Saturday, 17 September 2011

Devonwall is not about fairer votes


The Coalitions plans to reduce the number of MPs also includes plans to equalise constituencies. The primary government aim is to save money by reducing the number of MPs. In a distant second, the argument goes that numbers of voters in seats should be more equal to make democracy fairer, to rid ourselves of the system whereby some voters have more influence than others. A laudable aim indeed, but this is part of plans that will impose a Devonwall constituency on Cornwall and rob us of half an MP, is this too much of a compromise for fairness? I think so. But the new system will not be fair to Cornwall anyway, it takes democratic representation away from Kernow and will not give us parity with any other area.

For in Cornwall we have a democratic deficit, that is to say Cornish voters have far less power than voters up country. As people no doubt remember, the district council tier of government was stripped from Cornwall by the last Liberal Democrat administration at County Hall and the last Labour government in Westminster. In exchange for our local councils, we got a centralised system in Truro with the one monolithic Cornwall Council. So in essence we have one less level of representatives than we did have, we have less democracy and less chance to express our vote at elections. So let's have a quick compare and see what this means:


Say for example if you live in the (less than half) of the Cornish side of the Devonwall seat, you will be represented by that MP and one Cornwall Councillor.

Cornish democratic representatives:

Bude South: Cornwall Council N Pearce LD.

                   Westminster         D Rogerson LD.

Tintagel:       Cornwall Council G Brown LD.

                   Westminster         D Rogerson LD.

Cameford    Cornwall Council K Goodenough Con.

                   Westminster         D Rogerson LD.

Launceston  Cornwall Council A Folkes LD.
central        
                   Westminster         D Rogerson LD.

Whereas across the border, representation has another tier with Torridge and Devon councils as well as Westminster.

Devon democratic representatives:

Bideford:    Torridge District   T Johns LD.
                  Council                 D Fulford CON.
                                              P Christie IND.

                  Devon County      S Robinson CON.
                  Council

                  Westminster         G Cox CON.

Holsworthy: Torridge District  H Ratledge LD.
                   Council               M Footitt CON.
                                             
                   Devon County     B Parsons CON.
                   Council
                 
                   Westminster        G Cox CON.

Hartland      Torridge District  B Redwood LD.
and              Council               A Dart LD.
Bradworthy
                   Devon County     A Boyle CON.
                   Council

                   Westminster         G Cox CON.

Appledore  Torridge District    A Eastman CON.
                  Council                 B Edwards IND.

                   Devon County      A Eastman CON.
                   Council

                   Westminster         G Cox CON.

I mean no offence to the good people of Devon and I wouldn't for a minute argue that they should abolish a level of local government as it has done no good west of the Tamar. But the fact remains, despite claims that this reform will save money and make votes fairer. This is not true, the people of Cornwall have already 'saved' money by having less democratic representation, consequently our voters have far less democratic power than our friends in Devonshire. Cornish votes are not fair, this is typical of coalition politics, they ignore their party members in Cornwall and propose schemes without thinking them through. There are many arguments against this Devonwall abomination, so far no good arguments for it.

As a side note, interesting to see most of the Devon councillors are Tories and most Cornish are Lid Dem. I wonder if Dan Rogerson fancies his chances on the far side of the border? I expect renewed vigorous arguing from Cornish Liberal Democrats against their own party's policies.