Monday, 10 March 2014

Western Morning News: “Cornish Assembly deserves a fair and unbiased hearing”

In Saturday’s edition of the Western Morning News, there was an extremely positive editorial comment about MK’s campaign for a Cornish Assembly. For those that didn’t see the article over the weekend, it was as follows:

Most people “east of the border” – as well as residents of Cornwall itself – may have been baffled by Mebyon Kernow’s St Piran’s Day call for a national assembly.

What can possibly be gained by creating a fresh tier of administration just five years after the establishment of the unitary authority?

But the truth is that despite its best efforts to be a one-size-fits-all super-authority, Cornwall Council remains deeply unpopular. Whether these criticisms are justified is almost beside the point: the reality is people feel it is neither representative, accountable or financially efficient.

The idea of a national assembly for Cornwall is nothing new, having been discussed for more than a century. In 2000, when 50,000 people signed a petition calling for an assembly, the move was supported by every MP in Cornwall, as well as Cornwall County Council, the district and borough councils and 28 town and parish councils. It even became a Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge – but we have come to learn how flimsy they can be. 

Perhaps the first reaction to the proposal is: “Surely Cornwall is too small.” But with a population of 536,000, Cornwall is larger than Iceland, Luxembourg and Malta, as well as numerous other semi-autonomous regions across Europe.

The second consideration might reasonably be cost. However, assembly supporters can produce figures to show that by abolishing a large number of unelected bodies and ensuring much of the business of government currently administered in Bristol and London is done in-house, it could actually cost less and create well-paid Cornish jobs in the process.

Under MK plans published in its consultation document, Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall, such a body would control the majority of the public sector, including the NHS and education.

We should not be afraid of looking at alternatives. What MK is suggesting is not some didactic pie-in-the-sky ideology, but simply the possibility of a pragmatic solution to an unpopular status quo. The purpose of its consultation document is to place the idea on the table in the hope that it will be discussed openly and maturely as part of a fact-based debate.

All of us are tired of the cynical rhetoric of London politicians. The least we can do is give the idea of a Cornish Assembly a fair and unbiased hearing.

No comments: