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What's on offer for Kernow?

Some developments here from both the Cornish and UK governments that should be of interest to the Cornish movement. All thoughts and comments are welcome.

The first comes from Cornwall Council and has already been highlighted by the Celtic League in its news group here.

Cornwall Councils Corporate Equality and Diversity Framework contains clear reference to the Cornish identity. For example in the opening paragraphs can be read:

Cornwall has a unique and special culture heritage. An increasing number of people describe themselves as Cornish and it is important in all our equality and diversity work that we actively recognise Cornish as a minority group and continue to support the Cornish Language and the Cornish indigenous culture.

The rest of the document can be downloaded here and a link to it can be found on the Councils website here.

A heartening development indeed that I consider to go hand in glove with creating a more inclusive and tolerant society in the Duchy. A Cornish national minority that feels respected and supported in its own homeland, to my mind, would be much more inclined to welcome new residents to Kernow.

The second comes from the new Con Dem coalition and their programme for government.

From the Communities and Local Government section some extracts of interest are:

We will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a review of local government finance.

We will rapidly abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils, including giving councils new powers to stop ‘garden grabbing’.

In the longer term, we will radically reform the planning system to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live, based on the principles set out in the Conservative Party publication ‘Open Source Planning’.

We will abolish the unelected Infrastructure Planning Commission and replace it with an efficient and democratically accountable system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects.

We will abolish the Government Office for London and consider the case for abolishing the remaining Government Offices.

We will give councils a general power of competence.

We will introduce new powers to help communities save local facilities and services threatened with closure, and give communities the right to bid to take over local state-run services.

We will implement the Sustainable Communities Act, so that citizens know how taxpayers’ money is spent in their area and have a greater say over how it is spent.

Under the Civil Liberties section we can find:

We will extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.

We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.

Finally under Political Reform we have:

We will establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question'.

We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue

The new coalition should be strongly encouraged to ensure the Duchy of Cornwall is included under the FOI act. This feudal relic that can chop and change between being a body of government and a private estate to suit its needs is long overdue for full public scrutiny.

Equally it is to be hoped that the government will fully implement the Council of Europe's framework convention for the protection of national minorities and recognise the Cornish within in its scope. I find no mention of national minorities or the FCNM under their Equalities section so again some Cornish feedback is due. Perhaps bringing their attention to the good steps taken by Cornwall Council in this sense (see above) could be brought to their attention.

The commission to consider the West Lothian question should be another good opportunity for our MP's that support Cornish devolution to argue for an assembly for the Duchy. Within the Political Reform section, while much is made of further devolution to Scotland and Wales, zero mention is made of Cornish devolution. This should tell us that, even if our local MP's frequently talk devolution and Cornish assembly, the party leadership in power in London has no such ideas in mind.

It is now too late to comment directly on the coalitions website however we should still feel free to send our opinions to them and our recently (re)elected Cornish MP's. Certainly those interested in making sure Kernow is at the forefront of this new localism and 'radical decentralisation' should consider working within either the Cornish Constitutional Convention, or some new cross party body, to draw down powers to Cornwall.

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