Thursday, 30 April 2015
Again the question of privatisation is in the news, this time Mitie getting fined for not meeting targets on their cleaning and catering contract with RCHT. Also this week the BT contract with Cornwall Council is not producing the jobs and other targets upon which the contract was made. Add to this the growing public disquiet about profit in public services. Something has to change.
Today we Mebyon Kernow are using this election period to call for a pause in privatisation. We will later release a statement calling for support from the public and other political candidates, activists and parties to have a pause in the privatisation process in Cornwall. The present system is not working there is no public faith in it, time and again we see providers failing in the basics of providing public services. We are calling on one and all to say no to this continued farce, to join with us in opposing this. To call on the next government to pause the privatisation process and hold a debate with the people of Cornwall, over the future of public services.
We feel we can not continue on this path,we encourage people to read the statement and think whether they want change or whether they really want to defend privatisation.
There's a brilliant piece in the Guardian featuring Paul Krugman, attacking the Tories and Labour on their post election austerity budgets. How the distance in economics is so close between the two "major" parties. To quote from the article :
"Cameron is campaigning largely on a spurious claim to have ‘rescued’ the British economy – and promising, if he stays in power, to continue making substantial cuts in the years ahead.
“Labour, sad to say, are echoing that position. So both major parties are in effect promising a new round of austerity that might well hold back a recovery..."
It's a sad thing in a democracy that major issues like this aren't dominant in political debate. How we spend money, what the state chooses to spend and how it spends it. It is not this issue alone this is being ignored look at privatisation, Trident, foreign policy, the royal family, the House of Lords, Europe, tax dodging. When was the last time a politician brought up these subjects to debate, to offer choice to explain advantages and disadvantages? The answer sadly is democracy is too rare in this regard.
As for austerity itself, we must bear in mind like Trident and so much else. Labour, Tory and Lib Dems agree on the matter and share values in common. They may well want a cheaper system or a bigger system, but they agree on the desire for a system.
The truth is post the election we will get more cuts if one of the three big parties Tory, Lab & LD, takes power alone or in coalition with another.
On the ground the scale of the austerity drive will be fearsome.
The omens are not looking good, councils are cash strapped being at the sharp end of the Coalition’s austerity drive, but there not out of the woods yet, whether a Tory government alone or with Clegg's Liberals again or UKIP, or a Labour government propped up by someone else and/ or the Lib Dems. Whichever will bring more cuts.
I checked the Party manifestos of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory. None mentioned local government finance and what money's go out of the general taxation pot and out to communities... none also mentioned the referendum cap which is effectively, a public service cuts guarantee.
Things have been bad in Cornwall the public face off it is libraries on reduced hours and public toilets closing. Behind the scenes it's not enough money for social and care workers. Less and less road safety inspections. Less school repairs and maintenance than ever before. If we continue on this austerity trajectory all this problems will become much worse.
This election is more open than any before it. People have their ears open, a record number have political support and alliegence to parties outside of Labour, Tory and Lib Dems. You have to wonder if there was more choice in the established parties, if the crucial things the things that matter were actually discussed by those parties in a public manner? That policy might heaven forbid, flow from public to public servant. Rather than dictated in a speech!
The big 3 don't want to make this election about austerity they have fixed in their minds that more public services will be cut and yet more privatised. If you think this is wrong then you need to use your vote wisely against this continued austerity agenda.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
It's high time we revaluated the profit motive and what it is doing to public services in Cornwall. We can't carry on with services falling below standards. We saw with the Serco Out of Hours service, that things fall below what is necessary and nobody can do anything about it. I strongly believe we need an NHS in public hands, accountable to the people and delivering the highest standards of care. We are not getting that at the moment.
There is an election coming up and people need to think long and hard about the kind of health service that they want and recognise that all of the three big parties Tory, Lib Dem and Labour believe that the future is more and more privatisation of the health service and other public services. If like me you think that is the wrong direction, please vote MK in May and send a message to the cosy pro-privatisation consensus of the establishment parties that you've had enough.
“New figures suggest that in some parts of Cornwall as many as 40% of jobs are not paying a living wage – what can be done to tackle the problem of low pay levels in Cornwall and should employers be allowed to continue employing staff on zero hour contracts?”
heavily. That said, although it is higher on the political agenda and we should be grateful that politicians are showing an interest, it has been a problem in Cornwall for certainly all of my life time. Combined with high house prices, the low wages in Cornwall are a blight and contribute to the brain drain of young talented people moving from Cornwall.
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
Monday, 27 April 2015
Dispensing entirely with concepts of democracy and accountability. In this regard it is starting in the way it means to go on. It will give corporations the rights to sue governments for loss of profit and stands to strengthen profit in the post- nationalised world of public services. It's so wrong it should be stopped.
Despite these grave fears, Labour, Tory, Lib Dems and UKIP all support it. (Greens and Plaid Cymru against TTIP and other parties not funded by corporate donors e.g. NHA, Left Unity). No question of a referendum or even something as old fashioned as a public consultation. The only real difference between the lot of them is that Labour and UKIP don't want the NHS included and the Lib Dems want to determine how NHS services are provided, with a privatised system open to international competition I'm not quite sure what that means. Perhaps just being on the fence as usual. The more eagle eyed among you will note that Labour doesn't want to exclude the NHS by renationalising it, they still welcome privatisation, with profit controls.
I must admit Labour (and UKIP's) postion perplexes the hell out of me. Yes include all kinds of public services in TTIP but not the NHS. So libraries, prisons, schools, public transport, utility companies are all fine to be thrown to the wolves of privatisation but not the NHS?
In case it isn't clear I don't agree with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership at all. As my Mebyon Kernow colleague Stephen Richardson wrote TTIP privatisation of democracy? and I'd agree with that. It may cut against the grain of the Neo-Liberal policies of the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems but I don't agree that multi national companies should be the most powerful bodies on earth. I also don't agree that more and more privatisation is necessary. We need to give power back to the people and end this endless flow to big business.
Sunday, 26 April 2015
Saturday, 25 April 2015
Friday, 24 April 2015
“Assuming that we are serious about developing green energy, does that mean increasingly covering
Thursday, 23 April 2015
I became concerned back in February when people contacted me to say that they had registered to vote online and did not have the option to identify themselves as Cornish, as this screenshot of the website shows:
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Obviously the idea of getting more powers for Cornwall is a central plank of Mebyon Kernow's election campaign. Myself like all of the candidates are taking every opportunity to raise the issue, on leaflets, online, on the doorstep and at hustings. I've been pleased at how well received the ideas of devolution have been at the various hustings I have attended, especially when I have given examples of the kids of policies we could change if it was in Cornwall's power to do so.
Now I have attended 6 hustings with all of the 6 candidates. The same questions come up time and again at every debate. It's intriguing what candidates say and how that develops over time, I have certainly heard a few, not only making the same points as candidates had previously but even given the very same examples. I think this is partly because we all have different experiences and knowledge and we learn from each other. Although I must say I try not to 'copy and paste' others.
What I have found fascinating is that a few times I have spoken about devolution in terms of planning and housing policy and in terms of public transport policies. We need in both regards policies that suit Cornwall. We have planning policies that allow second homes to rip apart our communities, affordable housing definitions that are meaningless for people on local wages. Yet at the same time we have huge housing developments going up everywhere completely not dealing with the actual housing need we have in Cornwall. It's my argument that we need to make these decisions in Cornwall not let them be taken 300 miles away, so we can have policies that address these issues.
Similarly for public transport we need devolution, all of the rules and policies governing this are currently taken in London and imposed on Cornwall Council. We need local decision making in order to have trains that fit into bus times, so that you can get off one without waiting ages for the other. With more powers to a Cornish assembly we could have a greater say over public transport providers and make sure that buses and trains suit the needs of passengers and indeed the roads, infrastructure and geography of Cornwall.
At the beginning of the debates none of the candidates would talk about devolution in this regard, they would address the issues but talk about them in a general manner. However as time has gone on, I've heard nearly each one of my fellow PPCs argue that transport needs to be devolved to Cornwall, not simply copying what I have said by any means but developing their own arguments and giving their own examples.
I guess at this stage I should be worried about these "tanks on my lawn". I'm not because it's simple to see none of the other parties have a clear idea of what power they would like to see devolved to Cornwall. Far from being worried about this, it's a pleasure to see that the candidates have recognised the strength both of my arguments and of the positive response of people in audiences. There's a real demand for more local decision making and if elected as an MP I would press the case very strongly to the next government. If I'm not elected, I sincerely hope whoever is remembers what they said at hustings and actually does something about it. The time for talking about Cornish devolution is over, the time has come to start demanding powers from central government, Cornwall has had enough of empty promises...
For me the question: should Cornwall have more power? Is like asking if I’d like to spend my money
or if I’d like someone else to spend it. Although I might sometimes spend my money wisely and
other times come back with magic beans, it’s about choice. I’d prefer it was my decision, so I could
spend my money, on my priorities and if I end up with a beanstalk, I’ve only myself to blame!
That is the nub of it, currently our taxes travel 300 miles, there they decide how to spend it and send
the money back. People that make these decisions aren’t elected by the people of Cornwall and they
don’t have to live with their decisions day in day out. We need decision making by people that live
here and are accountable to us.
For too long we’ve seen our industries fade, earnings fall and house prices rise with little interest
from successive Westminster governments. This situation must stop. We need the powers to make
our own policies: to foster Cornish successes and address our own problems. Cornwall needs a law
To see Mebyon Kernow’s detailed plans for an assembly go to our website.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
As you can imagine the issue of privatisation came up time and time again. I was very happy for the round of applause when I explained that Mebyon Kernow's policy is to say not to privatisation of the NHS and other public services and the need to bring them back into public administration away from the undemocratic and unaccountable trusts and groups. I also spoke on the need for decentralising health care services and my view that more needs to be done at West Cornwall Hospital and that Cornwall deserves more than one general hospital. I was also proud to be the representing the only party calling for fair funding of Cornwall's NHS. For example Cornwall's NHS was underfunded by £220 million from 2006-2013. You can watch/ listen to the debates here:
This was my 5th hustings of the campaign and I'm starting to get into the swing of things. I find it fascinating that at the start of the hustings, I've always noticed people at the back muttering and looking at me with suspicion. Perhaps they think that MK is some kind of loony nationalist party and that every answer to every question will boil down to blowing up the Tamar bridges and cutting us from the world. Interestingly these very same people were some of the first to come and shake my hand at the end, congratulate me on my performance and ask more about Mebyon Kernow and our policies. I think much like Plaid Cymru and the SNP represented by Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon on the tv debates, MK presents an alternative to the same old policies of the Westminster party. When people are made aware of the real policies they find out it's more than a sense of pride in place and a desire for greater autonomy. It's about bespoke policies to suit Cornwall and getting our little corner of this isle a fair deal on funding.
See what you think for yourselves as the Radio Cornwall hustings will be aired on thursday at 12.
Thursday, 16 April 2015
Daily leaflets are going through people's doors throughout Cornwall from the Lib Dems. The budgets aside of how much all that printing up country costs and how much the Royal Mail charge. They are all covered in messages about keeping the Tories out. Hoping people have forgotten the last 5 years completely and are unaware that plans are afoot for the Lib Dems again to prop up the Tories.
It's time for Cornwall’s Liberal Democrats to come clean and admit that the anti Tory message is just rhetoric. Nick Clegg told the press at their manifesto launch that he's willing to do a deal with anyone to be in power. What was once a party of principle and common sense is now an empty vessel interested only in power. Little wonder they're facing a wipe out on May the 7th.
Mebyon Kernow will not do a deal with the Tories or any of the Westminster parties. If people want a party that will fight the Tories or any government, for Cornwall to get a better deal, and fairness in policy then vote MK.
Friday, 10 April 2015
The news is awash of claim and counter claim between Tory and Labour about defence and Trident. In summary the Conservatives are attacking Miliband because they think he'd do a deal with the SNP to form a coalition government, which would include not replacing Britain's nuclear arsenal. Labour deny this strenuously and accuse the Tories of attacks and negativity.
Labour are sending the clear message that (like so much) they would match the Tories on Trident replacement. But this does not reflect the views of their PPCs. Many of them have taken part in the CND survey on scrapping Trident, as I have, like me an overwhelming majority support scrapping Trident. Of the 500 candidates from all parties that responded 81% support scrapping Trident. According to the New Statesman 75% of Labour respondents support scrapping Trident.
Yet we have a ridiculous political system where parties rule and what parties decide, MPs follow. Thus Ed Miliband in his attempt to out muscle Cameron on toughness, is enthusiastically in support of Trident. How is this democratic? Or even tough!?!
We need a democratic system where MPs are elected on their own beliefs and principles that support the wishes and whims of their constituents. That think for themselves not merely upholding the dictatorship of the party.
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
1. Join, joining the party is remarkably simple and only takes 5 minutes. The costs start from £8 unwaged, £15 waged, family membership £20 and life membership £300. That's literally pennies a week! Click here to join today.
2. Volunteer, if you're a member contact your local branch and volunteer your services if not click this link on the MK website. There are tens of thousand of leaflets that have already been delivered and many many more yet to be delivered. If you can do thousands, hundreds or just a few it will be appreciated and will help Cornwall have a stronger voice in politics.
3. Posters, have a garden, field, window or car? why not put up a poster. Again contact your local branch or visit the website to get a poster.
4. Donate, any donations to the party are welcome and will help buy leaflets to get MK's message out. Click this link to do so via paypal on the website.
5. Attend a debate, Mebyon Kernow candidates are committed to attending as many public debates as possible and have already taken part in many. Contact your local branch for details.
I'm doing my first one tomorrow night at the Lowenac Hotel in Camborne for the Federation of Small Businesses 18:00- 21:00. Three next week, West Cornwall Health Watch at Chapel Street, Methodist Church, Penzance 19:00-21:00. Thursday 16th Cape Cornwall School 19:30 start. Friday 17th Friends of the Earth Hustings 18:30 Helston Guildhall. Monday 20th Radio Cornwall hustings at Marazion Community center , 23rd Cornishman hustings at Penwith college and finally on the 24th at the Shekinah Tarovoer road Penzance.
P.s. I handed in my nomination forms today and am officially the Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall candidate for the St Ives constituency :)
Saturday, 4 April 2015
Although welcome, the council's case for Cornwall is not enough, vote MK to stand up for a strong Cornwall
Despite this lack of ambition and leaving most of the powers under the control of the dead hand of Westminster, it is tagged stand up for Cornwall!
I spoke to Radio Cornwall about this last week. I spoke about John Pollard and Cornwall Council being on the right track and identifying the right problems but not the right solutions. I don't think Cornwall Council is well placed to take on more powers. What we need is proper devolution to a new body not one that runs nearly everything in Cornwall. I believe the unitary authority is already overly centralised and giving the more powers would only make this worse, I don't think anybody wants an omnipotent Cornwall Council! You can listen to the interview here (skip to 26:50).
There is an election coming up, people that want Cornwall to have more of a say over decisions in Cornwall. Those with vision and courage that want a new way of doing things, the powers to unleash our potential and deal with our own problems, need to vote Mebyon Kernow. The other parties will all wax lyrical about the powers they will devolve to Cornwall because they know there is distrust of central government but Cornwall will not get a fair crack of the whip until we have politicians elected that promote policies they truly believe in.
Make the difference, stand up for a strong Cornwall and vote MK.
Friday, 3 April 2015
For far too long we have seen investment opportunities pass us by, as top down approaches have been thought up in distant places and brought to the bay. This has resulted in politicians at all levels descend into fractious debates and rather than work together for the common good and investment they have pulled apart in the name of petty political point scoring. This attitude must stop, we must find ways of working together.
I have always passionately believed that the best solutions come from the ground up. In my time working on the Penzance Neighbourhood Plan it has really opened my eyes to what can be achieved, by giving people the choice to dream their own dreams and come up with their own ideas, thousands of great imaginations can spark to life. We need to utilise the desire by many local people to build a better place and be inspired by their vision and ambition.
If elected as MP I would work with people from the grass roots up to build a consensus around the things we want invested in by government. Not by alienating stakeholders but by engaging them. Mount's Bay is ready and eager for a new kind of politics, one that gets things done. By doing so and engaging people I am confident that we could work out the key problems for things like investment in our harbours and sea defences. We could draw up our own plans and reverse the whole process by taking our ideas from the community to the people in suits and end the opposite approach which has caused alienation, division and failure.
We lost out on a £63 million investment from the coalition government for Penzance harbour. Instead we have the booby prize of dredging and new pavements. The cynic in me thinks it is not a coincidence that all of this work is going on now, during election time. To be even more cynical I wonder to myself sometimes what cost more to the public purse, the works to Penzance harbour? or the strings of visits by Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians coming down from Westminster for election photo calls?
Lots of great work has been done around Penzance prom, Newlyn Green and soon Jubilee Pool. On that note we all remember that Cameron's words 'money is not object' for storm repairs, in front of the cameras? Well it was just that, words, the coalition government didn't help a bit, as they refused to cough up. Now we are getting back to some kind of normality, we need the sea defences in place to stop this happening again. For the sea is a great asset for the area it is also a great danger, but not one to be feared if we can get the breakwater or other sea defences we actually need.
We see the government invest in all kinds of infrastructure schemes. the massively expensive HS2 is a prime example but there are many more. Cornwall can not keep losing out in these big spending projects. We need strong voices in Westminster, that won't be silenced by party loyalties or shooed away. It is not an easy thing I am proposing, but we need vision to secure a brighter future and mine is this: we need to get people involved in the decision making process and take our ideas to Westminster and challenge them to do right by West Cornwall for once.