Cornwall’s Green Party has joined the growing chorus of voices from across the political spectrum in condemning the “deeply insensitive” changes proposed by the recent electoral boundary review.
These would involve a new ‘Devonwall’ constituency straddling the Cornwall/Devon border, lumping together Cornish communities including Launceston and Bude with Devon towns and villages such as Bideford and Clovelly.
“No-one with any understanding of Cornwall’s deep-rooted cultural identity could have been surprised by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this proposal,” said Amanda Pennington, the Green Party’s candidate for North Cornwall at the 2015 General Election. “Two years ago, the government finally recognised the Cornish as a national minority within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. In doing so, it undertook to ensure that Cornish people would have a full right to political participation that allows them to ‘express, preserve and develop their culture and identity’. This proposal flies directly in the face of that undertaking, as it means that many Cornish people would be represented by MPs elected partly by voters outside Cornwall.”
Cornwall Greens say that the national boundary review is deeply flawed in several other ways, too, not least because it is based on an electoral register that excludes over two million people who registered as voters between December and June of this year.
They also point out that MPs for the proposed Devonwall constituency would have to liaise with two county councils, each with different priorities – one reason why the boundary revision is strongly opposed by Cornwall Council, whose leader has described it as “inequitable and unlawful”.
“We are not against electoral reform – quite the opposite,” said Amanda Pennington. “The Brexit referendum result showed that many people in this country, not least in Cornwall, feel that their voices are not heard in parliament and that their elected representatives are deeply out of touch. It’s scandalous that under our first-past-the-post system, parties that attract millions of votes can end up with virtually no MPs. But this kind of deeply insensitive tinkering with electoral boundaries will only make the problem worse.”
The Green Party is calling for a complete overhaul of the UK’s unfair electoral system, including the introduction of proportional representation so that parliament accurately reflects the votes cast by the electorate. it is also committed to the devolution of power, so that decisions get taken at the most appropriate local level, and supports the idea of a Cornish Assembly that is democratically mandated to take such decisions.
Watch party officer Greg Matthews’ speech at the protest on 30 October 2016