Sunday, 16 November 2008

Commenting on Matthew Taylor's views

Following Peter Tatchell’s article on the Guardian website, Matthew Taylor MP has posted a riposte. It is titled “Cornwall needs a revolution, not a divorce” with the strapline “Cornwall doesn't need a separate parliament, just genuine local autonomy and fair funding to go with it.”

I have responded to his posting. My comments are posted below:

Hello Matthew

As you would expect, I am in agreement with many of the points you make in your article. However, I fundamentally disagree with your views on the campaign for greater powers to Cornwall.

One failing in Peter Tatchell’s original article was that it used the term “independence” when the reality is that in Cornwall the campaigns have primarily always been about devolution.

I was therefore disappointed that you did not address this – preferring instead to use language like “going it alone,” “divorce” and stating that “we don't need a separate parliament, we simply need genuine local autonomy over the things that matter locally …”

I was also saddened that you continue to state that the planned single tier council for Cornwall could “evolve” into “an assembly.” With respect, I believe you are mixing up local government with aspirations for regional/national government for Cornwall. They are two separate things.

And within the British Context, the difference between a Parliament and an Assembly comes down simply to the extent of powers of the body, while the existence of a Parliament (as in Scotland) does not equal separation.

That is why Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for a National Assembly for Cornwall with powers similar to those of the Scottish Parliament.I also would like to remind you of a few things:

1. In November 2001, Liberal Democrats held a Cornwall Conference which agreed to campaign for a Regional Assembly for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

2. In December 2001, you were happy to stand with me and other campaigners on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street to hand over 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly.

3. The Lib Dems contested the 2005 General Election and Cornwall County Council elections with a Cornish Manifesto which included a commitment to a Cornish Assembly.

4. Upon winning control of the Council that year, the Lib Dems published a list of priorities that included a pledge to “establish detailed plans for a Cornish Assembly” within their first year of office. This pledge was not acted upon.

5. At another conference in November 2005, Cornish Liberal Democrats re-affirmed their commitment to the campaign for a Cornish Assembly. The motion specifically stated that devolution was NOT local government reform. Your colleague Andrew George MP said: “… the Government will not get away with their belief that they can fob us off with a rearrangement of deckchairs on the Titanic of local government.”

6. However when Ruth Kelly launched a Local Government White Paper in October 2006, the Liberal Democrat County Council immediately jettisoned their commitment to an Assembly and began to prepare a bid for a single council.

7. The Lib Dems have continued making the claim that local government reorganisation would lead to devolution – even after Local Government Minister John Healey MP (speaking in the House of Commons) confirmed that there were “no specific additional powers” for Cornwall in February.

I believe it is about time that Cornwall’s Liberal Democrats came clean and admitted that they have let Cornwall down by abandoning their commitment to a Cornish Assembly and imposing an unwanted unitary authority upon us.

1 comment:

Martyn Richard Jones said...

I think the issue of independence was cleared up quite early on into the discussion - some people chose to ignore that clarification. One contentious issue that the established nationalists did not seem to want to address concerned the creation of regional autonomies along the lines of the Spanish model. Good luck!