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Showing posts from 2014

2014 a pivotal year for Cornish devolution

In early 2013 I wrote a post reviewing the last year and focusing on devolution in 2012. The idea was to highlight how the debate had come along in that year and how publicity for the cause had grown. Looking back at that no, it is easy to see how far the issue has come. Back in 2012 there was the odd mention here and there in 2014 it has ballooned and it would now be an unenviable task to link to all of the mentions of a Cornish assembly and devolution. 2014 was an important year in this debate and I review some of the debates below, for MK and the other political parties, Cornwall Council's recent interventions and looking to the new year and the future for the Cornish devolution movement.

Part of this story can only be understood by casting our gaze north and looking to Scotland and the huge events around the independence referendum. Mebyon Kernow's reaction to the indyref was to welcome the opportunity to rethink the structure of the UK. Whilst everyone considered the prev…

Pensions: Betrayal of firefighters by Cornwall's MPs

The coalition government is seeking to 'reform' firefighters pensions. As with all Conservative and Liberal Democrat reforns this means one of two things privatise or cut. This is the case of the latter and a harsh cut is planned. As many of you will have noticed fire service personnel under the leadership of the Fire Brigades Union FBU have been striking on the pensions issue. Despite gaining a Common's vote, from an EDM, for MPs to look in their hearts and reject the reforms this failed and Cornwall's loyally did the government's bidding and failed to support our fire service workers.The government's plans amount to expecting firefighters to pay more contributions and retire at an older age. Pushing the retirement age up to 60, despite the fact even the government's own advisers warn that fitness tests will not be met at such a high age. The idea that to gain the full pension would require a firefighter to work 40 years from 20 to 60 is terrible. 40 years…

Penzance Town Council and Jubilee Pool, let's dive in when we see the detail

Sometimes at council things change and sometimes these changes are significant, other times councillors reaffirm and clarify what already takes place. Last night at the full council meeting it was more the latter, in regard of Jubilee Pool.

Back in May on the 6th there was a special town council meeting to discuss a proposal put forward by Cornwall Council for the town to support them in their Coastal Communities Fund bid. In the meantime this bid has been successful, which is great news, other than that nothing has actually happened. No funds have been spent on the pool, there are various behind closed door meetings that the Mayor and Cornwall Councillors attend on progress, as all of them are tight lipped about it, I can only surmise there has been no further progress. Yet in spite of there being nothing new we found ourselves as a council discussing the matter last night and asked to commit to taking over the pool. The justification for this was a rumour that Cornwall Council offic…

My response to the BBC's party election broadcast criteria

The BBC is at the moment running a consultation on Party Election Broadcasts for the 2015 general election. They are asking people to review the criteria they use. As many of you will have seen Dick Cole has challenged this (Mebyon Kernow set to demand fair share of tv election broadcasts). He has also encouraged people to submit their own responses and put pressure on the BBC to include Mebyon Kernow.

I also implore people to email, the BBC website page on the consultation is here and you just need to answer 2 questions:

Do the proposed Party Election Broadcast allocation criteria seem appropriate? Please explain why.

Do you have any other comments on the proposed Party Election Broadcast allocation criteria?

Then email your responses to this email address
Here's my submission:
Dear sir/ madam,
Below are my responses to the questions on the consultation document, any questions/ queries don't hesitate to get in contact. 
Do the proposed Party Election Broadcast allocation criteria…

Cornwall needs politicians to care and not just in election leaflets

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a recycling bag filled with glossy pamphlets, leaflets and sales pitches from politicians. Looking through them, you'd think Cornwall has a bright future the fundamental issues are all addressed. The low wage economy, high house prices, second homes, the saddecline of traditional industries like fishing and agriculture and the lack of support of small businesses, over-development and the list goes on. MPs and prospective MPs know what needs to change, it's not a question of misunderstanding Cornwall, but yet nothing changes?

I could have written this blog and talked about this 5 years ago or 10 years ago or at any point during my lifetime and anywhere in Cornwall. The same leaflets were sent around then, slightly different pictures granted but the same issues over and over again. Like Groundhog day without the charm and humour of Bill Murray and the slight variations of the theme are far from humour and are to the detriment of Cor…

Clegg's visit to Penzance and absence from the Autumn Statement

Today 2 things happened in politics, 1 there was the Autumn Statement setting out the Coalition government's priorities for the next budget. 2 Nick Clegg came to Penzance to talk about money put into a breakwater study. A month ago Penzance Town Council voted to put a contribution towards a study into a breakwater. I blogged about it here. Nick Clegg was in Penzance today announcing the government will put forward their contribution. A welcome step? Yes of course. News? Not in the slightest, the town council was asked by government for a contribution with the understanding they would fund the rest. This is a welcome step, having proper sea defences is a must for Penzance and is long overdue. As I've written before this is the start of a journey. Having a study conducted will be a step forward, the first if many, afterward funding will need to be found. So why would the Deputy Prime Minister come all the way to Penzance for a small step? The Cornishman asked Clegg if it was a d…

What is the point of the Liberal Democrats?

Reading through the latest batch of Liberal Democrat press releases and perhaps the tired old rhetoric, those weary words but it soon sent me to sleep. I guess that's causality, one thing causes another. I awoke and y'know when you just get up and you feel a bit confused with reality? Well I was in that stage pondering what I'd read. Was it real? Had dreams impinged upon reality? Thankfully not! Alas it was real, even bleary eyed I can tell the and difference between reality and smoke and mirrors. And I thought what's the point of the Lib Dems? (Other than to send you to sleep of course!)Look at the subjects of their statements and they all tug at the heart strings, who in the right mind would want to close libraries? Bulldoze woodland for housing? Spend millions on a police commissioner and lay off front line officers, front desks and run a 101 service to rival pigeon post? Who would want to privatise the NHS and open it up to sale to all kind of speculators like Lock…

Tories block devolution to Cornwall to keep power in Westminster's hands

Whilst here in Cornwall we might fantasise about how things could change with devolution. How powers to make decisions in Cornwall would lead to solutions suited to us not to central government. How we might break the status quo of low wages, high house prices and being one of the least economically productive parts of the EU. At the same time David Cameron has pledged to keep the status quo and retighten the grip on the purse strings. Ruling out devolution of tax raising powers.  This is ridicously short sighted and ignores the fact most states in the world are happy for not every simple decision to be made in the capital. Local tax raising is a common sense solution. As anyone can see, without a vested interest in how much tax is raised and thus how well the economy is doing, what is the impetus for authorities to focus on growth? The system of the vast majority of taxes going to the center and it deciding what to distribute outwards is a nonsense and leads to an economy where th…

The road to May starts with the Mebyon Kernow conference and engaging more

This sunday is the Mebyon Kernow conference. Every party conference is an important one,  The focus this year is engagement, the conference is a great time to see more of a party and find it's members, spokespersons and leadership all in one place ready to speak to people. It's a time to inform policy, hold debates and engage with both the membership and the public. Below is a blog with some of my thoughts about the conference and a link to the agenda for sunday's event.

This conference is more important than most. For a number of reasons: firstly there's the general election looming large on the horizon, make no mistake this is the most unpredictable election in a long long time. Opinion polls reveal there is a record low of people that will vote for Labour and Tory next May. The polls also tell us only a fraction more voters will vote Lib Dem next year (across the UK) then will vote for the SNP (just in Scotland). The three big parties will try to make out that this e…

Another nail in the coffin of localism as Pickle's rejects supermarket levy out of hand

The Tory minister Eric Pickles has denied local councils the right to choose to levy a big business. I wrote about a large retailer levy a while back in perhaps an overly academic fashion looking at the pros and cons. I did have some conversations with senior councillors and officers at Cornwall Council and a few months later they did write to government asking for those powers. I have a lot of sympathy with the idea of a big retail tax, all of our town centers have empty shops, yet Cornish towns are increasingly encircled by supermarkets and out of town retail. The small independent local businesses are obviously losing out to the multinational chains and as a consequence money is leaving Cornwall faster than tourists in late August.

What's so thoroughly depressing and frustrating about it all is that man Eric Pickle's again acting like lord and master over local government and indeed local communities. In an amazing act of hyperbole even for Eric he sent out a personal press…

Penzance Town Council votes for a breakwater

Amongst other things this evening the town council voted to support a feasibility study into a breakwater for Mount's Bay. A study is crucial to prove the viability of such a sea defence. This would be essential for pulling in any funding from the government or through EU funds.The amount is a £10,000 from the town out of an estimated £100,000. It does seem like a large amount of money, but unfortunately the nature of consultancy and expertise is such that it is expensive. Without any such report a future breakwater to protect Penzance harbour and seafront would be impossible. This is a significant step forward and the large amount of support from the town council tonight and on the issue if sea defences more generally bodes well for the future. Of course we are still talking about the future. A report will not automatically mean a breakwater will be built nor the money found. But if the report finds a realistic option we will have a lot of ammunition to lobby for funding. Also…

A step closer to a Breakwater for Penzance?

It's certainly not new news that a breakwater in Mount's Bay is widely desired. Personally I think it's long overdue and I hope the winter will not again prove that the sea defences of the town are inadequate. Regular readers will remember my posts on the subject earlier this year. Thankfully this is one of those issues that looks to pass from the realms of press releases to reality (or nearer to it).At Monday's Penzance Town Council meeting it will be put to the councillors that a feasibility study is needed to investigate options. That with the backing of the town council and crucially a £10,000 contribution, the Department for Transport could find the rest of the £100,000 cost. Quite why Cornwall Council as owners of the harbour and promenade are not involved is puzzling to say the least. A breakwater would be a small step in the right direction. Perhaps the much fancied ideas about rejuvenating the harbour and prom might, with a breakwater come into fruition. After…

Residents survey reveals Cornwall Council's poor reputation in Penwith

Cornwall Council's poor reputation in the old Penwith area is confirmed by residents survey. From the general view of the council, through to value for money, how well the council listens and even cleanliness the west has the lowest levels of satisfaction. This should be of great concern for the administration at Cornwall Council and local Cornwall Councillors and accept the widely held view that Cornwall Council doesn't work for Penwith and that we were much better off before centralisation. A situation that need resolving.

In total 60 people in West Penwith, (an area called Penzance, Marazion and St Just but here West Penwith) and 57 in Hayle and St Ives responded out of a total of 1,212 across Cornwall. Although this is only a small amount of people there are some interesting trends to note.

Unfortunately neither of the places that the information is displayed (here) and (here) give the full information and break down every answer by area. Instead both (seemingly identicall…

The bizarre logic of which political parties are allowed on tv

Today it has been announced that broadcasters have offered Nigel Farage a place in the televised
election debates for next year's general election. This will mean Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems and UKIP will form a part of the televised US presidential style leadership debates first seen in the UK in 2010. But the logic behind the thinking is bizarre to say the least, seeming to be made up more of a list of who's in favour at the time, more than a logical system of who might be next prime minister. What is needed in a genuine democracy is that the media offer the public all the options not simply their chosen few.

I know that there is a possibility Nigel Farage could be the next PM, I expect some in the media would like this to come true. But by the same logic the leader of the Green party could be next PM, granted Natalie Bennett is not an MP but neither is Farage. George Galloway could be the next PM as leader of the Respect party, unlike the other 2 he is a existing MP and…

Eustice flashes a glimpse at the unambitious Cornish devolution fag packet

Conservative MP for Camborne, Hayle and Redruth, George Eustice has come out against a Cornish

Assembly. As regular readers can tell I have some frustration that on one side of the debate Mebyon Kernow have detailed plans of what powers we would like to see devolved to Cornwall and how relationships with central government would be redrawn and on the other hand Tories and Labour making vague promises of more powers to Cornwall accompanied with various hollow soundbites. The Lib Dems typically are on the fence, at times pledging a Cornish Assembly, other times non specific powers to Cornwall and completeing all the possible options pledging more power to Cornwall Council. George Eustice has of course finally provided a glimpse of what powers he would 'consider' being devolved to Cornwall Council and the list is neither long nor ambitious.

George is quoted on the Cornishman website after waxing lyrical about English Votes for English Laws, as an afterthought he considers his con…

No plan for devolution for powers and no understanding of a Cornish Assembly from political elite

I blogged a while back on the lack of plans for devolution to Cornwall Council as (flippantly) promised by the Labour and Tory parties. the title of the blog was: "When will Labour and the Tories let everyone see their back of a fag packet ideas for powers to Cornwall Council?" Which unusually for a title of one of my blogs, pretty much sums up my view on the subject, there's no clear plan. I've since realised that a lot of Cornish politicians are far from being on the same page with me about this. That nailing down what powers Cornwall should have, what laws we could write, what budgets we'd have to spend and what relationships it should have with Westminster, the EU, Wales, Scotland and the South West of England is actually something far advanced of where they are in the book. It's pretty clear many of them are stuck on chapter 1; what is devolution and how do people view it.

After watching BBC Sunday Politics South West, it was clear that particularly Mich…

When will Labour and the Tories let everyone see their back of a fag packet ideas for powers to Cornwall Council?

Over the last week, various Cornish politicians have scampered to try to have a position on what Cornwall should get from any new constitutional settlement. They have unbelievably been caught on the hop by the fall out of the Scottish independence vote. Now they are finding themselves trying to both acknowledge Cornwall doesn't do well from direct London rule and at the same time say that bringing significant decision making to Cornwall would be a bad thing. That's quite a tight rope to walk, as such it would be no surprise that their ideas would be a bit of a fudge. But that's the rub, they don't really have any ideas, no proposals and no clue how devolution to Cornwall Council would work. Unless they smoke king size fags I expect the back only has room for "no to a Cornish Assembly, keep power in Westminster." But I'm willing to be wrong and I'd love to see what Labour, the Tories and the Independent group on Cornwall Council, would like to see the …

5 things that might have been different with a Cornish Assembly

What is a Cornish Assembly? How would it be different from Cornwall Council? Mebyon Kernow's argument is that we need a legislative national assembly, meaning Cornwall can make it's own laws, decide it's own priorities but remain within the UK, it means fundamental change and for some that's scary. So I thought here I would talk about MK's ideas and provide some examples of what could have been different and hopefully show making decisions in Cornwall need not be feared.

I say could because the spending priorities and legislation would be the responsibility of the assembly members elected by the people of Cornwall. The public may have elected people to do things other than the 5 ideas listed below, but here's what I think would have been vote winners:

1. Temple would have been dualled ages ago.

Dualling of Temple (and indeed Goss Moor before it) well over a decade was spent lobbying government to improve the A30 here. Despite accidents, tailbacks, costs to Corn…

A rebuttal of Cornwall Labour's lies and conjecture about a Cornish Assembly and Mebyon Kernow

Today there was a frankly bizarre rebuttal of the idea of a Cornish Assembly from Candy Atherton of the Cornwall Labour party. Bizarre not only because we disagree on the principles of the matter, but on the arguments used. I call on the Labour party to actually talk to people, recognise that there is a desire for more powers to come to Cornwall and not rely on lies, dubious facts and made up stories. The latter I will now explain.

The original article is here: Labour positions itself against Cornish Assembly in face of nationalist call. In it the argument, echoes the Tory line that people do not want extra bureaucrats and politicians. As I've written before, we are already governed at the moment, there are politicians and bureaucrats that deal with the business of administering Cornwall. They are in places like Bristol and London, the Tory/ Labour position is that they stay there. Mebyon Kernow's position is that these jobs, this decision making is brought to Cornwall.

Candy …

A plea to the Lib Dems, don't reinvent the wheel, get on board with Mebyon Kernow's Cornish assembly ideas

Over the last few weeks the Liberal Democrats have started to campaign on the issue of Cornish devolution. Various pleas have gone around to mount a campaign and lately even a survey on people's ideas. My plea here is for them to stop reinventing the wheel and work with the campaign Mebyon Kernow already have. Over the last year MK have campaigned on the issue of a Cornish Assembly, we've held roadshows, got petitions signed, talked about it in the press, launched a consultation document, posted about it online and a whole host of other things. Why start a ground up campaign, when there is a body of work already there? Especially as the need to make a case to government is now, if Cornwall is to gain devolution the case needs to be made very very soon.

I know the Lib Dems have officially joined Cornwall Council's campaigns to get more powers transferred to the local authority. To beef up local government. But I think many in the Liberal Democrats know in their heart of hea…

Pasty Munching ingrates and the shock as Cornwall features in a newspaper in something other than a lifestyle piece!

Thought I'd write something about Jeremy Clarkson's column/ diatribe on Scottish independence today....
The feeling's mutual, Jeremy Clarkson:
— RealCornishPubs (@RealCornishPubs) September 14, 2014

It is a shock that Cornwall is not featured in the context of our great restaurants, food, landscape or coast or the opportunities for second homes. For a change Cornwall is talked about not as an abstract entity but a recognition that there are people in Cornwall and that there are politics here. Perhaps now pundits like Clarkson have noticed, the media might peer out past the M25 once in a while.

I don't take offence from Jeremy Clarkson, he can say what he likes, like so many comedians and pundits these days upsetting people is it's own genre. I have some sympathy with it I have a dark sense of humour and can chuckle at myself and not take it too seriously. Besides which I'm as much a 'pasty munching ingrate' as Jeremy Cl…

The indyref and the time Scotland dared to dream

The Scottish Independence referendum, although like many politically attuned people I've thought about little else recently. It's hard for the gravity of the situation to truly sink in. We can see from the scramble of politicians to Scotland and their frenzied activity to convince the Scottish people that the UK can change, that I'm certainly not the only one!

Events in Scotland, will send an earthquake originating in Scotland but with it's epicentre in Westminster and through UK politics (or perhaps rUK). In the event of either a yes or a no vote there will be chaos. The status quo will die this week, all of the assumptions about central government knowing best and blind faith in their judgement will end.

Quite what all of this will mean is yet to be seen, will the neo-liberal view of economics remain intact? or to put it another way will the market and big business remain so powerful in politics? Will austerity remain the basis for all economic thought? Will we see a…