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How will you pay for an Assembly - Cornwall can't afford it!
Next up in my series of blogs looking at some of the myths that the opponents of devolution often peddle is that old chestnut of affordability. How often do you hear "An Assembly will never work - how can we possibly afford it?" Of course the Westmister parties quite often preface this at the moment with "In these times of austerity ..."
This question and the underlying sentiment shows a woeful lack of knowledge on behalf of the peson posing it.

If you're not really into politics then you might not know why the question is ridiculous - it might even seem quite reasonable. If you are a unionist politician then you probably know why it is ridiculous - and yet you will continue to pose it because it is a great way to pull the rug from under a desire for democratic self-determination.

The way that devoloution works is that a financial settlement is is negotiated and then this settlement becomes the budget of the devolved body. Very simple really.

For Cornwall the settlement will be based on what the UK governement would normally expect to spend on the areas of devolved government in Cornwall. In other words a law-making Cornish Assembly would not cost anybody any more than they already pay.

People across the UK pay taxes and some of the tax is used to pay for government services in Cornwall. Devolution would give the power to Cornwall to decide how best to spend the money that is already being spent - no additional costs for either people who live in Cornwall or those that live elesewhere.

In fact there is a strong argument that devolution would save the UK money in the long term. Westminster has done an awful job of looking after Cornwall's economy. Our GDP is less than 75% of the European average - our economy is similar to that of several Eastern European countries. This is why we qualify for European funding. We believe that a Cornish Assembly could improve our economy as it would understand it a lot better than an assistant to an under-under secretary working from a broom ccupboard 300 miles away in London. If the economy improves then Cornwall would contribute more to the UK pot through a higher amount of tax.

We do need to negotiate a realistic settlement in first place though. Westminster has consistently underfunded Cornwall for decades - to Cornwall's detriment and to the advantage of English regions and cities. We need a fair settlement based on what the UK government should be spending in Cornwall compared to England. Wales received a notoriously unfair settlement and getting a fair amount of funding from Westminster is now proving to be like trying to wring blood from a stone.
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Published on 22nd November 2013.

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