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Monday, 1 February 2021

Does Association with Nationalism Affect A Party's Electability?

 

I fired up Google in an attempt to find a definition for "nationalism". There were literally dozens of widely differing versions of what nationalism was on just the first few pages.

This is the overwhelming problem with this word.

Nationalism means different things to different people.


It is overwhelmingly associated with bigoted opinions, nasty and narrow minded people and insular and judgmental outlooks by the establishment and the MMS. The person on the Camborne bus is likely to view nationalists as frothing at the mouth lunatics verging on terrorists. Whether this is right, fair or proper is neither here nor there - it's what is.

The trouble is that some 'nationalists' do actually deserve this kind of portrayal. The out and out racist or ethnic nationalists would certainly come to mind - for example the EDF (and UKIP more and more these days.)

On the other hand some people who are proud to call themselves nationalists are the very antithesis of the political thugs who provide the basis of the popular nationalist stereotype. Many nationalists want to promote their identity in conjunction with others doing the same thing. To be self-governing but co-operative with other nations. To be inclusive and tolerant of all their citizens.

However, when someone turns up proudly wearing a badge saying: "I am a nationalist" - guess what the person on the Camborne bus sees.

I think it is a massive mistake for any serious micro political party have its members proclaim themselves to be proud to be nationalists (unless, of course, their ideologies do actually run along the lines of the EDF etc.)

The odds are immediately stacked against you. Why spend time, energy and resources defending your badge of honour and trying to convince someone that it actually means something totally different to the observer's perception? Why would you want to spend your valuable chance to engage and communicate with a potential voter defending a word instead of setting out your vision and ideas for a better future?

I know it's a matter of pride for many people to call themselves Cornish Nationalists but if you are seeking to be elected then you are playing into the hands of your political opponents. It is not cowardice or backing down to refuse to play this game - it is electorally savvy.

Why not upset the apple cart a little. Call yourself something like a Cornish Positivist (just an arbitrary suggestion - I'm sure there would be better). Immediately you are not linked to frothing at the mouth lunatics but also invite the question - "What does that mean?" There's your chance to engage in a positive way rather than have to defend a misconception!

Any Cornish political party outside of the Westminster establishment needs to make the very most of each and every opportunity it has to engage and persuade. A stubborn pride in allowing itself to be associated with a derogatory label will simply detract from any positive opportunity to communicate with the electorate which scant resources have facilitated.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Party Politics vs Cornwall


Over the last couple of days I have had a couple of discussions with some Westminster political party wannabe MPs.

My concern is to discover whether leading Westminster political party politicians in Cornwall use their positions in their parties to further Cornish issues or use Cornish issues to further their Westminster political party careers.

Facebook has a group "STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF CORNWALL NOW". 

Andrew George posted in that group  about the scandalous fact that "Over £100 million of covid aid has been handed out to folk who're lucky enough to have a second home in Cornwall."

Fair enough.

The problem is that George then goes on to pin the blame squarely on the Tories - when in actual fact the legislation enabling this was down to the Lib Dem/Tory coalition.

When I pointed this out he called me a liar - claiming that he opposed the legislation in many ways.


The thing is - I'm sure that Andrew George is a hard working and dedicated Cornish patriot who has spent a lifetime doing great things for Cornwall - but he is also a Lib Dem, Westminster political party career politician. Something that is highlighted by his gross disingenuity by blaming the Tories rather than acknowledge a fair proportion of blame be attached to his own political masters.

Is this using his position to further Cornish issues or using a Cornish issue to further his career - you decide.

Then hot on the heels of the Andrew George exchange I read a the article that Jayne Kirkham wrote for (I think) the West Briton and then published in the Facebook group "Cornish Politics Discussed".

In the article Jayne asks what Cornwall will get from the G7 conference scheduled for Carbis Bay later in the year. A legitimate question we might all say but she failed to make any proposal for how any of the things that she thought were deficient might have been implemented by a Labour government.

Is this using her position to further Cornish issues or using a Cornish issue to further her career - you decide.

Now Jayne is a very hard working Cornwall Councillor and I'm sure she is dedicated to improving the life of people in her division but another point emerged during our discussion on Facebook regarding her post.

Jayne recently abstained on a vote implementing an increase in the allowance paid to Cornwall Councillors.

She said that she believed:

"if we want councillors who can represent and speak for all the people of Cornwall then we need to pay something they can live on, otherwise we will end up with what we’ve got at the moment. Which is a council mainly full of retired older men who don’t have the experience of the life that many of us who live in Cornwall have. We have more men over the age of 70 on cornwall council than we do women of any age."

Despite this belief she abstained saying that now was not the right time.

The thing is when will there ever be a good time to increase Councillor allowances?

I agree wholeheartedly with Jayne's reasoning for an increase. I think (with some reservations that I explained within the Facebook discussion) it is vital that Cornwall Councillors are paid enough to allow them to spend the time to do a stellar job for the people of Cornwall rather than encouraging a lot of (certainly not all) (small c) conservatives who have enough private income to fund their  hobby and delusion of grandeur to run Cornwall's local politics.

My problem is that I believe her failure to vote for the increase was more down to protecting her chances of election for her Westminster Labour party next time around. A courage of conviction for what is right for Cornwall (in my mind) means changing the demographic of the people who run Cornwall Council and increasing allowances is a good way to start this process. However, councillors who vote for allowance increases are lambasted by a lot of voters who are goaded on by the righteous hobby councillors who enough private income to do away with allowances all together.

Is this using her position to further Cornish issues or using a Cornish issue to further her career - you decide.