Monday, 5 October 2015

Westminster parties are failing to organise on a Cornwall-wide basis

I have just returned from a lovely week-long holiday in Wales. In between dragging my body to the summit of Snowden and watching a rugby game in Cardiff, I also took the time to catch up on political developments on the western side of Offa’s Dyke.

Welsh devolution certainly means that politics as practised in the principality is so very, very different to that experienced in Cornwall.

Political parties in Wales are almost all organised on an all-Wales basis, with most having their own elected leaders. Alongside Plaid Cymru’s outstanding Leanne Wood there are, amongst others, Carwyn Jones (Welsh Labour), Kirsty Williams (Welsh Liberal Democrats), Pippa Bartolotti (Wales Green Party) and Nathan Gill (UKIP Wales).

These may not be household names for everyone in Cornwall, but the political scene which they inhabit does ensure that every single economic, environmental or social issue is “framed” within a Welsh context, that really does engage the wider population.

What a contrast to Cornwall.

The Conservative Party does not principally operate on a Cornwall-wide basis, but across a “South West region” that extends as far as Wiltshire. It is the same with its various associated groupings such as Conservative Future (for younger people) or its Women’s Organisation.

The Labour Party is also organised on a “South West” basis with a regional office in Bristol, while the Lib Dem website states that “Devon and Cornwall is one of 11 regions of the English Liberal Democrats.”

The failure of the larger Westminster parties to even recognise Cornwall as an entity in their own organisational structures is extremely telling. It shows that we are not one of their main priorities when compared, for example, to Westminster or the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

This is surely unacceptable, and it is my heartfelt belief that all politicians should be unashamedly developing a more “Kernow-centric” approach to politics, that gives a much-needed boost to the visibility of Cornwall and the issues which affect our communities.

Also last week, BBC’s Question Time debate was broadcast from Cardiff and four of the five panellists were prominent politicians and public figures from Wales.

How different from the most recent Question Time debate hosted in Cornwall, when not one panellist had the slightest connection to our area. A stronger Cornish politics would surely put an end to such invisibility!

[This article will appear in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

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