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6.2.09

The democratic republican moment

An interesting OK article here called -The democratic republican moment- that compared and contrasts the four major political traditions of the UK according to David Marquand. These traditions are Whig imperialism, Tory nationalism, democratic collectivism and democratic republicanism. Marquand suggestion is that the former three have all had periods of dominance whereas democratic republicanism has not.

Marquand says:

The Whig Imperialists, the Tory Nationalists, the Democratic Collectivists, have all been tested almost to destruction. Democratic republicanism I think has had enormous influence on the changes that have taken place in civil society in the last thirty years. I think feminism in many ways has been democratic republican. The Green movement in many ways has been democratic republican. The nationalist movements in Scotland and Wales too. The Blair Government acted in what I would call a Democratic Republican spirit when they did their most important and lasting achievement, which was to create elected Assemblies in Wales and Scotland. But it's still kind of boxed in, and I think the real question now for Britain is whether we may just conceivably be at the beginning of a democratic republican moment.


So where does the Cornish political tradition fit into all this? Perhaps the Whig imperialist tradition is still strong in the Duchy spliced as it is with a healthy dose of Cornish patriotism. Mebyon Kernow certainly seem to fall within the democratic republican category. With great changes on the horizon here's hoping that we can ensure democratic republicanism has its day and that MK forms an integral part of it.

Below are some old e-mails received from various UK democratic reformers.

England Devolve!

Thank you for your enquiry about Devolve! and our views on the organisations that you mention. We have close links with the Cornish Constitutional Convention particularly through Bert Biscoe who, in an individual capacity, is the chair of the Commission on the South. The Commission was set up after a Devolve-organised conference to take forward thinking on territorial devolution in the South of England (at that point it looked like devolution of a kind was well under way in the North). The Convention's aims and actions are very much the sort of thing that we would like to see happening in the regions of England.

We have considerable reservations about the Campaign for an English Parliament. It's good that they are thinking about England divested of its first colonies, but their approach does not include any element of devolving power downwards from the national level - in fact they are opposed to the idea of regionalising England.

Their nationalistic, somewhat Little England-ish, tone is rather different from Devolve's vision of a culturally diverse England where power, including economic power, grows from the most local levels. Kernow does not seem to figure on their horizon at all - perhaps they think it is a county ...I have attached a copy of our latest Newsletter, which includes information on the Commission on the South which, since the failure of the government's attempt at regionalising the North East, is expanding its remit to cover all of England. Do let me know if you would like to receive future newsletters by email and/or by post, and if you would like me to send you some further information leaflets about Devolve and its ideas.

Electoral Reform Society

Many thanks for your recent email. As a subordinate wing of the Electoral Reform Society, we are bound by its policies, aims and objectives and therefore defer to the Chief Executives response.

However, part of our work as the youth and student wing involves researching young peoples attitudes towards electoral/formal politics and representative democracy, and if you are doing or planning any work with young people with regard to your campaign we would be interested in hearing about that. If, for example, you wanted to run a consultation with young people in Cornwall/Kernow to establish their attitudes to the Cornish question, we may be able to work with you and perhaps through this assist you in developing this angle of your campaign.

Republic The Campaign for an Elected Head of State

Republic has no particular position on national or linguistic minorities. Our campaign is directed solely at the need for an elected head of state. On the question of devolved or newly independent states within what is currently the UK, we argue only that such status is up to the people of the effected regions and that those regions/nations/states should enjoy a full democracy, with an elected head of state.

Republic has no view on a devolved Cornish Assembly, which is to say we are neither for or against. Our sole purpose is to provide everyone living in what is currently the UK with the opportunity to have an elected head of state in place of the monarchy. Republic is not a party seeking office or votes. We direct our campaign solely at one issue, which is why I must give the answers I have given above.

Citizens Initiative and Referendum

For our small Campaign I and R I have to say that we cannot take position on particular issues. We promote only reform of the democratic system, aiming to see elements of direct democracy such as the right to citizens' initiative and citizen-triggered referendum introduced in the countries of Britain. In general we are against exclusion of any public issue. All things handled by councils and governments should also potentially be subjects of citizens' direct democracy. Irredentism, self-determination and related aims are among the most difficult areas for theorists of democracy, as far as I understand. The following helped to remind me about this, no doubt you are familiar with it:

Wikipedia offers: "The principle of self-determination, often seen as a moral and legal right, is that every nation is entitled to a sovereign territorial state, and that every specifically identifiable population should choose which state it belongs to (for instance by plebiscite). It is commonly used to justify the aspirations of an ethnic group that self-identifies as a nation toward forming an independent sovereign state. Although there is a consensus that international law recognizes the principle of self-determination, the principle does not, by itself, define which group is a nation, which groups are entitled to sovereignty, or what territory they should get for that purpose. Its application in international law creates a tension between this principle and the principles of territorial integrity and non-intervention in internal affairs"

To your second question, it looks as though the government has been wriggling in ways which may be illegal. What is the role of the monarch and Duchy of Cornwall in all of this ?

UK Youth Parliament

Thank you for your e-mail which was forwarded to me by our Central Team and your interest in the work of UK Youth Parliament. The Central Team are I hope dealing with your question regarding the Freedom of Information Act, but I thought I would respond to your query about devolution. Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) in the South West have not yet adopted any formal policy or approach on the issue of devolution and a Cornish Assembly.

This year our regional residential and induction for all new MYPs was held in Cornwall for the first time at the invitation of the Cornish MYPs, who were keen to welcome the other young people to Cornwall. In addition to spending time on the weekend learning about UKYP and what they can expect to do in their year ahead, some of our programme was devoted to finding out more about Cornish history and heritage. We worked with local storytellers, musicians, chefs, museums and libraries to help us understand more. Therefore whilst we have not yet formally debated the issue of a Cornish Assembly, I hope you are reassured that Cornish heritage is something MYPs are aware of and are interested in.

As a region, we have chosen to focus on issues that are common for all young people living in the South West (including young people living in Cornwall) such as transport, affordable housing and the environment. At local level however, the MYPs in Cornwall will be discussing the issue of devolution at their next meeting. I understand that Soozie Tinn, the Participation Worker from Cornwall Youth Service has been in contact with you. I hope this answers your query and thank you again for your interest.

2 comments:

pyskador said...

I think what you are doing in these blogs and the work you do for the Cornish and Breton movement is fantastic. I'm sure nationalists on both sides of the Channel really appreciate the time you give. Keep it up, well done.

cornubian said...

Trugarez vras dit,

Getting positive feedback means a lot.

Gwellañ gourc'hemennou