I quite often get slightly tetchy emails from Cornish activists accusing me of ‘ignoring’ Cornwall’s claims to self-government. Quite honestly it’s up to the Cornish to determine what they want, e.g. a Cornish Assembly or be part of a wider South-West region, which is anathema to quite a few of the Cornish devolutionaries. But is it anathema to Cornish people as a whole? I don’t know. Cornwall already has a single local government unit, which personally I think is absolutely crazy. What happened to local government? Penzance is a long way from Liskeard, however, delightful the train journey. I’d say it was self-evident that ‘Cornwall’ should have an identity, but – like other parts of Britain – we’ve gone much too far in centralising local government to the extent it has become meaningless. The Bodmins, Falmouths, Truros and Penzances are sizeable towns which should have some political voice. That could be strengthened ‘town councils’ or something else.
Having one single unit of governance for all Cornwall doesn’t strike me as very democratic and would horrify any German, Norwegian, French or Italian. So, coming back to the original proposition: how small can you go for ‘regional’ government (accepting Kernow’s claim to nationality, you know what I mean – were not talking independence). The population is just over half a million (and growing quite rapidly). That puts it on a par with the smallest German land – Bremen, with 661,000. So yes it’s small and you could – within a very un-British co-ordinated approach to regional devolution – include a devolved Cornwall within a larger ‘South-West’ but it gets a bit messy, doesn’t it? So if the Cornish want their own assembly, let them have it. It might not have quite the same powers as a bigger multi-million region but it shouldn’t be about one size fitting all.
The above in an extract from Paul Salveson's Illustrated Weekly Salvo 171