Thursday, 29 January 2015

MK on Radio Cornwall to comment on Cameron / Clegg visit

Cornwall has again been awash with Westminster politicians – namely David Cameron and Nick Clegg announcing an additional £11.3 million to Cornwall’s “Growth Deal.”

I was invited to comment by Radio Cornwall, and the interview can be heard on:

The segment – also including Cameron and Clegg – starts just after 5.00 (or two hours into the programme).

Asked about the announcement, I welcomed the funding but pointed out strongly that it was only a fraction of the cuts that their Government had already impacted on Cornwall, doing great damage to our economy. And I made sure that I gave the figures relating to the cuts to local government and the Police force.

Questioned about greater local control, I described what the Prime Minster and Deputy said as “tripe” and pointed out that the Local Enterprise Partnership – which will be responsible for the “Growth Deal” - was unelected and unaccountable.

I also argued that the Coalition parties should be judged on their failures over the last four-and-a-half years – not their pre-election promises. We all remember what happened last time!

Do have a listen to the interview.

Monthly report to St Enoder Parish Council

I presented my “monthly”report to the most recent meeting of St Enoder Parish Council, which took place on Tuesday. It covered the period 24th November 2014 – 25th January 2015 and was as follows:

1. Council meetings

I have attended a range of formal meetings over the last two months. These included: Full Council (three) and two associated pre-agenda briefings, China Clay Area Network Meeting, informal Planning and Development Improvement Group, two briefings on the unitary authority’s “Case for Cornwall,” a briefing on future EU funding programmes for Cornwall, and a workshop on Environment Strategy.

2. Other meetings

I also chaired a meeting of the Leader / Community-led Local Development Working Group, which has been helping to devise the framework for the Local Action Groups (LAGs) for the new European funding programme, as well as a joint meeting of the four new LAGs at Fraddon.

At this event, we also held the final meeting of the Clay Country Local Action Group, so that it could be dissolved. It has certainly been a privilege for me to have been involved with the LAG and to have seen countless great projects come to fruition – some of which have been in St Enoder Parish. Many businesses have been able to expand and grow as a consequence of the programme, while projects also included new community halls, improvements to village halls, support for community shops, creation of new allotments, improvements to local play spaces, and so much more.

With the programme coming to an end, I was able to say a formal thank you to a large number of people for their contributions, which was echoed by my fellow LAG chairs, Kim Spencer (East Cornwall) and Julian Rand (West Cornwall). In particular, I thanked all the volunteers, who gave up so much of their valuable time, month after month, the staff at the Cornwall Development Company who supported the LAGs with great professionalism, and the LAG Managers, Clare Leverton and Linda Emmett, who worked so hard to make the LAGs a great success.

I also attended was an Executive meeting of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Rural Partnership, and a project meeting of a new regeneration project for St Austell and surrounding areas.

Locally, I attended a large number of meetings relating to the AD plant / pig farm (see below), as well as a meetings of Summercourt School Governors (two), Indian Queens Pit Association and the Indian Queens Under-5s (three).

I also attended a meeting with the representatives of Treliver Minerals, who are presently test drilling for minerals in certain locations in St Columb and St Enoder parishes, to understand their progress. It is my view that we should invite Treliver Minerals to a future meeting of this Parish Council.

In addition, I helped out at the Indian Queens Cage Bird Society, which have been associated with since I was a teenager.

3. Full Council; 25th November 2014

At this meeting, Cornwall Council approved a four-year budget plan, which will see cuts of further cuts of £196 million and the loss of hundreds of jobs. Council tax will rise by 1.97% in 2014/2015, a figure which is just below the 2% threshold which would have led to a referendum on the issue.

I did not support the budget, but was among thirteen councillors who supported an amendment to seek a council tax increase of 6%, which would have been placed in front of Cornish voters in a referendum. It was my view that the additional £9 million would have partially offset some of the damaging cuts being forced on Cornwall, for example, in adult social care, childrens services and one-stop-shops/libraries.

I supported an amendment to safeguard youth provision and brought the attention of the meeting to the fact that St Enoder Parish Council had just constructed a new youth club which needed support. Sadly, this amendment was overwhelmingly defeated.

The final budget was passed with 69 voters in favour with 21 votes against. There were a total of 19 abstentions.

4. Full Council; 16th December 2014

At this extraordinary meeting, Cornwall Council agreed to submit the latest draft of the Cornwall Local Plan to the Secretary of State, prior to examination by an Inspector.

As I have noted previously, it has taken a significant amount of time and there are many elements of the Local Plan which I did not support (for example, the total number of houses for the 2010-2030 period and the eco-town), but I lost the relevant arguments some months, or even years ago. Likewise, many aspects of the process had been dictated from central government, leaving little room for manoeuvre.

5. Full Council; 16th January 2015

At this meeting, the leadership of Cornwall Council tabled a document entitled the “Case for Cornwall,” which was designed to request more powers from central government.

I felt the document was weak and totally lacking in ambition. To give one example – that of planning – the document mentioned some poorly thought-out controls over renewable energy developments and an “infrastructure planning and delivery mechanism.” I argued that the document should be go much, much further, and make the case for all decisions relating to planning to be made in Cornwall. This would include the right to produce a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework, the right to set our own housing targets – without interference from central government – and to ensure that the planning appeal process is also Cornwall-based.

Put simply, I argued that the document is about a limited amount of additional “freedoms” for the existing unitary authority – not a call for meaningful devolution to a wider Cornwall.

I moved an amendment to strengthen the document, but this was only supported by 15 members. One correspondent who watched the debate described me as bemused and frustrated at the nature of the debate.

6. Penare Pig Farm, Higher Fraddon and associated AD plant

Further to my detailed report to the last meeting of this Parish Council, I am still heavily involved with the issues relating to the development of the AD plant at Higher Fraddon, and the re-development of the pig farm.

A Community Forum has been set up comprising ten representatives of the Higher Resident’s Action Group, myself as Cornwall Councillor and a representative of the Parish Council. The first meeting was held on 11th December 2014, when I agreed to chair the Forum and our Clerk was asked take notes at the meeting. The second Forum meeting was held on 22nd January 2015. Cllr Mark Morcom attended both meetings, as did Nigel Doyle from Cornwall Council, Graeme Lochhead (Greener for Life) and Dan Johns, the manager of the pig farm. The notes of these meetings are reported elsewhere on tonight’s agenda.

I have also attended:

· One meeting with Graeme Lochhead (Greener for Life).

· Two meetings with Nigel Doyle.

· One meeting of council officers with representatives of the pig farm, including Russell Dodge (Business Location Services) and Dan Johns.

· Two meetings with Nigel Doyle and representatives of Greener for Life including Graeme Lochhead, David Manley and their legal representative Gareth Pinwell.

· Three meetings with local residents, one of which was attended by Stephen Gilbert MP.

And as I have reported previously, Greener for Life and the pig farm are working on new planning applications, which are likely to be submitted in February or March.

7. Community Chest Grants

I have allocated over two-thirds of my Community Chest Grants for 2014/2015, as follows:

Indian Queens Under-5s   -  £400

Fraddon Play and Toddler Group  -  £400

Fleet – public access defibrillators for St Enoder Parish  -  £500

Cornwall Park Homes Residents Forum  -  £250

I have £645 remaining, which I would suggest that it be used by the Parish Council to support activities at the Youth Club, following the decision of Cornwall Council to end outreach work for young people – see item 8 below.

8. Youth Club

As noted above, Cornwall Council has decided to end outreach work for young people and we need to find a way to continue to support our Youth Club.

Cllr Bunyan and I met with Cornwall Council staff, who are in the process of setting up a CIC (community interest company) to deliver youth works. A proposal for how to proceed is presented elsewhere on the agenda of tonight’s meeting.

Please note: At the meeting, it was unanimously agreed to fund youth workers for 2015/2016.

9. Planning matters

Over the last two months, I have liaised with planning officers in relation to a number of planning applications. These include the “unauthorised” application on land adjacent to the Kelliers, and the latest phase of Ocean Housing development at Higher Harvenna. I have been concerned about how the development would link to the School, as well as some layout issues.

10. Works on the local road network
I am continuing to liaise with Cornwall Council in relation to improvement works on local roads. Recent works have included the patching of Newquay Road, St Columb Road. I will report back more fully in my next monthly report.

11. Inquiries
Throughout the last month, I have also helped numerous people and local organisations with advice and guidance on a wide range of issues. I did have a relaxing Christmas and I am chasing up many things.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A fair deal for dairy farmers

My article in today’s Cornish Nation considers recent debates around dairy farmers, the supermarkets and the price of milk. It is as follows:

Last week, the crisis surrounding the dairy industry was considered by a key committee of Westminster politicians.

The MPs wanted more to be done to protect farmers and combat the falling price being paid to them for their milk. The Government said it welcomed such calls, but claimed it was doing what it could to help farmers cope with the "volatility of the global market," blaming such things as “lower-than-expected demand from China and Russia's ban on food imports.”

But the reality is that the supermarkets have not been paying dairy farmers a fair price for a significant period of time, although recently the situation has got even worse.

With a range of supermarkets now selling four pints of milk for an unsustainable 89p, it is clear that many dairy farmers are being paid less than it costs to produce the milk in the first place which is self-defeating and uneconomic madness.

It is little wonder that the National Farmers; Union has reported that the “number of dairy farmers has dipped below 10,000 for the first time – a 50% fall since 2001.” Its spokesman has warned of a further "mass exodus" from the industry, stating that many farmers were "staring at the precipice now".

One supermarket has even taken out adverts to argue that it was paying farmers a fair price for milk. It stated that the farmers “who produce our milk should also make a living.”

The company claimed that the cost of producing four pints was 68p (equivalent to 30p a litre), and confirmed that it paid out 72p (equivalent to 31.7p a litre). And, with no sense of irony whatsoever, they lauded the fact that a farmer, on their figures, might be making a penny on a pint.

The advert was principally an excuse to slate competitors who, they claimed, were paying even less. Five supermarkets were listed, who – the advert claimed – paid between 56p and 59p for four pints, significantly below production costs.

But dairy farmers and other primary producers need much more than supportive words from the Government. They need Cameron and his Ministers to regulate the big supermarkets and stop them forcing down farm prices to uneconomic levels, thereby safeguarding an economically viable farming sector, which is fundamental to the security of food supply and the character of the Cornish countryside and way of life.

Friday, 23 January 2015


Thanks to everyone who has pledged to the Crowdfunder appeal for my General Election campaign in the St Austell and Newquay seat. We are now up to £1,270 and I have also received a further £170 of cheques through the post.

If you haven't pledged yet, please consider helping MK's campaign in Mid Cornwall to be the best it can be.

We are continuing to lobby for fair access to the media and a Party Election Broadcast, but need your support to fund window posters, poster boards and extra leaflets.

All support is much appreciated and the Crowdfunder appeal can be accessed at:

ITV but not Radio 5 Live: Update

Last evening, I posted a very reasonable statement regarding the General Election TV debates, using it as an opportunity to call for fair and equitable coverage for MK on the mainstream and regional media during the campaign.

My comments have been reported quite widely, and misrepresented quite a lot as well.

I have done an interview for ITV, which will hopefully be on the "regional news" tonight, but Radio 5 Live at 4.20 have called back to say that they do not need me after all. However, they have suggested that they might be able to do something with MK in the future.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The debates: What about fair election coverage for Mebyon Kernow!

The BBC is reporting that broadcasters have put forward new proposals for the TV debates, which will take place during the General Election.

These suggest seven-way debates involving the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, alongside the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.

I particularly welcome the fact that MK’s sister parties in Wales and Scotland could be included and it shows that the nature of politics is certainly changing across the UK.

But as the Leader of Mebyon Kernow, the big questions for me are: Will these same broadcasters also guarantee fair and equal access to the media for MK during the election? And unlike in previous elections, will they allow MK its own Party Election Broadcast?, And also unlike previous elections, equal coverage on media that broadcasts in Cornwall?

I will be making representations to the BBC and Ofcom later tonight.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Madness of Trident vote

It is truly unbelievable that in today’s House of Commons opposition debate secured by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, the motion – That this house believes that Trident should not be renewed – was defeated by 364 votes to 35.

It is ridiculous that MPs want to spend £100 billion renewing the Trident nuclear missile system, at the same time that they are slashing funding for vital public services.

I have been a member of CND for over twenty years and I believe that it is morally wrong to hold or renew such weapons of mass destruction, as well as financially disastrous. There is no rationale for the retention, still less the renewal, of the British nuclear arsenal.

This also show that London parties really do have their priorities wrong. So wrong.

MK says unitary's "Case for Cornwall" is not ambitious enough

The leadership of Cornwall Council today tabled a document entitled the “Case for Cornwall” to a meeting of Full Council.

I moved an amendment at the meeting on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, because we felt the document lacked ambition. The motion also challenged other members to support the case for a Cornish Assembly.

Sadly, only ten other members supported our amendment.

My speech was as follows:

I would like to start by saying that, as a group, we obviously welcome the fact that we are debating the potential devolution of powers to Cornwall.

But we are disappointed that the “Case for Cornwall” is not more ambitious, or indeed, more strategic. We are also disappointed that none of the suggestions we made have been incorporated into the document.

It also appears to be a bit “pick and mix” in places.

I would like to give one example; that of planning. The document does mention some controls over renewable energy developments and an “infrastructure planning and delivery mechanism.”

But surely, we should be going much, much further. We should be making the case for all decisions relating to planning to be made in Cornwall. This would include the right to produce a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework, the right to set our own housing targets – without interference from central government – and to ensure that the planning appeal process is also Cornwall-based.

Put simply, we feel the document is about a limited amount of additional “freedoms” for the existing unitary authority – a local government vehicle. We believe this is simply not adequate.

This present draft does not even seek to combat the influence of the growing number of unelected groups and boards, which are taking political and economic power away from the democratically-elected.

We need to bold. We need to be brave. We need to look outside of the constraints of this unitary authority and think about Cornwall as a whole.

And we believe that we need to make the case for a far-reaching new democratic settlement for Cornwall, which involves the devolution of significant political and economic powers.

That is why I wish to move the amendment that has already been circulated to members.

It is a straight-forward amendment, which seeks to follow the same timetable as set out by the Leader.

But it seeks to revisit and strengthen the document, referring it back to a working group that includes members of all political groups on this authority.

And it gives us the opportunity to make the “Case for Cornwall” so much more, by including the option of a Cornish Assembly with meaningful democratic control over the wider public sector, as has been delivered in Wales and Scotland.

Please do not sell Cornwall short. Limited demands today will undermine greater demands in the future.

Please support this amendment today.

The motion was as follows:

1. The principle of submitting a “Case for Cornwall” – seeking to negotiate the devolution of greater powers to Cornwall – to those political parties which could form all or part of the next Government be agreed

2. It is our belief that the draft “Case for Cornwall” set out at Appendix 1 should be more ambitious and that the document should seek more significant political and economic powers.

3. The “Case for Cornwall” be referred to a working group of Cornwall Council, comprising members of all political groups on the authority, in order that the content of the document be strengthened.

4. The document to be changed to include the option of a Cornish Assembly, which would have democratic control over the wider public sector as in Wales and Scotland.

5. The revised “Case for Cornwall” be brought back to Full Council on 17th February, with the intention of submitting it to those political parties mentioned above on or before 26th March.

6. Members to be kept informed as to progress in relation to the “Case for Cornwall” and a further report be brought back to Full Council in May.

Not all politicians are the same

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian addresses the recent House of Commons vote on the “Charter for Budget Responsibility.” It will be as follows:

It saddens me when people say, as they often do, that “all politicians are the same.” It is my honest belief that this is not the case, but I must admit that there is an ever-increasing similarity between the establishment parties.

This was certainly the case in Westminster last week, when MPs agreed George Osborne’s so-called “Charter for Budget Responsibility.”

The Charter commits parliament to the elimination of the deficit by 2017-18, which would mean three more years of austerity politics and another £30 billion of damaging cuts to our already struggling public services.

The Charter was supported by 515 MPs, a “Grand Coalition” of the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats, both UKIP MPs and almost all Labour MPs.

As one journalist said: “Despite a lot of huffing and puffing, the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour essentially agree that spending cuts should continue ...”

Only 18 MPs stood up against “more of the same” from the establishment parties. And these were the men and women from the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru from Wales, the SDLP and Alliance Party from Northern Ireland, the Green Party’s one MP, and a measly five Labour MPs. 

Prominent in opposition to the budget cuts, welfare cuts and the almost inevitable privatisations was Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards, who rightly pointed out that “we have had five years of pain under Westminster’s austerity agenda with ordinary people paying the price for the collapse of the banks.”

He was also right in reminding everyone that the present Government had failed to live up to its previous claims that it would have eradicated the deficit and the economy would be thriving by now.

It is vital that there are politicians and political parties – albeit outside of the Westminster “mainstream” – which are challenging the consensus around austerity, and are championing alternatives ways to balance the books of the state, which do not impact on the vulnerable and the less-well-off.

There are so many alternatives that we should be talking about, which include a geographical re-balancing of the UK economy way from London and the South East and a greater investment in public works to boost economic activity. And we should see Westminster taking more progressive actions such as tacking the ongoing scandal of tax avoidance and evasion, ending tax relief on pension contributions for high earners and outlawing their other perks, and scrapping ridiculous expenditure such as Trident nuclear missiles.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Devolution discussions …

It looks like debates about devolution will, once again, come to the fore in Cornwall this week.

On Tuesday, Cornwall Council will debate a “Case for Cornwall” that has been prepared on behalf of the Leader John Pollard. The document states that the unitary authority should be seeking to “secure a range of additional powers and freedoms for Cornwall.” It also claims to be “ambitious” for Cornwall.

Sadly I do not consider the document to be ambitious. It is very much about “local government” in Cornwall, and not meaningful democratic settlements as achieved in Scotland and Wales.

MK members will be making such arguments in the debate on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have issued a press release under the heading: Welsh Powers for Cornwall under Tyler Plan. It states the following:

Cornwall Council could become a powerful Assembly, with powers similar to the National Assembly for Wales under proposals released by former North Cornwall MP, Lord Tyler.

In a major new publication from the liberal thinktank CentreForum, Tyler debates devolution with former Defence Minister and North Devon MP, Sir Nick Harvey MP.

Tyler argues for 'devolution on demand', the official Lib Dem policy, which would see local leaders in Cornwall, London, or any area with a population of a million or more, able to demand powers from Westminster. Harvey proposes abolition of existing local authorities in England, and replacement with roughly 150 'local governments' and 15-20 'regional governments'.

They conclude their 'Devolution Dialogue' with a joint action plan to:

· Enact a Devolution Enabling Bill in the next Parliament, enabling Cornwall to set up its own legislative Assembly

· Complete devolution to every area of England by 2020

· Conduct a 'bottom-up' process through an English Devolution Convention, to determine the boundaries on which new Assemblies or Governments would be drawn

· Limit the number of Regional Assemblies to 20

· Ensure every Assembly has enough members to provide a government and a scrutinising 'backbench'

· Re-examine the effect of devolution on the House of Commons - 'the English Question' - after radical devolution is complete

· Review all local government structures, seeking to empower smaller councils beneath the new legislative assemblies with "double devolution"

The new bodies would take wide-ranging powers from Parliament, including over housing, planning, tourism, education and NHS services.

In the press release, Paul Tyler also talk about a Cornish Assembly growing out of Cornwall Council, and then “additional power for the towns and parishes.”

I have not been able to access the full report online, But as before, I am struggling to understand what the Lib Dems are now saying that they want for Cornwall. One minute, it is just more powers to Cornwall Council, sometimes a proper Cornish Assembly, and often a confusing morphing of a legislative Assembly with a local government body.

The above press release talks about empowering councils beneath "regional Government," which is clearly about district councils, county councils and unitary authorities. But in Cornwall, Paul Tyler only seems to be talking about town and parish councils which makes no sense.

I will update as the week goes on, but have been invited onto Radio Cornwall on Monday morning to discuss Lord Tyler’s proposals. I should be on just after 8.00.

Friday, 16 January 2015

£1,000 raised in less than 48 hours

Thank you to everyone who has supported MK’s Crowdfunder appeal to raise much-needed funds for my General Election campaign in the St Austell and Newquay seat.
I am really humbled that we have passed our initial target of £1,000 in such a short time. At this time of writing, the total raised is £1,055.

But the fundraising continues. We now have a “stretch target” of £3,000 and every additional pound raised will fund window posters and poster boards to make MK visible across the constituency, as well as extra leaflets for volunteers.

Please help me by publicising this appeal as far and wide as we can.

The Crowdfunder appeal can be found:

Thanks again for all your continuing support.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has today launched a Crowdfunder appeal to raise funds for my General Election campaign in the St Austell and Newquay seat. 

The initial target is £1,000 and these monies will go towards my main election leaflet, which will be delivered to all homes in the constituency. Any additional monies received will then fund window posters, poster boards and extra leaflets for our volunteers.

It is our hope that many people will back MK’s campaign by supporting this Crowdfunder appeal, because it is only because of the support and generosity of ordinary people, that we are able to campaign and promote our positive message across Cornwall.

Please help us to ensure that we can run an effective campaign in St Austell and Newquay and make it MK's best-ever.

The Crowdfunder appeal can be found:

Thank you for your support.

Monday, 12 January 2015

And then, there were six ...

I am very pleased that MK's sixth and final candidate for the 2015 General Election has been selected.

North Cornwall's candidate will be Orlando Kimber, who lives near Bodmin, and is particularly active campaigning against inappropriate developments across Cornwall. 

I am looking forward to working closely with Orlando, and full details of his candidacy can be found on 

Mebyon Kernow demands Party Election Broadcast

Mebyon Kernow today formally submitted its representation  to the BBC Trust consultation on the allocation of Party Election Broadcasts.

It was as follows:

I am writing on behalf of the registered political party Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall (MK) concerning arrangements for Party Election Broadcasts (PEBs) during the upcoming General Election.

MK is a political party, which was founded in 1951. It has contested local elections since 1965 and parliamentary elections since 1970. In the 2015 General Election, MK will be standing candidates in all six Cornish seats. As a Party, we have always been denied the opportunity to have PEBs and we have made numerous representations on this issue, in recent years, particularly to the Broadcasters’ Liaison Group.

2015 General Election

We are extremely disappointed that the basis of the consultation for the 2015 General Election is “draft criteria” provided by the Broadcasters’ Liaison Group, which states that, as in previous General Elections, a “political party would qualify for one PEB” if it stands in a “minimum of one sixth of the seats up for election” in one of the “home nations” of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

We consider this recommendation, which would deny Mebyon Kernow airtime, is both absurd and undemocratic. How can it be fair that MK, a Cornish political party, would need to stand in all six seats within the historic nation of Cornwall, as well as a further 83 seats outside of Cornwall, in order to be allowed a broadcast?

We believe it is wrong to exclude a political party from being allowed a PEB when it is standing in all constituencies reasonably available to it.

By contrast, the recommendation would mean that political parties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would only have to stand in three, ten and seven seats respectively. This has meant that, over recent elections, a host of political parties – including the Christian Party (Wales), Scottish Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition – have all been allocated airtime.

It is our view that genuine “regional” or “national” parties, which stand candidates in most (or all) of the seats in a particular region or nation – including Cornwall – should be allowed a PEB.


We would also wish to point out that, last year, our organisation was “featured” in the BBC comedy / mockumentary W1A.

On the BBC’s website, it was promoted as follows:

“Ian Fletcher’s first challenge on arriving at New Broadcasting House, on his brand new and much-improved folding bike, is to find somewhere to sit in a building aggressively over designed around the principle of not having a desk. Ian finds himself holding the hottest of hot potatoes when Mebyon Kernow activist Nigel Trescott complains that Cornwall and the Cornish are shamefully under-represented on the BBC.”

It did seem strange to us that, at the same time as the BBC had failed to allow MK fair access to the media, it should sanction a satirical programme which featured the issue as a vehicle for humour.

It is our hope that the BBC Trust will confirm that it will allow MK the right to broadcast a PEB, rather than living up to the content of one of its own spoofs.

Further information – European elections

We would also wish to bring to your attention how the arrangements for a PEB for the European Elections are unfairly rigged against Mebyon Kernow.

The guidance stated that in “England”, “political parties which are standing a full list of candidates in each and every region in England will qualify for a minimum of ONE broadcast in England.” And yet in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a political party standing a full list of candidates in the single Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales seats would qualify for a PEB.

It is unfair that to be allowed a PEB, MK would have had to stand in all (nine) euro-constituencies in England – an absolute nonsense – whereas “national” parties standing in the (single) Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales seats – such as Plaid Cymru, SNP, Scottish Socialist Party, etc – would be allowed their own broadcasts.

Further information – local elections

We would furthermore wish to bring to your attention how the arrangements for a PEB for the local elections are unfairly rigged against Mebyon Kernow.

With regard to the 2013 local elections, we were informed that the threshold criterion for a PEB was one-sixth of the total number of seats being contested in “England,” which they estimated to be 394.

But there are only 122 council seats in Cornwall, which means MK would have had to contest an additional 272 seats outside of Cornwall, which is both ludicrous and unjust.

Further information – national minority status

In April 2014, the UK Government recognised the Cornish people as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM).

The official government press release stated: “The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

It is our view that the recognition of the Cornish as a national group gives additional weight to our call for Cornwall’s national party to be treated with parity with the parties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Request for fair access to the media

We would respectfully request that the BBC Trust gives full consideration to the above points and allows a Mebyon Kernow PEB to be broadcast.

We would be willing to make further representations and meet with members of the BBC Trust if this would be helpful.

No to Devonwall seat

In my column in this coming week's Cornish Guardian, I have covered the possible re-emerging threat of a Devonwall parliamentary seat following 2015. The article will be as follows:

Last week, on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, I wrote to the (excitingly named) House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.

This Committee is looking into how the parliamentary constituency boundaries could be redrawn after the next General Election.

Readers of the Cornish Guardian will no doubt remember that, in 2011, the Coalition Government voted through the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act.

This Act set out plans to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies across the UK from 650 to 600 and to ensure that (almost) all seats had a population of within 5% of the average constituency size.

A consequence of the legislation was that, if it was enacted, it would lead to a cross-Tamar Devonwall seat. At the time, local people argued that the territorial integrity of Cornwall – a historic Celtic nation – should be protected and its MPs should serve constituencies that lie entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly).

Some areas – such as the Isle of Wight – were allowed special treatment and to sit outside the 5% rule, but the representations from Cornwall were ignored.

The boundary changes did not happen because of a fall-out within the Coalition and the implementation of the Act was delayed until after 2015.

But the legislation is still on the statute book. It has not gone away and the Boundary Commissions of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will soon be requested to come up with new boundaries for 600 parliamentary constituencies, which would need to be put forward to Parliament by October 2018.

In my representation to the Inquiry, I requested that central government recognise that it would be inappropriate to recommend parliamentary seats in any future review which transcend the Cornish border and lead to the creation of a cross-Tamar constituency. I added that they should think again and revisit the legislation to ensure that the territorial integrity of Cornwall is not undermined.

I also referred the Committee to the recent decision of the Government to recognise the Cornish people as a “national minority,” which reinforces why the historic border of Cornwall should be treated the same as the historic borders of Scotland and Wales when it comes to the delineation of new constituencies.

Other organisations have also made submissions including the cross-party Keep Cornwall Whole campaign group.

Broken promises on Police funding

My article in last week's Cornish Guardian focussed on the broken promises of the Coalition with regard to police funding. I have covered this topic before but, for completeness, it was as follows:

Leading up to the 2010 General Election, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats promised that they would protect policing and put more bobbies on the beat.

At the time, local voters in Mid Cornwall received numerous editions of a Conservative newsletter titled “Coast to Coast.”

Edition no. 6 included a statement from the-then shadow Home Secretary Nick Grayling. He claimed: “It is dishonest to claim that we will cut police officer numbers. In fact, our plans to cut bureaucracy and red tape mean that there would be more police on the street, fighting crime and protecting local communities.”

And in their final “Coast to Coast” election special, the Tory candidate stated: “The Conservative treasury team are assiduous in making sure that MPs and candidates like me don’t make any uncosted promises. We have done the sums and can say with confidence that we will … put more police on patrol.”

The Liberal Democrats made similar claims. In their “Heart of Cornwall Journal” newsletter, they said: “Making the streets of Cornwall safe is a top priority for local people in Cornwall … the Lib Dems have said they would recruit 10,000 more police officers across the country – and an extra 223 officers on the streets of Devon and Cornwall.”

I therefore find it unconscionable that both parties have failed to live up to their election pledges and have undermined policing with their devastating cuts.

Over the last four years, they slashed funding to the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary by £50 million, which has lead to the loss of about 500 police officers and 400 civilian support staff, as well as other changes such as the closure of public desks at local police stations.

And last month, the Home Office confirmed that police forces covering Cornwall, England and Wales will have their central government funding cut by £299 million in the next financial year.

This means that the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary will have to cut a further £9 million from its 2015/2016 budget.

It is shameful that the Coalition parties have refused to follow through with their election promises and continue to do such terrible damage to those public services that local people depend upon.

I would have anticipated some remorse for their failings, but I have seen none in the latest batch of Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaflets being delivered in advance of the upcoming General Election.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Standing for MK in St Austell and Newquay

It has been announced today that I will be the candidate for Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall in the constituency of St Austell and Newquay at this year’s General Election.

It is my intention to keep local people informed about the campaign via this blog and a wide range of other media outlets.

In the meantime, my opening statement in the press release to announce my candidacy was as follows:

“Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is different to the establishment London-based political parties.

“We are based here in Cornwall, we have no vested interests and are not funded by big business. We also have no political masters in London to please and we will always fight for what is best for the people of Cornwall.

“We are a progressive party, campaigning for the devolution of real political powers to Cornwall so that more of the decisions that matter are made here – not by disinterested civil servants or Ministers in London.

“It is my hope that local residents will wish to cast a positive vote and demand a better deal for Cornwall by supporting Mebyon Kernow.

“I also hope that those people who feel let down by the same old politics coming out of Westminster will vote for Mebyon Kernow to show ‘politics as usual’ is no longer acceptable.”