Councillor Cole said that “Today (10 December, 2011) marks the tenth anniversary of the presentation of 50,000 Declarations for a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street.
Getting over 50,000 people to show their support for a Cornish Assembly in less than twenty months was a truly amazing achievement, and the Declarations continue to represent a great statement of intent from the ordinary people ofCornwall.
At this point, it is right that we look at what has happened since 2001 and how the aspirations of the 50,000 signatories have been devalued by the actions of the London-centred parties and their leaders.
It remains a disgrace that Tony Blair’s Labour Government (which supported devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) dismissed the declarations and refused to consider demands for greater powers for Cornwall.
The Liberal Democrats walked away from the campaign for an Assembly and, with the backing of the Labour Government, they pushed through the creation of a single unitary authority in the face of massive opposition. They even had the brass neck to attempt to promote this centralisation of local government by using the language of devolution.
And now, we even have the Conservative-led Coalition Government further undermining democracy and the territoriality of Cornwall by pushing through plans for a cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.
The previous Labour Government spoke a lot about devolution, local control and democratic change. The present Coalition Government also speaks a lot about devolution, as well as localism.
But these were, and are, “hollow words” as far as Cornwall is concerned. Blair and Brown ignored calls for a Cornish Assembly, a situation that is being replicated by the present Coalition Government.
The reality is that, because of the failings and neglect of the London-centred political parties, the fight has got harder – and the responsibility that Mebyon Kernow members have is even greater.
The quest to win an Assembly for Cornwall remains our big battle and we will never retreat from it! As the leader of MK, I pledge our continued commitment to greater self-government for Cornwall and we will never shirk from this fight.
Ten years on from taking the Declarations to Downing Street, I have also written to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. I have challenged them to respect the views of the 50,000 and to work with local communities to deliver devolution to the historic Celtic nation of Cornwall.
I will report back on the replies when I receive them”.
He has stated that “Ten years ago this coming Monday (12th December 2001), I was part of a delegation to 10 Downing Street.
We presented a CD to the Government which contained the names and addresses of 50,000 individuals who had signed Declarations demanding a Cornish Assembly.
The Declaration had been launched by Mebyon Kernow on St Piran’s Day in the previous year. It set out a strong message:
“Cornwall is a nation with its own identity, culture, traditions and history – it also suffers severe and unique economic problems.
“Important decisions about our future are increasingly taken outside of Cornwall and such decisions are often inappropriate or even contrary to the needs of our local communities.
“Scotland now has its own Parliament and Wales its own Assembly – but Cornwall has been ignored. We have had the artificial ‘south west’ region foisted upon us.
“Cornwall has had to accept second best for too long.
“We, the People of Cornwall, must have a greater say in how we are governed. We need a Cornish Assembly that can set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall and provide a stronger voice for our communities in Britain, in Europe and throughout the wider World.
“I support the campaign for a Cornish Assembly.”
In a period of less than twenty months during 2000 and 2001, teams of volunteers under the inspirational leadership of Paddy McDonough visited town after town, setting up street stalls and getting the individual declarations signed.
The Cornish Constitutional Convention was also founded in 2000 to campaign for more powers for Cornwall. This helped to build cross-party support for the Declaration and it was subsequently backed by leading figures from all political parties including district and county councillors, and 80% of Cornish MPs.
It was a truly amazing achievement for 50,000 people (over 10% of the adult population of Cornwall) to sign the Declaration in such a short period.
Sadly, since 2001 the aspirations of these 50,000 signatories have been undermined and persistently devalued by the actions of the London-centred political parties and their leaders”, added Councillor Cole.