Sunday, 3 April 2016

“Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall”

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian will, somewhat predictably, concentrate on the launch of the above document.

The article will be as follows:

At Mebyon Kernow’s Spring Conference, which took place last weekend, we launched an updated version of our publication titled “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall.”

I believe it is an important document. It clearly sets out how the devolution of significant political powers to Cornwall, and bringing the majority of the public sector under local democratic control, would be good for our local communities.

Devolution has already led to the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, as well as Assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland. These devolved institutions have certainly grown in stature and authority in recent years, and constitutional change is continuing to rise up the political agenda in certain parts of the United Kingdom.

But make no mistake, the UK – 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.

And here in Cornwall, the reality is that democratically elected and locally accountable politicians presently lack the powers to make so many of the political decisions that really matter.

The word “devolution” is being bandied about a lot in Cornwall these days, but it is not in the context of the meaningful shift of power achieved in Wales and Scotland.

Last year’s top-down “devolution deal” was extremely feeble and lacked ambition. It only allowed very, very limited new powers to the unitary authority, while giving other responsibilities to unelected bodies with little democratic legitimacy such as the Local Enterprise Partnership.

I do not see how reforms even merit being described as “devolution.” Neither are they democratic and the “deal” was so limited in scope that it did not merit legislation or even a debate in the House of Commons.

It is my view that Cornwall needs proper devolution – not tweaks to local government – and I hope that “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” will go some way in helping us to construct a compelling public campaign for greater self-government.

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 United Kingdom. It also dismisses the claim that devolution equates to nothing more than local government reform.

It is also my hope that this document will become part of a mature, respectful and wide-ranging debate about the future governance of the whole of the United Kingdom, but which place the needs of Cornwall at the very heart of that debate.

MK’s new document can be downloaded from:

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