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Kernow and the European Union
On Saturday 2nd April 2016 Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a policy statement (henceforward referred to as ‘the document’) which reaffirmed its longstanding support for British membership of the European Union.
“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall will campaign for a “remain in” vote in the forthcoming referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.”

In doing so MK aligns with the SNP. –
“The SNP believes that membership of Europe Union is in Scotland's best interests. There are a huge number of benefits for Scotland from EU membership.”*

MK also aligns with Plaid Cymru. –
“There is a lot we would like to change about the EU but we can only do that from within. The decision we make is about the kind of Wales we want to build and will affect generations to come. That is why Plaid Cymru will campaign to stay in the EU.”*

So, following analysis of the evidence, the national parties of the three UK mainland Celtic nations join in common cause, to declare their belief that travelling forward within the EU is in the best interests of their people and territories. In this, the Celtic bloc will enjoy the full moral backing of other members of the European Free Alliance representing more than thirty currently under- recognised nations and indigenous minorities within the EU. Together we form a powerful voting bloc within the EU parliament, supporting common aims of subsidiarity (decentralisation) and plurality (respect and support for ethnic identity and language); accepted European ideals.

The document further states –
“MK reaffirms its internationalist view that nations and regions should work together to tackle issues of Europe-wide and global significance, and observes that the existence of the EU has underpinned a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity across Europe.”*

Here the importance of teamwork and unity, in fixing problems of common concern, which cannot be fixed as effectively apart, is raised. The current situation is that of a team, a family even, which is not perhaps perfect but which recognises that the many belong to a greater whole. Our island status tends to reduce our awareness of this fact when we speak of Britain and Europe. We are in fact ourselves a part of Europe and fully part of the EU. We are no less European on any level whatsoever than the French, the Germans or anyone else.

We are all presently European Union citizens with equal rights, responsibilities and influence. The question facing us is not whether we want this, or some other equally attractive situation. The real question is whether we want to throw all of these privileges away with no cast iron guarantee that we will get any benefit from doing so at all. Norway has clearly gained nothing from dropping out of the European mainstream. Most of us would not give up our family homes for a glossy picture of lonely bedsit, said to be waiting for us in the next town, without at the very least checking first that it was in good repair, or even resembled the picture shown to us in any significant way.

In the same way, if a pipe bursts in our house, or a crack appears, or even if the front door drops off its hinges, we do not immediately move out. If we want a better house, we fix it. Moving house is prohibitively expensive! We can of course wait for someone else to fix it but, as above, we have rights, responsibilities and influence, so in such a crisis we do not simply moan about our rights, we take responsibility ourselves, roll up our sleeves and use our influence to persuade others to lend a hand, as they are able. Since, in large part, we as a community have not been doing this so very much recently, who should we really blame for the result?

So, at a time when Britain has got wobbly knees it’s regrettable and ironic that we should need to add, in the following amendment –

“MK rejects the neo-liberal policies of the European Commission. We oppose austerity politics, deregulation and support for trade treaties such as TTIP. These developments remove issues beyond democratic politics, benefit transnational corporations and dismantle the safeguards defending communities and the environment.”*

This is the present situation and we have reason to object, loudly! However, in what material way is the policy of our own national Government any different? While we criticise the Commission, we should not forget the role Britain, and especially the dominantly English Conservative party has played in all this (I can’t say where Blair comes into the picture but I think he would agree that ‘Socialist’ is hardly the word). Deregulation of trade and the ideology of the ‘free market’ was a largely Anglo-American project under Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher.

There were good reasons for restraint after the great slump and now we have gaily cast, a largely effective system, onto the scrap heap of history, all have come to experience the results of unbridled capitalism. Is it not therefore also our own responsibility to lead the clean-up, starting with our own government? If we dump our European partners now and doubtless turn aside to find a sympathetic ear in the USA, how will that help?

Embedded within the fabric of the EU are also systems which are socialist in concept. We, and especially MK, as a left wing party, should embrace and encourage these, as indeed we do, for Kernow is one of the most disadvantaged regions in modern Europe. The blame for this does not lie in any way with the EU but squarely with Westminster. The EU has been generous with us in spite of London’s interference and foot dragging.

Following its courageous beginning and its pained expression of exasperation at exploitative capitalists, who blight the true work of the EU, which is delivering justice on all levels and promoting harmony between allied nations, the document gratefully acknowledges this support at length. –

“Mebyon Kernow welcomes the many positive initiatives from the European Union in the past, in terms of improved environmental controls, consumer protections and a host of safeguards for working people.
MK recognises that Cornwall has been a net beneficiary of the EU in terms of structural funding, which has provided significant and much-needed investment for local businesses – both large and small – and ensured that numerous key projects, such as the university and superfast broadband, have been brought to fruition.
MK further recognises that if the UK did leave the EU, the British Government would inevitably fail to replace the lost investment.”*

So the document sums up, reaffirming the Party’s commitment to the EU and EFA but with one more point to make and it is a very important point. Westminster can no longer ignore Kernow’s status as a nation, pre-existing the formation of even the English state by many centuries. The EFA know it and so do others. Significantly, today many ordinary German citizens know more about our identity and history than the average English citizen even imagines, thanks to a love of ethno-tourism and inclusive pan-European attitudes. We are firmly on the map.

However Kernow lacks even one MEP of its own. Westminster wants to hear no authentic Cornish voice exposing their neglect of our region in Strasbourg. This is an outrage and we must speak up about it. Direct representation in Strasbourg is surely the democratic right of the Cornish People, as much as the right of the Welsh and the Scots and any other nation in our ‘Europe of the peoples’. –

“Mebyon Kernow considers it important to be in Europe, working for a more democratic and decentralised EU through our membership of the European Free Alliance. And we reaffirm MK’s policy position to demand direct democratic representation in the European Parliament with an MEP representing Cornwall.”*

*All quotations may be found on the respective websites of the parties concerned. Anything not in inverted commas are the opinions of the present writer and should not be taken in any way to be an official statement, or as representing the views of party members in general.

Please note: “It is accepted that the members of Mebyon Kernow will have a range of views on the EU referendum. If this resolution is accepted, it is acknowledged that those members with a different view will be free to support campaigns against EU membership.”* (from the now accepted document)
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Published on 5th April 2016.

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