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

Saturday, 30 November 2013

More Westminster Party Hypocrisy

On Twitter we have Tories and Lib Dems arguing about housing numbers for Cornwall and who is responsible for the proliferation of second homes.

The answer is clear - Westminster politicians of all colours!

While Labour are quite open about their plans to concrete over Cornwall, the Tories and Lib Dems offer us 'presumptuon in favour of growth' while mounting NIMBY campaigns in their individual divisions.

The only party with a clear policy on new housing based on local need is Mebyon Kernow. We are demanding a law making Cornish Assembly which would put us in charge of our own planning laws and we have a policy that puts building homes for local need ahead of building houses to 'stimulate the economy' and create headline 'success' stories.

We need jobs more than houses.

On a wide range of issues Cornwall's politicians support their Westminster head office and then try and persuade us that they are working to mitigate the effects of Westminster's lack of knowledge and understanding of Cornwall.

Dick Cole was right - if  your local Westminster politician really wanted to do what was right for Cornwall they would say no to their London bosses and stand up for Cornwall - resign from the party and make the point.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Establishment

It happens all the time.

People fighting for the Cornish cause come up against 'The Establishmen'.

Of course no-one believes that it can be possible in these days of 'freedom of information' and 'democratic accountability'. Conspiracy theorists are always loonies aren't they? That is the lie that continues to lie deep in the black heart of the back corridors of power and influence.

Dr John Kirkhope is beginning to expose this lie.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Does size matter?

You're too small!

Leaving aside the "carry on" doble entendres, is this really true?

Is Cornwall too small to be a viable national unit as the unionits would have us believe?

This is the argument that I strugge to understand more than any other. It really puzzles me when I look around the world.

Do the 'too small brigade' mean population, geographic area, resources, or economy? I'm not sure they know themselves.

In terms of population - Cornwall has around 525,000 people (very approximate I know). The following is a selection of (there are quite a few more) independent countries (and remember that we are not calling for independence) with less than 1,000,000 population.

Cyprus - 866k
Fiji - 858k
Guyana - 785k
Montenegro - 620k
Luxembourg - 537k
Malta - 416k
Iceland - 325k
Lichtenstein - 37k
Monaco - 36k
San Marino - 32k

In addition there are around twenty countries with a population between 1 million and 3 million. Including places like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

I think you would have to agree that a small population doesn't mean that it is impossible to function as a distinct unit.

In terms of geography there are around 25 independent nations which have a smaller area that Cornwall.

Cornwall probably has a lot more going for it than many countries in terms of natural resources.

Cornwall has access to wonderful renewable energy resources.

It has a thriving tourist industry - which could be made more sustainable and which could benefit the Cornish economy a lot more.

Cornwall also has plentiful mineral deposits. The copper and tin (plus many other precious metals) never ran out - we just need to figure out how to mine them cost effectively.

Cornwall is also (just about still) a place of agriculture and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. No wonder we are renowned for our high quality food.

Does size matter? It's probably doess - but what is more important is what you do with what you've got!

Friday, 22 November 2013

We don't have people with the skills to run a national government!

In this blog, forming part of a series of law-making Cornish Assembly entries, I would like to look at whether the people of Cornwall need to rely on experts in Westminster to run their lives.

The favourite mantra of Westminster unionist politicians is "Too poor, too small, too stupid". This can be disguised in many ways or just simply put out in a completely overt manner. When it comes to 'too stupid' it is usually fairly subliminal types of propaganda that are used. Perhaps, they don't want to provoke people to reacting against the message that they aren't capable of fending for themselves - just let it wash over and sink in. If you tell a lie often enough it is soon believed as a truth.

On my Facebook page a doughty Cornish patriot has written:

           "Can't is a favourite Anglophile word that is used extensively to subdue the Cornish"

I'm sure that this applies more widely than simply to Cornish folk and politics - and is probably more a reflection of what the establishment do in general everywhere. Certainly though, this is never truer than when political, administrative and establishment body job vacancies are filled.

Time after time Cornwall looks upcountry to recruit people for the top jobs. We are told that there aren't the people in Cornwall who are capable of doing the job. Cornwall can't do it.

There is sometimes talk of conspiracy theories - and how handing out the jobs of leadership, power and influence to non-Cornish folk is part of the plot by the English Imperial State to keep the natives subdued. This kind of thinking usually results in cognitive dissonance for most people who can't bring themselves to think in terms of their government behaving in this manner. Yet we are constantly reminded that many things go on behind closed doors down the dark back passages of the corridors of power. Only last night I saw a documentary which revealed a systematic British army policy of shoot to kill during the Northern Ireland troubles. There were probably a few people in Northern Ireland who aren't too surprised but I bet many in South East England still don't believe that such a thing could be done in their name and that the producers of the documentary probably had some sort of axe to grind - cognitive dissonance.

Whatever your view on conspiracy theories - I can't for one moment believe that there are not people in Cornwall who are capable of holding down positions of leadership and authority and doing a good job to boot. Cornwall has produced people like Trevithick, Davy, Bickford, Tangye and the list goes on and on - probably the greatest innovators and engineers of all time - people who have actually got things done rather than let off a lot of hot air and ended up exactly where they started or worse. Don't tell me that there is no-one capable of the innovative leadership that we need in Cornwall to begin to get the economy and society moving again.

To look at the thing in a negative way - how can we have people that are worse than Cameron, Clegg, Milliband and Farage? If we have no better people, we certainly don't have any worse!

How can someone sitting in an office 300 miles away know better than someone who lives, works and plays in Cornwall?

Cornwall can provide the people needed to make a national government a success - we just have to find them and convince them that it's a job worth doing.

.... and stop saying can't!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Another letter to Nick Clegg

I have written to Nick Clegg again - maybe I will get a reply this time - not really holding my breath!

Dear Mr Clegg,

Constitutional Arrangements Following Scottish Independence

I refer to my letter of April this year concerning the constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall and the reply that I received from your Correspondence Officer dated May 1st.

I think that I am correct in the belief that the Rt. Hon. Stephen Gilbert MP recently informed you of the meaning of the Cornish term ‘dreckly’. At the time you had not heard the term before and you did not understand its meaning. I would suggest that, when your Correspondence Officer wrote to me in May stating that - ‘Your letter is receiving attention.’ - what should have been stated was ‘Your letter will be receiving attention dreckly’. I am still waiting for a substantive reply to my letter.

In case my first letter has been lost I have enclosed a further copy for your records and I hope and trust that I will receive a substantive reply in due course. It seems that the issue of the constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall will not be allowed to be buried in Government bureaucracy for much longer. More and more issues – such as the recent squabble between the Duchy and the Crown over the rights to ‘Royal Mines’ – are being highlighted in the public arena on a regular basis. Cornwall deserves that the full facts – which have a huge impact on the lives of people living in Cornwall – are fully revealed so that modernising reforms can be planned.

Further, and separately, to the issue of the true constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall, I write on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall concerning the constitutional settlement should Scotland become an independent country next year.

I understand that, along with the vast majority of people in England, your education and upbringing will have meant that you do not have a great understanding of Cornish history, culture or politics.

Mebyon Kernow is a political party which has been established for over 60 years. Given the limited resources, compared to those received by the Westminster based parties, the party ‘punches well above its weight’ in Cornwall. It has seen considerable electoral success in local council elections. In the seats where it stood candidates in May, those candidates received the third highest average vote - ahead of both Labour and UKIP. In the last European elections in 2009 Mebyon Kernow received over 7% of the vote in Cornwall – again beating Labour.

In 2001 Mebyon Kernow collected 50,000 individual declarations from the people of Cornwall in support of a law-making Assembly for Cornwall.

I have provided these brief examples of recent Cornish political history to illustrate the depth of feeling in Cornwall on the issue of Cornish self-determination. As I have previously suggested, this depth of feeling in Cornwall may have escaped your general educational upbringing and a remote Westminster office is unlikely to have highlighted it in more recent times.

To return to the point of this letter, when, as it seems to be daily becoming more probable, Scotland votes for independence, there will not just be one new country but two. The UK will not be the UK any longer but a new country all together. Within the current UK set-up we already have various devolved national governments. Without Scotland the whole basis of the new ‘rump’ UK will need to be reviewed and modernising arrangements agreed between the various national governments.

Can you please set out what arrangements are being made for the negotiations and discussions concerning new constitutional arrangements that will be required when Scotland becomes an independent nation? Can you also please confirm that, when these negotiations and discussions take place, representatives of Cornwall will be invited? Further, please confirm that arrangements will be discussed for providing a road map setting out a timetable for a referendum of the people of Cornwall on a devolutionary settlement resulting in a national law-making Cornish Assembly.

I would be grateful if, when your Correspondence Officer makes an initial reply and acknowledgement to this letter, they could indicate a time frame within which a substantive reply might be expected.

Yours etc

How will you pay for an Assembly - Cornwall can't afford it!

Next up in my series of blogs looking at some of the myths that the opponents of devolution often peddle is that old chestnut of affordability.

How often do you hear "An Assembly will never work - how can we possibly afford it?" Of course the Westmister parties quite often preface this at the moment with "In these times of austerity ..."

This question and the underlying sentiment shows a woeful lack of knowledge on behalf of the peson posing it.

If you're not really into politics then you might not know why the question is ridiculous - it might even seem quite reasonable. If you are a unionist politician then you probably know why it is ridiculous - and yet you will continue to pose it because it is a great way to pull the rug from under a desire for democratic self-determination.

The way that devoloution works is that a financial settlement is is negotiated and then this settlement becomes the budget of the devolved body. Very simple really.

For Cornwall the settlement will be based on what the UK governement would normally expect to spend on the areas of devolved government in Cornwall. In other words a law-making Cornish Assembly would not cost anybody any more than they already pay.

People across the UK pay taxes and some of the tax is used to pay for government services in Cornwall. Devolution would give the power to Cornwall to decide how best to spend the money that is already being spent - no additional costs for either people who live in Cornwall or those that live elesewhere.

In fact there is a strong argument that devolution would save the UK money in the long term. Westminster has done an awful job of looking after Cornwall's economy. Our GDP is less than 75% of the European average - our economy is similar to that of several Eastern European countries. This is why we qualify for European funding. We believe that a Cornish Assembly could improve our economy as it would understand it a lot better than an assistant to an under-under secretary working from a broom ccupboard 300 miles away in London. If the economy improves then Cornwall would contribute more to the UK pot through a higher amount of tax.

We do need to negotiate a realistic settlement in first place though. Westminster has consistently underfunded Cornwall for decades - to Cornwall's detriment and to the advantage of English regions and cities. We need a fair settlement based on what the UK government should be spending in Cornwall compared to England. Wales received a notoriously unfair settlement and getting a fair amount of funding from Westminster is now proving to be like trying to wring blood from a stone.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Cornwall an independent country?

Mebyon Kernow is on the campaign trail!

We intend to campaign long and hard to make the case for a law-making Cornish Assembly - devolution for Cornwall.

Devolution for Cornwall is Mebyon Kernow's flagship policy. It is the policy which interconnects with every single one of our social justice principles. It is the mechanism through which we will deliver a better social programme than any of the Westminster parties could make a false promise to attempt.

With a law-making Cornish Assembly in the news I wanted to do a brief series of blog entries looking at some of the myths that the 'nay-sayers' would have us believe.

The first issue that I want to address is:

      "Cornwall wouldn't be able to survive as an independent country"

Of course this is a completely misleading and nonsensical argument against the Mebyon Kernow proposal for a law-making Cornish assembly.

The statement is utterly irrelevant to the argument in favour of a Cornish Assembly and is typical of the scaremongering tactics that are used by unionist politicians.

It is irrelevant because I can't think of a single serious and well established organisation that is campaigning for Cornish independence from the UK. Mebyon Kernow's campaign is for devolution of power - not to become a stand alone nation state.

Our ethos is that decisions are best made at the lowest level possible - a principle known as subsidiarity.

We believe that there is a democratic mandate for genuine law making powers to be devolved to the people of Cornwall. Fifty thousand people have signed declarations that they believe that a Cornish assembly is required to set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall - so we are not alone!

Not only do we believe that there is a democratic mandate but we also believe that an Assembly is actually the best way to begin to tackle the distinct social and economic problems that we face here in Cornwall. How can a remote government in Westminster understand the nuances of Cornish culture and blend of economic factors that make up our society.

Let's be clear - Mebyon Kernow is not asking for SS Kernow to be cast adrift from the fleet - we simply want to have a Cornish captain with the power to run his/her ship to the best of their ability.

Cornwall doesn't need to be able to survive as an independent country - but couldn't it do a whole lot better for its people if it were able to look to itself to solve problems?

The Westminster unionist political parties (which have UKIP at the forefront) want to maintain the status quo because it suits them all. They all receive funding from big organisations and corporations who all insist on a political pay back at some stage. The local representatives of the London parties will be hoping to climb the political career ladder and, just like the parties will need to answer to their corporate financiers, so their members will have to toe the party line or face the consequences. They will continue to scaremonger, belittle and criticise and tell us why a Cornish Assembly would be the beginning of the end.

We will encourage hope for a brighter future and set out a path to reach it.

We don't have any political masters in London to answer to - we believe in the democratic right of the people of Cornwall to be able to run their own affairs.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Conference 2013 - a positive nod to the future

The Mebyon Kernow conference this year was a very positive one.

Whether it was Dick's wide ranging speech, or the equally wide ranging set of motions that conference approved, the mood was one of going forward.

I had been asked to present feedback from the recent members' consultation on our law-making assembly policy. A review which has provided the basis of a renewed campaign for a Cornish Assembly leading up to the Scottish vote on independence.

Here is an abridged text of my presentation:

Now – I’ve been asked to do two things today. First to provide conference with an update on the review of our Cornish self-government policy. But I’ve also been given the extremely exciting task of announcing a new MK campaign which, with conference’s approval, will take us up to Scotland’s independence vote in September next year and beyond.

2014 is going to be fun!

To start though - I would like to congratulate our leader, Dick Cole, for his excellent key note speech. Keslowena Dick!

The coaltion certainly makes it easy for us to criticise their inability to provide social leadership in difficult times – and Dick clearly highlighted their default position - which seems to be to make life even harder for those who are already suffering the most.

You know - just this morning I saw that David Cameron said that:

“The country is moving forward on the big issues” ….. Yep Dave there’s a lot more people selling them now than ever before!

And the Liberal Democrats are no less out of touch. For example Vince Cable said that the loss of the UK’s triple A rating didn’t actually matter much in the big scheme of things. It was merely symbolic anyway - a bit like Nick Clegg then really don’t you think?

Then there’s the Labour party.

Now sometimes people are so unfair to the Labour Party.

I mean – after all - they’ve got a lot of good ideas and policies that could well bring a brighter future for Britain.

The only problem is that voters seem determined to judge them on their last 13 years of government instead.

I was also going to do a joke about the coalition but then I did a U–turn and deemed it unnecessary.

Of course now, as always - whatever colour the politicians in Downing Street are currently sporting - Cornwall is being hit harder and more disproportionately than anywhere in the English homelands. For Cornwall austerity is a heaven sent excuse for London to continue the chronic lack of investment in Cornwall’s society and to justify a lack of knowledge or interest in the development of our economy.

Now – more than ever – we deserve a law-making assembly of our own. An assembly made up from people who live, learn, work and play in Cornwall. An assembly which understands the unique challenges which face us. An Assembly which will act in the best interests of Cornwall at all times.

Mebyon Kernow is the only political party in Cornwall that will put Cornwall first. You people sitting right here today are the ambassadors for a truly big idea – an idea which offers a democratic way forward for the people of Cornwall. You all know how crucial a law-making assembly is for Cornwall and each one of you is fighting to make it a reality – thank you all very much.

Following the Cornwall Council elections in May, our party has been conducting a review of its self-government policy. The review has been widely publicised within the party and all members have had a chance to participate. The members’ consultation period finished at the end of September and the review team have looked at all of the contributions; put together some draft proposals and these proposals have been scrutinised by the NEC.

In fact, what has emerged from the process is that we already have a robust set of principles and individual policies in place and these principles and policies command a consensus from the membership of the party.

However, an important caveat has also emerged. What we have found is that - while the consensus of the party is actually a strong agreement with existing policy – it is clear that members are not all entirely clear as to what the full extent and detail of our policy is - this is challenge that we will be addressing in the next few months.

The party will be producing a detailed document which will draw together all of the strands of our policy within the self-government and Cornish recognition headings. The intention is that this detailed document will set out our values and ideas. It will encourage communication and consistency within the party and it will be a tool for the branches, spokespeople and our election candidates to use.

We shall also produce a shorter, summary document - and possibly a single page leaflet which can again be used by officers, activists and members to communicate with the public and media.

In the meantime I do have a single sheet hand-out available if anyone wants to see a list of the bullet point policies that will be incorporated into the policy document.

Before I move on I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took the time and trouble to respond to the consultation. Your responses have informed the action that we will now take - the action that the party needs to take in order to get our flagship message across.

Now for the even more exciting bit of news!

The 18th September 2014 will see the Scottish people vote for independence. …… No that’s not the news even though it is very exciting!

Ultimately this vote for independence will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, as Scotland heads off into its own thrilling and challenging future. In the meantime we will be left with a ‘rump’ United Kingdom. A brand new entity on the global map. The question is - what plans are being made to provide a modern constitution for the government of the rump UK and for the renegotiation of existing devolution settlements?

Well, naturally, there is a profound silence from Westminster on this issue. The London based parties are burying their heads deep in the sand of the scaremongering ‘better together’ campaign.

Mebyon Kernow believes that, when Scottish independence takes place, Cornwall deserves a seat at the negotiating table. We are the only party that is likely to demand a seat for Cornwall, as an equal, when the talks take place. We should be there alongside Wales, Northern Ireland, England and the Crown dependencies when the future of Southern Britain is laid out. What better time to initiate meaningful devolution to Cornwall – right at the start of a new era!

And this is the exciting challenge that the NEC is asking you all to take up. We have nine months to go before Scottish independence – let’s get our message out there!

Let’s use the next nine months to run a campaign. A campaign involving everyone - the NEC and the leadership team, MK councillors and most importantly activists and grass-roots members. Let’s state the case for a law-making Cornish Assembly – and let’s make our voice heard from Lands End to John O’Groats.

There are several ideas and plans already being formulated.

We hope to organise a fact finding visit to the Welsh Assembly to learn exactly how a devolved government functions.

Of course we have a new policy document which will be coming on-stream very soon.

We also have a wonderful opportunity for our prospective parliamentary candidates to campaign long and hard on this issue and get some momentum going before May 2015.

But we also need the branches and individuals to get involved. We will be asking you to organise your own local events to highlight the case that MK will make for a Cornish law-making Assembly.

To get the ball rolling Dick Cole, through the NEC, wants us all to get out to the public and to the great and the good of Cornwall. Ask them to sign up their support for our campaign. Dick has produced a declaration similar to that which was used 12 years ago when MK famously collected 50,000 declarations in support of Cornish devolution.

So what do you think? Personally I believe that this is a great idea.

In fact I will formally propose the motion that:

“Conference supports and endorses the launch of the “Cornwall deserves a law-making Assembly” statement and that this will form a significant part of Mebyon Kernow’s core activities over the next 12 months.”

The motion was passed unanimously!