NEWS RELEASE FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
CORNISH CONCERNS OVER BOUNDARY CHANGES
“Na wrewgh tava agan ordir” (Hands off our border) was the unusually political message from the Grand Bard, Mick Paynter, at the Cornish Gorsedh last weekend in PorthIa/St Ives.
The Grand Bard was responding to plans by the UK coalition government to cut the number of parliamentary constituencies in the UK by making them roughly the same size. This would mean that two of Cornwall’s two eastern parliamentary constituencies – South East Cornwall and North Cornwall – would straddle Devon.
Mr Paynter, who took over as Grand Bard of the Gorsedh in 2009, opened his ceremonial speech on Saturday (4th September) with a direct attack on central government saying:
“This is a threat to our territorial integrity…It is a threat buried in the Coalition’s plans for electoral reform. Lest there be any doubt as to the meaning of `one and all’ we should show it together by saying loudly, that the Tamar has been our border for more than a thousand years. It is a historical border, it is a cultural border, it is a linguistic border and it is recognised as such by Europe. The Tamar is our national border. Na wrewch tava agan order! Hands off our border! Gesewgh Kernow dhe vos Kernow! Let Cornwall be Cornwall!”
A `Keep Cornwall Whole’ group has been set up by the Mayor of Saltash, Adam Killeya, to campaign against the proposed changes, which has received strong cross party support from politicians both sides of the border. The second reading of the bill in the House of Commons proposing the changes took place on 6th September 2010 and work is underway by members of the Kernow branch to lobby Members of Parliament to vote against or amend the bill, so that Cornwall’s border is respected. The League’s Branch Secretary, Mike Chappell, was interviewed on Pirate Radio FM on Monday (6th September), along with politicians from Cornwall, who were all speaking out against the proposed changes. Mr Chappell said:
“The Westminster Parliament is increasingly out of touch with the people of Cornwall showing that devolution for Cornwall is needed.”
Mr Chappell went on to say that the branch will be campaigning hard over this issue in the coming weeks.
A Kernow Branch member resident in Tavistock, Devon, received the following letter from his MP, which points out that the Boundary Commission stipulation that “traditional County boundaries should not be crossed in the amendment or creation of Parliamentary constituencies”.
The full text of the letter is set out below:
Geoffrey Cox Q.C., M.P. for Torridge & West Devon
Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the proposed changes to the size of Parliament.
I am glad that the Deputy Prime Minister has announced that the number of MPs will be cut by 50. I currently represent just over 90,000 people, and bringing the national average constituency size into line with this figure, rather than the 65-70,000 favoured by the Electoral Commission strikes me as a good first step.
Though I am certainly no Cornish Nationalist, I believe that people feel an affinity to their traditional counties and so we should preserve the ‘ceremonial’ county link as much as possible. I also believe that Parliamentary constituencies work best when they cover ‘natural’ political units.
In his statement Mr Clegg did not mention any intention to change the Boundary Commission’s current stipulation that traditional County boundaries should not be crossed in the amendment or creation of Parliamentary constituencies.
However, there may be instances where this is the best option and so I would not be adverse to the Boundary Commission contemplating cross-county constituencies as a matter of last resort. It should certainly not make a habit of doing so however.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Geoffrey Cox QC MP
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contacthim direct:
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9th September, 2010
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