For some thoughts on the wider Celtic context of Cornwall’s politics see Are Cornish politics Celtic?
The local context of Cornish politics
In 1973 local government reform amalgamated the former municipal boroughs and urban and rural district councils of Cornwall into six District Councils. These made up one tier of local government. The other tier was the County Council.
In 2009, the Districts were in turn abolished and just Cornwall Council remains. A unitary authority with 123 councillors and elections every four years has taken the place of the 854 councillors and elections somewhere every year that was the situation before 1973.
Up to the mid-1980s Cornwall County Council had a majority of Independent councillors, continuing the tradition since its establishment in 1889. As first the Conservatives and then Liberals began to contest these elections under party labels, the proportion of Independents gradually fell. After a confused period in the early 1980s, the Liberal Democrats became the largest party from 1989 to 2009, winning a majority at the 1993 and 2005 elections.
With the arrival of the unitary authority local politics in Cornwall became more fragmented again. The Tories became the biggest party in 2009 and then in 2013 the Independents won the most seats for the first time since 1981. More parties are now represented in what remains of local government in Cornwall than at any time in its history.