Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Labour Party opposes a Cornish Assembly

Ed Miliband recently declared that: “Devolution is for everyone.”

I am therefore very disappointed that Candy Atherton, apparently speaking on behalf of the Labour Party in Cornwall, has set out its opposition to a Cornish Assembly.

Speaking to a journalist at the Labour Party Conference, she claimed that “we certainly believe in devolving power and responsibilities to the local level,” but added that she wanted the unitary authority to work with the unelected Local Enterprise Partnership.

She said that “The last thing the electorate want is more politicians. I challenge you to knock on doors in a wet October and find more than one in 100. Mebyon Kernow are not exactly top of the pops.”

She added that she wanted additional flexibilities for Cornwall’s one principal authority, and that an Assembly would just be “another layer of bureaucrats.”

Well, it must be somewhat galling for those Labour MSPs and AMs serving in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly - their national legislatures - to be described as “bureaucrats.”

I would remind Candy Atherton that in 2000/2001 over 50,000 people signed declarations calling for a Cornish Assembly, which clearly stated:

“I support the Campaign for a Cornish Assembly … We, the People of Cornwall, must have a greater say in how we are governed. We need a Cornish Assembly that can set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall and provide a stronger voice for our communities in Britain, in Europe and throughout the wider world.”

Candy Atherton was an MP at the time and did not support the campaign. Indeed, on the day that we delivered it to 10 Downing Street (12th December 2001), she actually misrepresented it in a debate on regional government in Westminster Hall. She said:

“The Cornish Assembly petition, with 50,000 signatures, is being delivered to No. 10 Downing Street today. It is a great petition, but I think that many of those who signed it wanted to show support for devolving power, rather than a desire for a purely Cornish Assembly.”

In 2014, I would hope that there are many Labour Party members and supporters out there who do support a Cornish Assembly. Please come forward and publicly back the campaign for a new democratic deal for Cornwall.

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