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Welcome to the blog. All the opinion on this blog is my own or as attributed. Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy.
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Demonstration against WCAs - Truro, 1st April

I will be attending the demonstration against WCAs in Truro on Tuesday 1st April.

The demonstration will assemble at Lemon Quay around 12:15pm and then set off to High Cross at 12:30pm.

Anyone who believes that deciding the quality of someone's life should not revolve around a paperwork exercise is welcome to attend.

This demonstration is part of a national day of action across the UK. The success of previous demonstrations has led ATOS to indicate their desire to renege on their contract to perform WCAs and today the government has been forced to accept this.

I have been invited to address the demonstration at High Cross and I look forward to seeing many friends there.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Capping welfare - true blue Tory ideology. So why does Labour support it?

One of the measures announced in the recent budget was an arbitrary cap on supporting those most in need in society. An idea that sits comfotably in the right wing Tory/UKIP camp - but why are Labour so keen?

The problem is that, in order to continue to fuel the favourite Tory pastime of consolidating the ever growing difference between the haves and have nots, money has to be found for tax cuts (most of the state's assets having already been sold to the highest bidder).

Simply freezing the welfare budget is the natural continuation of government avoiding root causes. Instead of dealing with issues lazy government simply throws its hands up in the air, shrugs its shoulders and walks away - leaving who knows what social problems in its wake.

So why is Ed Balls keen on following through with the Tory promise?

I expect that it's because he hopes that if he ever gets into number 11 then the economic cycle will be heading back to growth and the welfare budget will decrease naturally, all by itself.

So there you have it - Labour (red Tories) gambling with peoples lives just to avoid being called 'soft' on benefits.

With this sort of lack of principle Labour will soon be challenging the Lib Dems as the party for whom presentation is more important than substance.

We need to look at other ways of balancing budgets and creating a better balanced economy.

My visit to GeoScience Limited



I visited GeoScience Limited at their Falmouth office today for a briefing on the progress of the Uk’s first large-scale geothermal energy plant at United Downs. 


The companies involved in bringing this innovative technology to Cornwall are very optimistic that the requisite funding will be put in place over the next few months and that the plant will be able to start producing energy next year.


99.9% of the planet is above 100 C. Geothermal energy is virtually carbon emissions free, has a relatively small impact on the landscape and is not dependent on the vagaries of the weather. Cornwall’s granite spine and geology make it rich in minerals but also mean that it is ideal for geothermal energy extraction – one of the top locations in Britain.


Cornwall has an opportunity to make a mark in the UK, Europe and across the world. Our geology and landscape offer resources which can be used to benefit our economy in an environmentally friendly way. 
 

Renewable energy is just one of several niche industries in which Cornwall could become a leading player. Mebyon Kernow believes in strategic national Cornish government which would invest in the facilities and infrastructure that are required to develop the kind of industries that will create real jobs and improve our GVA.
 
I was fascinated by Geothermal Engineering Ltd’s plans and I am looking forward to visiting the plant once it is producing energy for Cornwall. In the meantime, we need to look at ways of developing infrastructure and technology such as a ‘smartgrid’ for Cornwall which would allow us to start making joined up plans for renewable energy production to meet our own needs and even for export.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Why Sarah Newton is wrong about the FCPNM

Thanks to the MK Facebook page for bringing this article by Sarah Newton to my attention.

I can't believe how shortsighted and plain wrong Ms Newton is.

Here is my reply:


I have recently read an article by Sarah Newton MP concerning the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and how the UK should not include the Cornish people within this Convention.Unfortunately Ms Newton seems to have misread or misunderstood the Convention. In her article she claims that the Convention seeks to “to protect from persecution what the EU calls 'minority groups' living within its borders”. In actual fact the Convention’s purpose is “to promote the full and effective equality of national minorities by creating appropriate conditions enabling them to preserve and develop their culture and to retain their identity.” As you can see the official Convention view of its purpose is a lot more positive than the divisive interpretation given to it by our local MP.

Ms Newton goes on to say that she wishes to see the UK’s interpretation of the Convention revisited. Unfortunately, any detail of exactly what she is proposing in its place is only conspicuous by its absence.

More importantly than being wrong about the Convention, Sarah Newton is wrong in her view that it is not right to promote the celebration of Cornish ethnicity. To celebrate ethnicity in itself is not at all discriminatory and, in my view as an Englishman, it is something that is done in an warm and inclusive way here in Cornwall. A view that Ms Newton acknowledges herself.

For centuries, people who come to live in Cornwall have been included in and adopted by Cornish communities. In a reciprocal way the new ideas that new arrivals bring have been assimilated within ever developing Cornish culture. I would argue for Ms Newton to claim that “The definition of identity as a matter of race can exclude people, and restrain cultural expression.” is simplistic in the extreme. 

Further it also denies Cornish people their basic human right to define themselves as they would wish. Whether Ms Newton agrees or not, many Cornish people define themselves as Cornish in terms of race and nationality. This is their right and it is this right that the Convention sets out to protect. If you reinterpret this right you are in danger of doing away with it – or is that the intention?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Illogan Adopts a Cornish Language Policy

Last evening I was very proud and pleased  that Illogan Parish Council voted in favour of my proposal to adopt a Cornish Language Policy.

This means that the council will now consider using the Cornish language whenever appropriate.

We will begin to see more Cornish language on official documents and council signage. As signs are introduced or need to be replaced they will be bilingual.

I am pleased that Illogan is a  forward looking parish. More and more councils across Cornwall are adopting Cornish Language policies and Cornish is definitely a language of the future.

Monday, 17 March 2014

A busy morning

I have a had a busy morning today!

First I was in Falmouth at Source FM, on the One and All Show,
for an interview in my capacity as the MK PPC for Truro and Falmouth. Thanks to Tony and Dave for extending a warm welcome with some testing questions about MK's ideas on a National Assembly and other topics. Next up I will be at Redruth Radio on Thursday morning to face a more detailed examination of MK's proposal for a Cornish National Assembly.

Later this morning I met with Jane Howells who is the secretary with Cornish Quest and who has put in a lot of hard work in examining the way that the Channel Islands handle their devolved powers of government and the wide ranging socio-economic benefits that accrue as a result. Jane had some very thoughtful and constructive criticism of our White Paper, Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall. Comments which I will take to our NEC for further consideration after the end of the consultation period on June 30th.

Ours is a genuine consultation and we really do want to hear from one and all. Please send written comments to me or if you would like a more wide-ranging or detailed discussion please get in touch to arrange a meeting.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Men an Tol - under siege

Men an Tol is an iconic ancient Cornish monument. Possibly dating back to the Neolithic era it is


believed to be part of a standing stone circle.

It is very likely that the stones have been moved or rearranged since ancient times but there's no doubt that the monument is a highly important cultural and archeaeological site.

English Heritage is charged with protecting our ancient heritage - so what is going on.

Whatever English Heritage may consider the rights and wrongs of allowing cattle to roam around an ancient monument to be - this just feels like a total lack of respect for Cornish heritage.

As the Celtic League has said:

"We wonder what would happen if defaecation were allowed on Stonehenge?"

It is quite often the case that authority not only has to do the right thing it also has to be seen to be doing the right thing. Whatever the case for allowing cattle to graze on Penwith Moors, this is simply disrespectful.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

New date for Assembly Roadshow

video
The Cornish Assembly Roadshow is coming to a Cornish town near you!

Hot on the heels of the announcement that the roadshow will be appearing at Trevithick Day, we can confirm that we shall also be meeting the people of Falmouth at the Moor on Saturday 29th March - 11:00am - 3:00pm.

Our new consultation document 'Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall' will be available as will members of Mebyon Kernow if you would like to discuss our ideas and plans.

Edit: New date above confirmed by Falmouth Town Council :-)

Monday, 10 March 2014

The curious case of the Pick 'n Mix Lib Dems and the policy that will never see the light of day

Apparently the Lib Dems have voted to devolve powers to Cornwall at their Spring Conference.

Already we have quote after quote from local Pick 'n Mix luminaries about how Cornwall deserves devolution.

It's all rather reminiscent of the last time they hopped onboard the vote winning devolution bus. Last time they hopped off very quickly after imposing the white elephant that is Cornwall Council on us.

Now I certainly welcome any Lib Dems that have had a 'road to Damascus conversion' when it comes to advocating a National Assembly of Cornwall. However, this doesn't seem to be the case with the Pick 'n Mixers.

The much heralded (and no doubt much overegged and over-exaggerated in future campaign leaflets) Lib Dem policy is not worth the paper it is written on.

It will just be another Lib Dem broken promise for two simple reasons.

First of all there is no detail to it. It is just a broadbrush wish (there's not even enough substance for it to qualify as a 'list').

What powers do the Lib Dems want to be devolved to Cornwall?
How will it all be paid for?
Will there be a truly national assembly or this just a supersized local authority doomed to consolidate the faults of Cornwall Council?

These are just a few of the many, many questions that the Lib Dems don't even seem to have considered - never mind answered.

Secondly, this policy - as sure as eggs is eggs - will be the very first one that will be dropped in any coalition agreement that the Lib Dems enter into. Their leaders in London know it will never happen. They are cynically developing this kind of 'nice to do' policy as canon fodder - policies to be sacrificed - in the battle to remain relevant enough to be part of a colition again in 2015. Instead of delivering a real opportunity to deliver a chance for Cornwall to sort out the economic mess that Londn has got us into the Lib Dems will prioritise an electoral bribe worth a pound or two a week.

The only thing you can trust Lib Dems to do is to abandon any principle except whatever it takes to get elected. The electorate of the UK know this and this is why, up in England, UKIP are now the party of the protest vote (however equally misguided this is).

So please. If you are one of the few remaining Lib Dems in Cornwall, and you really want to put pressure on Westminster to deliver a National Assembly of Cornwall, come and join us at Mebyon Kernow. Only a vote for MK will ever demonstrate that the people of Cornwall are serious about building a better future for Cornwall.

A vote for Cornish Lib Dems is a wasted vote.

Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A clear conscience laughs at false accusations!

Readers of this blog might recall that I questioned the mandate of local politicians.

In particular, I questioned whether Cllr Wilkins listened to his electorate.

I campaigned long and hard against a development of 69 houses on agricultural land which would increase the size of the village by 20%. I helped a local residents organisation present an objection and took part in a unanimous vote against the development by Illogan Parish Council (Terry Wilkins did not attend the planning meeting).

Meanwhile Cllr Wulkins never used his vote once. He set out his position as believing that Illogan needed 'affordable' housing and made it clear that he was in favour of the development.

At committee Cllr Wilkins did not take part in the debate but instead asked someone to read a statement in support of the development on his behalf.

Ultimately the development has gained planning permission. I hope that Cllr Wulkins takes his stated committment to afordable housing seriously and holds the developers to acount. The level of affordable housing is not good - lower than that expected by the Cornwall Council Local Plan. Let's hope that it does not decrease further.

I shall be holding Cllr Wilkins to account if people from Illogan are not ultimately able to take advantage of the miserly affordable housing offering that the development offers as that is why he says that he supported this mass housing development.

The point of this blog is that Cllr Wilkins decided to make a Standards complaint against me.

Totally misunderstanding the rules on predeterminism, Cllr Wilkins made a complaint. A complaint which has been dismissed entirely.

I believe that the the complaint was made for personal reasons and to attempt to politically intimidate me into stop showing where he has made many errors of fact and interpretation. Cllr Wilkins seems to believe that his position as a Cornwall Councillor means that he should be beyond robust criticism and scrutiny. He does not appear to enjoy it when his mistakes are unearthed.

I think that if Cllr Wilkins makes mistakes and whenever he is just plain wrong he is doing Illogan a mis-service and I will continue to hold him to account every time he gets something wrong.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Consultation Launched

Today, St Piran's Day, we launched our White Paper "Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall".

It was good to finally start our conversation with the people of Cornwall with meat on the bones of our ideas for a national Cornish government.

The document is comprised of 28 pages packed with 71 numbered facts, ideas and principles concerning a Cornish Assembly.

It was good to see a television crew from Wales as well as newspaper reporters from Cornwall.

EDIT - Find a download of the document here

Below is my speech:



Myttin da puponen ha goolperran lowen.
Good morning everyone and happy St Piran’s Day.


George Bernard Shaw once said that:
“Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”


Well, here in Cornwall, we must have done something very bad to end up with the government that we have.

Mebyon Kernow believes that the people of Cornwall definitely deserve better government.

Mebyon Kernow believes that democracy - in Cornwall -should be a device which insures that we are governed as well as we deserve.


And that is what our White Paper - “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” is all about.

 

It’s the beginning of a conversation with the people of Cornwall - and with the UK government - which we expect will end with a better form of government for Cornwall - the form of Cornish government that we deserve and which can make the difference to the lives of people living here. “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” has 28 pages.
 

It has 71 numbered paragraphs, each of which contain an idea, fact or principle that we believe should form the basis of a discussion. A discussion as to why Cornwall deserves the democratic tools that it needs - and a discussion as to how to best to use those tools to make the difference.
 

We want to hear from anyone who believes, like us, that Cornwall should have enhanced powers to take democratic decisions on the matters that affect us most of all.
We recognise that there are groups and organisations that may believe in Cornish self-government but who think differently to us about exactly what we should be aiming for and how we should achieve it – well, let’s talk!

Let’s talk about our ideas and yours. Let’s see where there is an existing consensus and where we can work towards achieving one.

Let’s talk about what Cornwall deserves and how we can present that both to the people of Cornwall and the politicians of Westminster.

Let’s talk about how we craft a new settlement which will recognise the sovereignty of the Cornish people and provide government which understands the unique challenges that face us. Government which can use the distinctive characteristics of our people to meet those unique challenges.

Let’s demand a new democratic settlement for Cornwall instead of always talking about how we are too small, too poor or too stupid to make decisions for ourselves.

What we believe to be essential is an Assembly which has strategic national powers - a truly national government rather than just a supersized local authority.



If we are to make the difference for Cornwall then we need to be able to co-ordinate our education syllabus with our employment opportunities. We need to link our housing needs with our social and environmental responsibilities.

We need to offer joined up social care which is delivered by people who talk to one another instead of operating through a chain of command beginning at a W1 postcode.

All of these things are covered in the White Paper.


“Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” is not about small details. It is not about what colour the seats in the Assembly chamber should be.


It is, however, about working out the general principles which will allow us to go on and reach a conclusion about those small details.


Of course there are some things that it is crucial that we discuss in some detail in order to create a framework on which we can hang a developing picture.


For example, how many representatives do we need to elect in order to create a properly functioning national government? Well we advocate around 40 Assembly Members. This would allow us to have a strong executive and yet still provide incisive scrutiny of that executive.

40 Assembly Members elected for four year terms to ensure that they are answerable to the electorate at frequent intervals.

How should we elect our 40 Assembly Members? Well, our conviction is that a single transferrable vote system and proportional representation is the best way to do this - but are there better ways? These are the conversations we need to hold.

And while we’re at it let’s talk about how we really take democracy for Cornwall to new levels and let’s reform our local government.


We believe that the geography and demographics of Cornish communities mean that they would be best served by having four unitary authorities instead of the one size fits all Cornwall Council that we have now.

Why not seize the opportunity and introduce real localism to local government and devolve meaningful powers to towns and parishes and reverse the Westminster approach of centralising powers to London?

But National government for Cornwall is not just about the dizzily exciting and glamorous things such as STV, block grants and subsidiarity.


Oh no! It’s also about our relationship with the UK government, with Europe and the rest of the world – and, naturally, these subjects are all covered in the White Paper as well.


As well as 71 ideas, facts and principles “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” contains a Frequently Asked Questions section.


One of the FAQs that we answer is “Wouldn’t a National Assembly cost us all a lot more?”

No – it wouldn’t.


A National Cornish Assembly could be funded by a block grant just like the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament are currently funded. This would mean that the money that Westminster already spends on our behalf would form the basis of the National Assembly budget.
Mebyon Kernow is confident that a new democratic settlement for Cornwall would actually save money and allow us to boost the Cornish economy by using what Westminster already spends in a more productive way.

For example the increased democratisation of Cornwall would lead to the abolition of a large number of unelected bodies – or quangos. This would save money on expensive unelected officials.

A National Assembly of Cornwall would also ensure that much of the business of government and administration, presently carried out in places such as Bristol or London, would be happening right here in Cornwall – creating a significant number of new well-paid jobs.
  And a National Assembly would also be best placed to manage the expenditure of the majority of the public sector in Cornwall and to foster the conditions to develop a more successful and sustainable Cornish economy.

Unfortunately time is short – we all have many other things to enjoy on this special day for Cornwall, St Piran’s Day – so I will pass on the baton to Cllr Andrew Long, who is going to talk about a positive and bright future for Cornwall.



Sunday, 2 March 2014

St Piran Play 2014

Today was wet and windy!

Despite this the St Piran Play went ahead. An amazing cast persevered despite the awful conditions and still the people came to watch.

Next year will be dry.