Less than seven months ago - just before the elections surprisingly enough - Alex Folkes wrote on his blog:
Cornish Liberal Democrats are today announcing a budget alternative which would see council tax frozen for a third straight year.
“Our budget alternative stands in stark contrast to the official budget proposal of the Conservative-led council,” said Cllr Jeremy Rowe, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council.
“Where they promise a council tax rise, we will freeze it. Where they propose service cuts, we have found the money to reverse many of the harshest.
“Last year, council tax was only frozen because the Liberal Democrats campaigned for it.
What a difference a few months and an election make.
For three years mebyon Kernow have been warning of the black hole at the centre of Cornwall Council's budget but now Cllr Folkes argues that circumstances have changed and a rethink on council tax levels may now be necessary. Of course it won't be a U-turn because the council are running a series of consultations. Instead of a U-turn we will be told that the council is listening and prepared to consider any proposal.
The funny thing is though - in the middle of the consultation - when the cllr Folkes is keen to listen, he lambasts political opponents UKIP for suggesting that a referendum be held to consider a 5% rise.
The Liberal Democrats have no principles apart from seeking to be elected. The circumstances that we are faced with now were entirely foreseeable. The plan to reduce local government funding (which the Liberal Democrats in Westminster have imposed) was clear three years ago - the problem is that now Liberal Democrats at Lys Kernow are faced with its consequences.
Mebyon Kernow has consistenly argued that the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition is responsible for rapidly destroying the efficacy of local government. Under the disguise of austerity it has cut budgets far beyond those of other categories of government spending. We have argued for small increases year on year and if the local Westminster parties at New County Hall had looked at what would be best for Cornwall in the long term (instead of competing to be the party of lowest taxation) then the council's budget might have been some 8.24% higher next year than the current levels - without any need for a referendum. We would still be facing massive cuts and the loss of front line services but the end result wouldn't have been as dire as the consequences we are facing right now.