Archive for the ‘electoral reform’ Category

Now I’m guessing that our ‘friends’ in Plaid and the SNP forgot about Mebyon Kernow again. MK really needs to make some noise about this if we don’t want to hear Plaid and the SNP calling for people to vote Green, LibDem or Labour in the Duchy. 
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own Parliament or Assembly with powers over education, health and other areas. But MPs from these devolved nations can still vote on laws that apply solely in England, where English MPs cannot do the reverse. 
Controversial laws on fees for English universities, foundation hospitals and the third runway at Heathrow have been passed thanks to the votes of non‐English MPs. However to create an English Assembly would ignore the fact that 5/6ths of all UK citizens live in England, and it would also ignore the calls for further decentralisation. England does not have an homogenise society, and nor do all English people share the same concerns.  

Indeed, Cornwall has a long established claim to being a nation in its own right with a nationalist movement demanding recognition. 

There are also some regions that have a strong cultural identity where the people believe that they can organise their local affairs much more productively than our current centralised system. 

We propose that that the people should decide where power lies. That’s why we pledge to hold referenda in all regions/nations requesting one as to whether or not a regional/national assembly should be established. The powers invested in these assemblies will be negotiated between the newly formed assembly and Westminster based on the principle of subsidiarity (the principle that power be held at its lowest possible level).” This is not about breaking up our union; it’s about making it stronger, fairer, more democratic and more balanced.
Take Back Parliament: Let’s Reform Local ElectionsWhile STV would be a poor reform choice for General Elections or for the House of Lords, in my opinion, it is clearly a strong choice for local elections. Firstly, we know it works; it is already used in Scotland and Northern Ireland for local elections. Secondly, it would break up the block votes and distribute the seats more evenly. Finally, it would encourage people to look at their candidates more as individuals than simply party representatives.”
Following the AV flop democratic reformers have started to debate the direction of any future campaigning. One suggestion is proportional representation for local elections in England and the Duchy of Cornwall. Now surely this is an idea that we can all get behind.
Lets get the bitter out of the way first. Plaid Cymru loosing AM’s to British nationalist Labour is regrettable but this has to be seen in the perspective of the self same nation voting for greater devolved powers on the 3rd of March. Wales is awake and on the move even if the party responsible for this, Plaid Cymru, has been snubbed by a section of the electorate.

In the English local elections even it was gratifying to see the Lib Dems get righteously stuffed – just deserts for their two-faced behaviour some might say – this was largely to the benefit of Labour and the Tories. It’s a shame fourth parties couldn’t have made more of this opportunity. Congratulations must got to the Greens in Brighton for coming in as the biggest group on the council but we need this repeated on mass across England. Equally why are there so many minor left-wing parties and groups who seem more interested in fighting amongst themselves over ideological issues than coming together to form a relevant force on the left of Labour?
Cornwall failed to take advantage of the AV referendum and make a bold statement against Devonwall via the mass spoiling of ballot papers. I can’t say I’m that surprised. Only one blogger was actively promoting this option. For such a campaign to have been successful it would have need the combined efforts of a united Cornish movement (oh for the day) and at least the support of one of the big three.
With its clear rejection of even the most pitiful of electoral reform and the increase in Tory councillors England seems to be slumping into a reactionary paralysis where any reform of its creaking political system will have to be imposed from outside. Such a sad contrast with the Arab Spring. This brings me to the sweet.
The Scottish National Parties massive victory over the UK’s sclerotic unionist parties will have a far greater effect on democracy in the UK than AV could ever have. Whilst the electoral system does need urgent reform – ie some form of proportional representation – the real issue is Westminster. With its monopoly on power, hyper-centralisation and mandarin classes shy of loosing any ounce of their influence, the seat of power in London is the real nut that needs to be cracked open so that its sweet contents can be re-distributed across the UK. The SNP  could well be on the verge of smashing the first cracks in the shell. 
Whether the Scots vote for independence or not the UK will still have to change. A continued re-distribution of power from the centre is inevitable. Some form of federalism appears the only option and already voices can be heard calling for an English parliament as the next logical direction for reformers to take. Surprisingly even from within the ranks of the arch-conservatives UKIP can be heard calls for a federal UK including parliaments for Scotland, Wales, England, the Six Counties and even Cornwall [1][2][3].
A decade of radical change lies ahead and now more than ever Cornwall needs to decide where it wants to go. Whether to strike out on a bold and empowering path or acquiesce as the toe-end of an uncaring centralised England. Equally all who are serious about Cornish self-determination – by whatever path – need to think long and hard about their current political allegiances, what they have obtained so far and what now needs to be done. 
Devonwall and AV: indelibly linked not spuriously separate. To participate in that referendum is to legitimate the Devonwall constituency. It’s as simple as that.

To add to the wise words of Cornish Zetetics above I’d just like to ask the following. Is this non-choice of AV versus FPTP what we really wanted and expected after almost all of the political classes -Lib, Lab and Con- dishonoured themselves with their expenses scandals? Following an economic crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early 19th century brought on by the policies pursued by both mainstream left and right is AV all we really deserve? Make no mistakes this referendum is the bare minimum offered to the people in an effort by the political classes to rehabilitate themselves in our eyes. No one voted for the LibConDem coalition yet people did vote for the Lib Dems and their pre-election promises. They have lied to us, broken their promises and frankly don’t deserve to win the AV referendum.
Abstain from voting or spoil your paper by writing NO TO DEVONWALL.

Perhaps it’s time to take stock of the situation in our Cornish Duchy while demands for real change in the UK are still fresh.

Across the Political Spectrum

With three councilors on the Cornwall Council and having beaten Labour in Cornwall’s Euro-elections Mebyon Kernow is looking the healthiest it has for years. Can MK build on these successes by harvesting support from a public disillusioned with the London based parties? They are certainly steadfast supporters of radical democratic renewal.

The Cornish Greens in their manifesto –A Fresh Start for Cornwall– have reiterated their call for the “devolution of power to Cornwall including a full Cornish Assembly with regional powers”, and support from the prominent Green Party candidate, Peter Tatchell, seems to be unending [1][2].

Even the Tories seem to be speaking Cornish these days. No small affairs considering their power sharing arrangement with a group of independents in the Council that contains many a supporter of Cornish recognition and devolution.

The Liberal Democrats in Cornwall

Ousted from the Council as they may be the Liberal Democrats have still produced some interesting material in Kernow. MP Andrew George has combined his constitutional investigations with a larger vision of Cornwall’s potential to suggest a new beginning (pdf). George’s interest in the Cornish question is a long standing affair but recent movement was sparked by Notary Public John Kirkhope‘s research into the Duchy following the work of our other constitutionalists [1] [2] [3]. The general conclusion is that if recognised Cornwall’s de jure constitution as a Duchy would afford it a very large degree of self-government.

Then earlier this summer MP Dan Rogerson produced his Government of Cornwall Bill. Even though the bill is unlikely to achieve much in the immediate future it has still been described as adding much needed fuel to the Cornish devolution debate. Although regrettably unheard of by Rogerson’s fellow party members out side the Duchy all the Cornish MPs have backed the bill in addition to supporting the campaign for a ‘Cornish Census‘ for 2011.

The Lib Dems have claimed on numerous occasions that Cornwall’s new Unitary Council could be the starting point for a journey to a Cornish Assembly (pdf), but can local be transformed into national government?

The European Region of Culture Campaign

Although steering well clear of Cornish nationalism and party politics the aspirations of Cornwall Culture and its leadership of the European Region of Culture Campaign are clearly regionalist. The campaigns objective to make Cornwall one of Europe’s fist ‘regions of culture‘ marries well with EU regional recognition and perhaps therefore true regional government. The campaign has been severely criticised for ignoring authentic Cornish culture and heritage as well as snubbing established players in the field but this essentially good idea still looks set for success.

Grass Roots

A healthy Transition Town culture seems to be taking root in Cornwall with the aim of producing self-reliant robust communities across the Duchy. Not so far from some of Transition Cornwall’s aims the Trelawney Alliance are saying -NO- to unsustainable mass housing development. Perhaps some pointers could be taken from London Citizens on mobilising our communities.

Tying it all up

So swift trade with plenty of action but what seems to be missing is a joined-up approach. Isn’t the Cornish Constitutional Convention supposed to be acting as the focal point for change? If it can’t then where should we turn to find the cohesion that is clearly needed? Now perhaps more than ever Cornish aspirations should be formulated, clearly stated and fed into the larger and much needed debate on democratic reform in the UK.

I doubt it will provide definitive answers but perhaps the conference –Cornwall in Europe: a perspective from minorities– organised for the 28th of October by the Federal Trust will provide some bearings for the way ahead.


Posted: September 16, 2009 in constitution, democracy, electoral reform

The campaign, POWER2010, which replaces the previous Real Change initiative, has been launched and is looking for ideas from the UKs public on how to renew British democracy.

They write:

MPs’ expenses, rock bottom turnouts, attacks on our freedoms – our democracy is in crisis. But in the next few months we can change politics. For good.

POWER2010 gives you the chance to have a say in how our democracy works for us all. Do you want cleaner funding? Fairer voting? More accountability? You decide. Tell us your ideas for changing the way we run our country. Those with most support will become the POWER2010 Pledge – and help change Britain for the better.

This is your campaign – and we need your ideas. Submit your ideas here. Vote for a new politics. POWER2010.

Contributing ideas is very simple and perhaps this is yet one more chance to express Cornish aspirations and Cornish rights. An interview with Helena Kennedy OC, Chair of POWER2010, can be found here on the OurKingdom blog.