Sunday, 9 March 2014

A new democratic settlement for Cornwall

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian will, rather unpredictably, focus on MK’s latest campaign initiative in support of a Cornish Assembly. The preview is as follows:

On St Piran’s Day, Mebyon Kernow launched a new publication titled “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall.”

The document sets out how the devolution of significant political powers to Cornwall, bringing the majority of the public sector under local democratic control, could work for our local communities.

The document dispels the common misrepresentation that such an Assembly would somehow be independent of the UK, clearly stating that “it would be an integral and empowered part of the governance of the United Kingdom.” It also dismisses the claim that devolution equates to nothing more than local government reform.

Devolution has already led to the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, Assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as an Assembly for London. These devolved institutions have certainly grown in stature and authority in recent years, and constitutional change is rightly rising up the political agenda.
But the reality for the people of Cornwall is that democratically elected and locally accountable politicians presently have limited say over vast amounts of public expenditure in our area.

Westminster retains control over most political decisions of real significance while, all too often, government bodies and quangos which develop key strategies and policies are located outside of Cornwall. They inevitably fail to recognise the strengths of Cornwall or understand the special needs of our communities.

Make no mistake, the United Kingdom – even taking into account the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is an over-centralised state, dominated by London and the South East of England.

The Coalition’s Business Secretary Vince Cable has even warned that London was fast “becoming a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country.”

I believe that the unequal constitutional relationships between the various parts of the UK need to be addressed, and action taken to combat the centralising influence of London.

I also believe that there should be a respectful and wide-ranging debate about the future governance of the whole of the United Kingdom, with our call for a National Assembly of Cornwall at the very heart of that debate.

If you want to find out more, MK’s new document can be downloaded from or a paper copy requested from MK, Meridian House, Heron Way, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XN.

MK is seeking the views of local residents and there is a consultation period until 30th June 2014. Comments on the document can be sent to the above address, or by email to 

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