Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Cameron's phone woes illustrate what's wrong with Cornish politics

The Prime Minister was in the Cornish news recently revealing his phone signal problems while holidaying in Cornwall. As the story goes David Cameron cut short some breaks because he couldn't get enough phone signal to do whatever it is he does normally. 
Suddenly this is big news, the familiar refrain of 'something should do something about that' is ever present. This is a big issue because the Prime Minister's holiday was ruined. Phone companies should be doing more, pooling resources for the common good etc. No doubt this is very true.
But my problem is why hasn't this been a problem all along? Bad mobile phone signal is not news to anyone. I live in the middle of Penzance and on a good day I might get a text message indoors, on a bad day a string of messages when I leave the house. Unlike Cameron this doesn't ruin my holidays, it ruins every day, like so many in Cornwall, work, friendships, emergencies and even the odd tasteless joke and drunken phone call are missed due to poor phone signal.
This is the fundamental problem with the distant (in every sense of the word) people in power in the UK. Could Helston or St Keverne or Porthleven or St Just councils or even Cornwall Council? or a council anywhere? change this and the answer is no. At a push they could write to their MP and probably gain their support or even write to a minister but ultimately it wouldn't change anything. It probably wouldn't even make the evening news. So really what we have to do is either get the Prime Minister to holiday in Cornwall more often or build a new political system where the day to day decisions of our communities aren't dictated by the holidaying whims of members of the central government.
As a footnote, I probably over egged it a bit and if people really want to get hold of me they often revert to the old technology and ring my landline. Or send a message or email online. Often much simpler and easier than climbing the nearest hill.... Perhaps there's a lesson there for the Prime Minister? Or would that make the narrative of understanding Cornish problems and picking up on a real issue and milking it politically a little redundant?
Hopefully this might spur long overdue improvements in mobile signal in Cornwall. Even I couldn't pick holes in that (hint hint).