Is it time Cornwall started to talk seriously about devolution?

Cornwall has a major chance to decide it's own future - will it take it?

With the prospect of Scottish devolution going at least one extra step towards Home Rule or even outright independence from the UK, Cornwall should decide, like Wales, whether it wants to see greater powers come from Westminster to decide more of its own future.

The Coalition government has evangelised the concept of localism, and although this has primarily focussed around the creation of new locally elected police commissioners and more elected mayors for major cities, Cornwall has a role to play in this new deal for local government.

When Cornwall became a unitary council in 2009 many Cornish people opposed the new council rather preferring the old district/county model, however, I supported the new council as it seemed to fit in much better with the aspiration of Cornwall to have its own Assembly, although the model created had far too many councillors to have this as a credible outcome at the time.

If the Coalition is serious about devolving more powers to local control perhaps Cornwall should begin negotiations with Westminster to see what powers could be devolved, such as transport.

Many studies have shown that both the electorate and Cornish politicians want to see greater powers devolved but the process would seem to have stagnated in recent years. With all Cornwall’s MPs now being supporters of the Coalition and with the Conservatives giving Cornwall special status before the 2010 election, by creating a Shadow Minister for Cornwall (though quite what happened to this in government no one knows) this should the best time to urge both parties to deliver on greater recognition for Cornwall.

The Planning Minister, Greg Clark, has indicated that he would welcome discussions on the subject, so let’s take the opportunity whilst it is there.

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Does the prospect of Scottish Independence make electoral reform more likely?

Most electoral reformers were looking the other way when Scotland elected its first majority government in the devolved age and many haven’t taken on board the importance of this shift. We were busy trying to change the electoral system on the same day. But this change could actually be one of the main catalysts for the parties south of the border to revisit the way we do business at Westminster.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Greens and UKIP are committed to electoral reform but the Labour Party, whether before or during the AV referendum, has been almost equally split on the issue. But, with the possibility of the electoral mathematics being different in post-independence Britain could the combination of principle and self-interest move the Labour Party into a position where they see the benefits of electoral reform more clearly.

Although Labour has dominated Scottish politics since the mid-1960s (the last time the party did not win in terms of seats in Scotland was 1955) it has regularly failed to turn this pre-eminence north of the border into government at Westminster. However, with the Conservatives now so weak in Scotland the Labour Party have returned between 40 and 50 seats since the mid-1980s and the Liberal Democrats have also returned about 10 MPs from Scotland. Although the boundary changes at present being discussed makes the mathematics against an overall UK Labour majority worse they slightly improve if Scotland leaves the union but nonetheless this is a slightly marginal impact.

Losing 40 Labour MPs would have delivered a Conservative majority in Parliament in 2010

Do the mathematics of possible Scottish Independence make electoral reform more likely for Westminster

and the results would have looked like: Con 306 (307), Lab 217 (258), LD 46 (57) – with a Parliament of 591 seats – a Conservative overall majority of 21. So the decision Scotland makes on independence is important to England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as Scotland, as we would now have a different government if Scotland was independent.

So this major shift away from the Labour Party makes the prospect of Conservative government more of the time more likely. Does this sort of major shift in the nature of the country make it more likely that Labour sees the importance of its future policy on electoral reform? Well maybe, but the question is have our political class quite worked out that there is a genuine chance of Scotland being independent within the next five years? And this is where I believe there is a genuine level of self-denial amongst Westminster, and for that matter Holyrood, politicians. Scotland could well be on the verge of it’s the most significant constitutional change since 1707. With Alec Salmond running a popular, anti-Westminster government in Edinburgh there is a chance, without credible arguments and strong campaigning against independence, for it happen.

With this change will English and Welsh politicians come together to deliver a better way of electing Westminster as well as what Scotland decides for its own future?

Intern if you want to – The Case of the Missing Lord

But for a missing Lord we would have been able to employ his land rover and pulled ourselves out within minutes...

But for Lord Elgin going missing we would have been pulled to safety in minutes...

Only last week I, and our present intern, were out in the West Fife villages distributing leaflets to our members.

One such member lives on the estate of Lord Elgin in the village of Culross.

Driving my car down the lane, past the big house where the Earl’s son lives, I proceeded to the member’s house.

I parked outside whilst our intern nipped to the house to drop the bundle of leaflets with him.  Unfortunately he was out but knowing he wouldn’t mind he found a safe, dry place for them and returned to the car.

I should tell you that the car is a 4X4 which I bought for work on a country estate and as such is perfectly designed for this sort of rural terrain.

Nonetheless I had somehow managed to park the car in such a place that due to the muddy conditions it would not move forward, or backward.

Trying and failing for about ten minutes to extricate the car we abandoned it as a bad idea and walked back down the lane to the ‘big house’ as I had seen that the noble owner had a very industrial looking land rover that would easily be able to pull us out.

After a discussion with the nanny and various noble children we were told that the car didn’t work and wouldn’t be of any assistance, and there was no sign of his lordship who might be able to help. Not wishing to impose on their hospitaility too much we returned to the car, still beached.

So I called the AA and following a wait of two hours nobody turned up, probably finding it rather difficult to find us in such a remote rural location and the other 23,000 people stranded in winter weather.

Getting rather bored with calling the AA for an ETA I pressed a button on the dashboard and with a combination of the ground having now hardened due to frost and the 4X4 now engaged I drove straight out of the hole onto the road.

It became clear from the streetlights on the way home how much comedy mud I had been able to spray over the intern whilst trying to remove the car from the mud, whilst he pushed and I over accelerated!

Are the Tories creating clear Green water for the other parties to target?

Has the Tories increasing climate change scepticism made clear Green water for the other parties to occupy?

According to The Independent the Labour Party campaign managers have identified 31 seats where the increasingly sceptical Conservative tone over climate change might benefit them and the Liberal Democrats. 

In these seats, of which 7 are Lib Dem held seats, the Labour Party believes that it might be possible for incumbents to benefit from an above average Green Party level of support and squeeze it to support the non-Tory incumbent. 

This follows Gordon Brown’s comments about Nigel Lawson and David Davies and their “flat-earth” environmental comments.

According to The Independent, ‘in the 31 seats, the Green Party or Scottish Green Party had a 2 per cent or higher share of the vote – which could make the difference between the Tories winning or losing on a marginal swing.

‘The Tories need to win Tooting – target seat number 112 – with a notional Labour majority of 5,190, to win an outright majority. In this south London seat, the Greens won a 4.1 per cent share of the vote in 2005.’

Certainly the Tories apparently paper-thin interest in the environment might well now damage them, but I find it fascinating that Labour high command at Number 10 identify seven Lib Dem seats as being ones where this strategy should be adopted.

The full List of seats according to The Independent is:

Finchley & Golders Green (L); Croydon Central (L); Battersea (L); Milton Keynes South (L); Hove (L); Cheltenham (LD); Stroud (L); Carshalton & Wallington (LD); Hastings & Rye (L); Calder Valley (L); Hereford & North Herefordshire (LD); Colne Valley (L); Brighton Kemptown (L); Swindon South (L); Milton Keynes North (C, notional L due to boundary changes); Watford (L); Birmingham Edgbaston (L); Worcester (L); Bradford West (L); Richmond Park (LD); Brentford & Isleworth (L); Edinburgh South (L); Leeds North West (LD); Ochil & South Perthshire (L); Stirling (L); Devon North (LD); Oxford West & Abingdon (LD); Poplar & Limehouse (L); Reading West (L); Waveney (L); Tooting (L)
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‘Lives, damned lives and statistics’ on my blog in November – it all went a bit silly really…

The sad death of Edward Woodward reminded me that he signed my nominations in 1997 and Danny Finkelstein remembered...

I was interested to see that there appears to be quite sensible monthly roundup of people showing how their blog has performed over the past month. 

I think this seems to be a very interesting way of, if for nobody else’s benefit, keeping track of movement and weighting of activity on my blog.

My former colleague, Duncan Stephen, explained that many blogs receive the vast majority of their hits from search engines, but I just don’t appear to have that same profile of activity, perhaps because it is still very new.

Nonetheless in November 2009, my blog received 5,068 individual hits. I think because of the way wordpress works I can’t actually tell how many pages they read, but this figure was up 227% on October, which was the month I started, so I suspect that figure won’t be replicated again!

The busiest day was when I wrote about Edward Woodward signing my nomination papers on  Tuesday 17th November.

My top stories were: 

  1. Edward Woodward – Memories of a star who signed my nomination papers
  2. This week, dancing the military goosestep, it’s Nick and Eva
  3. Today’s Revelations could end Liz Truss’ high flying Tory political career
  4. Palace of Westminster burnt to the ground today
  5. About John
  6. The Bullingdon Club: Boris, Dave and Gideon yes but an aspiring liberal MP and a former Party President, surely not?!
  7. And finally, the Liberal Democrat press release with 17 spelling mistakes…
  8. Because of where Sir Cyril Smith was sitting it totally changed the name of the party in the publicity photos
  9. The Candidate’s Aide’s Briefing – Lesson 4 – Jeremy Thorpe
  10. ‘John, it’s Mark Oaten on the phone saying someone’s been mucking about with his face!’

The main referrers were as follows:

  1. Lib Dem Blogs
  2. Lib Dem Voice
  3. Times Online
  4. Networkedblogs
  5. Scottish Roundup
  6. Google Reader
  7. Twitter
  8. Huffington Post
  9. Google
  10. WordPress.com

So that’s me, but as I am still very new at this can you give me some insight?  What on earth is Wikio about?  I just don’t get it.