The Returning Officer: Regionalists

William Brownrigg stood in Penrith and the Border in 1951 and 1955, polling 158 and 368 votes respectively. Although listed as an "Independent Conservative", his second election leaflet advocated home rule for Cumberland, including its own currency. His first had argued for the legalisation of cockfighting and Monte Carlo-style gaming laws in the county.

In 1970, R W J Cawdell was the first and only parliamentary candidate for the Vectis National Party - from the Roman name for the Isle of Wight. He campaigned for more toilets at the Isle of Wight festival, and during the 1971 postal strike headed a group that ran the island's own postal service, producing two different 5p stamps for local deliveries.

Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, was the first candidate for the Wessex Regionalist Party, standing in Westbury in 1974. The party's biggest success was in the same constituency five years later when it got 1,905 votes, probably helped by the name of the candidate, Tom Thatcher.

This article first appeared in the 14 February 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The Middle East