Written by Kasia Evans |
In September, the idea dubbed ‘Devonwall’ was suggested again by the independent Boundary Commission. The name is deceptive – no one is going to Build a Wall™ – in fact, the proposed Devonwall plan entails the very opposite. Devonwall is a possible parliamentary constituency which would combine parts of Devon and Cornwall and would be represented in the House of Commons.
The proposition of a joint parliamentary constituency between Devon and Cornwall was first introduced by the Conservative party in 1970. The plan then included joining the two counties’ services together, such as the fire, ambulance and police services. It is worth mentioning that Devon and Cornwall police are already established as a joint-county police force – this has not been the cause of much dispute.
However, the reason that many are rejecting the Devonwall propositions is because, for many people in Cornwall, our identity as a separate county is everything. It’s a point of honouring the past generations of our families who were born and bred Cornish, lived and worked here, and passed on the Cornish traditions that we know and love. Our representation is everything to us, and it brings us back to the question of why is this being proposed, still, when so many people oppose it?
“For many people in Cornwall, our identity as a separate county is everything.”
The Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard described the idea of joining Devon and Cornwall under one seat as “undemocratic” and “insulting”- adding that it is “nothing but an attempt at a bureaucratic power grab, making it easier for the Conservatives to win an election before a single vote is cast.”
Interestingly though, Steve Double, who is the Conservative Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay, has also spoken out against Devonwall. He detailed in one speech, in opposition for the plans, that he will continue to fight these changes for Cornwall to ensure that the people who live in our Duchy have an equal Parliamentary representation. A representation that reflects our unique heritage, culture and history as recognised by our minority status, now and in the future.
As such, it becomes clearer that this is not as simple as a disagreement between two political parties – Labour or the Conservatives. The impact that could be brought about with a Devonwall boundary would have deep cultural impacts. It would strip Cornwall of its historical traditions and unique heritage.
Having lived in both Devon and Cornwall and constantly travelling between the two counties, I find myself feeling uneasy about the whole idea. Despite my opposition to the Devonwall plans, there is nothing wrong with Devon as a county. It is brimming with beautiful countryside, stunning beaches and quaint towns. Devon has got a strong identity of its own, although it is a shame they cannot get their cream teas right. We have a separate history: our languages, flags and even Patron Saints are different.
Devon is like a neighbour – we live side-by-side and we politely smile at each other when we cross paths, but we don’t fancy moving in together, not even in Parliament.