Last week the Supreme Court in London ruled that the Scottish Government did not have the power to hold a Referendum on Scottish Independence.
So although we pay lip-service to the idea of self-determination, the people of Scotland have to ask permission from the UK Government to be allowed to express their opinion.
Some people North of the border are asking whether they are members of a “voluntary union”, or captives being held against their will.
This is just another example of the top-down model of democracy we have in this country. All power belongs to the Westminster Parliament.
Any power which appears to exist in National Assemblies, County Halls, Town Halls or Parish Councils is only partial. At any moment, the Westminster Parliament could decide to give us more, or to take away what we’ve already got.
Thanks to our unfair voting system, although the Conservative party won less than 44% of the votes at the 2019 general election, they control 55% of the seats in Parliament, so can vote through pretty much whatever they choose, even if the parties representing the majority of the population are against it.
It’s little wonder that this system is often referred to as an “elected dictatorship”.
For most of this year, Cornwall Councillors have been told that the Government might give us some new powers, but only if we replace the Leader of the Council with a directly elected Mayor.
We have been kept in the dark about what these new powers might be. Most Councillors feel that the public should have the final say about whether to make such a big change, but we don’t even have the power to ask the question without permission from Government!
As a Liberal Democrat, I believe that the only way to restore faith in our democratic system is to radically reform it so that power comes from the bottom up, with communities having the authority and resources to tackle the problems which matter most to their communities.
For example, Cornwall faces a particular problem with housing which is different to most other parts of the UK. There are over 20,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing, but over 25,000 houses are used as second homes or holiday lets.
Every party on Cornwall Council agrees that we should require planning permission before any more homes are converted to holiday accommodation.
However, we do not currently have the power to make this so.
The only way to get this power is to ask Central Government to give it to us, but after fourteen years of asking, they have refused to do so. We don’t just need a new Government, we need a whole new democratic system!