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No plan for devolution of powers and no understanding of a Cornish Assembly from political elite
"In the corridors of power they are discussing things like what relations local government should have with central government, what powers should be Westminster's and which should go to the nations, regions and cities, who should control spending. At the moment this is happening without meaningful input from Cornwall's Labour and Conservative politicians into these discussions."
The following is taken from an article on Rob Simmons' personal Blog dated Wednesday 8th October 2014.

I blogged a while back on the lack of plans for devolution to Cornwall Council as (flippantly) promised by the Labour and Tory parties. the title of the blog was: "When will Labour and the Tories let everyone see their back of a fag packet ideas for powers to Cornwall Council?" Which unusually for a title of one of my blogs, pretty much sums up my view on the subject, there's no clear plan. I've since realised that a lot of Cornish politicians are far from being on the same page with me about this. That nailing down what powers Cornwall should have, what laws we could write, what budgets we'd have to spend and what relationships it should have with Westminster, the EU, Wales, Scotland and the South West of England is actually something far advanced of where they are in the book. It's pretty clear many of them are stuck on chapter 1; what is devolution and how do people view it.

After watching BBC Sunday Politics South West, it was clear that particularly Michael Foster and Sheryll Murray are very passionate about the deficit. They can quote facts and figures that show both Labour and Tories are absolutely wonderful and always did the right thing by the economy (yawn). Similarly on the subject of housing, they are well informed and both raise some interesting points. However when it came to devolution that passion was gone, the facts and figures were absent. We might expect a debate about should Westminster retain power over business rates or should that be devolved to a Cornish Assembly? should the power to raise rates on second homes be Cornwall's choice? Or something like what are the pros and cons of devolution to Wales and Scotland, ought we skip the various commissions and argue for more powers now rather than over time? Or even fundamentally what priorities should Cornwall expect from government be it hundreds of miles away or closer to home?

The debate is currently a lot more superficial than that. The fundamental questions that are being grappled with elsewhere are largely ignored by the Conservatives and Labour in Cornwall. The proverbial wood is not even in the corner of their eyes, wholly obscured by a single tree (incidentally the Tory party logo). I know people like me that see direct rule from London as a bad thing are always going to want our politicians to consider these things properly. But it's not just me, devolution is being discussed everywhere. In the corridors of power they are discussing things like what relations local government should have with central government, what powers should be Westminster's and which should go to the nations, regions and cities, who should control spending. At the moment this is happening without meaningful input from Cornwall's Labour and Conservative politicians into these discussions. It's time for them to step up and actually care as much about Cornwall's governance as they do about the history of housing and the deficit in the UK. Because the risk is that this government or the next will come up with their own ideas and we won't like them, either because they ignore Cornwall (again) or because they want to foster some kind of odd South West/ Devonwall devolution or pretend Cornwall is a city and give us a mayor. Devolution will be an opportunity that we miss out on if Cornwall's politicians are caught napping.

If any Labour or Tory politicians want to skip ahead a few chapters on devolution, might I suggest Mebyon Kernow's Towards a National Assembly for Cornwall or the Cornish Constitutional Convention website, particularly their publications page. Or even talk to their party colleagues in Wales and Scotland who have repeatedly tripped over themselves to give more powers, proper devolution, more funding and a better deal for those places.

For everyone else why, not sign the Cornish Assembly petition and email your local Tory and Labour reps and tell them Cornwall wants a fair deal for once.
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Published on 9th October 2014.

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