[Celtic League: Kernow] Hunger Strike Protest Over Electoral Boundary Changes


Celtic League, Kernow Branch Secretary, Michael Chappell, embarked on a hunger strike at the weekend over government plans to create a cross border parliamentary constituencies between Cornwall and Devon.

Mr Chappell announced his intention at 10am on Sunday morning (10/10/10) ahead of a rally in Essa/Saltash in protest over the possibility of forming at least one new constituency that straddles Cornwall’s historic border. The rally attracted an estimated 500 people to listen to speakers from across the political spectrum and representatives of none, speaking out against the government proposal that the Mayor of Saltash said will “ignore the right to self determination of half a million Cornish people.”

Mayor Adam Killeya, who has spearheaded the cross party `Keep Cornwall Whole’ group and was the first speaker at the rally, said that the plans to produce 75 000-voter strong constituencies while ignoring the Cornish border was to take “an arbitrary equation and use it to replace a thousand years of feeling.” Mayor Killeya added:
“Nationalist or not, Cornish or not, surely all supporters of democracy and freedom believe in the right to have identity recognised and protected.”

Speakers at the rally included the Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh, Members of Parliament, representatives of various political parties and the Chairwoman of Cornwall Council. Speakers pointed out that they wanted the Cornish border to be respected like the borders of Wales and Scotland are under the proposal and for an amendment to be included in the current Bill that takes into consideration Cornwall’s distinct identity.

Writing in the `Western Morning News’ newspaper last week, Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall (MK) leader Dick Cole, wrote:
“The legislation ignores what I would personally describe as Cornwall’s nationhood, its Celtic identity, history and culture, as well as its unique geography as a peninsula bounded by the Tamar River and its special constitutional position.”

MK also launched a petition last week calling for the Westminster Government to “to protect the integrity of Cornwall’s historic border and guarantee that Cornwall is represented by MPs whose constituencies are wholly within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”

Amendments to the Bill to protect Cornwall’s integrity have been tabled by representatives of all three of the main political parties, namely Andrew George for the Liberal Democrats, Sheryll Murray for the Conservatives and Harriet Harman, Peter Hain and Jack Straw for the Labour Party. The Bill will be further discussed at the House of Commons today (12/10/10) and over a three day period next week.

Yesterday a report by the Political and Constitutional reform Committee in the House of Commons criticized government ministers for rushing through the legislation.

In a letter to George Eustice MP after the rally, Mike Chappell wrote:

“I had the distinct pleasure of being among the hundreds who attended the Keep Cornwall Whole Rally in Saltash on 10th October, 2010, a cross party event designed to tell Cameron & Clegg (aka ‘The Axis of Evil’) that we shall not stand idly by in Kernow whilst our thousand year old border is ignored by a distant and uncaring Westminster Parliament.

You might be interested to know that so determined am I over this issue, that at 10am on 10 October 2010 I commenced a hunger strike and am prepared to go the whole way. I shall not eat until this outrageous proposal is withdrawn.

Destroy our border with England – over my dead body.

Please tell that to Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg who have failed to respond to three of my letters thus far.”

Supporters of Mr Chappell can write to kernow@celticleague.net

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This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

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