Over-centralised UK needs to follow Scotland's lead and devolve power
ON September 18, 2014, the people of Scotland will go to the polls to vote on whether their country becomes an independent state.
The Scottish Parliament itself was re-established after a 'yes' referendum in 1997 and, last week, Alex Salmond, the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, published a White Paper setting out the chase for full independence.
Opponents of Scottish independence are already promising more powers to the Scottish Parliament if people vote 'no'.
The people of Wales are also winning more powers. The National Assembly was created after a referendum in 1997, and it gained law-making powers in 2011 following a second referendum.
And in November, the Coalition announced that the Welsh Government would be given borrowing powers, control of landfill tax and stamp duty, and a House of Commons Bill giving permission to hold a referendum on the devolution of income tax.
The devolved administrations have grown in stature and authority in recent years, and constitutional change is certainly rising up the political agenda across the whole of the United Kingdom.
Cornwall has fared less well than Wales and Scotland since the late 1990s. We presented 50,000 declarations demanding a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street in 2001. But Tony Blair's Labour Government dismissed the declarations, refused to countenance greater powers for Cornwall, and instead forced the centralisation of local government on us with the creation of a single unitary authority, in the face of massive local opposition.
And we have even had the Conservative-led coalition Government further undermining democracy and the very territoriality of Cornwall by attempting to push through plans for a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.
I believe that the United Kingdom is over-centralised. I believe more needs to be done to address the political dominance of London and the South East of England, and I am pleased that Mebyon Kernow has just launched a new campaign initiative to make the case for greater powers for Cornwall.
MK has produced a statement titled, "A law-making Assembly for Cornwall," which seeks the meaningful devolution of political and economic powers to our own legislative body.
Politicians, organisations and individuals are being encouraged to sign up in support and this will help put pressure on central government to explore a new democratic settlement for Cornwall.
The campaign statement can be downloaded from the MK website at www.mebyonkernow.org, or requested from Mebyon Kernow at Meridian House, Heron Way, Truro, TR1 2XN.