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Cornwall Powerless 2010

Sometimes letter writing results in positive developments. Even if it is just the Cornish question being featured on another website progress has been made. However disappointment is also not uncommon.

Following last years consultation exercise the Power2010 campaign has produced a list of proposals to renew British Democracy. The pdf file of all 58 proposals can be found here: Power2010 Deliberative Poll Guide to Reforms. The ideas were submitted for the consideration of a cross section of the UK public in a deliberative poll on 9th – 10th January

Whilst it contains many good ideas for reform, and I'll emphasise that point, at no time is Cornwall mentioned. A surprise considering our various demonstrations for greater home-rule, not least of which being the 50,000 signatures on a petition calling for a Cornish Assembly. None of the propositions under the 'Devolution and Local Government' section allow for the creation of a Cornish Assembly. All we are served up with is a choice between an English Parliament or devolution to the same old government zones such as the South West or North East. We've been down that road before I think. Additionally no mention is made of our particular constitutional status or the need to reform it in consultation with the people of Cornwall.

For any campaign or organisation to talk about devolution and local government reform yet ignore Cornwall and one of the UK's largest popular demands for devolution strikes me as odd to say the least and smacks of wilful intent.

I had my doubts as to the authenticity of their open consultation last year due to the large number of blog posts the Power2010 website carried arguing for either an English Parliament or devolution to the standard government zone 'regions' yet not one proposition that would allow for Cornish devolution. Not surprising as key figures within the Power2010 (and OurKingdom) are open about their English nationalism and supporters of an English Parliament.

Their finalised propositions on devolution and local government can be found below.

Chapter five: Devolution and Local Govt


42. Hold separate referendums on membership of the Union in England, Scotland and Wales
43. Forbid Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voting on issues only affecting England
and Scottish and Northern Irish MPs on matters affecting only England and Wales
44. Hold a referendum on establishing an English Parliament
45. Hold a referendum on the strongest form of devolution amongst the nations
46. Move to a region based federal system of Government

Local Government

47. Introduce directly elected mayors into population centres
48. Increase the decision making and taxation powers of local councils
49. Increase the salaries of local councillors
50. Select some councillors by lot from the local population
51. Allow local people to elect the heads of key services, such as the police.
52. Commit to a duty of meaningful public consultation through a deliberative process

Then elaborating on the only ray of sunshine for Kernow.

46. Move to a region based federal system of Government

Federalism is a system in which power is divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units. In Britain the central authority would be a national Government and the constituent political units would be regional government.

"Federalism works in Australia and Canada. Why not in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?"

Britain would be divided into regions, for example the North East, the North West, etc. Each region would have its own assembly or Government elected by its constituents. The national Government would be elected by the entire electorate. The national and regional Governments would have their own protected areas of authority. For example, each region might have power over its healthcare and education provision while the national Government would retain authority on the issues deemed relevant to the country as a whole, such as defence policy and international relations. There are many different variations on the federal form of Government operating in different countries. The United States, Canada, Brazil and Germany are just some of the countries which use forms of federalism.

Arguments in favour

· It is fundamental to any democratic system that Government is receptive to the local demands of citizens and a regional Government may be better equipped to recognise and meet these demands.
· Regional Governments would give a voice to areas distant from Westminster and would therefore challenge the London-centric nature of British politics.
· Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own assemblies or parliaments and these are widely considered successful. Regional Governments could have similar powers over healthcare and education.

Issues / arguments against

· It would be difficult to determine how power should be divided between the national and regional Governments. America has been operating a federal system for over two hundred years but there is still debate about how power should be shared.
· An additional ‘layer’ of politicians will make people feel as though politics is even further removed from them.
· The additional cost of establishing new parliament buildings and paying for all the new politicians and their staff would be extremely large.
· Evidence suggests that the public do not want regional Governments. New Labour considered introducing regional assemblies in a number of areas in England. One referendum was held on this issue in the North East and 78% voted against the proposal.

"Evidence suggests that the public do not want regional governments" Really? So the petition of 50,000 calling for a Cornish assembly, a Goverment of Cornwall Bill from one of our MP's and a well supported and long running campaign for devolution are what exactly?

As I emphasised above Power2010 makes some very good suggestions worthy of support, but personally, as a campaigner for greater Cornish home-rule, I don't see much point in continuing the journey with them.

Read the pdf document then make your own minds up as to the value of Power2010.

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