Welcome to the blog. All the opinion on this blog is my own or as attributed. Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Illogan's youth leads the way!

Congratulations to Illogan School and to Illogan RBL Junior Football Club. Both have recently been recognised and received awards for excellence.

Illogan School are leading the way in Cornwall after being awarded the prestigious ICT Mark. This award was made following an in-depth assessment of the way in which the whole school uses and applies new technology.

Meanwhile the Illogan RBL junior FC has been recognised by the FA and received the Charter Standard Award. The award reflects the quality of the knowledge and training of the people involved with the club as well as the way the club is administered. Illogan RBL junior FC now join an elite group of clubs to have received the award.

It is good to see that in Illogan, as across Cornwall, lessons in ‘Big Societies’ are not needed. Cornwall’s ‘One and All’ spirit leaves the UK behind in her wake!

Monday, 21 February 2011

AV Referendum

Over the coming months there will obviously be much debate surrounding the AV referendum. Mebyon Kernow is committed to a yes vote in the referendum on AV. This is because MK has consistently argued that PR is a better voting system than FPTP. It is true that AV is not the holy grail of a STV system, but, nevertheless principle demands voting for change that takes the system away from FPTP and towards STV.

AV is a big improvement on first past the post for several reasons. One big advantage of AV over FPTP is that it helps to make tactical voting harder to justify by the bigger parties. In the last general election the Lib Dems were for ever claiming that the only way to prevent [sic] a Conservative government was to vote for them – what a joke that turned out to be! The way that AV is set up makes it harder to convince voters that it is necessary to vote for one party in order to stop another from gaining power.

The AV system also makes parties try to broaden their appeal and develop policies which are less extreme because they will have to try and gain a much broader appeal for voters’ second preferences. The argument that AV would favour parties like the BNP just does not hold water.

Naturally we can expect Conservatives to pretty much line up behind the FPTP system as it has stood them in good stead over the years. Labour will be non-committal as they try to woo Liberal Democrats (in case there is another hung parliament) but will still prefer to keep the old Westminster two-horse race going. For the Lib Dems, the AV referendum is the poor price that they have extracted for selling their political souls to the Tories – you have to expect them to push for a yes vote.

The people that I really find hard to understand are those who have consistently called for a PR system but who now intend to vote against AV. To me this is a mystery.

What is the rationale for claiming to be in favour of PR and yet voting for FPTP in the referendum. Some people even want to simply spoil their ballot paper in a protest. For me this makes no sense. It will be hard enough to motivate people to go and vote on this subject in the first place – to try and motivate someone to make a trip to the polling station in order not to vote is surely like trying to push water up hill.

It also seems that some of the proponents of a vote against AV or a spoilt paper are (quite correctly) annoyed with the Lib Dems and don’t want to reward them for their duplicity. Well I would certainly agree that the Lib Dems deserve no reward for their broken pledges and blatantly unashamed U-turns – but I also think that not voting for AV rather than FPTP, when you claim to believe in PR, is such a big ‘tactical vote’ that even the Lib Dems would be proud of the idea. So much for principle and voting for what you believe to be the best option available on the ballot paper?

Some people claim that AV is not STV and until STV is on offer we should vote against it. Again, this is not a very well thought through argument. All that will happen is that the FPTP campaign will get a resounding victory. What happens next? Does anyone honestly believe that the Tories will say “Well we won that campaign with such a large vote that clearly we will have to have another vote with STV as the option.” Somehow I doubt it. The argument that will be used is “As there was such a clear vote in favour of FPTP that is the end of the matter.” There will not be another chance to get a better, more representational system for decades.

If you believe in PR and fail to vote for AV then be prepared to live with the knowledge that there may not be another chance to get a PR system for thirty or forty years – but never mind because the Lib Dems got what they deserved!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

I am a volunteer with the St Piran Trust.

St Piran’s day is the 5th of March and this year the St Piran Trust is responsible for producing the St Piran Play. This is the annual play staged on the sand dunes at Perranporth which attracts hundreds of ‘pilgrims’ who celebrate the life of St Piran. The play will be held on Sunday 6th March commencing at 2:00pm.

Over the years a tradition has grown that, at the start of the play, the members of the audience are each given a small bunch of daffodils. These flowers add a welcome splash of colour to the event and are often left at the granite Celtic Cross close to the Norman church which provides the backdrop to the final scenes of the play.

Unfortunately, due to the poor weather this year, our normal supplier is unable to donate the daffodils for the pilgrims.

Does anyone know of a local daffodil producer who might donate approx. 300 small bunches of daffodils so that we can keep this tradition going? Plese get in touch if anyone can help.

More information on the St Piran Trust is here .

The Race for Ethnic Recognition

It was claimed recently, by a reader of the West Briton, that there are no such things as Cornish, English, and Welsh etc. races. This assertion was based on an idea that there was lack of demonstrable empirical or quantifiable genetic differences between British and even European people. Individuals, who use this type of stereotypical argument (usually combining it with a demand for a ‘one size fits all’ definition of Cornishness) tend to ignore the broader concept of ethnicity.

I am not sure whether theses people are simply being pedantic in talking about ‘race’ in strictly dictionary defined terms or, more likely, deliberately trying to mislead others by ignoring ethnicity.

While they may be correct in arguing that the empirical differences between European peoples are becoming less discernable, it certainly would not be true to say that ethnicity is also becoming homogenised.

An ethnicity is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry. The key to understanding this is to accept that people can (and do) define themselves as being part of a national group not in just in terms of race but by how they feel about and how they see themselves – their sense of community.

Surely Cornish people can be said to form an ethnic group? Cornwall Unitary Authority would seem to think so. A while ago they began to collect data as a step towards ensuring that Cornish ethnicity is recognised. Over 30% of school children in Cornwall are now recorded as being Cornish as opposed to simply white European.

It is often also implied that people who are proud to declare their ethnicity (whether it is Cornish, English or Kharkheti [Eastern Georgian]) are backward looking or living in the past.

Again, I would take issue with this assumption. The EU has a framework convention for the protection of national minorities. The Westminster government has recognised the existence and importance of national minorities and has signed up to this treaty (although it has so far steadfastly refused to honour all of its commitments under the convention). Unless it is being argued that the EU and the UK government is backward looking then should it not be accepted that to be proud to identify with a particular ethnic group is neither backward looking - nor is it isolationist.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, believes that all of the people of Cornwall, whatever their ethnicity, deserve a better deal from Westminster. We need politicians that will always put Cornwall first in everything they do rather than use Cornish issues to grab media headlines and create sound bites and then blithely carry on ignoring our problems.

The best way to get a better deal for Cornwall is to develop Cornish identity and culture and to protect it. It is not backward looking to do this – it is very much forward looking. This fact has been recognised recently by businesses in Cornwall which have been looking at how the Cornish identity is good for business.

We need to make sure that decisions that affect Cornwall are taken in Cornwall by people that understand Cornwall. Mebyon Kernow appreciates this and does not believe that the best way to get a better deal for the people of Cornwall is to allow distinct Cornish culture, heritage and language to become assimilated into either an English or generic European identity.

The detractors should acknowledge - as the EU and the UK have done - that the way forward, the modern approach to a globalised world community, is to celebrate differences in cultures and to defend them - rather than homogenise people and lose diversity.