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Thursday, 14 February 2013

We need more onions on the floor!

Last week David Cameron threw his 'veto threat' weight around to force a reduction in the EU budget. Good news for us all then? We will have to pay less of our taxes to the Leviathan that is Europe.

It's certainly good news for David Cameron, it gets possible UKIP defectors of his back. This is especially true when it is coupled with the uncertainty that he has caused by the announcement that sometime in the future we might, perhaps, have an 'in/out' referendum on Europe. (However, this will only happen if hordes of UKIP deserters transfer their loyalties back to the Tories to ensure a Commons majority.)

The problem in Cornwall is that a cut to the EU budget will bring a cut to Convergence funding. Will Westminster ensure that Cornwall, which is already underfunded by the UK government, still receive the desperately needed investment in our economy?

The answer it seems is no. Plaid MP Hywel Williams, asked a similar question in Parliament on behalf of the people of Wales. Unfortunately none of our Cornish MPs (who, we should remember, are at 'the heart of the UK governement') thought to ask the same question on behalf of us here in Cornwall - though the answer would have undoubtedly been the same.

That answer is that we will be looking at less investment into Cornwall over the coming years while the benefit is felt in London and the South East.

We need to engage fully with Europe and not let the UKIP centralist and isolationist approach do even greater damage to our economy than the Tory/Lib Dem tag team seem intent on in Cornwall.

Westminster will continue to underfund Cornwall. Cornwall deserves Convergence funding. We need to fight for investment and fight to see that, what investment we do get, is used constructively to create real Cornish jobs instead of allowing it to be fenced through various Westminster organisations before being frittered away on CV building, high profile 'projects'.

When I used to be a manager of a global restaurant chain I had a visit from the top honcho in the UK. We spent days getting ready for the visit and cleaning everything up in detail. When he visited the one comment I remember was that he "would have liked to see more onions on the floor". In other words he wanted to see a developing business where real work was being done by real people.

I sometimes think that we need more onions on the floor here in Cornwall and that our political and business leaders need to take off their jackets and get stuck into the real issues instead of 'building a legacy'. Let's take what little is on offer from whatever legitimate source and use it to create real jobs.

OK some reforms are necessary, but we should remember that Europe is a massive opportunity for us here in Kernow and not the demon that UKIP and the Tories would have us believe.

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