Monday, 4 May 2015

The priority on May 7th. Stand up for Cornwall

If elected my priority will be to make sure Cornwall and this constituency’s voice is heard loudly in the halls of Westminster. For too long we have been at the mercy of politicians of every colour who have put their own Political Party or self-interest ahead of Cornwall’s interests. Mebyon Kernow is different, it is the Party for Cornwall and I will always put the interests of the people of Cornwall first. Every single vote for Mebyon Kernow will make a difference to how Cornwall is viewed from London. The Camborne and Redruth constituency which stretches from Hayle to Porthtowan and across to Budock and Gweek has many diverse needs but the greatest challenge is the inequality between rich and poor and its impact on the ability of ordinary people to live and work in the areas where they grew up. We should only build genuinely affordable houses for local need not speculative house-building for developers’ greed. Westminster must enact legislation to allow devolution of the control of planning, transport and tax varying powers to a Cornish Assembly to allow the rebalancing of the housing market and enable the people of Cornwall and their businesses to thrive.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Truths and untruth in Camborne Redruth - what the Labour candidate actually said!

There has been much media interest in comments to me by the Labour Party candidate Michael Foster at the West Briton debate for Camborne and Redruth chaired by Kernow King at Cornwall College on the 16th April. I therefore feel that I need to publish the real story!

I want to make it clear that it was neither myself nor any of  my Mebyon Kernow team who reported these events to the media and that I would much rather be talking about Mebyon Kernow's policies for Camborne and Redruth constituency than the unpleasant scare tactics of a rival candidate.

However since it is now in the public domain I will recount the actual events as heard and experienced by me and also written down by me in my notebook at the time. I believe that the debate was filmed but unfortunately I don't think that any of the comments made by Foster were caught on the audio or heard by anyone but me.

During the debate a question was put relating to taxes and Foster was speaking about the mansion tax when he asked the audience "does any of you know someone with a million pound house?"
I smiled at the audience and pointed at him at which point the audience laughed.
Foster turned to me and demanded "what did you say?"
"Nothing, Michael" I said. "I only indicated that I knew you had a £1million house"
"That's right" he said "I do have a £1million house" and continued to answer the question.
When he had finished speaking and as he went back to his seat he turned to me and said "if you pick on me again I WILL destroy you"
I was so shocked at this invective that I wrote it down in my notebook with his initials against it.

Later, when I was answering another question I was taken aback to hear clearly from where he was sitting a voice which I truly believe was saying "you c***, you c***!" It is, of course, perfectly possible that the comments weren't addressed to me as I was not looking in Foster's direction when I heard them but it was loud enough to distract me from what I was saying and when I had finished speaking I again wrote the comments down in my notebook.

At the end of the debate Foster approached me, waved his finger at me and said "Don't you do that to me again". I held out my hand and said "All I did was indicate to the audience that you have a £1million house - which is the truth". He said "don't you point your finger at me." I replied "I am not pointing at you, don't you point your finger at me. I am quite happy if you want to fight but at the moment I would rather talk to those young people waiting to speak to me than to spend time talking to you." I then walked away from him.

I have been involved in politics in Cornwall most of my life and have had many debates with people who have vehemently disagreed with my political views. I expect critical comments from opponents and normally I would pass these off as part of the rough and tumble of political debate but I have never felt so nastily threatened by an opponent as I did by Foster that day. In fact I repeated the remarks to several people as I was so astonished and disgusted by them.

This man is already known to have anger management issues and his attitude in this instance was arrogant and bullying. However, I am made of true Cornish grit and it would take an awful lot more than this incident to scare me off and, as I said to Kernow King, I reckon that if I challenged Foster to a spot of Cornish wrasslin' I could beat him fair and square!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Why no place for Mebyon Kernow Leader on the 'SW Regional Debate?

I have received correspondence from a disgruntled elector in my area who is concerned that Mebyon Kernow - the Party for Cornwall will not be invited to be part of the Panel on the BBC Spotlight election debate on the 29th April despite standing candidates in all seats in Cornwall.
They have written to Spotlight to complain at the unfairness of the situation;
"I am writing regarding Spotlight on 1 April 2005 informed us that there is going to be a Political event to be held on 29 April 2015 in Plymouth."
"Due to the fact that we in Cornwall have another political party called Mebyon Kernow (MK), I am hoping you will include them on the panel in that debate.  Britain is supposed to be democratic and as such then MK should be included.  I for one have not decided who I will vote for and I would very much like to have the views of MK as well as the other parties.  I do know that the Leader of MK is Dick Cole and is a very hard working politician and deserves to have his policies brought to the attention of voters as well as the other parties.  The BBC Charter specifies that the BBC would be a fair organisation.  That is a very important statement.  I am certain that for this reason alone that MK should be included."

"As you know the Cornish have been issued with National Minority Status and therefore, there should be no discrimination against a National Minority.  I look forward to seeing MK on the panel in the debate on 29 April 2015."
I agree that this is unfair to Mebyon Kernow and to the electors of Cornwall who will not have a chance to hear MK's policies on an equal footing to those of the other parties standing in Cornwall.
Mebyon Kernow's leader has submitted an official complaint and has received the following reply;
From :
Date : 09/04/2015 - 15:50 (GMTDT)
To :
Subject : BBC South West - Regional TV Debate
"Dear Cllr. Cole,
Thank you for your recent letter.
As I think my colleague has explained to you already, the BBC South West Television election debate will be broadcast across the entire South West, including parts of Dorset and Somerset as well as Devon and Cornwall.
I am aware that Mebyon Kernow is standing in all Cornish constituencies, which is why the party has been invited to take part in all of the BBC Radio Cornwall constituency debates.  However, unlike the other parties included in the regional TV debate, Mebyon Kernow is not fielding candidates in any other part of the region. As with any programme, we have the editorial discretion to make a judgement about limiting contributions in a way that ensures the best understanding for the whole of the audience.  For that reason, the debate panel has been limited to those parties that can demonstrate significant electoral support right across the region and/or the UK. 
Although we are not inviting you to be on the panel, we would like to invite you to attend; I think it’s highly likely that you will be featured during the recording.  We would also like to film a short recorded statement from you to be included in the programme.  Zoe Clough will contact you to arrange this.
The BBC is committed to fair and balanced reporting of the General Election; BBC Spotlight and BBC Radio Cornwall will endeavour to report all the significant news developments and strands of opinion as the campaign unfolds. To this end, Mebyon Kernow will feature in our overall television and radio coverage.  We also intend to produce a Spotlight film focusing on the party and the nationalist voice in Cornwall.  Martyn Oates will be in touch to arrange this.
As in all elections, BBC programme editors will ensure that the views of political parties are reported in a balanced and proportionate way.  We believe that our levels of coverage are proportionate.
Best wishes,
Leo Devine
Head of BBC South West"
I note that Mebyon Kernow has significant electoral support in Cornwall with more than 20% of the electorate on average voting Mebyon Kernow where candidates stood in the last Cornwall Council elections and also that Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) were allowed to broadcast to parts of Britain where they are not fielding candidates. If you feel that this BBC decision is patronising and unfair to Cornwall's own party's leader and to democracy in Cornwall I suggest that you make your own complaint direct to Leo Devine at BBC South West.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cornwall needs an integrated Public Transport Authority

Public transport in Cornwall is an expensive disgrace with deregulated bus companies competing for profitable routes while demanding bigger and bigger subsidies to maintain skeleton services on less profitable routes. Rail services are slow and use old rolling stock. Improved transport links to Cornwall can have economic benefits for Cornish businesses but also open up the area to competitors. Road improvements on the A30 may only lead to summer jams further west on the network. Mebyon Kernow believes that we should create a Quality Bus Partnership in Cornwall. This would mean that routes would be owned by Cornwall Council and any company that failed to provide drivers and buses to run a service would be in breach of contract. A Cornish Assembly would be able to set up a Cornwall-wide integrated Public Transport Authority linked to transport nodes which would be cheaper, better used and more efficient to run. MK believes that an international airport should be maintained to ensure good European links. Rail connections from Cornwall to London, Cardiff and Edinburgh should be improved plus an additional line via Okehampton to ensure that climate change impacts at Dawlish do not cut us off from the rest of Britain.

The roll out of superfast broadband is not enough to support the Cornish economy

Cornwall needs high skilled, high paid jobs and superfast broadband is an excellent way to promote these but many residents and businesses in the Camborne and Redruth constituency are in rural areas and still do not have access to broadband even if they could afford it. Cornwall’s superfast broadband network has been supported by European funding but Cornwall will need to keep improving the infrastructure to maintain that economic benefit. We cannot afford to lose control of this round of European funding to a centralised London-based administration with bland England-wide economic schemes. UK governments have failed Cornwall for decades and have failed to address the massive economic inequalities between the regions and nations of the UK. A Cornish Assembly would build a sustainable economy which enables local firms to flourish and expand, adding value to natural resources within Cornwall, supporting high technology industries and research into new renewable energy production such as underground geothermal resources. Cornwall’s existing skilled engineering and technology firms need to be supported to expand and take on new apprentices. We must also support an economically viable farming sector by tough regulation of the big supermarkets and food cartels which have forced farm prices to uneconomic levels.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Cornish low-wage economy and how we can fix it

Zero hours contracts enable employers to avoid employment law. To protect employees from unscrupulous employers they should be made illegal. I am proud to have voted for Cornwall Council to pay a living wage to all its employees and to work with suppliers to ensure that they do too. Another issue is that many big businesses will only create low paid, part-time jobs - so people often have to have 2 or 3 jobs to get by. To create a sustainable economy for Cornwall we need to ensure that money circulates here. This means paying more to those living and working in Cornwall and supporting Cornish-based businesses rather than those who employ their managers and pay their corporation tax outside of Cornwall where their head office is and contribute little to the Cornish economy. A powerful Cornish Assembly would have the ability to drive economic development in Cornwall. We need to control our own destiny if we are to address the low wage economy. Waiting for London to do this for us has not worked. To improve the Cornish economy we need to do it for ourselves – but we need the tools to be able to do so.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

All planning decisions should be taken in Cornwall

The leader of Mebyon Kernow has challenged central government to democratise the planning system and for all planning decisions to be taken in Cornwall.

Cllr Dick Cole – who is standing in the St Austell and Newquay seat in the General Election – claims that the influence of central government is undermining the planning system locally.

He said: “The Coalition’s ‘presumption in favour’ of development in their National Planning Policy Framework has led to unchecked and damaging development in many areas, while the views of local people have often been ignored.”

Cllr Cole has set out a number of his concerns.
  • Over the last few years, the unitary authority has been debating what Cornwall’s housing target should be for the period 2010-2030. Central government claims that local councils can make the decision, but it has put in place an inspection regime that forces them to adopt higher targets than the majority of residents would prefer.
  • The Coalition has pushed through a recent diktat that unilaterally reduced the threshold for affordable housing, which will be particularly damaging in Cornwall.
  • ‘Upcountry’ planning inspectors have granted numerous applications against the wishes of local communities. One of the most recent appeals allowed a development of 131 new properties in St Austell, even though it had been opposed by local councillors and residents.
  • And the so-called “eco-community” is progressing because central government has specified such a development through one of its planning policy statements.

Cllr Cole added:

“Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for all decisions about planning to be taken in Cornwall.

“We want the right to have a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework to replace the NPPF produced by central government; we want housing targets to be agreed locally without interference from Whitehall; and we want any appeal process to also be controlled from within Cornwall.”

Photograph of Cllr Dick Cole with Cllr Matthew Luke (Penwithick and Boscoppa) at “West Carclaze” where green fields could be lost to the proposed “eco-community.”