Philip Hosking (Cornwall, The Cornish Democrat): With the up and coming 'make or break' elections to the new Unitary Authority followed by town, parish and general elections Mebyon Kernow more than ever needs a policy direction for obtaining autonomy and bringing power closer to the people of Cornwall.
Previous to the undemocratically imposed Unitary Authority MKs proposition for devolution and answer to Cornwall's democratic deficit was three fold:
1) Powers devolved from central government and quangos to an elected Cornish Assembly with powers akin to the Scottish Parliament and certainly no less than those of the Welsh Assembly.
2) The vast bulk of local government powers and functions of the erstwhile county council devolved down to the district councils or amalgamation of districts.
3) Where possible and agreeable powers and functions devolved to parish and town councils.
So what to campaign for now that the district and county council have been sunk and the schema above made redundant?
MK has created a working group called 'Home Rule' whose purpose is to address this question and they are looking for all ideas and comments on a future direction in the campaigning for Cornish autonomy. All organizations and think tanks with an interest in devolution and decentralization are invited to submit their ideas to MK and help form a new policy for bringing power down to our Cornish communities. MK is asking for all comments and ideas to be sent to:
Home Rule Working Group
TR9 6PQ Kernow
Coincidentally 2008 is the 500th anniversary of the of the unrecinded Charter of Pardon issued by King Henry VII that restored the Cornish Stannary Parliament following the rebellion of 1497 and gave it the right of effective veto over parliament and King. To commemorate this event the contemporary pressure group, the Cornish Stannary Parliament are looking to start a debate in Cornish civic society on the following and so are looking for all opinions (to get in contact email info(AT)cornishstannaryparliament.co.uk)
Based on their analysis that the Cornish are effectively prevented from recognition and devolution because of the; unwritten nature of the UKs constitution; lack of a guarantee of equality before the law and the discriminatory nature of the Duchy of Cornwall:-
1) Is a written constitution with ensured legal equality a necessity for the UK?
2) Should the Cornish be recognized as a national minority.
What would I like to see? Well with regards the Duchy of Cornwall there do seem to be more questions than credible answers, so starting there, a full and public inquiry into the Cornish constitution followed by a debate on the future shape of said constitution would seem the least we might expect during this period of supposed constitutional renewal in the UK.
Acknowledging that the Duchy seems to be a fear-inspiring untouchable constitutional can of worms (see Duchy of Cornwall Human Rights Association) and realizing that the government is all mouth and no trousers when it comes to constitutional renewal where can we go with the Unitary Authority?
Peter Facey of Unlock Democracy has suggested that UAs and other local authorities, either individually or in clusters, should be able to request the devolution of powers down from central governments and their quangos. Cornwall is champing at the bit. "Show us the powers!" is all I can say. A conference which brought together the players in the Cornish devolution movement and interested UK democratic reformers might also be an idea if just a little expensive. One question must be asked however and that is why isn't the Cornish Constitutional Convention doing more at this time? Unfortunately the CCC has remained unusually silent throughout the undemocratic process that has resulted in Cornwall going forward to become a UA.
Both the CSP and MK are open to and asking for dialogue. They want to hear from all those interested in bringing power closer to the Cornish public. The petition of 50,000 calling for devolution gives legitimacy to our demands so what can we do to move forward?