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Autonomy for Cornwall
With a referendum on Scottish independence on the way Councillor Stephen Richardson sets out the constitutional and socio-economic case for more autonomy for another of the UK’s nations.
There are many good reasons why Cornwall should have an Assembly of its own, recognised by England, the UK and the rest of the world. Broadly speaking though, these reasons probably fit into two categories – constitutional and socio-economic.

Cornwall is not England. A fact which, for some, is hard to comprehend – not because it is a difficult concept, but because it goes against everything that the English establishment has sought to ingrain into the common perception of Britain. Cornwall has never become part of England and you will find no documentation which demonstrates this – it’s just that the English have forgotten. The Cornish people are a Celtic people who, like their cousins, the Welsh and Scots, were driven back to the extremities of Britain by the invading Anglo Saxons. Eventually Anglo Saxon kings united various Saxon kingdoms and created ‘England’ – but Cornwall, though forced to pay tribute, was never amalgamated within English territory.

At first this might be difficult to understand. If a king conquers neighbouring territory then surely that becomes his territory. Yes and no. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066 – yet England did not become part of Normandy even though they both had the same ruler. The Duchy charters of 1377 confirmed the constitutional status of Cornwall as being extra-territorial to England and this position has been confirmed many times in the subsequent centuries – right into modern times.

Now you may hold an opinion that this is all ancient history. It is not. The effect of Cornwall’s constitutional status has meant that today many Cornish people regard themselves as Cornish, not English. Down through the years, the difference between Cornwall and England has been remembered in Cornwall when, across the border in England it has been conveniently forgotten.

So the constitutional arguments form the first part of my case, providing the basis on which a demand for Cornish autonomy is based.

The second part of the equation is the socio-economic arguments. When the subject of Cornish autonomy is raised, opponents often use the arguments that Cornwall is too small, it is too poor and its people are too stupid for it to work.

The truth is that if Cornwall is too poor then it is because it has suffered from the mismanagement of a Westminster Parliament which is remote from Cornwall, which does not understand Cornish economic needs and which concentrates development on London and the Home Counties. If Cornwall is too poor then it is because it has been made this way by Westminster and economic autonomy for Cornwall would be the best thing – not just for Cornwall but for Britain as a whole.

There are quite a number of nations which are smaller than Cornwall and which do very well. One very modern example is Iceland, which since it ditched its reliance on state banks (actually prosecuting some bankers) has been performing very well economically – its population is around 60% of Cornwall’s. It’s strange how British news never reports the recent success of the Icelandic economy!

The people of Cornwall are not incapable of running their own affairs.  Cornwall has a history of innovation and people who look to try new things and build for the future. All that’s needed is to have the confidence that the modern nation could do the same and more. It wouldn't be difficult. It would only take the knowledge that living locally, and understanding the way that Cornwall works, to begin putting right the harm that the remote, London-based political parties have done and are doing now.

Originally posted on the Modest Proposals website and reposted with their kind permission (14/10/2012) http://modestproposals.org.uk/2012/10/14/autonomy-cornwall/
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By Stephen Richardson. Published on 17th November 2012.

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