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

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Second Open Letter to Cllr Candy Atherton

Dear Cllr Atherton

Does Labour still rubbish the idea of a Cornish Assembly?

Just about a year ago you rubbished the idea of a national Cornish Assembly in the local press and made the claim that, should you knock on doors in Cornwall on a wet October day, you wouldn’t find one person in a hundred that supported the idea of such an assembly.

Consequently I challenged you to join me and knock on one hundred doors to check your hypothesis. However, I had to assume that you weren’t prepared to put your theory to the test as you were unable to accept my challenge. I would like to renew that challenge now.

I would also like to congratulate your party on electing Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader. I’m sure that many of us outside the Labour Party are waiting to see if Mr Corbyn continues to be a politician of principles now that he has to attempt to make the party electable.

One principle that Mr Corbyn appears to have supported in the past is the establishment of a Cornish Assembly. in 2011 Mr Corbyn supported an ‘Early Day Motion’ in the House of Commons which called for “… the formation of a democratically elected Cornish Assembly to take decisions for the benefit of the people of Cornwall.”

Perhaps you might confirm whether you approve of your party leader’s support of a Cornish Assembly and whether you would like to finally accept my challenge?

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Richardson

(Chairman of the Camborne and Redruth Constituency Party of Mebyon Kernow)

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Case for Cornwall - Neither fish nor fowl!

Cornwall Council, through its leader John Pollard, has produced a document 'A Case for Cornwall'

Cornwall Council is currently responsible for a budget of just over £1.1 billion. In total there is up to £5 billion spent on providing public services in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council, as our local government, is responsible for around one fifth of public spending in Cornwall while four fifths are spent on our behalf by central government or central government agencies.

John Pollard's Case doesn't stand up. It is neither one thing or another. It is neither fish nor fowl.

On the one hand it is big in ambition for Cornwall Council - or, actually, democratically unaccountable  'public service delivery partners' - on the other hand it is woefully short of ambition for the people of Cornwall.

A Case for Cornwall will not lead to greater public accountability for delivery of public services in Cornwall. It is not about devolution to local communities or strategic accountability to the people of Cornwall.

Much of the Case talks in terms of 'piggy backing' on existing Westminster programmes or EU schemes controlled through Westminster to 'unlock' access to various pots of money.

The problem is that, almost without exception, the implementation of any benefit derived from these schemes will be implemented by bodies that are not directly accountable to the people of Cornwall through any elected body. Further, it is worse than this because more often than not the pots of money come with many central Westminster strings attached.

For example - take the LEP. This is a body which has been set up by central government - but how is it accountable? It certainly isn't accountable to the people of Cornwall. We can't remove its board members if we don't think it is doing a good job.

The LEP has been given a pot of money under a deal with central government called the 'Growth Deal'. This has been heralded as a major achievement for Cornwall. The problem is that the Growth Deal is about 'unlocking potential for development' in Cornwall - code for enabling the building of more houses. Worse still it is absolutely clear that the Cornwall and isles of Scilly LEP will be responsible to Westminster rather than Cornwall Council for the way that the fund is administered and used.

The headline is: 'Devolution to Cornwall' the reality is 'Disguised Central Control from Westminster'.

The Case is also inevitably rhetorical and unrealistic in areas where Cornwall might expect to see some real benefit. It is often like the wish list that the beauty queens of old would compile. John Pollard may as well wish for 'world peace' or 'an end to hunger' as for some of the things in the Case. Why would a Tory government which has just slashed £197 million from local government in Cornwall start to hand some of this back in the convoluted schemes to be found in the Case. It just won't happen while there exists a central government ideology of reducing local government funding to levels where it can't function properly.

Throughout the document John Pollard, through Cornwall Council, speaks as the 'voice of Cornwall'.

I think that, actually, the 'voice of Cornwall' is calling for real and meaningful change in the way that Cornwall is governed.

If Cornwall Council were serious about meaningful devolution to Cornwall and truly believed that Cornwall deserved 'parity' with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (as it says it does) it would be adding its voice to calls for a legislative Assembly which can take control of the £5 billion spent in Cornwall without reference to Westminster.

If Cornwall Council were serious about developing:

" ... a governance model which will strengthen local accountability, ensure democratic decision making and provide greater transparency to reconnect communities with public services."

it would recognise that it Cornwall Council itself needs to be reformed.

In fact the imposition of a single unitary authority in 2009 needs to be recognised as the failed experiment that it is.

We need to get rid of one single local authority and replace it with local government that truly is more locally accountable, democratic and community based. Local government which can operate within strategic and cohesive frameworks developed by a democratically accountable legislative Assembly.

Friday, 22 May 2015

After 30 years - sensible street signs for West Tolgus

Beacon View Park has a rather curious layout. While one part is contained in a cul-de-sac the first
few houses are around the corner - on a different road altogether.

This has proved a nightmare for local residents for over thirty years. Now new signage has been installed - making it clear where the different houses are.

I managed to work with officers at Cornwall Council to get the job done for residents after they bought the issue to my attention.

One resident told me what a tremendous difference the new signs make - her visitors and deliveries arrive now without problems.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

10 questions to ask John Pollard about his 'Case for Cornwall"

10 Questions to ask John Pollard about 
‘A Case for Cornwall’

  1. The new Conservative government will be bringing forward plans to create a Devonwall parliamentary constituency. A major part of the justification for ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is that Cornwall is a single political entity - what do you intend to do to ameliorate the threat of Devonwall to Cornwall’s distinct political status?

  2. ‘A Case for Cornwall States’

    “An increasing number of Cornwall’s towns and villages have more than 1 in 5 dwellings classed as second homes, which are distinct from holiday homes in that they are invariably empty for large periods of the year. We want to work with the Government to develop proposals that would enable local communities to have a greater control over the numbers of second homes to maintain a more balanced housing market.”

    What are the proposals that have been formulated to be ‘developed’ and why don’t you simply call for the devolution of all planning policy, procedures and appeals in Cornwall to Cornwall?

  3. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ claims that recognition under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities gives us ‘parity’ with the Welsh, Irish and Scottish parts of the UK. If this is so then the ‘ambitious’ thing to do would be to call for a legislative assembly for Cornwall to match our counterpart nations. Why does Cornwall Council’s ambition fall well short of real ‘parity’ with the other nations of the UK?

  4. If you are ambitious for Cornwall why not support the creation of a legislative Assembly, similar to the Scottish Parliament?

  5. You have used the phrase ‘Stand up for Cornwall’ as a tag line for your proposals and encouraged the idea that people who support ‘A Case for Cornwall’ are ‘Standing up for Cornwall’. Does this mean that people who do not support ‘A Case for Cornwall’ do not ‘Stand up for Cornwall’?

  6. What is the difference between ‘worklessness’ and ‘unemployment’?

  7. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ claims that: Cornwall Council has “a strong and proven track record of strong financial management”. Do you maintain that Cornwall Council can be trusted with even more of our money following the recent debacle surrounding the Council’s failed contracts with BT?
      8. How will you make sure that the people of Cornwall rather than multinational corporations benefit from Cornwall's natural resources?
  1. The theme that runs through ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is that Cornwall Council wants to ‘work with government’. Recently ‘working with government’ has resulted in £196 million of cuts in public services in Cornwall. Why would the people of Cornwall expect Westminster to change its approach to Cornwall Council in the future?

  2. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ cites Newquay Airport of Cornwall’s successes. In 2011 the LEP’s chairman claimed that the Aerohub would create 1000 new jobs - but the number is well below this. It seems that every day a new tranches of public money is given to the LEP which claims that it will create thousands of new jobs. The LEP consistently fails to deliver on promises of creating jobs - who is the LEP accountable to and what procedures are in place for reviewing the performance of the LEP? 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Cornwall Council's 'Case for Cornwall' - doesn't stand up!

A Case for Cornwall - Does it Stand Up? 

Published on 30th March 2015, Cornwall Council’ ‘A case for Cornwall’ purports to be:

“… a package of bold measures which support Cornwall Council’s new strategy to create a prosperous Cornwall that is more resilient and resourceful. “
However, we think, it is just a cap-in-hand begging bowl held out to central Westminster Government. An obsequious attempt to touch up the powers that be in London for piecemeal devolution to a local government Authority. An Authority perceived by many of the people that it is supposed to serve as a failure. Some would say that more powers to Cornwall Council is a bad mistake claiming that the Authority is already over-centralised, too big and nigh on impossible to hold democratically accountable to the people of Cornwall.

The Unitary Authority in Cornwall is perceived by many as being a poor vehicle to deliver public services in Cornwall. Surely what is needed is local government which is more accountable to local residents - not less. Unfortunately ‘A Case for Cornwall’ promotes the further and extended dependence on ‘arms length bodies’ and multi-national companies - none of which will be available to be questioned by the Cornish public. The plan seems to be to mitigate the financial burdens placed on Cornwall Council by selling off the Authority’s responsibilities to the highest bidder. We would argue that such action will reinforce the perceived failure of Cornwall Council as decisions affecting people in Bodmin or Bude, Penzance or Penstraze are moved ever further away from Cornish communities.

The Truro and Falmouth constituency party of Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall argues that a legislative Cornish Assembly (similar to the Scottish Parliament) is required to bring strategic government and decision making home to Cornwall. We need to reform local government and do away with the single Unitary Authority in favour of four smaller authorities which would be closer to the communities that local government is supposed to serve.

We believe that ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is far from ‘a package of bold measures to create a prosperous Cornwall’. Rather, it represents an abject lack of ambition for Cornwall but a great deal of ambition for some Cornwall Councillors and Officers.

Join us in demanding more powers for Cornish communities and less for centralised bureaucracy. Join us in demanding meaningful reform of local government instead of taking it further out of the reach of local residents. Join us in making your feelings known to John Pollard.

If you would like more information on how we will be truly ‘Standing Up For Cornwall’ then please contact me at starichardson@btinternet.com. Join us in the fight to bring ethical government home to Cornwall and closer to the people.

Cllr Stephen Richardson (on behalf of the Truro and Falmouth constituency party of Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall)

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A Fresh Start

Now that the general election is done Mebyon Kernow will be taking a long hard look at itself.

While the Lib Dems and the  Labour Party are clearly falling apart, and support for UKIP will undoubtedly fall off now that the question of the UK's EU membership is about to be settled once and for all, MK has basically stood still.

It could be argued that the general election is an encouraging result for MK given the nightmare that some of the parties are facing. However, if MK is to develop further and become a significant electoral force, then we have to acknowledge that there is a lot of work to do. We need to expand into the vacuum that is being created by a general drift to the right and the populist, sheeplike determination of Labour and Lib Dems to follow this drift.

We face many challenges but we also have many strengths.

We need to build on our strengths and address the challenges.

Over the Summer I shall be conducting a wide ranging survey of public and MK members' opinions in order to glean objective data and positive suggestions in our quest to be an ever stronger voice for the people of Cornwall.

If you are an MK member you will be able to attend one of several consultation sessions to be held in key towns right across Cornwall. You can also go to the members' forum on the MK website to join in the discussion.

If you are not an MK member, but have positive suggestions, why not email me at starichardson@btinternet.com ?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Please vote for Cornwall on May 7th

Dear Friends,

If you vote for a Westminster party then you will get a Westminster government! They are all the same.

Please avoid wasting your vote for the next five years on more Westminster tomfoolery and vote for me in the Truro and Falmouth constituency or by an MK candidate in Cornwall.

Unlike the Westminster parties we believe that commitment to Cornwall should be for life and not just an election campaign.

If you want Cornwall to have a strong voice in Westminster rather than opting to choose another Westminster voice in Cornwall then please vote carefully.

You will hear that if you want to stop the Tories then you have to vote for the Liberal Democrats or the only alternative is to vote for Labour. Don't be fooled - vote with your heart.

... and don't vote for the sake of your parents - vote for the sake of your children - join me and Mebyon Kernow in forging a new future for Cornwall.

So remember - if you want:
  • An MP  who will work tirelessly for their constituency and for the best interests of Cornwall;
  • An MP who will fight to ensure that all planning and development policies, decisions and appeals are made in Cornwall by the people of Cornwall;
  • An MP who will lobby to build more council houses instead of selling them off;
  • An MP that will fight to redress the imbalance of central government funding funding that is so detrimental to Cornish communities;
  • An MP who will campaign to use £100 billion to build hospitals, schools and communities instead of risking our security through Trident nuclear weapons;
  • An MP who cares about the environment and whose party has real and credible green policies;
  • An MP which believes that we need to be outward and forward looking rather than introspective and insular and who will fight for a reformed EU and an MEP for Cornwall;
  • An MP who will fight for democratic accountability to the people of Cornwall for public spending in Cornwall through a devolved national assembly;
  • An MP who will endeavour to create a joined up and properly funded health service in Cornwall which is measured by clinical success rather than the balance sheet
...  then you should vote for me - or an MK candidate in your constituency.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Why you might consider voting for me!

Over the last few weeks I have attended nearly a dozen hustings. Over that time I have got to know
the candidates' political views quite well. In fact I have made a tongue in cheek suggestion that at the last hustings we should all attend as one of the other candidates because we all know what each other will say.

In Truro and Falmouth we have 9 candidates - that is a lot!

I would venture a suggestion that we have this many candidates because of a fundamental dissatisfaction with the Westminster elite. Whether its the Tories, the Red Tories, Orange Tories or, now, the Purple Ultra-Tories, it makes no difference they are all the same. The only thing that separates them is the sheet of carbon paper that they use to copy each other's policies.

There is also a growing recognition of the harm that the austerity ideology is doing to both our social fabric and our economy - and this is reflected in the fact that most of the non-Westminster candidates are standing with an anti-austerity agenda.

So, in Truro and Falmouth, if you are fed up with the Westminster elite why should you consider voting for me and for Mebyon Kernow?

To answer this I would say that you should entrust your vote to me if you really want your vote to count and if you want Truro and Falmouth and Cornwall to have a strong voice in Westminster.

There are reasons for this!

First of all vote for or tactical vote against any Westminster party is the real wasted vote. If you vote for a Westminster candidate you are voting for the status quo. Whatever colour Tory you vote for you will get a government that is fully subscribed to the ideology of austerity. Instead of Cornwall having a strong voice in Westminster (which is what you will get with an MK candidate), Westminster will have another overpowering voice in Cornwall. A voice which will obey its party political bosses in London.

I and other MK MPs will sit with the anti-austerity alliance, including the SNP and Plaid Cymru. It seems likely that any government that is finally formed will exist only with the support of this alliance. an MK MP will be in a powerful position to argue the case for his/her constituency and for Cornwall as a whole.

With MK you have a solid history of campaigning for social justice and devolution for Cornwall. I have a great respect and admiration for several of my opponents in Truro and Falmouth who don't belong to the establishment Westminster parties. If you can't vote for me I would rather that you voted for one of them than a candidate which will take orders from their party boss and carry on as usual.

However, with the very best anti-austerity intentions, these candidates might be described as 'pop-up' candidates. Just like the shops in the High Street that appear at Christmas time and then disappear in January, where is the history of long term political commitment?

So if you want:

  • An MP  who will work tirelessly for their constituency and for the best interests of Cornwall;
  • An MP who will fight to ensure that all planning and development policies, decisions and appeals are made in Cornwall by the people of Cornwall;
  • An MP who will lobby to build more council houses instead of selling them off;
  • An MP that will fight to redress the imbalance of central government funding funding that is so detrimental to Cornish communities;
  • An MP who will campaign to use £100 billion to build hospitals, schools and communities instead of risking our security through Trident nuclear weapons;
  • An MP who cares about the environment and whose party has real and credible green policies;
  • An MP which believes that we need to be outward and forward looking rather than introspective and insular and who will fight for a reformed EU and an MEP for Cornwall;
  • An MP who will fight for democratic accountability to the people of Cornwall for public spending in Cornwall through a devolved national assembly;
  • An MP who will endeavour to create a joined up and properly funded health service in Cornwall which is measured by clinical success rather than the balance sheet
...  then you should vote for me - or an MK candidate in your constituency.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Compare and Contrast - the positive vision of MK or Lib Dem decimation of democratically accountable local government.

Mebyon Kernow has today launched its policy document - 'Towards an Assembly of Cornwall'

In the document we spell out how a national government for Cornwall could bring governance of Cornwall home to Cornwall. Our vision of an Assemply is a strategic, national government with powers similar to the powers of the Scottish Parliament following the Scotland Act 1998. This would give us the tools and leverage to develop the Cornish economy, protect our health service and stop the concreting of Cornwall.

At the same time we would reform local government and do away with the highly centralised single unitary authority to be replaced by four smaller authorities This would be a strengthening of local government - making it more accountable to the people that elect our councillors - and making it more, well - 'local'.

Nick Clegg will be using the kudos of St Piran's day to indukge in a spree of electioneering.

The Lib Dems present themselves as a party that understands and promotes Cornwall and Nick Clegg has clearly chosen St Piran's Day for electoral purposes.

While he's announcing what the Lib Dems laughingly call devolution, will Nick accept responsibility for the cut in funding to the Cornish laguage? I doubt it.

Will Nick give an assurance that devolution for Cornwall will be a line in the sand in any future coalition deal? I doubt it.

Full of promises and committment now - but will the Lib Dems actually act on any of their promises in the future? I doubt it.

The Lib Dem plans amount to a tinkering with, indeed decimation of, local government. They say that they want to remove layers of bureaucracy whereas, in fact, their plans will reduce the democratic accountability of government in Cornwall even more than so called 'localism' policies already have. More bureaucracy - just transferred away from the people that we elect to appointed civil servants.

Are the Lib Dems seriously suggesting that extra powers and responsibilities can be given to a local government authority and put in the hands of what are often part-time councillors. What's more we're told that the number of councillors would be reduced. This will not save money it will increase costs as responsibilities are transferred to an ever increasing raft of highly paid council officers.

If you think that Cornwall council is not fit for purpose now then heaven help us if the Lib Dems get their way.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

TTIP - Privatisation of Democracy?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP is currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA.

Ostensibly the deal will create a free trade area with the EU and USA as members.

Now free trade is good and to be welcomed as a driver of economic development, however, I believe that there are too many drawbacks with what is currently being negotiated for it to be a good thing overall.

TTIP is likely to threaten environmental and consumer protection laws in Cornwall and could take vital decisions out of the hands of our elected rpresentatives, giving corporations the opportunity to sue governments if their profits are affected. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) will be a new legal tier outside of the EU framework.

Another problem is that jobs could well be even harder to come by as companies switch from the EU to the USA where employment regulations are set at a lower standard than in Europe.

Negotiations are being kept under wraps and I am always wary of any public process that lacks transparency.

All in all the disadvantages and 'dumbing down' of our standards to make creating profit easier and the 'privatisation of democracy' are too high a price to pay for improving the balance sheets of big corporations.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Remind me again - why are we building 47,500 houses. Bringing decision-making home to Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall has called for all aspects of planning policy and decision making necessary in Cornwall to be devolved to Cornwall.

Planning policy is currently dictaed through the National Planning Policy Framework from Westminster. There is an inbuilt bias in the policy in favour of development because the Westminster parties see house building as a way to solve economic problems and as a way to appease the corporations and wealthy property developers that back their parties financially.

Mebyon Kernow believes that houses should be built purely to meet local need and not simply to generate profit for the big building firms.

Planning applications are dealt with mainly by unelected planning officers who are instructed to follow central government policies and guidelines. In the few instances where our democratically elected representatives are involved with decisions they are often warned about going against the advice of officers due to the costs involved when developers appeal their decisons. All too often the developers win their appeal - the system backs profit-making against community wishes.

It is time to bring all aspects of planning policy and decision-making home to Cornwall.

We should have a national assembly which could produce a strategic, community led policy for development in Cornwall - which would then be implemented by a reformed local government. Power over development should be in the hands of our locally elected and accountable representatives - not in the hands of big business backed by central Westminster government.

And this issue is so vital here in Cornwall that we need this devolution of power even ahead of  a national assembly. We need to set our own policy and to to have all the mechanisms and appeals based here in Cornwall and overseen in a truly democratic way.

If you want to see an end to the concreting over of Cornwall, the only hope is to vote for Mebyon Kernow and send that message up the line to London.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Say Yes to Free Votes in Parliament

Rob Simmons, good friend, fellow member of MK and MK PPC for St Ives has recently blogged about his pledge to the voters of the St Ives constituency.

The Free Vote Voluntary Recall Alliance has asked that politicians abadon the practice of putting their party before the people they are supposed to represent.

For me one of the worst aspects of Westminster party politicians is that they are generally career minded above all else. Candidates for Labour, the Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems know that if they are elected they are on the first steps of a highly lucrative career path. As well as a very big salary they can claim expenses and, as we have seen recently, can even get other jobs as well as being an MP. If they do a really good job, and vote the way that their party bosses in London tell them, they might look forward to remaining the candidate for their party in the next election to start the process all over again. In the meantime the very loyal party politicos will be rewarded with ministry jobs to supplement their income. After their parliamentary career is done they will walk into highly pais directorships or consultancies - all they have to do is keep their noses clean, not criticise the party and vote as they're told.

As a member of Mebyon Kernow I believe in policies that are designed to put Cornwall first, to make a difference to the lives of people in the Duchy. I am happy to say that I fully support MK's policies and I am standing for election on that basis. If I am elected it will be because people have voted for me knowing what I stand for. But that doesn't mean that I would automatically vote as MK might want me to at Westminster. Each issue, each vote in the Commons is a separate matter and deserves full consideration as to how it would affect constituents in Truro and Falmouth. While I would work to promote MK, because I believe in their ethos, my position as an MP would be outside of that remit and my work as an MP would be to promote the interests of constituents and not the party.

So, like Rob this is my promise to the voters of the Truro & Falmouth Parliamentary constituency:

I , Stephen Richardson, the Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall candidate standing for election as your Member of Parliament , do herby promise and affirm, that if I am elected to be your Member of the Westminster Parliament  in the General Election on 7th May 2015. I will adopt and act in accordance with the terms of the Free Vote Voluntary Recall Alliance Pledge as published at www.fvvra.org  and I will maintain this, my personal pledge throughout my term as your Member of Parliament”.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Tax Dodging Bill

My friend, colleague and fellow MK PPC - Rob Simmons - has offered his support to the campaign
for a Tax Dodging Bill.

I would like to follow his lead and add my voice to the call for fairer tax and greater social justice.

You can read all about this excellent campaign and call on your candidates in the forthcoming election to offer their support here.

Below is the email of support that I have sent to the campaign organisers.

Dear Tax Dodging Bill Campaign,
In my capacity as the Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall prospective parlaimentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth, I would like to offer my unequivocal and wholehearted support for your campaign for a Tax Dodging Bill in the next Parliament.
Mebyon Kernow is a political party based in Cornwall. We are often called 'Cornish Nationalists' - which we are proud to recognise. However, Mebyon Kernow is not an insular party - as people outside of Cornwall might imagine - it is a party which believes in local democratic accountability and national, European and global co-operation.
Members of Mebyon Kernow, like myself, are committed to bringing about greater social justice everywhere and our policies already endorse the kind of action that you are campaigning for.
For me it is an absolute 'no-brainer' to support your campaign, which I do unreservedly. Personally I can see no reason why any right minded person who genuinely wants to achieve greater social justice would have any qualms in offering such support.
I wish you well with your campaign and would like to offer any material and tangible support that you think would help with your campaign.
Chons da ha gans oll a'n gwella, (Good luck and with all the best)
Stephen Richardson - MK PPC for Truro and Falmouth

Thursday, 29 January 2015

UKIP at it again!

Last night UKIP held a public meeting in Illogan starting at 7:00pm.

According to @UKIPCRH there were 'many' people there - though the definition of 'many' according to @UKIPCRH seems to be 7 ????  (This might give context to UKIP claims about the problems we face because of 'many' immigrants to the UK)

I attended the start of the meeting but was unable to stay for the entire thing as I had a different engagement at 7:30pm.

The UKIP PPC for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, Robert Smith, began speaking at around 7:05pm. I left around 7:20pm so I caught around 12 - 15 mins of Mr Smith's speech.

A good two thirds of what I heard was rebuttal of the recnt bad press that UKIP have received as the media begin to examine their (lack of) policies in detail.

In particular Mr Smith was keen to point out the UKIP were all in favour of the NHS and had no plans to privatise it.

The problem with this claim is that David cameron 'had no plans' to raise VAT - yet that was what happened within weeks of him becoming Prime Minister.

Mr Smith pointed to what Nigel farage had said recently about the NHS. Conclusive proof that UKIP are solidly behinf the NHS! Thing is Mr Farage keeps changing his mind on the NHS - torn between his natural tendency towards privatisation and his knowledge that this tendency won't do UKIP any favours in the polls. At the same time the UKIP message on the NHS is a shambles with all sorts of spokespeople saying all sorts of different things.

Then the speech turned to immigration.

A background was sketched before us. We had recently had a census - the purpose of which is to aid the prediction of population trends. The Labour Party had got the interpretation of the data hopelessly wrong and immigration was massively higher than predicted. UKIP isn't against immigration at all - we should have a points system like many other countries (none of which are in the EU and enjoying the economic benefit that it brings mind you). UKIP is simply about restricting immigration for economic migrants.

So, it would seem that wealthy immigrants or perhaps immigrants with skills that would command a good salary would be welcome while poorer ones should not be allowed. OK that kind of makes sense if you're a right wing pub politician.

But then came the killer blow for me and the point where I got up, thanked the speaker and left for my other engagement.

"Of course, this is why we have to build 47,000 houses in Cornwall"

The link between immigration, following the build up and scene setting and you could see the finished painting as far as housing goes.

In Cornwall we are having to build 47,000 houses because we will need to accommodate economic migrants from Eastern Europe.

So wrong on so many levels!

What would be the point of  building houses for the immigrants that UKIP want us to stop? They come from countries where the economy is more like ours in Cornwall. If our people in Cornwall can't afford the ridiculous number of houses that will be built here then I'm certain that the mythical 'many' economic migrants from Eastern Europe won't be able to!!!

What would be more likely is, if we accepted the UKIP spin on immigration, and welcomed the wealthy immigrants with open arms, then, of course they would be able to afford our houses and force prices even further out of reach than they are already.

The truth is that we are building houses in Cornwall - not to address local need in any way, but to accomodate people moving to the Duchy from wealthier parts of the UK or wealthier people from outside the UK.

How much longer will we allow UKIP to scapegoat the poor and disadvantaged for the excesses of the bankers and 'city' finance moguls and to lay a blaket of blame for every ill in society on Europe and immigration.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

MK PPCs in the spotlight

The Mebyon Kernow Spring Conference will be held at The Shire House Suite in Bodmin on Saturday 21st March 2015.

The conference will be all about drilling down into the new MK manifesto.

As part of this the afternoon will see a 'Question Time' style debate featuring four of the party PPCs - Cllr Andrew Long, Cllr Dr Loveday Jenkin, Cllr Rob Simmons and me!

Members of the party and the public in general are invited to submit questions to be put to the PPCs. If you have a question then please email it to membership@mebyonkernow.org - or leave a comment here.

The conference is open to the public so even if you're not a member why not let us know that you will be attending and, if selected, you can ask the question for yourself.

Please note - no 'trolling' will be allowed! This is a genuine opportunity to ask MK about their policies and outlook but it won't be a forum for trolls.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

How embarassing for 'Cornwall [sic] Labour'

How embarrassing for Hannah Toms and Candy Atherton!

At the end of last year the Western Morning News published remarks by Candy Atherton, which were publicly supported by Hannah Toms, the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth.

Basically Cllrs Atherton & Toms claimed that you wouldn’t find anyone on the doorstep that supported the idea of a Cornish Assembly. Instead we were exhorted to support the failed and discredited Labour policy of regional assemblies – where Cornwall would form an anonymous part of a South West English region stretching up to Gloucestershire.

So how does ‘Cornwall [sic] Labour’ deal with the remarks from Ed balls in Camborne just a few days ago. Apparently the Labour Party made a great mistake previously and devolution to Cornwall is actually just what the doctor ordered. Is there an election coming up or something?

Shame that he didn’t tell Cornwall Labour how the wind was blowing just a few short months ago? But then why should the Labour party be any different to any other Westminster party in treating Cornwall and its people with utter contempt and disregard?

Supporting Sport in Cornwall

Today Rod Toms (chairman of the Truro and Falmouth branch of MK) and I were invited to officially 'unveil' the new MK sponsor's board at Truro City Football Club.

At our annual conference last November the Truro and Falmouth branch submitted a resolution concerning the development of sport in Cornwall which was accepted by the members and which has become MK policy.

At a time when most political parties will be hoarding their funds in order to be able to spend massive amounts of money on election materials, Mebyon Kernow prefers to put its money where its mouth is and to make a real effort to support sport in Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow is the Party for Cornwall.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Wasted Vote!

We've all heard it haven't we?

A vote for Mebyon Kernow will let the Tories in. Only the Lib Dems can stop the Tories here.

If you vote MK then we might not get a Labour majority to stop the Tories.

On the face of it, if you don't like the idea of another Tory government (and let's face it you're in a big majority as 64% of voters did not vote for a Tory government in 2010), this sounds like a powerful argument. But is it?

I would say not - several reasons.

First of all, this type of rationale, if followed to an ultimate end would lead to a two party state - like in the USA. Ultimately we would end up with a choice of Labour or Tory because to stop one winning you would have to vote for the other. This is what has happenned for many years in the UK and it is one of the reasons that we generally have such low regard for politicians now. We have no real choice. We have to vote for one to stop the other - elections are polarised and in the end both parties end up with career politicians who are simply there to ride the gravy train while it's their turn - and to ensure that wealth and power are transferred, in ever increasing amounts, to the already wealthy and powerful.

Next - it's blatantly not true! Look at the 2010 election. Every Lib Dem leaflet was filled with -  'You have to vote with us or else you will get a Tory government.' ... and we all know how that worked out don't we?

Another thing - have you ever stopped to think just how many people are voting for party x in order to stop party y when actually they wanted to vote for party z because they liked their policies? The thing is whichever Westminster party you vote for to stop another Westminster party it won't work will it? Whichever Westminster party you vote for you will get a Westminster government. Your vote is cementing the centralisation of power to London and the South East of England.

If you vote for a smaller party in a positive way then what might happen? Well, ok the party you most dread might get an additional MP. But, let's face it, the Lib Dems are finished now as a major UK political force. They are no more likely to form the next UK government than Mebyon Kernow. They will have a handful of MPs come May and will have no say in how the UK is run. The SNP will have a more powerful voice at Westminster than the Lib Dems.

This means that if you vote for a Lib Dem and we elect Lib Dem MPs in Cornwall, Cornwall will have no inluence in government - period. Far better to send a strong message to Westminster that Cornwall is ready for greater autonomy and will demand a far greater voice in how we are governed.

If you vote for Mebyon kernow then you are sending this message to London. The only way to achieve real change in Cornwall is to make it abundantly clear that we say 'A plague on all your Westminster houses' - otherwise it's just Westminster business as usual for another five long years until the same old tired arguments are trotted out for the next general election.

What I am saying is - it really doesn't matter if you get a Tory MP instead of a Lib Dem. The effect will be the same anyway. In the meantime why not take the opportunity to send a positive Cornish message to Westminster?