Citizen is an independent publication supportive of a Wessex regional assembly built on radical leftist progressive principles. We are supportive of the Wessex Regionalists but as we are an independent publication, not all views contained within are necessarily those of the party.
Wessex â€“ In or Out of Europe? The debate over Britainâ€™s membership of the European Union rumbles on. But how will the E.U forthcoming referendum affect the future of Wessex? Here are the opinions of two key Wessex Regionalists, offering a different angle on the issue, plus statements from Kernow, Yorkshire and Mercia. Colin Bex is the President of the Wessex Regionalists who has fought eight Parliamentary elections for the party since 1979. Colin explains his fears of an ever expanding European Union. Britain in or out of Europe? Either way, the government's Trump-style diversionary tactic as a travesty of consultation in the form of a Punch & Judy show designed to conceal the truth, serves principally to highlight the choice as blatant fraud. Under present arrangements, the choice of frying pan top-down diktat by a Europe super-state government, or the fire of a British rogue-state government administration may as well be decided by the toss of a coin - neither is a viable proposition. However, pending the introduction of democratic systems for elections and the confederal representative democracy they would herald in both jurisdictions, on balance, my view is that a 3
vote for change now is a less futile act than would be a vote in support of the corrupt staus quo many if not most of whose policies run counter to the needs and wishes of the majority of people who voted against them, together with a significant and increasing number of those in addition who out of fear and ignorance voted for them. Clinging to the rails of a financially challenged Titanic Europe whose course already is set toward the next global financial iceburg, certainly can be no better for British people that their realising that disentanglement from that web of intrugue and iniquity at least would provide an opportunity for them to fare better from a position of confederal regional sovereign autonomy with free access to most global markets of choice. Other elephant's roaming the borders of Europe's prairie, are the countries queueing up to join with their original 11 - now 28 cousins to create an ever larger mixed-family, white-elephant asylum. Turkey - In or out of Europe? Amongst the number of those in addition angling for membership, presently the most conspicuous and most potentially dangerous is Turkey which as recently revealed has taken over its principal opposition news outlet ZAMAN which now publishes uncritical support for the Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorship. Certainly I would oppose any attempt by British government traitors within, or enemies on the European mainland to compromise British people with damaging consequences as a result of any deal hatched-up with Turkey. So for me at present it's: 'Britain Out of Europe - Turkey Out of Europe and Nato'
Rick Heyse is the newly appointed Communications Officer for the Wessex Regionalists and a co-editor of Wessex Citizen. Rick has been a fierce opponent of the E.U for many years and a member of the Campaign Against Euro Federalism. However recently he has had a change of heart and explains why. I am no fan of the European Union. I see it as a bureaucratic, undemocratic juggernaut steaming ahead on the road of neoliberalism swallowing all in its wake. Far from being internationalist, which many believe it is, I see the present E.U as euronationalist and expansionist seeking to expand its economic empire. Therefore, with such a dim opinion of the E.U, it may come as a surprise to many why I support our continued membership. Firstly I have looked at the economic arguments. If Britain was to leave the E.U there would initially be an economic downturn which could last for up to five years. If we were to slide into another recession the effects of this downturn would be catastrophic and even resemble the 4
dark days of the great depression. There are many businesses in Wessex that depend on our trade with Europe as it is their biggest market place. Membership of the E.U allows them to take full advantage of this market place, as well as trading with countries outside of Europe. To suddenly pull out of existing trade agreements and attempt to negotiate new ones, which could possibly be less advantageous in times of economic uncertainty, I feel is a risk definitely not worth taking. In the short term in the very least it would certainly damage the Wessex economy and threaten businesses and jobs. The ‘Leave’ campaign argue new trade deals can be negotiated, yet ignore the fact in such a situation Britain will virtually be handing out a begging bowl asking for economic friendship. The world will know Britain will be in desperate need of new trade deals giving other countries the upper hand in negotiations. With the Commonwealth countries (who we already continue to trade with anyway) having found other economic partners closer to home, Britain will be forced closer and closer into the clutches of the United States, virtually relegating us to becoming the 51st state of the U.S, wiping out any prospect of progressive regionalism. Ask yourself why there are a growing number of States in the U.S seeking secession if things are so good. Secondly there are the social and environmental factors. The E.U has helped protect workers rights, with legislation to improve health and safety in the workplace and even lay legislation to provide things such as paternity pay. In addition to this it gives consumers a fairer deal and helps make our food and environment safer. Progressives in favour of Britain leaving the E.U argue all this could be delivered if we opt for ‘Brexit’. There would be economic damage, but I agree, workers rights and the environment could be protected if we had a progressive government dictating our exit strategy. However if we leave it will be a very anti-progressive Conservative Party dictating our exit terms, which will in all likelihood abandon social concessions protecting workers rights and the environment, and instead impose legislation which benefits the few. We would more than likely also see another form of TTIP, something I suspect secret meetings have already taken place to deliver in case Britain votes to leave. As for the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, there is little doubt our own unelected high chamber of the House of Lords would still exist. However as I have already explained, the E.U is far from perfect. My own vision of Europe is one where there is co-operation on a European wide level, on human welfare, workers rights, animal welfare, environmental and sustainability issues and of course encouraging sustainable trade. Such trade should see exchanging of services and bartering between nations and regions and not simply based on delivering the highest profits. This would put people before big business. Some argue we cannot change the E.U, that we cannot grapple power from the bureaucrats and that it would take the representatives of every country to vote for change in order to do this. Surely this is something that is not impossible, people democratically voting for politicians who will deliver change? This is what has recently happened in Corsica and is where organisations such as the European Free Alliance (EFA) are so important. The 2016 Wessex Regionalists Annual General Assembly, endorsed a motion to support the EFA vision that ‘Another Europe is Possible’. In Britain the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, Yorkshire First and Mebyon Kernow are all members of EFA, with the Wessex Regionalists about to open discussions. The EFA works to make the idea of a “Europe of the Peoples” a political and 5
cultural reality at European and international level. It believes in the promotion of the right of self-determination of peoples, human, civil and political rights, democracy, internal enlargement, multi-level governance, devolution of powers, cultural and linguistic diversity; as well as on nationalism, regionalism, autonomy and independence. The right to self-determination is a cornerstone of the EFA’s program and ideology. All this is very close to the Wessex Regionalists vision of a Europe of a Hundred Flags. For me the choice is a simple one: We stay in a far from perfect E.U and fight alongside our friends in EFA and others to build a more democratic, decentralist Europe Or we put businesses in Wessex at risk, surrender the workers rights, social concessions and environmental protection we have won and let the Conservatives dictate our exit strategy. Faced with this choice I believe Wessex is better of IN.
Mark is a Mercian Regionalist, a founder of the Mercia Democrats and a lifelong opponent of the European Union. He is a support of the ‘Grassroots Out’ campaign which brings together people such as Nigel Farage, George Galloway and John Boyd.
With the referendum now called for June, what should be the position of Regionalists? Our fight is for more independence from Westminster, so local people have more say over our lives and how services are delivered, so if we want this from Westminster then should we not demand the same from the EU and leave? Some Regionalists believe Regionalism will be better supported in a reformed EU, but the EU cannot be reformed into the vehicle we want to create a peoples Europe, one where all the nations of Europe have the autonomy we need to deliver better services locally. When we look at the EU, the UK has little influence with the number of MEP’s we have and with the EU taking millions in grant every day from the UK, how can we afford this when we have austerity which is killing services so desperately needed at local level and hitting communities hard with job losses. Regionalists must look beyond the present EU and reject it; we must look to leave it and instead look to build a new Europe. One built on the need of small nations and local communities. When we look at the main political parties, all support staying in, shouldn’t that tell us something? This is not a case of left verses right, but the people verses the elite, who wish to continue the gravy train all the main parties benefit from. They do not seek to represent the people or our wishes instead they put themselves and their parties above us. 6
This is a once in a lifetime chance, where we can side with the majority of ordinary people who want out of the EU against business and establishment politicians. This can provide Regionalists with a unique opportunity to show we have a real case against the establishment and offer a real, peoples based alternative which is best for the people and our communities. Let us not lose this chance, let’s build a strong case for the development of both a People’s Europe and a New England, one based on Regionalism and the needs of the people. Now is a time to work together and get out onto the streets and talk to people about the need to get out the EU and build a Regionalist England, where we put people before profit, where we decide on the services we need and how our money is spent, not the politicians in Westminster or those who simply put Party loyalty first above the needs of ordinary people. The case against the EU is strong. This is a call to Regionalist England, Fight together for a Leave vote, and work with other progressives on the Left and let’s talk to the people. Let us take this opportunity to grow, showcase our vision and recruit. There has never been a better time to put our case, let’s use it.
On Saturday 2nd April 2016 Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a policy statement (henceforward referred to as ‘the document’) which reaffirmed its longstanding support for British membership of the European Union.
“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall will campaign for a “remain in” vote in the forthcoming referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.” In doing so MK aligns with the SNP. – “The SNP believes that membership of Europe Union is in Scotland's best interests. There are a huge number of benefits for Scotland from EU membership.”* MK also aligns with Plaid Cymru. – “There is a lot we would like to change about the EU but we can only do that from within. The decision we make is about the kind of Wales we want to build and will affect generations to come. That is why Plaid Cymru will campaign to stay in the EU.”* So, following analysis of the evidence, the national parties of the three UK mainland Celtic nations join in common cause, to declare their belief that travelling forward within the EU is in the best interests of their people and territories. In this, the Celtic bloc will enjoy the full moral backing of other members of the European Free Alliance representing more than thirty currently under- recognised nations and indigenous minorities within the EU. Together we form a powerful voting bloc within the EU parliament, supporting common aims of subsidiarity (decentralisation) and plurality (respect and support for ethnic identity and language); accepted European ideals. 7
The document further states – “MK reaffirms its internationalist view that nations and regions should work together to tackle issues of Europe-wide and global significance, and observes that the existence of the EU has underpinned a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity across Europe.”* Here the importance of teamwork and unity, in fixing problems of common concern, which cannot be fixed as effectively apart, is raised. The current situation is that of a team, a family even, which is not perhaps perfect but which recognises that the many belong to a greater whole. Our island status tends to reduce our awareness of this fact when we speak of Britain and Europe. We are in fact ourselves a part of Europe and fully part of the EU. We are no less European on any level whatsoever than the French, the Germans or anyone else. We are all presently European Union citizens with equal rights, responsibilities and influence. The question facing us is not whether we want this, or some other equally attractive situation. The real question is whether we want to throw all of these privileges away with no cast iron guarantee that we will get any benefit from doing so at all. Norway has clearly gained nothing from dropping out of the European mainstream. Most of us would not give up our family homes for a glossy picture of lonely bedsit, said to be waiting for us in the next town, without at the very least checking first that it was in good repair, or even resembled the picture shown to us in any significant way. In the same way, if a pipe bursts in our house, or a crack appears, or even if the front door drops off its hinges, we do not immediately move out. If we want a better house, we fix it. Moving house is prohibitively expensive! We can of course wait for someone else to fix it but, as above, we have rights, responsibilities and influence, so in such a crisis we do not simply moan about our rights, we take responsibility ourselves, roll up our sleeves and use our influence to persuade others to lend a hand, as they are able. Since, in large part, we as a community have not been doing this so very much recently, who should we really blame for the result? So, at a time when Britain has got wobbly knees it’s regrettable and ironic that we should need to add, in the following amendment – “MK rejects the neo-liberal policies of the European Commission. We oppose austerity politics, deregulation and support for trade treaties such as TTIP. These developments remove issues beyond democratic politics, benefit transnational corporations and dismantle the safeguards defending communities and the environment.”* This is the present situation and we have reason to object, loudly! However, in what material way is the policy of our own national Government any different? While we criticise the Commission, we should not forget the role Britain, and especially the dominantly English Conservative party has played in all this (I can’t say where Blair comes into the picture but I think he would agree that ‘Socialist’ is hardly the word). Deregulation of trade and the ideology of the ‘free market’ was a largely Anglo-American project under Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher. There were good reasons for restraint after the great slump and now we have gaily cast, a largely effective system, onto the scrap heap of history, all have come to experience the 8
results of unbridled capitalism. Is it not therefore also our own responsibility to lead the clean-up, starting with our own government? If we dump our European partners now and doubtless turn aside to find a sympathetic ear in the USA, how will that help? Embedded within the fabric of the EU are also systems which are socialist in concept. We, and especially MK, as a left wing party, should embrace and encourage these, as indeed we do, for Kernow is one of the most disadvantaged regions in modern Europe. The blame for this does not lie in any way with the EU but squarely with Westminster. The EU has been generous with us in spite of London’s interference and foot dragging. Following its courageous beginning and its pained expression of exasperation at exploitative capitalists, who blight the true work of the EU, which is delivering justice on all levels and promoting harmony between allied nations, the document gratefully acknowledges this support at length. – “Mebyon Kernow welcomes the many positive initiatives from the European Union in the past, in terms of improved environmental controls, consumer protections and a host of safeguards for working people. MK recognises that Cornwall has been a net beneficiary of the EU in terms of structural funding, which has provided significant and much-needed investment for local businesses – both large and small – and ensured that numerous key projects, such as the university and superfast broadband, have been brought to fruition. MK further recognises that if the UK did leave the EU, the British Government would inevitably fail to replace the lost investment.”* So the document sums up, reaffirming the Party’s commitment to the EU and EFA but with one more point to make and it is a very important point. Westminster can no longer ignore Kernow’s status as a nation, pre-existing the formation of even the English state by many centuries. The EFA know it and so do others. Significantly, today many ordinary German citizens know more about our identity and history than the average English citizen even imagines, thanks to a love of ethno-tourism and inclusive pan-European attitudes. We are firmly on the map. However Kernow lacks even one MEP of its own. Westminster wants to hear no authentic Cornish voice exposing their neglect of our region in Strasbourg. This is an outrage and we must speak up about it. Direct representation in Strasbourg is surely the democratic right of the Cornish People, as much as the right of the Welsh and the Scots and any other nation in our ‘Europe of the peoples’. – “Mebyon Kernow considers it important to be in Europe, working for a more democratic and decentralised EU through our membership of the European Free Alliance. And we reaffirm MK’s policy position to demand direct democratic representation in the European Parliament with an MEP representing Cornwall.
Yorkshire First, the party for Yorkshire, released a statement on February 20th outlining the party's stance on the EU Referendum calling for a more open and democratic Europe.
Yorkshire First represents people from both 'stay' and 'leave' sides of the EU Referendum debate. We share a common belief in the importance of securing the best deal for Yorkshire, be that within or separate from the European Union. The European Union represents an opportunity for nations and regions, such as Yorkshire, to have their voices heard at an international level. However, the EU, founded on its original Treaties by agreement between old style centralised nation states, has become out of date and out of touch. The governments of these centralized nation states have too often neglected the needs of the nations and regions they are elected to represent - such is the case for Yorkshire. Current negotiations offer little with regard to the democratising reform which we seek. We believe that, regardless of the EU Referendum result, Europe must be democratised - local and regional first, national and European where appropriate and beneficial for all the people's of Europe. Yorkshire First will work with our European neighbours, in the European Free Alliance (EFA) to secure greater representation for our region and the best deal for its economy, environment and people. Yorkshire First members will vote according to their conscience in the EU Referendum. In addition, we will encourage debate and discussion in the sure knowledge that democracy is about more decisions being made by people, not politicians - a belief that we can create a better future by trusting in the people.
Politics Wessex Regionalists Assembly offers wake up call to the region A report from the highly successful 2016 Wessex Regionalists Annual General Assembly held at Weston Super Mare on 5th March. Wessex Regionalists met in Weston Super Mare on March 5th for their Annual General Assembly. Buoyed by recent interest and an increase in membership, the Wessex Regionalists entered the Assembly with renewed vigour. Optimism for the future success of the Party was justified as Secretary-General, David Robins, gave his publicity report which showed 1180 unique visitors to the Wessex Regionalists blogsite over the past month, with a similar figure visiting the Wessex Regionalists website. There was also an increase in followers on Twitter, proving the party was reaching a greater number of people. Colin Bex, in his report as Party President, touched upon the subject of Europe quoting Austrian writer Robert Menasse that ‘There are two types of European, the universal and the one dimensional’. The Party President concluded that the actions of one or both of these groups could ‘Lead to the extinction of nation-states’, adding ‘Then to my mind for our purposes, here is the clue to vindicate the case for the regions to replace the vacuum left by the demise of the nation state’. Europe was discussed further during the Assembly with a motion to formerly support the work of the European Free Alliance and its message that ‘Another Europe is Possible’. The Assembly accepted the motion, believing the decentralist message of the European Free Alliance, already supported by parties such as Mebyon Kernow and Yorkshire First, was close to the Wessex Regionalists vision of an EU transformed into a confederal Europe of a Hundred Flags, that rejects the current centralism of both London and Brussels. As the Party currently has a member who is a parish councillor, it is to contact the European Free Alliance with regards to membership.
Party treasurer and Wiltshire Wessex Regionalist member, Jim Gunter, raised the issue of child abuse, arguing that religious indoctrination by parents or guardians has no place is a modern, progressive society. The Assembly agreed that no child above the age of criminal responsibility should be subject to religious indoctrination of any form without their consent, and that a broad based religious education should be adhered to in all schools. Animal welfare was also raised, with the Assembly endorsing Party policy opposing ritual slaughter, upholding the principle that animal welfare in all animal husbandry should be paramount. There were also calls to support modernisers in faiths that carry out ritual slaughter, who may also be opposed to such methods. With the increase of support for regionalism in Kernow, the north east of England and Yorkshire, as well as Wessex, a joint statement on regionalism was proposed. This statement would be signed by the leaders of all the regionalist parties on the electoral register, and the civic nationalist Mebyon Kernow. Proposing the motion, Devon Wessex Regionalists member, Rick Heyse, stated ‘Many people are looking at devolution within England, therefore it’s important our vision is brought to the table to be considered’. On a similar theme of putting regionalism on the table for discussion, it was agreed the Party should request Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn signs the petition for a Wessex Assembly. The Labour leader was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, right in the heart of Wessex, is a signatory of the petition for a Cornish Assembly and is supportive of regionalism within England. Discussions on housing and benefits took place, with the general consensus that little was being done by the Westminster parties to protect the people of Wessex. To address the issue of second homes it was felt the party should look towards a policy similar to that of Guernsey, where there is a Local Market for local residents and those whose labour is essential to local services and the economy, and an Open Market for those wishing to retire to the area from elsewhere. The Assembly agreed this would help prevent the property market from being artificially inflated and placing many properties beyond the reach of local people, as well as protecting the environment from over development. On the subject of benefits, Party President, Colin Bex, reiterated his firm belief that monetary reform was necessary and like many progressives we should be looking towards payments for all via a Citizens Dividend (Basic Income) instead of the benefits system. In addition to over development, green issues were raised through opposition to Trident and Hinkley Point. Hampshire Wessex Regionalists member, Cliff Jones, expressed his concerns that the region’s transport heritage was being lost, quoting threats to the existing quay railway in Weymouth and the historic cross channel SR-N4 hovercraft based at Lee-on-Solent. In addition to this Cliff called for a ban on any development on old railway routes, as they have potential for use by trams or light rail providing an alternative to the car. With the forthcoming local and mayoral elections, the Assembly pledged its support to Nick Xylas, the Wessex Regionalists candidate in Bristol’s Eastville ward. In his election address Nick states ‘The Wessex Regionalists are the only party standing in Bristol who put decentralism – the 12
belief that local people should have as much political control as possible – at the heart of their philosophy’. Party members and supporters are encouraged to help Nick as much as possible during the campaign. His election website can be found at www.wr4eastville.weebly.com The Assembly re-elected Colin Bex as President, with David Robins as Secretary General, Jim Gunter as Treasurer, and Nick Xylas and Douglas Stuckey council members. Rick Heyse was coopted at the earlier Council meeting as Communications Officer. Keith Southwell expressed a wish to stand as Treasurer when Jim Gunter steps down from the post in 12 months. He and Cliff Jones currently work as co-organisers for the Party in Hampshire.
Do you want to be part of the growing Party for Wessex?
Nick Xylas to stand for the Wessex Regionalists in Bristol’s Eastville ward The electorate of Bristol’s Eastville ward will have a real choice in May’s elections for Bristol City Council, with the Wessex Regionalists entering the city’s political fray for the first time. Nick, a freelance writer and publisher, has been a full member of the Wessex Regionalists for many years and was raised in the Patchway area of the city. Nick was previously employed by the civil service for 15 years and spent 3 years in the US working in state government.
Throughout his life, Nick has demonstrated a commitment to public service and social justice for all, something he pledges to continue if elected to the council. The Wessex Regionalists are the only party standing in Bristol who put decentralism—the belief that local people and communities should have as much political control as possible—at the heart of their philosophy. In Bristol, the policies Nick and the party would support in order to bring about this vision include: Neighbourhood Partnerships to be replaced by elected parish or town councils, to increase local democracy. Extend the patchwork of neighbourhood planning areas to cover the whole city, and give neighbourhood plans real force. A preferential option for local small and community-owned businesses in council procurement under £150,000, where permitted (and to campaign for a repeal of any laws that might forbid such an option). Promoting community and self-build housing schemes in order to provide affordable housing for Bristolians. Supporting the building of the Henbury loop as part of an overall improvement in local rail services, including the construction of a metro and/or tram system. Standing with smallholders, allotment holders and other local food producers in their fight to stop land currently used for food production from being handed over for inappropriate development. Opposing more and bigger supermarkets and supporting local shops. Opposing academization of Bristol schools and returning education to local control.
Get behind the Nick 4 Eastville campaign Can you help the Wessex Regionalists by delivering the message in Eastville? Nick would welcome assistance from party members and supporters in delivering the Wessex Regionalists message, as well as donations towards the election funds. You can contact Nick via his election website at http://wr4eastville.weebly.com/contact.html.
Could you be the next candidate? The Wessex Regionalists are looking for candidates in every county across the region in a bid to reclaim Wessex from the grasp of Westminster. Being a candidate is not as daunting or as hard work as many people imagine, and you would have the backing of seasoned campaigners. For more information on how you can represent the Party for Wessex, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org 14
The Wessex County Flags Compiled by Keith Southwell A look at the county flags of Devon, Somerset including Bristol, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire , which make up the region of Wessex
â€œDevonâ€™s flag, dedicated to Saint Petroc, was registered on July 23 2003. The colours of the flag are 15
those popularly identified with Devon, appearing on the shirts of its Rugby Union team. Historically, it is also accounted that Lord Exmouth (the title being the name of a significant Devon town) flew a dark green flag with white circles at the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816. Specifically the green is held to represent the rolling lush Devon hills, black the high windswept moors of Dartmoor and Exmoor, while the white represents both the salt spray of Devon’s two coastlines and the China Clay industry. Notably, the juxtaposition of the green and black colours breaks the heraldic rule of tincture that is generally applied to flag design to help to distinguish the darker and lighter shades in a flag, particularly when seen from any distance” “The popularity of Cornwall’s flag inspired neighbouring Devon to seek its own. Many Devonians had long felt that their county was in need of an easily recognised icon to help promote Devon products and tourism. Bob Burns, an exiled Devonian and one of those who initiated the original debate, cited the visibility of the Cornish Flag as one of his motivations “Devonians are only too aware of the ubiquitous Cornish Flag, which can often be seen in the form of car bumper stickers, on vehicles entering Devon from Cornwall” (www.britishcountyflags.wordpress.com/devon-flag)
Somerset is to cider what Belgium is to beer, it is also home to the world famous Glastonbury music festival. Somerset is a rural county without any major industrial centres. Bath and Wells are the only cities in Somerset, Bath has a population of eighty four thousand people. Wells is a cathedral city with a population of only eleven thousand people. “Somerset’s flag was registered on July 4th 2013, the day it was announced as the winning entry in a competition organised by a county law firm and local media. Although the winner of the competition however, the design was basically traditional, having been used for the previous century by the local county council on its coat of arms and being derived from banners borne by the Wessex King, Alfred the Great and his kinsmen. Such flags were based in turn on Celtic use of a dragon symbol, which ultimately derived from the Draco symbol used by the military during the Roman occupation of
Britain. In essence therefore, the flag has a pedigree of at least, some two thousand years” (www.britishcountyflags.wordpress.com/somerset-flag)
Gloucestershire is a historic county mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle in the 10th century. Gloucester is the county town. “Gloucestershire’s flag was registered in March 2008 and was the winning entry in a competition held by the High Sheriff of the county, Jonathan Carr, to commemorate a millennium of the county’s existence. It was designed by Jeremy Bentall from Hucclecote in the county who described the flag thus “The green is representative of our rural county, the blue the River Severn and the yellow Cotswold Stone.” No specific explanation was given for the choice of a cross design, but obviously it is a popular pattern for English county flags. The flag was named by its designer as the Severn Cross in reference to the major waterway, the river Severn, which runs through the county and which is symbolised by the blue colour used” (www.britishcountyflags.wordpress.com/gloucestershire-flag)
“The Flag of Berkshire is the proposed flag of the English county of Berkshire. The county has never adopted an official design, though Berkshire County Council (abolished in 1998) occasionally used an image of two lions passant under a crown. Due to the lack of an official flag design, this variant has often been used as a place holder where necessary” 17
(Wikipedia/berkshireflag). The flag shown above was designed by Michael Garber and is based on a previous design by David Nash Ford.
The 'Dorset Cross' was chosen as the flag of Dorset on 16 September 2008 following a public vote, open to all Dorset residents, and organised by Dorset County Council. The unitary authorities of Bournemouth (historically part of Hampshire) and Poole declined an invitation to participate. The flag has subsequently been registered at the Flag Institute and added to their UK Flags Register. In November 2010, the flag was flown above HQ of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. In an initiative by Eric Pickles MP, each of the nation’s county flags were flown for a week to show their importance to the nation’s heritage. “The golden colour of the flag represents Dorset's sandy beaches and the Dorset landmarks of Golden Cap and Gold Hill, Shaftesbury. It is also a reference to the Wessex Dragon, a symbol of the West Saxon Kingdom to which Dorset belonged, and the gold wreath featured on the badge of the Dorset Regiment. The flag was named St Wite's Cross after a Saxon holy woman buried in Whitchurch Canonicorum who was believed to have been martyred by invading Danes in the 9th century” (www.wikishire.co.uk/dorset).
The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, capital of Wessex and England until about 1100. The people of Hampshire are sometimes referred to as Hampshire Hogs, due to the large number of wild boar that used to roam the Hampshire countryside. The Hampshire cities of Southampton and Portsmouth are both significant urban city ports, with Southampton handling a large proportion of the national container freight and Portsmouth housing a large Royal Navy base. The county has two national parks, the New Forest in the south west and the South Downs in the east. There currently isn’t an official Hampshire county flag. The proposed flag (shown above), retains the rose and crown pattern used in the county for several centuries in various guises. In 1992 the local county council received a formal grant of arms that included a gold royal crown on a red field, over a red Tudor rose on a gold field. Wishing to include a reference to the county's association with the era of Alfred the Great and his capital of Winchester, the Hampshire Association adopted this proposal from Jason Saber which replaces the "royal crown" with a specifically Saxon crown. Such a crown also appears in the full achievement of arms used by the council, symbolising exactly the same Alfredian legacy as intended in this proposed flag (www.wikishire.co.uk/dorset).
“The flag shown above is the proposed flag of the county of Oxfordshire. It has not yet been registered with the FlagInstitute. The flag is named the St Frideswide Cross, honouring a local saint. The green background represents the fields and woodlands of the county; the blue symbolises the River Thames. It was designed by Edward Keene and Michael Garber of the Oxfordshire Association in conjunction with the Flag Institutes’s Graham Bartram . The flag has been flown above the Department for Communities and Local Government . An alternative commercially available flag exists, based on a banner of the coat of arms of the Oxfordshire County Council.” (Wikipedia /Oxfordshire flag)
â€œThe Wiltshire flag, otherwise known as the "Bustard Flag", was approved by a full meeting of the Wiltshire Council on 1 December 2009, as a county flag and subsequently registered with the flag Institute. An image of the great bustard stands at the centre of the flag. This bird had been extinct in England since 1832, but is now part of an intensive ten-year breeding programme on Salisbury plain. Salisbury Plain, at the heart of the county, is one of only two areas in Great Britain in which the great bustard originally lived. On the flag, the male great bustard is depicted in gold on a solid green circle to represent the open grassland. The border of the circle, in six sections alternating green and white, represents the stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury in the county. The six portions also represent the six surrounding Wessex counties of Somerset, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Dorset Berkshire and Gloucestershire. stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.
Interested in our counties? Then check out these two organisations Association of British Counties www.abcounties.com
Wessex Society www.wessexsociety.com
St.Aldhelm’s Day could be the start of action to Reclaim our Region By Rick Heyse May 25th, St. Aldhelms Day, the day for Wessex. A day when the people of Wessex can fly the Wyvern flag with pride. Unfortunately many people in the region do not even recognise the Wessex flag, and sadly know very little about their region. In many cases it’s as if Wessex has been wiped from the point of recognition in a bid to impose a greater sense of Englishness, and for parts of the region, a ‘south-westerness’ which include the nation of Kernow. The reality is Westminster is denying the right of Wessex to exist as a region and refuses to allow the people a democratic right to decide whether they want a Regional Assembly - Hence why they are not keen to ease the way for greater recognition for Wessex. The Westminster parties all have their own vision for devolution within England. Yet none include Wessex in their plans. Instead they choose to carve up England into their own puppet regimes through unitary authorities and artificial regions which owe nothing to the fabric of these islands. If we are ever to reclaim our region from the clutches of Westminster, we must increase recognition and a feeling of Wessexness. The flying of the Wessex flag is a key part of building such recognition. It’s unfortunate sometimes we can be our own worst enemy in being too polite and too quiet whilst Westminster ignores the Wessex cause. If we are to ever restore Wessex to its rightful place as a political entity in its own right, we need to face the challenges before us head on. The run up to St. Aldhelm’s Day and the period just after offer a massive opportunity to start reclaiming our region and one which we cannot afford to miss. Being a radical publication, Wessex Citizen is not afraid to go that extra mile in trying to reignite the flame of Wessexness in the minds and the hearts of the populace. We have produced a pdf leaflet, available with this issue, which can be printed and delivered to households which currently fly the Cross of St.George, Union Flag or county flag, as well as local councillors M.P’s and MEP’s. 21
Other activity around St. Aldhelm’s Day can include. Letters to the local press alerting people to St. Aldhelm’s Day as the Day of Wessex. Give them the address of the Wessex Society so they can purchase a Wessex flag. Fly your own Wessex flag. On St. Aldhelm’s Day and take a photo of it flying from your house or being displayed in your window. Send a photo to the local press with a follow up letter. Also send it to the Wessex Regionalists, Wessex Society and ourselves at Wessex Citizen. If your local council currently does not fly the Wessex flag on its public buildings, demand they do so. Tell them you think it is offensive that they are denying people a sense of Wessexness and in doing so attempting to wipe Wessex from the history books. Stage a protest outside your Town Hall if they refuse to fly the Wessex flag. This could even take the form of co-ordinated action by fellow supporters outside one Town Hall, with a message to other local authorities. Position yourself on one of the border crossings into Wessex with a flag and a placard declaring ‘Welcome to Wessex’. Again this can make a good coordinated activity. Promote the petition for a Wessex Assembly.
The editorial policy of Wessex Citizen is one of radical regionalism. We strongly feel the time of being silent and polite has come to an end. If we want Wessex to be recognised we have to do something about it. If the people of Wessex have little knowledge of their reason, we have to inform them. If Westminster refuses to listen we have to make them listen. It’s time to wake up Wessex and demand our region back from its incarceration by Westminster. Wessex needs a St. Aldhelm’s Day rising. Who Was St. Aldhelm? Aldhelm was born in Wessex in 639 and educated in Canterbury, Kent. In 683 he was appointed Abbot of Malmesbury. Under his leadership, the Abbey continued to be a seat of learning and was given many gifts from kings and nobles. Aldhelm enlarged the monastery at Malmesbury and built the Church of St Peter and St Paul. He founded monasteries in Frome and Bradford-on-Avon, where he also built St Laurence’s Church which still stands today. He became Bishop of Sherborne in 705 following the splitting of the Bishopric of Wessex into two dioceses. In 709, on the 25th May, Aldhelm died in Doulting Somerset. And so died a man not only of religious importance, but one King Alfred the Great placed as one of the first rank of poets in the country Buy your Wessex Flag You can purchase a 3’ x 5’ Wessex flag from the Wessex Society for just £5 at the following link http://www.wessexsociety.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
The Battle of the Beanfield 1985, featuring Lord Cardigan By Keith Southwell
The Event Thirty one years ago the Battle of the Beanfield took place a few miles from stone henge in a field in rural Hampshire close to the Wiltshire/Hampshire county border. Many people have not heard of the battle that took place that day in the bean field, including political activists who are otherwise well versed in the injustices of the police investigation into the Hillsborough tragedy when 96 Liverpool football supporters tragically lost their lives, and the battle of Orgreave that took place during the miners strike the previous year in 1984, when lawsuits were brought against the police for assault, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. The battle took place over several hours on June 1st 1985 after about 600 new age travellers left a camp site in Wiltshire, they had been illegally occupying on their way to an outlawed free festival at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice. The land they had been occupying â€“ Savernake Forest - was managed by the Earl of Cardigan otherwise known as David Brudenell-Bruce, educated at Eton, he attended the Royal Agricultural College Cirenchester, and became the secretary of the Marlborough Conservatives in 1985. He later became an unlikely ally of the travellers in the aftermath of the conflict. 23
The Travellers convoy on the morning of June 1st numbered some 80 to 120 vehicles, most of them buses and vans converted into homes. Savernake Forest is close to the A338 road just south of the Wiltshire town of Marlborough, and about 21 miles from Stonehenge The police had laid down an exclusion zone four miles around the perimeter of Stonehenge, due to the illegality of the planned festival. The Convoy met resistance when the police set up a road block near Shipton Bellinger in Hampshire seven miles from Stonehenge, and about 14 miles south of Savernake Forest The road block consisted of three lorry loads of gravel tipped across the road. The police attacked vehicles at the front of the convoy when it came to a halt at the road block. Most of the convoy members further back along the line of vehicles decided to escape the police violence by driving into a nearby grass field, later ending up in the adjacent bean field. The travellers found themselves trapped in the field with little hope of reaching Stonehenge, and after negotiations with the police, they were refused permission to return to Savernake Forest. The Chief Constable of Wiltshire, Donald Smith ordered the arrest of all the members of the Convoy, which included women with young children and pregnant women, stating that he was convinced that they were intent on reaching Stonehenge. The scene was set for a violent confrontation that would result in the largest mass arrest of civilians since the second world war. What followed were outbreaks of violence in which several members of the Convoy received head injuries, an ambulance was allowed through to take them to hospital. In the evening officers in riot gear entered the field and launched a final attack. Pregnant women and those holding babies were hit by police with truncheons. When some travellers tried to escape by driving away through the field, police allegedly threw truncheons, shields, fire-extinguishers and stones at the vehicles to stop them. Travellers' vehicles were smashed and set on fire.
In the words of Kim Sabido (ITN reporter at the time): 'It was barbaric, and I couldn’t quite come to terms with seeing police officers acting in this way, because, as I said, I’ve reported from a war, and it didn’t affect me that way, because people were there to fight, they were there to kill each other, and the pros and cons, everybody knows about them in a war, and it wasn’t such a shock. Seeing civilian police officers treating women with babies in their arms, people who weren’t armed as far as I could see, who were just trying to get out of this field, and they were being beaten – in some cases almost senseless – by police officers wielding batons, was a total culture shock to me.' And the words of Nick Davies (Observer at the time): 'One officer warned me to stay out of the field. He said, ‘My lads have been putting up with this lot for eleven years. They’ve had enough of it, and there’s going to be some heads cracked in there today'... This was the most undisciplined police operation I’ve ever seen – and I have quite often been in riots, and I have occasionally seen individual police officers blow it, but I have never seen an entire police operation run riot like that. It wasn’t a matter of law enforcement, it was a collective act of bullying.'
The Earl of Cardigan, who had followed the convoy on a motorbike and would be later be a key witness, had this to say: “Unfortunately, that last bus had been the one that had been keeping them going longest, and briefly, when the police got into that bus – in my opinion, from close range – they briefly lost the control that they’d held that afternoon. All their pent-up frustration and adrenalin of the afternoon was vented on the occupants of that last one bus, and the violence that was shown to the occupants was appalling. The truncheons were rising and falling on their bodies like no one’s business. It was – very briefly – very ghastly to see.”
The Aftermath After the Beanfield, Wiltshire Police approached Lord Cardigan to gain his consent for an immediate eviction of the Travellers remaining in Savernake Forest. He refused them access: “They said they wanted to go into the camp site `suitably equipped’ and `finish unfinished business’. Make of that phrase what you will, says Cardigan. “I said to them that if it was my permission they were after, they did not have it. I did not want a repeat of the grotesque events that I’d seen the day before.” Twenty-four of the travellers sued Wiltshire Police for wrongful arrest, assault and criminal damage to their property. Twenty-one of the travellers were successful and were awarded £24,000, on average just over one thousand pounds each. The judge declined to award their legal costs effectively eating up the compensation. It was alleged that the police covered up their police numbers, making it difficult for action to be taken against individual policemen for their thuggery, rather than the police force itself, although one police sergeant was convicted of assault. Cardigan subsequently provided eye-witness testimonies of police behaviour during prosecutions brought against Wiltshire Police. These included descriptions of a heavily pregnant woman “with a silhouette like a Zeppelin” being “clubbed with a truncheon” and riot police showering a woman and child with glass: “I had just recently had a baby daughter myself so when I saw babies showered with glass by riot police smashing windows, I thought of my own baby lying in her cradle 25 miles away in Marlborough” As a member of the aristocracy and establishment Cardigan proved to be a potent witness, and as a result several national newspapers, many loyal to the Tory government, hit back challenging the reliability and validity of his testimonies and his sanity. The Times editorial claimed that being “barking mad was probably hereditary.” The Telegraph labelled him a class traitor. Cardigan successfully sued five newspapers, including The Times and The Telegraph: “I hadn’t realised that anybody that appeared to be supporting elements that stood against the establishment would be savaged by establishment newspapers. Now one thinks about it, nothing could be more natural. I hadn’t realised that I would be considered a class traitor; if I see a policeman truncheoning a woman I feel I’m entitled to say that it is not
a good thing you should be doing. I went along, saw an episode in British history and reported what I saw.â€?
It seems incredible that such a battle could take on a summers day in deepest rural Wessex. In reality it was not a battle, only a handful of the 600 odd travellers confronted the police that day, the rest were subjected to a frightening level of violence and intimidation. Arms were broken, heads smashed and women and children sprayed with glass, and homes destroyed. The press, in the aftermath of the battle, describe the travellers as anarchists, scum and benefit scroungers (sounds familiar). There was very little sympathy from the general public or the so called radical left (many of whom thought that it was their duty to organise workers through Trotskyist political dogma), who have always viewed libertarian lifestyles and anarchist tendencies with suspicion. It is ironic that one of the travellers greatest allies was a fully paid up member of the establishment and Tory party, Lord Cardigan. What was the role of the police that day, was it to protect the stone henge site from damage or was there something more sinister planned, maybe the destruction of a sub culture, a movement that the state under Margaret Thatcher considered threatened their plans for an ever obedient and compliant English people? This may seem farcical, until you consider the level of violence that was used that day, violence that was not even used against hardened football hooligans who created their own version of carnage in city centres and football grounds throughout the 1980s. The Battle of the Beanfield is an often neglected event in Wessex history that will hopefully never be repeated. The image of the British Bobby on the beat is long gone, and the trust in the police was severely tested during the 1980s and beyond. The Miners who suffered at the hands of â€œThatchers private armyâ€? and the families of the people who died at Hillsborough, 26
will possibly never forgive the police. Is the role of the police to protect the interests of the state, or to protect the people and maintain law and order with reasonable use of force. No reasonable force was used in the bean field that day.
Above another scene from the Battle of the Bean Field whilst below a more peaceful time as a Wessex man cuts the grass at Stonehenge, circa 1950â€™s.
Sign the petition for a Wessex Assembly www.wessexregionalists.info/petition
Published on Apr 14, 2016
The radical voice of Wessex Regionalism. Issue 2 contains items on the EU referendum, a report from the Wessex Regionalists Annual General A...