Welcome to the blog. All the opinion on this blog is my own or as attributed. Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Corbyn - A Dead Duck

What is the point of Jeremy Corbyn?

With Jeremy Corbyn as leader the Labour Party is dead in the water.

The party is at war with itself. Its career oriented MPs know that they're likely to lose their seats in droves come the next election and the new 'members' aren't likely to ever do anything constructive or anything that smacks of hard work for the party on the campaign trail.

And Corbyn himself is a just a big let down. He stood for election full of ideals and principles and we have watched them slide one by one as he morphs from rebel to establishment figure.

I don't know what Labour can do - or if it really matters in the end. In order to get elected in the current climate the Labour party would have to follow the Tories to the right.

What is the point in that? What colour do you want your right wing government blue or red?

Corbyn will never be able to get Labour back to truly progressive policies - so what is the point?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

My thoughts on the referendum result and the future

I wanted to take time to summarise my thoughts on the referendum result and the future for the UK after the momentous decision to leave the EU.

This is my personal blog and these are my personal opinions. I'm not at all an important person and I'm not claiming to hold any monopoly on common sense, decency or intellectual capability. 

If you don't agree with my thoughts then that's fine I accept that - please accept that I have a right to my opinion - however unimportant it is in the grand scale of things - to anyone else but me.

This is the status that I put on Facebook when the result was finally declared:

I am utterly appalled and dismayed at the result today. I am ashamed and embarrassed to be 'British'.
As the economy crashes, and the politics of hate have become acceptable, it looks like the United Kingdom (once Great Britain) will truly become Little England. We will lose all international credibility and the process of decline in our global status will accelerate.
I have two hopes. First that if you voted to leave you will accept responsibility for what you have done in the future and not try to pass on the blame.
My second hope is that I am totally wrong and Brexiteers are right. Never have I hoped to be wrong so much.
Cornwall needs its own assembly - but, given the result in Cornwall, does it deserve it?

That was an initial reaction to what most people agree was a shock result. Do I stand by it now? Yes just about every word. 

I admit that as I wrote  'As the economy crashes' - while it was accurate at the time that I wrote it - it was (perhaps understandably?) hyperbola given that I knew and understood that the capitalists and speculators were out in force trying to make a quick buck and that it would bounce back almost as quickly and to almost the previous level. Indeed I had discussed exactly this scenario with my son as the poll was being conducted - though I admit the scale of the dip and recovery was beyond what I expected.

But let me explain some of the other parts.

I am still ashamed and embarrassed to be British - the politics of hate have become acceptable. 

This is not because of the result of the vote - we had a referendum and I accept that a majority of people wanted to do something that I disagreed with. That is absolutely fine by me. As Leave campaigners now keep pointing out we live in a democracy so have to accept that result. 

(Though as an aside I find it incredulous that there are so many people lecturing me on democracy and the triumph of the will of the people being heard. Incredulous because just the day before many of the same people were claiming how the vote had already been rigged and that a remain victory would not be a democratic statement by the people at all?)

I have no problem in accepting the fact that, as a society, we have voted to do something.

What I have a problem with is what this decision and how it appears to have been reached says about our society.

As I see it there are three types of Brexiters. 

First there are the people (almost certainly the majority) who have actually thought long and hard about the decision, respected its importance and carefully weighed the evidence before voting to leave.

I respect and applaud these people - I may not agree with you - but you have exactly the same right to vote leave as I have to vote remain.

The problem is that there are two other categories - probably sub-groups of one basic group.

Many people (and this is admittedly a purely subjective opinion from what I have personally witnessed) have voted because they agreed with what they thought were the two fundamental propositions of Brexit: 1 - There will be £350m per week which we can spend on the NHS and 2 - We will have complete control of immigration and only those who we think are 'acceptable' or 'necessary' will be 'allowed in'. 

Why I think there are two groups here is because it was absolutely clear that both of these propositions were outright lies and falsehoods designed to con people and to subliminally appeal to more latent qualities of selfishness and prejudice. 

That they were lies was always clear to any critical thinker. 

The ink wasn't even dry on the declaration of the result before Farage and co were carefully explaining how:

'actually - you know that £350m for the NHS - it was a mistake - er.. sorry'   


'you know what - we never said we were going to stop immigration - just that we might be able - in some way - at some point in the future - be able to say - in some way - that we have allowed an immigrant to come here without actually changing anything whatsoever'

Two central lies exposed within hours!

That is why I think there there were two groups. 

There was a group who didn't really think about anything much - but allowed themselves to be taken in by a promise of 'getting our money back to spend on the NHS' or 'stopping all these foreigners coming here and ruining our country' This group is exemplified by the reports in Friday evening newspapers of hordes of voters admitting that they had voted leave and now wished that they hadn't.

Then again there was a group that knew that lies were being told and knew why the lies were being told. They went along with the lies and reinforced them. This was done because they preferred to condone this in order, for whatever personal reason, to ensure that leave would win. In my mind this was the more cynical and rather more nasty element who have put personal gain or bigoted opinions and principles ahead of what they know to have been the truth. Should the leave campaign leaders and groups like Britain First be included in this category? You decide.

So why am I ashamed to be British? Not because we have had a democratic vote which has led to us leaving the EU but because what it has revealed about a significant element of our society.

We have politicians who are prepared to lie and cheat. We have people who are prepared to back them in full knowledge of what they are doing. And we have people who aren't prepared to look at bit more closely at what is being offered - but are prepared to be duped time after time.

Now you might say this is nothing new. Correct! But it doesn't make be proud to be British and each time it happens it makes me that bit more cynical and ashamed that, as a society, we are letting these people get away with it.

It looks like the United Kingdom (once Great Britain) will truly become Little England. We will lose all international credibility and the process of decline in our global status will accelerate.

There are so many people saying how Britain can now be Great again. I don't think Britain was ever particularly 'Great' and leaving the EU will only accelerate any respect and standing that we have had in the world.

'Great Britain', as I understand most people seem to allude to, was something built on the colonial rape and pillage of societies for the benefit of a ruling elite. Of course, we have all been 'educated' along the way that we were bringing 'civilisation', 'modernisation' and even 'salvation' to 'backward savages' but the truth is that a few people got very rich by using  one lot of  people to murder another lot of people and then stealing all their stuff. 

Does this make us  'Great' - I don't think so?

Even if it did, the colonial era ended a century ago. What might have made us 'Great' a century ago doesn't apply to day does it? 

So what could make Britain 'Great'? Surely it has to be about working together to get rid of 'bad things' from the world. Surely it's all about co-operation, understanding and tolerance for betterment of all. For me it is.

The 'Little Englander' mentality does not make Britain Great - it makes us morally impoverished and isolated.

Our 'Greatness' in the nineteenth century is long gone. We are now just another, fairly wealthy, state which is comparable to many others. If this is a decline from our nineteenth century status of global superpower then that is simply the way it is. We're never going to change it back - even if we really wanted to. Our global status and the respect which the world community pays us has deteriorated steadily since the first world war. It is because we no longer have an empire and the military might to hold it, yet there are those that seem to want to maintain an empty imperial arrogance in our relationships with others. 

Leaving the EU won't bring back the empire. There will be plusses and minuses. If we do better at one thing then we will do worse at something else. There will be no reversal of our our colonial decline and, worse still, it reinforces the international view of our imperial arrogance.

Then again we stand to lose even more. Scotland will almost certainly leave the UK and Northern Ireland may well follow. That's a 'Great result' isn't it? 

I have two hopes. First that if you voted to leave you will accept responsibility for what you have done in the future and not try to pass on the blame.
My second hope is that I am totally wrong and Brexiteers are right. Never have I hoped to be wrong so much.

Now I'm sure that the element who gave the issues serious thought about Brexit will take responsibility and will admit if it shown that they were wrong. 

On the other hand it already apparent the the leaders of the leave campaign are already trying to find ways of doing exactly the opposite. 

No doubt we will have the 'wrong type of Brexit' - even when (or if) it becomes clear we have made a mistake, one thing for sure is that it won't be Farage and co's fault. 

I really do hope that I am wrong and that Brexit will be a massive success. I can't see it at the moment - but if I ever do then I will own it. 

Of course I want our society to be the best it can be. I hope you Brexiters are right and I am wrong. Time will tell.

But at this point it should be worth noting that the democracy, which Brexiters claim calls on us all to pull together to make Brexit a success, actually means that I am liberty to disagree. In fact, if I wished, I could actively campaign and seek to persuade people that we should rejoin the EU. I could form a 'UK in Europe' political party and seek support for re-entry. That is what democracy is all about and shouldn't anyone, who claims to love democracy, agree that I have the right to do so? Surely it doesn't mean blithely accepting any democratic result for the long term. You're only as good as your last result!

Just saying ....

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Second Open Letter to Cllr Candy Atherton

Dear Cllr Atherton

Does Labour still rubbish the idea of a Cornish Assembly?

Just about a year ago you rubbished the idea of a national Cornish Assembly in the local press and made the claim that, should you knock on doors in Cornwall on a wet October day, you wouldn’t find one person in a hundred that supported the idea of such an assembly.

Consequently I challenged you to join me and knock on one hundred doors to check your hypothesis. However, I had to assume that you weren’t prepared to put your theory to the test as you were unable to accept my challenge. I would like to renew that challenge now.

I would also like to congratulate your party on electing Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader. I’m sure that many of us outside the Labour Party are waiting to see if Mr Corbyn continues to be a politician of principles now that he has to attempt to make the party electable.

One principle that Mr Corbyn appears to have supported in the past is the establishment of a Cornish Assembly. in 2011 Mr Corbyn supported an ‘Early Day Motion’ in the House of Commons which called for “… the formation of a democratically elected Cornish Assembly to take decisions for the benefit of the people of Cornwall.”

Perhaps you might confirm whether you approve of your party leader’s support of a Cornish Assembly and whether you would like to finally accept my challenge?

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Richardson

(Chairman of the Camborne and Redruth Constituency Party of Mebyon Kernow)

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Case for Cornwall - Neither fish nor fowl!

Cornwall Council, through its leader John Pollard, has produced a document 'A Case for Cornwall'

Cornwall Council is currently responsible for a budget of just over £1.1 billion. In total there is up to £5 billion spent on providing public services in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council, as our local government, is responsible for around one fifth of public spending in Cornwall while four fifths are spent on our behalf by central government or central government agencies.

John Pollard's Case doesn't stand up. It is neither one thing or another. It is neither fish nor fowl.

On the one hand it is big in ambition for Cornwall Council - or, actually, democratically unaccountable  'public service delivery partners' - on the other hand it is woefully short of ambition for the people of Cornwall.

A Case for Cornwall will not lead to greater public accountability for delivery of public services in Cornwall. It is not about devolution to local communities or strategic accountability to the people of Cornwall.

Much of the Case talks in terms of 'piggy backing' on existing Westminster programmes or EU schemes controlled through Westminster to 'unlock' access to various pots of money.

The problem is that, almost without exception, the implementation of any benefit derived from these schemes will be implemented by bodies that are not directly accountable to the people of Cornwall through any elected body. Further, it is worse than this because more often than not the pots of money come with many central Westminster strings attached.

For example - take the LEP. This is a body which has been set up by central government - but how is it accountable? It certainly isn't accountable to the people of Cornwall. We can't remove its board members if we don't think it is doing a good job.

The LEP has been given a pot of money under a deal with central government called the 'Growth Deal'. This has been heralded as a major achievement for Cornwall. The problem is that the Growth Deal is about 'unlocking potential for development' in Cornwall - code for enabling the building of more houses. Worse still it is absolutely clear that the Cornwall and isles of Scilly LEP will be responsible to Westminster rather than Cornwall Council for the way that the fund is administered and used.

The headline is: 'Devolution to Cornwall' the reality is 'Disguised Central Control from Westminster'.

The Case is also inevitably rhetorical and unrealistic in areas where Cornwall might expect to see some real benefit. It is often like the wish list that the beauty queens of old would compile. John Pollard may as well wish for 'world peace' or 'an end to hunger' as for some of the things in the Case. Why would a Tory government which has just slashed £197 million from local government in Cornwall start to hand some of this back in the convoluted schemes to be found in the Case. It just won't happen while there exists a central government ideology of reducing local government funding to levels where it can't function properly.

Throughout the document John Pollard, through Cornwall Council, speaks as the 'voice of Cornwall'.

I think that, actually, the 'voice of Cornwall' is calling for real and meaningful change in the way that Cornwall is governed.

If Cornwall Council were serious about meaningful devolution to Cornwall and truly believed that Cornwall deserved 'parity' with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (as it says it does) it would be adding its voice to calls for a legislative Assembly which can take control of the £5 billion spent in Cornwall without reference to Westminster.

If Cornwall Council were serious about developing:

" ... a governance model which will strengthen local accountability, ensure democratic decision making and provide greater transparency to reconnect communities with public services."

it would recognise that it Cornwall Council itself needs to be reformed.

In fact the imposition of a single unitary authority in 2009 needs to be recognised as the failed experiment that it is.

We need to get rid of one single local authority and replace it with local government that truly is more locally accountable, democratic and community based. Local government which can operate within strategic and cohesive frameworks developed by a democratically accountable legislative Assembly.

Friday, 22 May 2015

After 30 years - sensible street signs for West Tolgus

Beacon View Park has a rather curious layout. While one part is contained in a cul-de-sac the first
few houses are around the corner - on a different road altogether.

This has proved a nightmare for local residents for over thirty years. Now new signage has been installed - making it clear where the different houses are.

I managed to work with officers at Cornwall Council to get the job done for residents after they bought the issue to my attention.

One resident told me what a tremendous difference the new signs make - her visitors and deliveries arrive now without problems.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

10 questions to ask John Pollard about his 'Case for Cornwall"

10 Questions to ask John Pollard about 
‘A Case for Cornwall’

  1. The new Conservative government will be bringing forward plans to create a Devonwall parliamentary constituency. A major part of the justification for ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is that Cornwall is a single political entity - what do you intend to do to ameliorate the threat of Devonwall to Cornwall’s distinct political status?

  2. ‘A Case for Cornwall States’

    “An increasing number of Cornwall’s towns and villages have more than 1 in 5 dwellings classed as second homes, which are distinct from holiday homes in that they are invariably empty for large periods of the year. We want to work with the Government to develop proposals that would enable local communities to have a greater control over the numbers of second homes to maintain a more balanced housing market.”

    What are the proposals that have been formulated to be ‘developed’ and why don’t you simply call for the devolution of all planning policy, procedures and appeals in Cornwall to Cornwall?

  3. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ claims that recognition under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities gives us ‘parity’ with the Welsh, Irish and Scottish parts of the UK. If this is so then the ‘ambitious’ thing to do would be to call for a legislative assembly for Cornwall to match our counterpart nations. Why does Cornwall Council’s ambition fall well short of real ‘parity’ with the other nations of the UK?

  4. If you are ambitious for Cornwall why not support the creation of a legislative Assembly, similar to the Scottish Parliament?

  5. You have used the phrase ‘Stand up for Cornwall’ as a tag line for your proposals and encouraged the idea that people who support ‘A Case for Cornwall’ are ‘Standing up for Cornwall’. Does this mean that people who do not support ‘A Case for Cornwall’ do not ‘Stand up for Cornwall’?

  6. What is the difference between ‘worklessness’ and ‘unemployment’?

  7. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ claims that: Cornwall Council has “a strong and proven track record of strong financial management”. Do you maintain that Cornwall Council can be trusted with even more of our money following the recent debacle surrounding the Council’s failed contracts with BT?
      8. How will you make sure that the people of Cornwall rather than multinational corporations benefit from Cornwall's natural resources?
  1. The theme that runs through ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is that Cornwall Council wants to ‘work with government’. Recently ‘working with government’ has resulted in £196 million of cuts in public services in Cornwall. Why would the people of Cornwall expect Westminster to change its approach to Cornwall Council in the future?

  2. ‘A Case for Cornwall’ cites Newquay Airport of Cornwall’s successes. In 2011 the LEP’s chairman claimed that the Aerohub would create 1000 new jobs - but the number is well below this. It seems that every day a new tranches of public money is given to the LEP which claims that it will create thousands of new jobs. The LEP consistently fails to deliver on promises of creating jobs - who is the LEP accountable to and what procedures are in place for reviewing the performance of the LEP? 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Cornwall Council's 'Case for Cornwall' - doesn't stand up!

A Case for Cornwall - Does it Stand Up? 

Published on 30th March 2015, Cornwall Council’ ‘A case for Cornwall’ purports to be:

“… a package of bold measures which support Cornwall Council’s new strategy to create a prosperous Cornwall that is more resilient and resourceful. “
However, we think, it is just a cap-in-hand begging bowl held out to central Westminster Government. An obsequious attempt to touch up the powers that be in London for piecemeal devolution to a local government Authority. An Authority perceived by many of the people that it is supposed to serve as a failure. Some would say that more powers to Cornwall Council is a bad mistake claiming that the Authority is already over-centralised, too big and nigh on impossible to hold democratically accountable to the people of Cornwall.

The Unitary Authority in Cornwall is perceived by many as being a poor vehicle to deliver public services in Cornwall. Surely what is needed is local government which is more accountable to local residents - not less. Unfortunately ‘A Case for Cornwall’ promotes the further and extended dependence on ‘arms length bodies’ and multi-national companies - none of which will be available to be questioned by the Cornish public. The plan seems to be to mitigate the financial burdens placed on Cornwall Council by selling off the Authority’s responsibilities to the highest bidder. We would argue that such action will reinforce the perceived failure of Cornwall Council as decisions affecting people in Bodmin or Bude, Penzance or Penstraze are moved ever further away from Cornish communities.

The Truro and Falmouth constituency party of Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall argues that a legislative Cornish Assembly (similar to the Scottish Parliament) is required to bring strategic government and decision making home to Cornwall. We need to reform local government and do away with the single Unitary Authority in favour of four smaller authorities which would be closer to the communities that local government is supposed to serve.

We believe that ‘A Case for Cornwall’ is far from ‘a package of bold measures to create a prosperous Cornwall’. Rather, it represents an abject lack of ambition for Cornwall but a great deal of ambition for some Cornwall Councillors and Officers.

Join us in demanding more powers for Cornish communities and less for centralised bureaucracy. Join us in demanding meaningful reform of local government instead of taking it further out of the reach of local residents. Join us in making your feelings known to John Pollard.

If you would like more information on how we will be truly ‘Standing Up For Cornwall’ then please contact me at starichardson@btinternet.com. Join us in the fight to bring ethical government home to Cornwall and closer to the people.

Cllr Stephen Richardson (on behalf of the Truro and Falmouth constituency party of Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall)