21 November 2011

I have commented before on the disunity in Cornwall over the distribution of power and resources and the view that unitary Cornwall revolves round Truro or perhaps Truro and Camborne: see the Disunitary post and the Onen hag oll post. From London-centric to Truro-centric in cornat speak, a new centre and new peripheries. Several posts on my blog also explore the disregarded difficulties that localism brings.

The notion that an all-Cornwall council or assembly or parliament would pour harmony on the land, that it would speak with one voice for a united people of Cornwall, is naive. An independent/devolved Cornwall would remain as naturally divided and disunited as it is at present; the conflicts between government and governed and the conflicts thrown up by localism, such as affordable housing, deciding who finally decides, would remain. Such conflicts are normal, even healthy, but, as I explored in the earlier posts, it is desirable and possible in a democracy to explore the underlying issues of principle and arrive at a consistent and coherent approach.

How do actual conflicts about those internal questions, the distribution of power and resources within Cornwall, fit with nationalism’s view of semi-independence/independence? How would a nationalist Cornwall deal with this? What would be its consistent and coherent approach to such internal conflict? Who finally decides what in an autonomous Cornwall?

While we wait for answers, here is a recent expression of the sentiment and concern from the Cornishman, a Penzance weekly paper, on 20 October 2011 about the all-Cornwall unitary council, Conservative-led, and the fair distribution of resources and power within Cornwall:

“an insidious, creeping but increasingly inescapable feeling that Cornwall Council feels it can impose cuts in west Cornwall because we are at the tail end of the county. That because we are remote, out of sight of Truro and far from the authority’s mid-Cornwall heartland, we can be imposed upon and fobbed off …”

Earlier a columnist had written about the all-Cornwall unitary council “leaving the west to rot while millions are spent in Truro and Camborne” (Cornishman 26 May 2011).

I suppose the forthcoming removal of the heliport; and the continuing pantomime over the Scilly ferry terminal; and cuts at West Cornwall Hospital add to the unease in Penzance.

Such concerns, about resources and powers, are an uncomfortable challenge for romantic nationalism. What are the nationalist solutions to our internal conflicts and what are the coherent nationalist principles underlying the solutions?

Addendum 1 February 2012
“Many of the contributions from the public were asking why, in their opinion, the East of the county did not appear to get its fair share of expenditure yet paid as much if not more than the rest of Cornwall.” Cornish Guardian 1 February 2012 (account of a meeting at Launceston)