10 years for the Constitutional Convention and the road ahead

Posted: July 30, 2010 in cornish constitutional convention, democracy, devolution

I’ve just watched the 2 hours and 43 minutes of the 10th anniversary meeting of the Cornish Constitutional Convention if anybody was wondering how much I love Cornwall. 

I could have been chasing the fruit flies that seem to have invaded my flat but no.

The great and the good were gathered to discuss the future of the campaign for a Cornish assembly relative to recent developments. Present were Bert Biscoe chair of the Convention, MP Andrew George, Mebyon Kernow party leader Dick Cole, Cornwall Council executive Kevin Lavery and former deputy First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Mike German.

Many of the themes are familiar to this blog: asymmetric devolution and the need to engage with all sectors of civic society, but also ways ahead in light of the new coalition governments focus on big society and localism.

What is on offer and what can we ask for? The invited panel give their responses.

I can’t help regretting the number of empty seats at the meeting. How much more gratifying it would have been to see a much wider selection of the Cornish community represented with people standing in the aisles for lack of seats.

Leaders from our minority communities, trade unionists, environmentalist, charities, the voluntary sector so on and so forth, all citizens of the Duchy, your place is at such events. You are needed to help craft Cornwall’s future. I concur with Cornish Zetetics on his/her point that the grass roots of the campaign need to be developed so that real pressure can be placed on elected politicians and other decision makers. Change must and -will only- come from popular sovereignty. People power.

Noticeably absent were representatives from democracy campaigning organisations from around the UK. Were they invited? Are they even interested?

I think a poignant comment came from a lady in the audience who, if I can summarise, asked: “what use is constitutional change if young Cornish folk still can’t find work or buy a house in Kernow”?

Equally many were those who raised concerns of the possibility of a cross border parliamentary constituency after a positive UK vote for electoral reform and boundary change?

On this point a Facebook Group entitled –Keep Cornwall Whole has been created.

Noticeable also were many references to our existing constitutional status, Cornwall’s Chief Exec describing Cornwall as a Duchy for example. No one however discussed the possibility of using this already existent legal structure as a means to greater home-rule. How far has MP Andrew George got with his constitutional questions?

Kevin Lavery made much of the need for consensus and cooperation to take things forward. Well cynical old me can’t help taking Kevin Lavery’s words with a pinch of salt. He is a manager! And guess what? Managers like it when everybody supports them in their job. He wants everybody to get behind him and the council that he is in charge of to make sure it works well.

No! Get away! What a surprise! 

I’m sure he’s not adverse to dangling a Cornish assembly carrot in front of nationalists and autonomists to ensure they pull in the direction he wants them to.

Does he just want an efficiently operating unitary authority where the impending budget cuts cause the least pain or does he really have his eyes set on some form of Cornish devolution? It’s up to us to keep him to his word and ensure the latter.

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