Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Looking back over the last twenty years

It has been exactly twenty years since I was elected the leader of Mebyon Kernow. The role has certainly been a massive part of my adult life and little did I think that, two decades on, I would still be in post!

It has been an absolute honour to lead the Party for Cornwall, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has campaigned with me during this time.

It has been hard work. There have been many highs, it has often been frustrating, and there have been many lows as well.

High points in terms of MK include being the author of the “Declaration for a Cornish Assembly,” which was signed by over 50,000 people in 2000 and 2001, and still stands out as a powerful demand from the people of Cornwall for a meaningful devolution settlement.

It was fantastic to be part of the wide-ranging campaign that secured the recognition of the Cornish through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Personally, I feel my election as a Mebyon Kernow councillor for my home parish was my key accomplishment. It has been a great privilege to have served St Enoder Parish since 1999, and I am grateful to all those local residents who have continued to support me with their votes.

But politics can be tough, and I must admit my frustrations at MK’s difficulties in making progress in a political system conducted through the prism of Westminster.

In Cornwall, MK has proved itself able to be competitive in council elections and a number of members have been elected. But it has been very different when it comes to parliamentary elections, where voters have been less willing to give MK their support. It has certainly not helped that MK, as a “regional” political party, has been denied party election broadcasts at such times, and the “mainstream” media, such as the main television channels, very rarely deem MK worthy of coverage.

But, looking back over the last twenty years, perhaps the most saddening thing has been the failure of the UK Government to act properly on so many demands coming from Cornwall.

Just take the 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly and our national minority status as examples. The declarations have been ignored and, instead of bringing devolution proposals, Westminster has centralised and undermined local government structures in Cornwall. And it is also the case that central government has failed to act it on its obligations – cultural, linguistic, political and economic – enshrined in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

This all reinforces to me that MK, as a pro-Cornwall political force, is needed now as much as ever, and it is my intention to continue playing my part in the years to come.

My time as leader of the Party for Cornwall will be marked at the afternoon session of MK’s 2017 National Conference, which will be held at Bodmin’s Shire House Suite on 18th November. Anyone interested in coming along would be very welcome.

[This is my article in today’s Cornish Guardian newspaper].

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