Today marks the tenth anniversary of the presentation of 50,000 Declarations for a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street.
Getting over 50,000 people to show their support for a Cornish Assembly in less than twenty months was a truly amazing achievement, and the Declarations continue to represent a great statement of intent from the ordinary people of Cornwall.
At this point, it is right that we look at what has happened since 2001 and how the aspirations of the 50,000 signatories have been devalued by the actions of the London-centred parties and their leaders.
It remains a disgrace that Tony Blair’s Labour Government (which supported devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) dismissed the declarations and refused to consider demands for greater powers for Cornwall.
The Liberal Democrats walked away from the campaign for an Assembly and, with the backing of the Labour Government, they pushed through the creation of a single unitary authority in the face of massive opposition. They even had the brass neck to attempt to promote this centralisation of local government by using the language of devolution.
And now, we even have the Conservative-led Coalition Government further undermining democracy and the territoriality of Cornwall by pushing through plans for a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.
The previous Labour Government spoke a lot about devolution, local control and democratic change. The present Coalition Government also speaks a lot about devolution, as well as localism.
But these were, and are, “hollow words” as far as Cornwall is concerned. Blair and Brown ignored calls for a Cornish Assembly, a situation that is being replicated by the present Coalition Government.
The reality is that, because of the failings and neglect of the London-centred political parties, the fight has got harder – and the responsibility that Mebyon Kernow members have is even greater.
The quest to win an Assembly for Cornwall remains our big battle and we will never retreat from it! As the leader of MK, I pledge our continued commitment to greater self-government for Cornwall and we will never shirk from this fight.
Ten years on from taking the Declarations to Downing Street, I have also written to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. I have challenged them to respect the views of the 50,000 and to work with local communities to deliver devolution to the historic Celtic nation of Cornwall.
I will report back on the replies when I receive them.