Monday, 14 September 2009

Responding to Piran Pascoe

In last week’s Cornish Guardian and West Briton newspapers, Piran Pascoe wrote a column entitled ‘Cornwall is in England, not next to it – and the Cornish cannot be allowed to control our own affairs.’ Among other comments it referred to, for example, ‘bored individuals who refuse to grow up … insist on living on fantasy island, calling for Cornwall to become an independent nation that governs itself.’

They have allowed me to produce a response which I understand will be printed later this week. The response is shown below.

Piran Pascoe’s piece in last week’s paper was a deliciously mischievous piece and clearly written to generate a reaction.

Sadly, the press statement from Mebyon Kernow featured within the article was misrepresented and I would like to put the record straight. The point of the MK statement was that although constitutional reform has re-emerged as a political issue, following the scandal over MPs’ expenses scandal, there has been much grandstanding and political point-scoring, but Government proposals thus far have been a sadly timid series of measures on the fringes of the present arrangements.

Our press statement unsurprisingly called for the devolution of powers to a National Assembly for Cornwall and an end to the influence of unelected and unaccountable quangos based outside of Cornwall. It also included wide-ranging demands such as fixed-term Westminster Parliaments, proportional representation (Single Transferable Vote), an end to the unelected second chamber, the relocation of various government bodies and institutions away from London and the South East, as well as the strengthening of local government.

It was therefore more than a little disappointing that Mr Pascoe chose to caricature what I considered to be a balanced statement. And for our call for greater powers for Cornwall to be misrepresented as a demand for ‘Cornish independence’ is especially frustrating.

Mr Pascoe – why shouldn’t decisions about Cornwall be taken in Cornwall? Why do key decisions about housing and jobs and the environment have to be taken by unelected quangos outside of the Duchy? I truly believe that Cornwall deserves better from the present democratic set-up and that is what Mebyon Kernow will continue to campaign for - greater powers for Cornwall.

I also found it disappointing that Mr Pascoe wished to ridicule people who are passionate about their Cornish identity. I, for one, am glad that Cornwall is not an identikit English county but a historic nation, like Wales and Scotland, with a strong identity and a wide range of wonderful cultural traditions including the Cornish language.

This is something to celebrate and be positive about – both now and into the future.

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