In a rallying call to the Mebyon Kernow Annual Conference (19th November 2016), Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole has challenged party members and supporters to redouble their efforts in advance of next year’s local elections.
“An army of practical visionaries”
In his keynote address, he took his lead from a Plaid Cymru member of the National Assembly of Wales, Adam Price.
Mr Price had recently said that: “At its best – a political party is an army of practical visionaries, a movement of doers and dreamers that together get things done.”
Cllr Dick Cole told the gathering at Lys Kernow (New County Hall) in Truro:
“As members of Mebyon Kernow and the wider Cornish movement, we need to rise to the challenge to become just that army described by Adam Price.”
He added: “Ours is a political party that unashamedly seeks to give political expression to Cornish nationhood, and to secure a better deal for all the people of Cornwall.
“But I do not want us to be defensive in any way or to simply practice a politics of grievance – because I have faith in the people of Cornwall.
“I look out across our fine nation and I see men and women of heart and spirit, of conscience, of talent, of invention, of ingenuity, of great common sense … who together, have the skills and the passion, and the where-with-all, to build a better Cornwall.
“But we need to wrestle political power from the deadhand of Westminster to give us the tools to do the job.”
He re-affirmed Mebyon Kernow’s calls for greater recognition for Cornwall as one of the historic nations of the UK and the creation of a National Assembly of Cornwall, which he described as MK’s “defining challenge.”“No to ‘Devonwall’ parliamentary seat”
A key item for discussion at the Conference was the ongoing campaign against the imposition of a cross-Tamar parliamentary seat.
Members discussed, at length, their plans to continue to oppose the Boundary Review and lobby MPs and others to protect the territorial integrity of Cornwall. This included using the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities to put pressure on central government.“No to south west region”
Cllr Cole also hit out at attempts by unelected and unaccountable bodies at a so-called “South West Growth Summit,” held in Exeter during October, which sought to advance “large south west” models of future administration with “Cornwall linked to Devon and Somerset or submerged in an artificial region that stretches beyond Bristol.”
He called on people to oppose the marginalisation of Cornwall and slammed the comments of the Communities Minister, Sajid Javid, who spoke at the event and disparagingly stated that: “Some in Cornwall see their county as distinct from the rest of the region, a special case that should be handled separately from everywhere east of the Tamar” adding “that whole attitude has to change.”
In response, Cllr Cole told his Party Conference:
“With respect Mr Javid, it is your attitude that has to change. It is the attitude of your Government that has to change. And it is the attitude of all the unelected and unaccountable placemen, who met in Exeter, that has to change.”“A better deal for Cornwall”
In a wide-ranging keynote address, he was very critical of the political establishment in London on a range of issues.
In particular, he called for:
Speaking up for Cornwall
- A geographical re-balancing of the UK economy.
- Fair funding for our schools, health service, social services, and the public sector in Cornwall.
- Greater investment in public works to boost local economic activity.
- An end to the privatisation of the National Health Service and other public services.
Other key speakers at the Conference included:
Steffan Lewis, a Plaid Cymru member of the National Assembly of Wales. He addressed the immediate debate about Brexit and the potential impact on the Celtic parts of the United Kingdom, and also gave his full backing to the campaign for a National Assembly for Cornwall.
Natalia Pinkowska, the Vice-President of the European Free Alliance which brings together over forty political parties campaigning for greater self-government across Europe. She updated the Conference about the growth of the EFA’s parties.
Dr Joseph Toms, who gave a presentation about present threats to the National Health Service and his important medical work in Kathmandu.