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

Monday, 29 April 2013

Change - but in a Cornish way

With Thursday's election approaching like a completed HS2 I thought that I would make a final case for voting for your local Mebyon Kernow candidate.

You should vote for MK because it is the only political party which is made up of members who have an intuitive grasp of what Cornwall needs to begin to move forward. This understanding is intuitive for MK but it is incomprehensible to the Tory, Lib Dem, Labour and UKIP Westminster drones

Mebyon Kernow believes that we need to cherish and preserve what sets Cornwall 'a land apart'.

This doesn't mean that we argue that Cornwall should be stuck in the past. Far from it, we need to change things - but the change needs to be 'Cornish change'.

For example take the housing debacle that has condemned us to potentially constructing more than 42,000 houses over the next 17 years.

The Westminster solution is to 'presume in favour of development'. London is desperate to be seen to be doing something about the economic crisis that it has created and it encourages development at almost any cost. Houses are to be built where there is no demonstrable local need and this is justified by the claim that the only way to build 'affordable' homes is to build unaffordable homes. The problem is that more and more unaffordable homes are going to be needed because the same government is allowing developers to maximise their profits by reducing the requirement for 'affordability'.

The Mebyon Kernow approach is to focus on local needs houing. Yes - we may well need to build some houses but lets make sure that what we build actually address the problem that Westminster is refusing to face.

We need to stop building houses to become second homes and holiday lets and tie new housing to local needs.

Instead of selling council houses let's start building them. Lets rent them out at levels that Cornish people have a chance to afford. If entreprenneurs can accumulate huge buy to let portfolios to command massive profit why can't our government do it on a non-profit basis to house those who are in need - especially as it has the enormous advantage of a purchasing power not available to most development companies.

And lets start thinking about a jobs led recovery instead of on false hopes that out of control hyper-development will do the trick.

We need to focus on what Cornwall does best - innovation and hard work.

Instead of buying in to the Westminster way of throwing money at high profile projects like Newquay airport lets start investing in small and medium size businesses. Rather than encourage global companies to 'invest' in Cornwall by using our people to generate their profit through part time, seasonal and low wage employment lets empower the people to be responsible for their own livelihoods. Instead of Cornwall being used as a profit laundering centre for companies from up country, or even further afield, lets create wealth which recirculates in Cornwall.

The people of Cornwall are more than capable of building a prosperous future for our children - we just need the right leadership. An intuitive Cornish leadership for Cornwall. A leadership that will put Cornwall first and be prepared to make the changes required to build that future - but built in a Cornish way.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

An afternoon off

Yesterday I finally finished stage two of my election campaign. Over the last six weeks I have knocked on the door of over 97% of the electorate in the Illogan ward. The other 3% must be hiding somewhere in the beautiful countryside around lllogan because I haven't been able to find it despite my best efforts!

After an early start, to make sure that I finished door knocking that day, I found myself finished by lunchtime - what to do with the afternoon?

I decided to give my legs a break and go and watch someone else using theirs and so headed off to Redruth to watch the Reds play Taunton. As I headed out to the Rec I spotted the Lib Dem candidate hard at work delivering leaflets - leaving it a bit late as I had seen no evidence of any campaigns from either the Lib Dems nor the parachuted-in Labour and UKIP candidates before then.

This was the first rugby match I have ever been to see live and in the flesh and it was brilliant. The last match of the season, Redruth won 45 - 40. Redruth appeared to me much the better side but seemed to suffer a lack of concentration at the beggining of both halves - conceding two quick tries in the first ten minutes of both.

I enjoyed the game and the atmosphere immensely and I am determined to make time next season to catch a few more home games.

As for the campaign - well it's back on the streets again for the last few days. All that door knocking has given me some great GOTV data - more than enough to keep me busy and targeted during the last few vital days.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

My letter to Nick Clegg

Here is the text of a letter that I have written to Nick Clegg:

Dear Mr Clegg,
The Constitutional Status of the Duchy of Cornwall

Someone once remarked:

“It’s the Tamar not the Amazon, for heaven’s sake.”
The Tamar may not be the second longest river in the world, up to six miles wide in places or carry twenty per cent of the world’s fresh water to the ocean but it does provide a natural border for the historic nation of Cornwall. 

As the Deputy Leader of Mebyon Kernow, Cllr Andrew Long pointed out:

“While the people of Cornwall don’t need a lesson in geography from him, David Cameron could do with a history lesson from us.”
The river Tamar is the ancient boundary between England and the Duchy of Cornwall. It marks where many constitutional privileges which accrue to the Queen end. It also marks where many constitutional privileges which accrue to the Duke of Cornwall begin.

Today it’s not the history of the Duchy of Cornwall that needs to be discussed but its future.

It is the official line that the Duchy of Cornwall is simply a “private estate which funds the … activities of The Prince of Wales”. Yet, recently, the Duke of Cornwall and his Duchy have been much in the news - news which has often been at odds with this claim - news which has damaged the public perception of the Duchy of Cornwall.

Doubts have been cast on the status of the Duchy. If it is a private estate it is a very peculiar private estate.
Questions are being asked. People are querying whether the ‘private estate’ is just a device which allows the Duchy to escape public scrutiny? An issue which Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has been querying for many years.

The Duchy of Cornwall generated some £18.3 million for the Duke of Cornwall in the year up to 31st March 2012. This equates to £2089 for every hour of every day. If The Duke of Cornwall retired to bed at 11:00pm and were to get up at 9:00am the next morning he would have earned £20,890. By going to bed for the night the Duke ‘earns’ more than the average annual gross full time wage in Cornwall. 

In topical terms, he would be able to provide Mr Iain Duncan Smith with more than seven and a half years of his weekly allowance of £53.00. Not bad for a good night’s sleep!

Given the large sums of money involved, perhaps it’s not surprising that the Duchy wishes to escape public scrutiny?

Still – surely the private estate must generate some benefit for ordinary folk? As a private estate, in these times of austerity, the Duchy and its beneficiary, Prince Charles, are paying tax just like any other private estate or person. They are helping the UK to balance its books and pay down the deficit aren’t they?

Unfortunately, no. 

The Duke does not pay income tax on his income from the Duchy and the Duchy does not pay capital gains tax on the appreciation of its assets. Just like Starbucks, the Duke makes voluntary public relations payments to the exchequer.

But why is this private estate exempt from the rules which apply to less peculiar private estates?

How can a private estate bestow constitutional privileges on the Duke?

How does being the beneficiary of a private estate enable the Duke of Cornwall to veto UK government legislation?

How can this private estate claim your property if you die without any beneficiaries?

How can this private estate have a right to prevent compulsory purchase of its land?

These are just a few examples of the inconsistencies between private estate and constitutional body that have, until recently, successfully been kept secret. Duchy secrets are maintained in some cases by the use of injunctions at the very heart of our democracy.

Yet the house of cards and secrets is slowly, but surely, tumbling down. 

Lord Berkely has called for a radical overhaul of the Duchy of Cornwall. His private members’ Bill has called for the proceeds of the Duchy to go into a new Trust for the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
I believe that Lord Berkeley is right to propose that the proceeds of the Duchy of Cornwall should go to the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 

However, more is needed.

There needs to be consultation with the people of Cornwall. The Duchy of Cornwall is not just about pocket-money for a prince. Why is it that the future of Cornwall is being discussed hundreds of miles away from Cornwall - yet the people of Cornwall have not been asked what they want?

Mebyon Kernow has asked the people of Cornwall. We have 50,000 signatories that have demanded a more equitable and democratic future for Cornwall – 50,000 people whose hopes and aspirations have been ignored by successive Westminster governments.

You are the Minister with special responsibility for constitutional reform. I call on you to initiate a thorough investigation into the status of the Duchy of Cornwall. Put in place an investigation which aims to resolve the irrefutable dichotomy between a private cash-generating estate and constitutional sovereign body. Commission an investigation which can determine how the Duchy of Cornwall can best serve the people of Cornwall rather than the people of Cornwall serving the Duchy.

Cornwall deserves this.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Rain stops play

Well rain seems to have stopped play as far as canvassing goes this week.

It has, however, been a very productive week!

I have spent many hours talking to residents and identfying issues that might be resolved by an active Cornwall Councillor. If I am elected then I will do my best to address them. If I am not elected then I will be pressing the successful candidate to take a look at the concerns of local people.

One strange phenomenon taht I have noticed is the absence of leaflets from the other candidates where I have canvassed so far. I am up against the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP and I have neither seen another candidates leaflet nor had one delivered to my door as yet. Does this reflect the complacency of the Westminster parties, lazy candidates, paper candidates or have I just been canvassing areas off the beaten track - who knows?

One excellent piece of news is that I have received the endorsement of a legendary figure in Illogan's political history. Before ill health meant that he had to take things a bit easier, Terry Rowe had served the people of Illogan for many, many years.  He has been the chairman of both Illogan Parish Council and Kerrier District Council and was a County Councillor and was a member of the Liberal Democrats. Terry has not only offered his moral support and endoresement as his preferred candiadte but has, also, been providing practical help by displaying a sign board and helping me with canvassing. Thank you Terry.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Labour for Penzance - or Tim Dwelly for himself - you choose!

Tim Dwelly, the Labour party Cornwall Council candidate for Penzance East, doesn't seem to like answering questions on either his personal views or even those of the Labour party he is representing.

The Labour party were responsible for setting the infamous 'bonkers' housing targets contained in their Regional Spatial Strategy. Under Labour 68,000 houses were due to be built on a green field near you.

Tim Dwelly is a keen supporter of mass house building and has criticised the recent decision by Cornwall Councilors to plan for 42,500 houses in Cornwall over the next 17 years. He believes this is not enough - especially in Penzance.

You can read about Tim Dwelly here.

Tim Dwelly also has some rather right wing views on social housing and the 'right to buy' council housing stock.

"Is offering a social tenancy for life unintentionally encouraging ways of living that value welfare dependency above making your own way?"

Sounds like David Cameron? Actually this is Tim Dwelly.

The problem is that when anyone tries to question him about his views - a legitimate thing to do if he expects people to vote for him surely - he resorts to personal insults and hyperbolae.

I suspect the real  Cornish Zetetist would be very depressed to be thought of as being me. Unfortunately, I have to confess that there is no truth whatsoever in Mr Dwelly's assertions.

All this, and many more of his petulant outbursts have now (very wisely) been deleted from his Facebook page.

If you live in Penzance East and you are not happy with mass development in Cornwall then ask Tim why he is keen to implement the Labour policy of building more houses in Penzance than even Cornwall Councils developer's charter is prepared to accept.

You might also want to ask him about his views on social housing and right to buy. If you get any answers then it would be good to hear them as he has steadfastly refused to answer so far.

Town and Parish Elections

The list of Town and Parish Council election candidates can be found here.

Several bloggers and social network users have commented on how certain councils have returned councillors unopposed so that the party political makeup of many councils across Cornwall has already been pretty much determined.

I can't help feeling that the lack of elections in these cases is a sad indictment on the way that our society values the Town and Parish councils. That not enough people can be found who are prepared to serve their local communities and that we celebrate at a party political level (and I think that all of us are guilty of this whatever political party flavour we are) when we should be questioning why there wasn't an election.

There are many  problems facing these second (in Cornwall) tier levels of local government.

The work that councillors put in is entirely voluntary so, even more than Cornwall Council, the councillors tend to be retired or of independent means. This, of course, means that while the councillors have a lot of 'life' experience it is often a 'privileged' experience. This experience also comes with an older generation's inability to completely understand the values and views of a younger generation.

Added to that the type of work that second tier councils do is not at all 'sexy'. As second tier councilllors we do not make decisions which will have a massive impact on the lives of people all over Cornwall. We deal with the more mundane everyday tasks.

At the same time second tier councillors can still draw a great deal of barbed criticism from the people they are working for - so why should anyone bother?

Well the fact is that the tasks allotted to Towns and Parishes may not be sexy - but they are essential. Second tier councils provide the glue which binds our local communities together. This is why there can be criticism of councillors - because, when it comes down to it, the 'everyday' decisions that we take are things which allow (or don't allow) individuals to enjoy their communities.

Without Town and Parish councils the organisation of community events and amenities would fall apart. As central governemnt looks to destroy the ability of top tier local government to do its job well by slashing funding, Cornwall Council is looking to save money by dropping its 'non-essential' community based services. The decision we have to make as commuities is whether to save, and perhaps enhance, our community facilities or allow central government to wipe them out in the name of austerity. In the coming years second tier councils will have major decisions to make. Will we allow our commuities to be killed off or will we fight to save our asets.

We need a wide range of town and parish councillors to face this challenge. We need maturity and experience but we also need to know which facilities are the most important across all community groups. We need ordinary people to come forward to do an extraordinary job.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Nominations and congratulations to Cornwall Council Electoral Services

The nominations for the Cornwall Council elections have closed and the list of candidates is out.

In Illogan I am contesting the District with the sitting Conservative and Lib Dem, Labour and UKIP candidates. There is no Independent.

This will make for a very interesting campaign as the mix of candidates is very different to 2009 when there were Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour, Liberal and Independent candidates.

In 2009 the Tories were riding high in the polls on the back of a deeply unpopular Labour government. The Lib Dems were also peddling the myth that the only way to stop the Tories was to vote Lib Dem (and we all know how that turned out later in 2010) in an attempt to hold on to power at Cornwall Council level.

Now, as Nigel Farage likes to point out, the Tories will be splitting the UKIP and right wing vote, and opinion polls show that  the Lib Dems are haemorrhaging support. Labour do not have a strong record in Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow have 26 strong candidates across Cornwall.

I am relishing the campaign challenge. It is a privilege to be out on the street talking to the people of Illogan, Park Bottom and West Tolgus. How the election finally turns out is, of course, in the gift of the electorate but I am becoming more confident as time goes by - and I receive support and encouragement from the people that I speak to. I hope that I am doing the Mebyon Kernow message proud and that I will be able to perform well in the poll and perhaps deliver a new MK Cornwall Councillor.

I would like to take time to say thank you and congratulations to Cornwall Council Electoral Services.

Throughout the nominations period they have been professional, extremely helpful and very patient. They have managed to publish the lists of candidates across Cornwall within an hour or two of nominatuons closing - the very model of efficiency. We all like to criticise officialdom at times so it seems only fair to give credit when, as in this case, it is thoroughly deserved.