ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APR 30, 2013
As we have seen, those councillors elected on Thursday will have to tackle central government-imposed cuts in council spending and a centralised planning system weighted appallingly towards developers and against local communities. At present, they face the tough job of convincing a deaf Tory/Lib Dem Government of Cornwall’s case for special treatment. But they’ll have to do this with one hand, if not both, tied behind their back. The only long-term answer is to get more powers here in Cornwall. So what do the parties standing in these elections say about devolution?
The Tories don’t say much other than the vacuous ‘we want to capitalise on the localism agenda to ensure that planning is sustainable, relevant, sensible and sensitive’. Which is a little difficult to square with the Council’s Local Plan – anything but sustainable, relevant, sensible or sensitive. Perhaps they haven’t got around to reading it.
As we’ve seen, the Lib Dems in this election prefer to say very little indeed of a specific nature about anything very much, apart from promising to clean up the streets (given the inexorable rise of litter I’ll believe this when I see it). Labour does mention the word ‘devolution’ though, but this isn’t devolution as you or I might know it – from central government to local government – but from local government to parish councils.
In a fit of worrying amnesia Labour in Cornwall also appears to have completely forgotten that it was the last Labour Government that foisted a unitary authority on us by encouraging the Lib Dems to adopt this clever wheeze to save money. Now, this past has been re-written as Big (Labour) Brother whitewashes its own role in order to paint the Lib Dems as the sole villains in this exercise in democracy-adjustment.
Labour joins Ukip in saying nothing about campaigning for a regional assembly for Cornwall or devolution of powers to recognise our special status within the UK. While Ukip presumably sees devolution as a European plot, Labour is just constitutionally wired to oppose it until the last possible moment. Instead, they leave demands for devolution to MK and the Greens.The Green Party declares itself in favour of ‘devolution of powers to Cornwall, including a full Cornish Assembly with regional powers’. Meanwhile, MK also campaigns for ‘our own legislative Cornish Assembly’ and for ‘the recognition of Cornwall as a distinct national community for all forms of governance and administration.’