Sunday, 25 November 2007

MK selects fourth PPC for General Election

As the leader of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, it gives me great pleasure to welcome MK’s selection of Cllr Richard Clark to contest the St Ives constituency at the next General Election.

Presently the Deputy Mayor of Penzance, Richard is pictured above with Loveday Jenkin who herself will be fighting the Camborne and Redruth seat.

Richard is an outstanding campaigner and a passionate advocate for a better deal for Cornwall and its people. I am confident that he will demonstrate to one and all that the only political party worth their support is Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.

What is more, this will be the first time we have contested the St Ives seat for many, many years. Richard’s selection sends out the strong message that, when the election comes, everyone will have the opportunity to vote for MK because we will be contesting all six Cornish seats.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Independent report slams LGR

I am quite disappointed that the local press has failed to report the damning findings of a new report from two well-known academics into the local government reorganisation process through which unitary status is being forced on Cornwall.

The report has been produced by Professors Steve Leach (De Montfort University) and Michael Chisholm (Cambridge University). It pulls no punches and finds that:

• The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has completely failed to honour the undertaking given in October 2006 to consult the public. Only one conclusion is possible; Ministers were aware that many unitary proposals would be unlikely to receive public endorsement.

• The process was biased in favour of unitary outcomes. The DCLG has been seriously inconsistent and highly selective in its appraisal of the bids.

• There seems to be scant concern for what ordinary people think. In October 2006, it was stated that bids must conform to the five criteria, including the criterion of a broad cross-section of support for the proposals. By July 2007, this had been diluted to reasonable likelihood after implementation.

• With respect to costs/savings, bidders have been ‘very inventive in compiling their submissions.’

• With respect to the conflicting criteria of Strategic Leadership and Neighbourhood Empowerment, the bids ‘display considerable contortions in trying to comply.’

• In many of the county bids, the proposed size of the electoral divisions presents a risk to councillors’ capacity to engage with the electorate.

• The Secretary of State has chosen to ignore the statutory procedures set out in the Local Government Act 1992. She has, instead, relied upon the expectation of obtaining retrospective powers under a new statute which is, in principle, pernicious.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has written to Cornwall’s five Liberal Democrat MPs calling on them to demand a meeting with the Secretary of State and to do all in their power to stop County Council’s bid for a single unitary authority from proceeding.

I have, so far, received three responses - none of which are very encouraging. I will post details of their views when I have heard from them all.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

More on public funding of political parties

The collapse of the talks between the three main parties on the pubic funding of political parties has meant that the draft document that was under discussion has been published.

It has received considerable publicity and I felt I had to respond to the editorial of the Guardian newspaper on this topic. My letter is printed below:


I cannot agree with the Guardian editorial (The spending game – 6 November) which claims that the Hayden Phillips proposals on party funding are ‘reasonable’ and ‘sensible.’ Under his proposals to qualify for taxpayers’ money, political parties must hold two or more seats at Westminster or in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or European Parliament.

At the last General Election, nearly 98% of votes cast in Cornwall, England, Scotland and Wales were for political parties which would have been eligible for funding. However, over 570,000 votes were cast for parties and individuals that would be excluded from the arrangement including Respect and the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern (both presently represented at Westminster), the old Liberal Party, Forward Wales, Mebyon Kernow - the Party for Cornwall and many others.

This is hardly democratic, fair or worthy of support.