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30.11.08

No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality

A very worthwhile campaign and one that should be fully supported by the Cornish movement.


Do you think that women and men should be equally represented in all European Union institutions? Join the 50/50 Campaign! SIGN NOW and TAKE ACTION!

In 2009, Europeans will elect a new European Parliament and a new European Commission will be appointed. These elected and nominated persons are going to shape our future in Europe, and the “50/50 Campaign for Democracy” aims to ensure that women and men are equally represented among them. Many prominent persons from across Europe have already given their wholehearted support to the EWL 50/50 Campaign.

20.11.08

Peter Tatchell on the Cornish question

As is to be expected the moment the Cornish question gets a fair crack at the whip on the -comment is free- blogs section of the Guardian website I loose all internet connection.....

Anyway here is a summary of the action.

Peter Tatchell kicked off the fun with his fantastic article- Self-rule for Cornwall. Once again a hundred thanks Peter for helping to raise awareness of the Cornish question. We can expect more from this direction soon...

This was responded to with a terribly sensible piece from Cornish MP Mathew Taylor- Cornwall needs a revolution, not a divorce. Undoubtedly we need a revolution in our governmental arrangements but why ignore the national minority status issue Mr. Taylor? Do the Cornish not have a right to recognition? A revolution yes but are our Liberal Democrat MPs and LD controlled local government actually doing ANYTHING to bring this about? Last time I looked they had reneged on their promise to campaign for a Cornish assembly and where trying to push an unwanted Unitary authority on to Cornwall. On the same track Dick Coles response on his blog is very illuminating.

Finally a synthesis of the above two articles appeared on the Our Kingdom blog under the title - The Case for Cornwall. Only really interesting for the comments it attracted from English nationalists and regionalists.

Cornish Culture & Cornish Environment; same combat?

As a follow up to the original article (see below) here is a relevent Celtic League press release.

CELTIC LEAGUE - PRESS INFORMATION

LEAGUE GS MEETS UN CLIMSAT DIRECTOR

The Director of the new United Nations CLIMSAT centre in Brest, Breizh (Brittany) said on the weekend that the future of the Breton environment lay in the autonomy of Brittany.

Alain Retière, who heads up the CLIMSAT centre, was speaking at l'Union Démocratique Bretonne/ Unvaniezh Demokratel Breizh (UDB) annual conference on Sunday (9th November 2008). Mr Retière said that Breizh was one of the areas of the world that was potentially at risk from the affects of global warming and that efforts needed to be undertaken in order to pre-empt and reduce the risk of damage as a result of global warming.

The new centre will seek to help regions better understand and anticipate the effects of climate change on their territories through the use of satellite images. In his address Mr Retière also spoke about the "First World Summit of Regions, Climate Change: Regions in Action" that took place in Saint Malo, Breizh between 29-30 October 2008. At the summit, 600 participants representing governments, regions and other local authorities gathered to discuss the central role of regional governments in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation and aimed to provide a platform for an exchange of experiences and good practices. The summit also saw 20 regional authorities and six associations of Regional Governments adopting what has been called the Saint Malo Declaration.

The Declaration, which was also signed by the Welsh Government, aims to fulfil a range of different initiatives, including calling upon States and the UN to recognize and support the role of regional governments in the promotion of sustainable development and the efficient response to climate change.

Speaking to the League's General Secretary (GS) after the talk, Mr Retière explained that the Welsh Government were very interested in the work of CLIMSAT and were eager to become more involved.

CLIMSAT is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiative set up through its Energy and Environment Group (EEG). It is supported by the Breton regional authorities and in collaboration with the Conseil régional de Bretagne.

Original article below:

A report here from UNESCO -Links Between Biological and Cultural Diversity- that should be of interest to all those who consider protecting Cornish culture along with its beautiful and fragile environment as part of the same combat. A question already posed by some in the Duchy is do we need to consider cultural and environmental protection as inextricably linked issues? Ought we try and instill in our children a respect for our cultural heritage hand in hand with a love for its environment?

I have reproduced the foreword from the document below:

Diversity—the rich tapestry of Life’s intricately interlaced phenomena, processes, and relationships—is being degraded by modern reductionist forces of homogenization. The fabric of interdependent and mutually reinforcing strands of biological, cultural, linguistic, and institutional diversities has frayed, as the world has become increasingly brittle and less resilient.

At a time when the environmental and social consequences of human-induced changes have become increasingly severe, there is a growing recognition that humankind, as Albert Einstein observed, “cannot solve problems in the same way of thinking that led to their creation.” A new way of thinking, a paradigm shift, is required to sufficiently improve the nature of our relationship with the world.

Recent years have seen the emergence of integrative fields of inquiry (resilience thinking, ecosystem health, ethnoecology, deep ecology, etc.) that have sought to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between culture and nature, to incorporate insights from both the biological and the social sciences, and to integrate traditional and local knowledge systems and worldviews with conventional scientific approaches.

Over the last decade, the Biocultural Diversity paradigm has emerged as a unifying platform rooted in life-sustaining interdependencies and coevolution of various forms of diversity. Academic ethnobiology has legitimized the vital link between culture and nature and highlighted the need to save the wealth of biodiversity-related traditional knowledge, wisdom, and practices that for millennia have been maintained by indigenous peoples.

The recent advances in the field of biocultural research and practice—grounded in the variety of knowledge systems, values, beliefs, and know-how that have persisted among diverse human societies—have important implications for the practice of biodiversity and cultural conservation. This increase in practical expertise in the development and application of biocultural approaches raises the need to address key theoretical and practical challenges in applying Biocultural Diversity paradigm.

Exploring the links between biological and cultural diversity, the current UNESCO report is an important step in that direction. The report frames the issues for future research and decision-making agendas, critical for the success of global eff orts to reverse global trends of loss in diversity and resilience.

Gleb Raygorodetsky
Program Officer,
Global Biocultural Wisdom & Practice

9.11.08

The exclusion of Cornwall from the Marine Stewardship project and the Marine Communities Fund of the Crown Estate

An interesting question has been raised by the Stannary Parliament here. If the Crown Estate, as ultimate owner, is responsible for the foreshore and natural coastline of England then who currently takes responsibilty for the protection of the Cornish foreshore considering that the Duchy of Cornwall is the ultimate owner of said foreshore? The Duchy certainly doesn't seem to!

Article in this weeks St. Ives Times and Echo:

Although most of the foreshore around the UK is crown property this is not the case in Cornwall where the rights have been ceded to The Duchy of Cornwall: "The Crown Estate has no holdings within the boundaries of Cornwall. Foreshore and other properties that would, in most Counties, be the property of the Crown Estate are, in Cornwall, not owned by the Crown Estate," confirmed Tim Riley, the Crown Estate Librarian, in January 2005.

Under the Articles of Agreement between the Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall, made law by the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1958, the mineral rights beneath the foreshore were assigned to the Duke of Cornwall. The legal position was confirmed: "The Duchy of Cornwallis vested in the Prince of Wales (who is) entitled to the annual income," by the Prime Minister and recorded in Hansard (27 March 1996).

In its complaint to GOSW the Stannary Parliament claims that "The Duke of Cornwall does not offer a Marine Stewardship Project or a Marine Communities Fund as might be reasonably be expected of the owner of the foreshore of Cornwall in light of the Crown Estates example."

"Recent meetings of the "Save our Sand Hayle" and the "Hayle Towans Partnership"
have expressed serious concern at the accelerating depletion of sand caused by commercial exploitation, yet have not contacted the Crown Estate or the Duchy of Cornwall as a landowner," writes E.R. Nute, keeper of the Stannary Parliament's seal.

In it's lengthy letter, which quotes many legal extracts drawing attention to the Duchy's ownership of Cornwall's foreshore, the Parliament complains that: "Clear administrative responsibilities are, however, not immediately apparent," and adds that Cornwall County Council is expected, "Not to take away any of the rights, powers, privelidges or authority of the Duchy of Cornwall, under section 50 of the Cornwall County Council Act 1981."

As a consequence the Stannary Parliament is asking GOSW: "Who is legally responsible for ensuring the protection and survival of the foreshore and natural coastline of Cornwall in compliance with European Union Decisions and Directives....?"




We can only welcome and applaud the recent call from Peter Tatchell for a full and public investigation into the nature of the Duchy of Cornwall.

8.11.08

Indigenous peoples and the left

Many are those from the far left that attack progressive nationalist movements Western Europe. Next time you meet one of them why not throw this back at them?

"The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation.... The proletariat demands a democracy that rules out the forcible retention of any one of the nations within the bounds of the state."

Lenin, National Liberation

The following is taken from the Socialist Unity blog


Interview with veteran Peruvian Marxist Hugo Blanco, conducted by Yásser Gómez for Mariátegui magazine, September 9, 2008. Translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

“The Self-organised Legislative Coup of the FTA [Free Trade Agreement], Indigenous Peoples and Social Movements” was the name of the national gathering of originario [indigenous] peoples, peasant communities and social movements that took place in Lima. There Mariátegui magazine interviewed Hugo Blanco, who in the 1970s led land takeovers in La Convención, Cusco, before the agrarian reform of Juan Velasco Alvarado was implemented. Today he continues in political combat from the trenches together with the peasantry, and as director of the newspaper Lucha Indigena (Indigenous Struggle).

What is your analysis of the Peruvian indigenous movement?

Hugo Blanco: I believe that it is on the rise, as it is in Bolivia and Mexico. Although I should admit that in Peru, we are a bit behind, but it isn’t because we are cowards, or clumsy. It’s just that here we have suffered twenty years of internal war, where close to 70,000 people have been killed, the greater part of them indigenous, including many of their leaders. That is why we are behind, but we are – let’s say — catching up and this isn’t accidental. Because it’s due to the fact that two fundamental pillars of our culture that have been attacked over 500 years, have never suffered with such intensity as they are suffering now. These are solidarity and collectivism. Now that they trying to destroy the communities, praising neoliberal individualism. That’s why, we feel more attacked than ever. And on the other hand there is also the assault on nature, because across the whole continent our indigenous culture is respectful of Mother Earth, for example Mapuche means Child of the Earth. That’s why, the indigenous movement reacts, moreover, in rejection of the latest legislative decrees that destroy the community, with which [the government] wants to hand over the lands to multinational companies, so, it is natural that the indigenous movement responds to that.

Do you think [Bolivian President] Evo Morales is taking the correct road in his conciliatory attitude with the separatist oligarchy of the “half moon’’ [provinces in eastern Bolivia] or do you think he should be more tough with them?

I believe that he cedes a lot, he says that he wants to avoid bloodshed and that’s why he tries to reconcile with the oligarchy, but they don’t want to reconcile at all. Then, each act of his, more or less conciliatory, is taken as a triumph by his enemies and in this way they advance further. This has been seen in many cases, for example having the Constituent Assembly have to get two thirds [majority to approve the draft constitution].After that, until now, Morales hasn’t convoked the referendum for the Constituent Assembly, when there was the abuse of the indigenous people in Sucre and as a response the indigenous proposed the takeover of highways, and Evo said don’t do that. When he called on the people to go to Santa Cruz and impede the referendum, the people were ready and later he said perhaps it’s better not to go. So, the whole thing of saying something and then easing off afterwards frustrates the people and these frustrated people are dangerous. We have seen that despite this, and the existence of some ultraleft sectors that have called for a vote to remove Evo, such as Pukara magazine and the leadership of the COB [Bolivian Workers Central], Evo Morales obtained more votes than the 53% he won in the presidential elections of 2005. We have to condemn those ultraleft sectors that stupidly called for a vote to remove Evo. Because if Evo leaves, who will come in? It wasn’t the COB that was going to enter into government, or the editors of Pukara, or El Mallku [Felipe Quispe], it was going to be the Santa Cruz oligarchy that would have got in and done the same thing that Pinochet did in Chile.

Do you think the thoughts of
José Carlos Mariátegui continue to be valid for the struggle of the originario peoples in Latin America?

In Peru all the left self-defines itself as Mariateguist, but it seems that none of these Mariateguists have read The Seven Interpretive Essays of the Peruvian Reality, Mariátegui’s fundamental work, in which two of his essays are dedicated to the indigenous issue: “
The Indian Problem” and “The Problem of Land”. And they completely ignore the indigenous problem, that’s why, together with some comrades, we have started to publish the newspaper Lucha Indigena. And with these latest legislative decrees proposed by the APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana — American Revolutionary Popular Alliance) government, once again we are seeing what Maríategui said, that the problem of the Indian is the problem of land.

How involved are the police authorities with the drug trafficking in the coca-growing zone of La Convención in Cusco?

I have denounced in the pages of Lucha Indigena and on the radio, that in La Convención [the coca-growing zone of Cusco] they are manufacturing cocaine and the producers are the police chiefs of the zone and directors of ENACO (National Coca Company). I said that if that was a slander, that they prosecute me for that reason. And nobody said anything.I have gone to coca-growing zones like Valle del Río Apurímac y del Ene or Putina Punko (Sandia - Puno) and nobody has bothered me, but in (San Luis) La Convención when one travels by public transport and takes a few coca leaves to chew, they take it from you. In this area there are 18 soaking pools in order to produce cocaine. Nobody from the disinformation media dared to denounce it. Given I worked with the comrades from that district, who are growers of Huyro tea, they informed me about this.I went to confirm it, but the police didn’t let me enter that zone. I said to them: “I just came to see the soaking pools”. They replied to me: “The general has prohibited people from seeing those pools.” And those from ENACO, together with the police, are the ones that take coca leaves just metres from those pools.Once again, I want to denounce, through Maríategui magazine, that the heads of ENACO and of the police are the cocaine producers. Moreover, ENACO is a monopoly, the Political Constitution of Peru, in article 61, prohibits monopolies, it doesn’t specify any exception, such as if they are state or private. So it’s an unconstitutional organisation that buys coca leaves at a low price and sells them for four times as much. When the Andean parliament member and coca-grower leader Elsa Malpartida visited Putina Punko in 2007, the coca growers from the zone asked her for a tractor from the mayor, to destroy a landing strip that was used by drug traffickers. Who had constructed that air field? DEVIDA, the state organisation that supposedly fights against the illegal trafficking of drugs.

What is your analysis of the anti-drugs policy of the Alan García government?

This policy of APRA serves North American interests, who with the justification of fighting the production of cocaine, puts its army in our territory. Because they are interested in political and military control over that big source of hydrocarbons that is the Peruvian Amazon, the biodiversity and above all the water of the Amazon. Just as the pretext in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction, here the pretext is drug trafficking. Although they say that it is a humanitarian plan, that’s why they redeployed the US 4th Fleet that patrols the waters of the Caribbean.

Does Marxism have relevance as a tool for the struggles of the Peruvian people?

The fundamental thing that I learned from Marx is dialectical materialism. And I continue to use dialectical materialism, although there are many things with which I disagree with Marx. Because for Marx no human being is perfect, for Marx there were no bibles, reality is worth more than a thousand books, all of this is why I’m a Marxist. Besides, given that I’m a dialectical materialist, I understand that people suffer from the pressures of their environment and their time. That’s why I understand that he also suffered from Eurocentric pressures. For example he said that the conquest of India by the English had been a progressive act and that it brought them closer to capitalism. I don’t agree with that. I don’t like to define myself as Marxist, because it isn’t a religion. But I have a lot to be grateful for to Marx, because he taught me dialectical materialism. And by being dialectical I know that the American reality is different to Europe. That’s why I try to interpret American reality as an American. Therefore, for me, there isn’t any contradiction between my indigenous struggle and dialectical materialism.

7.11.08

Power and Participation in Cornwall


Just to bring to your attention this exellent report produced by the Democratic Audit in Febuary of this year:- Power and Participation in Modern BritianReproduced below are their comments and conclusions on local/regional democracy.



Comments on local democracy


As we have shown above (see Part 2), ‘local governance’ is scarcely local at all. In the first instance, local authorities are too large to be close to their local populations.

Secondly, they are over-dependent on central government financing which is available subject to central government policy prescriptions and strict financial controls.

Thirdly, powerful quangos at national and regional level determine major policies along with larger local authorities in remote high-level ‘partnerships’ above the heads of smaller authorities; and quangos at all levels determine huge swathes of local priorities and distribute resources accordingly. .

Gordon Brown has committed himself to ‘change’ in Britain’s constitutional arrangements. Nowhere in the state is ‘change’ more essential than at local and regional level. To make a reality of greater participation, especially over major decisions as promised in the governance green paper, we recommend a fundamental reversal of existing policies towards local government and the quango state so that local authorities can be made considerably more autonomous in terms of their policies, revenues and expenditure and protected against constant central government intervention. Otherwise, the government’s proposals will raise people’s expectations too high for existing local authorities to respond to their wishes, except on the margins.

Take participatory budgeting. Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State, has suggested that minor local decisions – for parks, play areas, ASBO policies and the like – would be open to participatory budgeting. Her proposals throw into relief a striking contrast between Britain’s weak and remote local authorities and Porto Alegre, the Brazilian city that pioneered participatory budgeting.

A World Bank Social Development Note states that municipalities in Brazil like Porto Alegre have ‘considerable autonomy over their revenues (raised from local taxes, tariffs and federal transfers) and expenditures’ (1) – and it is this autonomy that makes participatory budgeting there meaningful. The World Bank note and other sources describe a sophisticated annual budgeting cycle with three distinct levels of citizen engagement through popular assemblies at regional and neighbourhood area, regional budget forums and the municipal budget council. Every citizen has the right to be directly involved through electing a representative to the neighbourhood assembly.

Decisions are usually based on needs criteria and direct negotiations between neighbourhood forums that go on to monitor implementation. The budgeting process decided major regional decisions on transportation; education, leisure and culture; health and social welfare; economic development and taxation; and city organisation, as well as neighbourhood decisions. (2)

The proposal for a concordat between central government and the Local Government Association seems to recognise the need for government to give authorities more autonomy. However, the way in which it is framed in the green paper places far more responsibility upon local authorities to satisfy central government than for central government to give formal recognition to local autonomy.

We recommend that as part of its moves towards a written constitution the government hold a public debate about giving local government constitutional protection on the European model and create strong and self confident local authorities according to the criteria of the European Charter for Local Self Government.

We have already emphasised the basic principle that consultative and participatory processes should take place within the structures of representative democracy. Direct democracy ought to be complementary to representative democracy and should not be allowed to replace it.


1 Social Development Notes, Case Study 2 – PortoAlegre, Brazail: Participatory Approaches in Budgeting and Public Expenditure Management, siteresources.worldbank.ng/INTPCENG/1143372-1116506093229/20511036/sdn71.pdf


2 World Bank Social Development Note, opcit; .Chavez Minos, D., ‘Porto Alegre, Brazil: A new sustainable and replicable model of participatoryand democratic governance?, www.tni.org/archives/chavez/portoalegre.pdf ; Smith, G., Democratic Innovations: A Report for POWER, February 2005, www.powerinquiry.org

2.11.08

The New Economics Foundation

Following the previous post here's introducing a think tank recently discovered called the New Economics Foundation. Interesting stuff for the Cornish movement no doubt.



UK needs ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle ‘triple crunch’ of credit, oil price and climate crises; for the article click here. The below is taken from the nef triple crunch blog.



Local resilience is the key to well-being

29 October, 2008 in
thriving communities, by Josh Ryan-Collins

In the name of “modernisation”, the government has insisted on competitive commissioning, a narrow focus on financial efficiency savings, and investment through the private finance initiative (PFI) that builds up long-term debts. It has shown a strong preference for large, aggregated contracts. In other words, public services have been subject to the same blind faith in market forces as the rest of the economy.

The failure of unregulated markets will take a double toll on public services. A recession means fewer taxes to pay the bills. And the market “rules” that have been reshaping the public sector now threaten their long-term viability.

But crisis brings opportunity. Public services will have to find new ways to create real value. One way is to develop service models that deliver multiple benefits in the short term, and build future resilience. There are plenty of examples that show how this could be done…
Continue reading…

Or take a look at
Time Banking, Transition Towns or Co-production nef’s manifesto for growing the core economy.

Josh Ryan-Collins works on sustainable procurement and commissioning at nef.