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28.2.08

You've been Quango'd me ansum

As can never be stressed enough, during the governments consultation on regional devolution within England, Cornwall was the only 'region' that showed any real popular interest in greater self government.

A few years down the road and where are we? Still languishing under unelected quangos is the unfortunate answer, and what is worse, next to none of the quangocrats are Cornish. The map on the left produced by the New Local Government Network as part of its study -You’ve been Quango’d! Mapping Power across the Regions- clearly shows that London and the counties immediately surrounding it are home to over half of all quango board members, where as Cornwall and the North of England have next to no voice on public bodies. Basically the poorer you are, the poorer the region you come from, the less likely you are to become a quangocrat. Cornwall, unsurprisingly, is in the bottom ten of barely represented regions.

The Carnegie UK Trust has examine how political power actually works in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and in particular reviewed the opportunities for ordinary people to participate in public decision-making. The Carnegie UK Trust commissioned Democratic Audit to carry out a review of power and participation in the UK. The pdf report, which supports the findings of the New Local Government Network, can be found here - Power & Participation in Modern Britian.

Taken from OurKingdom:

Many of our findings will be familiar enough. Within the UK, the core executive, or government, wields great and often unaccountable power. This power is sealed in most circumstances by the governing party’s majority in the House of Commons - an institution that also acts as bulwark against popular opinion. The City of London and corporate business exercise wide and continuing influence upon government, in part because of the global ideological environment. The media also exert influence upon government policies and the print media, in particular the Murdoch newspapers, clearly exercise political power - for example, on the Blair government’s policies towards the EU. Participation by citizens and communities in the UK is as unequal as the distribution of power and resources in what is an increasingly unequal society. Rich and highly educated social groups tend to dominate associational life, or civil society, and benefit disproportionately from the influence that their organised activities can bring to bear. Social exclusion inhibits the participation of poor and disadvantaged communities and individuals.

Our Duchy is a classic example and the only solution is to dote Cornwall with the democratic institutions that it needs and has asked for, a view supported by Lord Tyler last week at the Justice Committees session on the English Questions.

Taken from Our KingdomPaul Tyler highlighted the fact that it is not just the English question it is also a Cornish question, and a question for all of England outside London that already has some devolved powers. He called for decentralisation of power and reform of the electoral system. 

It is also gratifying to see Peter Facey of Unlock Democracy referring to the Cornish call for devolution and our petition of 50,000. The Justice Committees evidence gathering on the English Questions -Devolution 10 years on- can be watched in full here.

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