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22.10.09

Which devolution?

The POWER2010 campaign continues to drive the much needed discussion on democratic renewal in the UK. Recently an article by Billy Bragg called -Has our very stability made us complacent?- was featured on their blog.

Praising Spanish democracy Bragg suggests that asymmetric devolution -devolution to regions of varying sizes- would work for the UK.

The article originally appeared on the Guardian website and can be found here.

Such asymmetric devolution to the historic regions of England (including Kernow) has long been a favourite of many a Cornish campaigner as well as groups like Devolve and other English regionalists.

Following the failure of the governments plans to devolve power to their artificial government zones many within the wider Cornish movement believe that the case for Cornwall can be made inside a larger program of devolution to English regions of varying sizes but of more historical and cultural significance. See the map above as a selection of possible regions. Such devolution would return stability to the lopsided UK system (see West Lothian question) following devolution to Scotland, Wales and the Six Counties.

Following this scheme Scotland, Wales and Cornwall would all end up with a certain form of 'national' recognition and respect for their territorial integrity, but what of the English nation divided into regions?

It seems on this question Cornish nationalists are pulled in two conflicting directions.

On the one hand we are tempted by the quite realistic possibility of regional devolution as long as Kernow is its own region. On the other hand we often defend the right of nations to recognition and self-determination. Even the devolutionists in Cornwall who swear blind that they are not nationalists will still fight tooth and nail to protect the territorial integrity of the Duchy and reject all suggestions of a Plymouthwall or Devonwall region. Is England a nation? Does it deserver the same rights and respect for its territorial integrity as our Cornish Duchy?

You may well find one or two English nationalists ready to countenance Cornish devolution, but the division of their country into regions? Never! An interesting if rather wordy view on this problem can be found on the Britology Watch blog here - England: the unstated ‘real’ name of the British state.

So given that England is a nation and also has a right to self-determination what are the chances that Cornwall would be singled out for devolution after the creation of an English parliament? I'm not alone in thinking we would have a cat in hells chance. Such a parliament, surely based in London, would centralise power and greedily hold onto it.

So damned if we do damned if we don't. I'd be interested in any thoughts on this question and I also recommend that all interested parties feed their views back to the POWER2010 campaign.

Irrespective of what any future government chooses to do perhaps the situation described above is all the more reason to: 1) fight for Cornish recognition as a national minority and 2) demand a full elucidation of our legal constitutional position as a Duchy now. Both campaigns, if successful, would strengthen our position whether faced with the creation of an English parliament or regional devolution.

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