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

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The UK is heading for Victorian levels of inequality

All of the Westminster parties, whether blue, red or orange tories, are guilty of a political ideology that plays on people's fears and panders to their selfishness.

We are told that poor people are to blame for all of our ills and that they are holding us back. If we could just jettison the shirkers we would all be ok.

Take a look at this video and see how fair a society we have today after more than three decades of Thatcherism.

Opportuity for all?

The UK is heading for Victorian levels of inequality

Westminster Imposed Planning

Last Tuesday saw the latest round of officer driven housing target inflation. See here.

Despite the fact that Cornwall Council, in its "Full Council, 123 elected representatives" form has already voted for a housing target of 42,000 new houses to be included in our Local Plan - the officers, cabinet members bamboozled by the officers and councillors with an interest in 'regeneration' want more. It is clear that a Local Plan will not be presented to Westminster until our elected representatives have been browbeaten into agreeing agreed with the unelected officials.

Only the evidence that is robust is allowed to carry any weight and it seems that the definition of robust is whatever supports the imposition of housing in Cornwall to meet the needs of Westminster's planning scheme.

We are told that we have to have some unknown amount of housing or else Westminster will put a red pencil line through our 'Local' Plan.

Of curse the argument that is made to try and persuade your everyday voter is that there is a housing crisis and we need to build our way out of it. We need to build affordable homes.

In Cornwall the average house costs 8 times the average wage. Most lenders will only provide a mortgage 4 times the applicants wage. This means that, to allow an average person in Cornwall to buy an average house, house prices would need to halve or wages would need to double. There is no chance of the latter and not even the gung-ho development brigade will give you any kind of figure as to how many houses would need to be built in order to reduce the cost of a house.

The problem is that the housing market doesn't work that way. If you build more houses you don't simply decrease demand in Cornwall you will increase it. This is because the vast majority of extra properties can't be bought by locals so logically must be purchased by wealthy people from outside Cornwall. Building houses will not have any significant impact on housing people who are in need in Cornwall. It will simply act to keep the average wage down because there will be more people living here without any extra jobs being created. In fact building more houses will make the situation worse.

What about affordables you ask? Well the problem is that 'affordable' in Westminster speak does not mean 'affordable' as you would find it in a dictionary. In housing terms 'affordable' has many different, convoluted definituons which really mean bugger all. And even when a developer agrees to build a small number of affordables this agreement (rarely actually carried out as initially agreed) it just means that open market house prices are inflated further to ensure that a 'reasonable' profit is made.

At the Plaid Cymru conference last week, Leanne Wood denounced the fact that Wales is a net exporter of energy and yet has the highest energy costs in the UK. She said that if the market isn't working for the public then the public should take back the market. This is the only way that Cornwall will be able to sort out its housing challenges. We need to demand control over our own planning system - root and branch. We need a national legislative assembly for Cornwall.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Nick Clegg - Master of Dreckly

Stephen Gilbert MP has attempted to chivvy Nick Clegg on devolution of a few extra powers to Cornwall Council. He has asked a nonplussed Clegg to ensure that the powers are devolved with more speed and not 'dreckly'. Of course the Deputy PM didn't have an idea of what he was talking about.

Good luck with that Steve!

I wrote to Mr Clegg back in April this year. In May I received a reply from his office which stated that my letter was receiving attention. Not heard from them since.

My substantive reply will be dreckly then I guess.

Monday, 14 October 2013

People Power!

Well done to the residents of the Penwrtha estate in Illogan!

Anyone who has visited the area will know that the open areas are kept immaculately maintained. The grass is cut, cuttings picked up and taken away, hedges trimmed and borders kept tidy. Quite simply it is a pleasure to visit and must be great to live there.

Recently Coastline wanted to replace the contractor who does such a good job and reduce their costs by replacing him with a bigger outfit. Residents knew the value of the service that they were getting as compared with simply haggling about the cost. They have campaigned to make sure that their groundsman is kept in place - even though this means they may pay a little more for the service. For once, ordinary people have taken on anonymous bureacracy and won.

This, for me, is a triumph for community over establishment profiteering. If more people in society were prepared to follow their example and stand up for the good of the community then the world would be a much better place. Well done Penwartha!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Plaid Cymru Conference 2013

As I was packing up my Mebyon Kernow roll-up banner a conference delgate came over and said how much he had enjoyed my speech and that it had challenged his view of Cornwall. If there had been nothing else to take away from Aberystwyth, the 600 mile round trip would have been worth it for those words alone. For me that was one of the objectives of going to Wales, to challenge the false assertion, continuosly ingrained by our English dominated education system that Cornwall is just an administrative county of England.

Yet there was so much more to bring back from Cymru.

There was the sense of purpose and determination that Plaid has a plan and knows exactly where it is going. A plan which is distinctly bereft of Tory principles, in stark contrast to any of the big Westminster parties. A plan for government and leadership of Wales rather than being content with a junior coalition role. A plan to put Wales first - whether it's by Plaid's committment to providing 1000 new doctors or by tackling a failing energy market. A market which has meant that while, in net terms, Wales exports energy, the people of Wales still pay more in proportion than anywhere else in the UK. "How is that fair? .... If the markets are failing the public then it is time that the public take back the markets"

But it's not just Leanne Wood's key note speech or the appearances on national TV. Plaid Cymru is not just a one trick pony like UKIP with their fags and booze leader Nigel Farage.

The breadth and depth of their expertise and experience is growing all the time. Whether it's the headline grabbing, charismatic Rhun ap Iowerth - taking the recent Anglesey bye-election with a staggering 58% of the vote, or the professionals - the businessmen, economists and banking specialists that are joining the party in ever increasing numbers. Plaid is a party built on teamwork and shared responsibility. Building on the bedrock of generations of Welsh nationalism and reaching for the stars.

The message is that the current Welsh government is bereft of ideas and if they don't act to take Wales forward then the next Plaid led government will.

And it's not just Leanne Wood leading from the front that is driving Plaid forward. The backbone of Plaid, the local councillors and activists, are keeping the party grounded and insisting that people are put at the centre of policy. Working tirelessly to make sure that people are put before bureacracy and that doing the right thing is put before party politics. These are the people that are really making the difference.

For me the lesson of #PC13 and the last two years is summed up by Ben Stein when he said:

"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face and then reach for the stars."

Saturday, 12 October 2013

My speech at the 2013 Plaid Conference

Below is the text of my speech given at the Plaid Cymru conference in Aberystwyth.

Charles – Prince of Wales - Duke of Cornwall – he received 19 million pounds from the Duchy of Cornwall last year. Let me put that another way for you - whenever His Royal Highness goes to bed he earns over 19 and a half thousand pounds just by getting a solid nine hours sleep – that’s more than either the average Welsh or Cornish person earns for a whole year of hard work – this is something that the people of Wales and Cornwall have in common.

Hedhyw, mall yw genev a vires orth nebes taklow a gevren Kembra ha Kernow.  Keffrys — orth diwedh ow thermyn genowgh — my a vynn govyn orthowgh hwi oll konsydra gul unn dra pur sempel. Neppyth a allsa agan gweres, an werin a drig dhe West a’n Tamar, yn agan kaskyrgh rag digresennans rag Kernow.

Ond yn gyntaf hoffwn ddiolch i chi am adael i mi siarad â chi i gyd heddiw - diolch yn fawr! Diolch yn fawr hefyd i'r tîm sydd wedi trefnu dau ddiwrnod mor ddiddorol a llawn gwybodaeth. Rwyf wedi teithio tri Chan milltir i fod yma ac mae hi wedi bod yn werth chweil. Dw i'n mwynhau croeso cynnes a chwmpeini gwych - diolch yn fawr.

Of course Plaid Cymru has a record of supporting us Cornish nationalists - across the Celtic Sea in Cornwall. Many Plaid members have visited the Duchy of Cornwall and provided encouragement and motivation for the members of the Party for Cornwall.
But there are two people in particular that I would like to take this opportunity to thank in person. First of all - our inspirational leader - Leanne Wood. I only became interested in politics about three or four years ago. I had been living in Cornwall for a couple of years and I joined Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall. In becoming a Cornish nationalist, my eyes were opened to the injustices suffered by the other constituent nations of the UK. I joined Plaid Cymru in early 2012 and one of my first actions as a member of Plaid was to vote in the leadership contest. I voted for Leanne as someone that I thought would be brave and bold and who would challenge the Unionist establishment head on. I have to say that I haven’t been disappointed. Under Leanne’s leadership, Plaid has challenged unionism, tory ideology and red tory hypocrisy in Wales and at Westminster.
My Cornish friends and I will strive to hold the Unionist establishment to account in Cornwall - as effectively as Plaid Cymru is doing in Wales with Leanne at the helm.
Also I must say thank you to Jonathan Edwards. Thank you for taking the time out from a busy schedule as a relatively new MP and making the trip to darkest Cornwall.
Jonathan attended our 60th anniversary conference in 2011 and he also went on to put down an early day motion in the Commons. The EMD noted Mebyon Kernow’s achievement in obtaining 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly in 2001 and Jonathan called on the government to form such an assembly.
I remember Jonathan’s speech at our conference that year - it discussed the crisis facing Unionism. If anything, that speech is becoming more and more relevant as the months go by. Thank you Jonathan.
And talking about the crisis facing unionism - Thursday 18th September 2014 and the days following Scotland’s referendum will be fascinating to live through and remember - and I hope that Wales will get its own chance to vote on independence very soon afterwards.
But, now - to return to my theme – what do Wales and Cornwall have in common.
Well - there is genetics for a start. The Welsh people and the Cornish are cousins - the indigenous peoples of the British Isles who were here long before successive waves of Romans, Vikings and Anglo Saxons plundered their way from the East.
Each has a Brythonic language – Welsh and Cornish are still very similar even though people now using these languages were separated some fifteen hundred years ago.
And we both know that we form a nation in our own right. That we are best served by shaping our own destiny - by making our own way in emerging global communities. Not by being separatist - as unionists would make out – but through close co-operation with others. Close co-operation which is on equal terms and not based on us being dependent.
On a lighter note both Wales & Cornwall have the odd male voice choir, both are extremely good at digging holes whether it’s for coal or for tin – and, of course, both enjoy beating the English at rugby!
But we also face similar challenges. We suffer from a lack of investment. A lack of investment in our health care, a lack of investment in our schools, a lack of investment in our infrastructure, jobs, technology and sport and the list goes on. As a result our GDP is depressed - depressed to the point that we both qualify for support from the European Union as two of the poorest regions of Europe.
However, we both know for sure that we are not to poor, not too small and not too stupid to put these things right for ourselves given the tools to do so.
Another challenge that we share is a lack of opportunity to make our case for devolution or independence to the ordinary woman or man on the street. Biased media and establishment institutions mean that we have to work harder to get the same bang for our buck - to get the same level of information out to the public that unionist politicians do with ease.
Here in Wales Plaid Cymru struggles to get a fair report when it achieves success. Can I just take a moment, on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, to congratulate Rhun ap Iorweth on his stunning victory in the recent Ynys Mon election. Well done Rhun keslowena! A Plaid Cymru candidate achieved 58% of the vote – truly spectacular - yet what do the Unionist press concentrate on - the fact that UKIP came third – that level of bias is quite simply breath-taking.
And we in Cornwall face a similar challenge - but for us Cornish nationalists the challenge is compounded by a media bias which denies that there is even a nation for us to be nationalist about. Our challenge is dealing with unionist institutions which play down - and usually deny - the very existence of the Cornish nation. And this is the point where I want to ask you all to consider doing one simple thing that would help us immeasurably in our campaign for devolution.
What we need is recognition. We need to be able to communicate to the people of Cornwall that we deserve, as of right, to be considered a country separate to England. If we could show that other nations shared our knowledge and belief it would help us no end. This is the simple thing that I want to ask you to do for us.
When you talk to the media about the constituent nations of the Island of Britain – when you talk about Wales, Scotland and England could you occasionally just throw Cornwall into the mix?
Just imagine if the next time that Leanne Wood is on Question Time she mentioned Cornwall alongside Wales and Scotland. Can you imagine the effect that would have on the morale of our members? Can you imagine what questions people, brainwashed by Westminster propaganda, would begin to ask? And just imagine the discomfort that this would cause unionist bigots?
So there you are. Thank you for allowing me to speak here today. Thank you for listening to some of the things that I believe Wales and Cornwall share. And remember - please include Cornwall in the list of countries that are not England.