Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Undemocratic, disengaging, insulting,
stupid and unsympathetic,
five reasons why Devonwall is a bad idea

There are many reasons why a Devonwall constituency is a bad idea. It’s tempting to list 1074 for this is the number of years since the Cornish border was established (in 936AD) , this would certainly be possible. However for the sake of your sanity and mine the number of objections to Devonwall can be summed up in five reasons. I know there are many more and I haven’t included for example the historical and cultural significance of the Tamar, Cornwall’s constitutional position and the fact that the Cornish like the Welsh, Scottish and English deserve equal political respect under law. I feel these subjects have been ably covered by other writers on their blogs. Anyway my five are perhaps a little procedural and dry but here they are.

1. Firstly and most importantly, the decision to create a Parliamentary Cross- Tamar constituency is wholly undemocratic. The move is opposed by Cornwall’s six Members of Parliament (both the 3 Liberal Democrat and the 3 Conservative), Cornwall Council has voted unanimously against and in addition a large proportion of town and parish councils are opposed. Democratically elected officials from across the Duchy and from all of the political parties do not want a Cross-Tamar MP at the next parliament. There is no desire for a Devonwall constituency in Cornwall.

2. There has been no public consultation about this move, even as the bill is passing through parliament, the public have still not been told if the proposed Devonwall constituency will join West Devon to North Cornwall or Plymouth to South East Cornwall. Before the coalition government came to power all boundary changes were open to public consultation, not anymore. The public simply have no avenue of official interaction with the government over this matter, thus a public rally has been organised.

3. The plans for a Devonwall constituency are part of the plans for reducing the number of MPs which in turn is part of the reform of the electoral system (the AV referendum). So Cornwall stands to lose its political integrity and millennia old border as a footnote to another issue. However insulting this is, it also means that Liberal Democrat MPs in Cornwall will be whipped into voting for electoral reform and forsaking their own beliefs and those of their constituents. 

4. The most prescient practical reason for opposing the Cross-Tamar is the extra unnecessary work for both the MP and local authorities. Again before the Coalition came to power, great attempts were made to keep constituencies within administrative divisions, not anymore. Say for example if the constituency straddles Plymouth and South East Cornwall, the MP will have to liaise with Cornwall Council, Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council, as well as town and parish councils. This would lead to a lot of unnecessary work for both the MP and the Councils, making everyone’s job harder, much more inefficient and reduce the effectiveness of all involved.

5. Although there are historical, cultural and political arguments to be made for keeping ‘Cornwall Whole’ these have so far been ignored by Nick Clegg and the coaliton government.. This is a great shame for there have been special dispensations made to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on similar grounds. In the case of our Celtic cousins the strict new rules on constituency size have been waived in favour of common sense. So if there can be exceptions elsewhere in the Celtic nations, why not Celtic Cornwall?

I have listed below some links for those of you that might be interested in reading more/ getting involved:
Keep Cornwall Whole site, including details of the rallies on the 8th, 9th and 10th October.
This campaign is being considered by 38 degrees, please vote for it here.
The Cornish Republican's blog which provides an overview of the subject.