Sunday, 30 October 2016

Polson Bridge protest says no to Devonwall

Polson Bridge was the place to be today, when campaigners congregated to protest against Government plans for a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” parliamentary seat. 

I was proud to represent Mebyon Kernow at the rally and I would like to say a massive thank you to Esther Johns, her family and friends, who worked so hard to organise this important event.

We were there because the “Boundary Commission for England” is recommending a Bideford, Bude and Launceston seat, which would breach the thousand-year-old border of the Tamar and undermine the very territorial integrity of the historic nation of Cornwall.

And this has not come about by accident. It has happened because of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which was agreed in 2011. This does not protect Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly) as a political unit and states that the electorates for individual seats must be within 5% of the average seat size.

Put simply, the number of voters mean it was a statistical impossibility for the Boundary Commission to propose five whole seats for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

To stop Devonwall, we need a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act to ensure parliamentary seats lie entirely within Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly), and that is why many people are working hard to put pressure on local MPs and the Minister in charge of constitutional matters, Chris Skidmore.

Please join with us in this campaign. Please lobby Mr Skidmore who can be contacted at the Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS or via

But we really do need to swamp the Conservatives with correspondence. Our local MPs, who were not present at Polson Bridge, are not listening at the moment.

On October 10th, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, which set out opposition to the creation of a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency. Not one Cornish MP has supported the EDM, and only two from outside of Scotland and Wales.

And just over a week later, SNP MP Pete Wishart tabled a motion which called for the Boundary Review to be abandoned and, instead, the number of unelected peers in the House of Lords to be slashed. Cornwall’s Tory MPs all voted with the Government and against this proposal. And unforgivably, they did not even use the opportunity of the debate to speak out against the proposed Devonwall seat.

In addition, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act is shamefully in conflict with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, through which the UK Government accepted that the Cornish should be treated with the same status as the “UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

Please don’t delay. Put pressure on your local MP to Keep Cornwall Whole.

[This will be my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].

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