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

Monday, 26 November 2012

Why vote for Mebyon Kernow?

It is a well-established paradox. 

Cornwall has a thriving culture. It is a land apart with its own language and definitely not England.

Unlike any county of England, and just like Wales and Scotland, it has its own political party. 

Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall has, at the heart of its constitution, an objective to further Cornish culture and the cause of the people of Cornwall. MK believes and works on the principle that Cornwall is a nation in its own right and deserves all the socio-economic trappings, institutions and paraphernalia that are necessary to move forward – to put Cornwall first. 

And yet the people that celebrate Cornish saint feast days and dance to music that has been played for generations don’t seem to vote consistently for the only political party which even recognises who they are, let alone understand the real life challenges that they face.

This is the task that faces MK. We need to do better to inspire and to get our message across. We need to play Westminster at its own game. Better yet we should redefine the game in Cornish terms.

On the face of it MK has a lot going for it.

We certainly have the experience. MK celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011 and has been campaigning for Cornwall for all of that time. 

We have hard working councillors who are interested in the needs of their local communities rather than gaining a step on the political career ladder leading to Westminster. No-one in their right minds would join MK if their main motivation was financial game from political sleaze. It costs money, sweat and tears to be a member of MK and it is not a get rich quick option.

We are independent from London. Our ‘head office’ is here in Cornwall. It may not be quite as luxurious as a palace in Westminster and more often than not our local offices are the back of someone’s car. Yet we can claim ownership of our hopes and desires and we work to make them realities. The London parties, and their branch members in Cornwall, simply work to peddle the ideology of Westminster.

We can truly claim that the policies that we advocate have been devised to benefit Cornwall first and foremost. Policies which set Cornwall firmly within Britain, Europe and the world as a whole. We are not separatists, we seek to build partnerships. However, we do insist that the partnership should be between equals and create a benefit for both parties. 

More and more the policies of the Tories, Lib Dems and ‘new’ Labour are designed to increase the wealth and power of their bankrollers rather than benefit the ordinary person in Cornwall. Isn’t it time to reject the Westminster leviathan?

So what can we, in MK, do to inspire and communicate?

In my view the key is communication. We have to learn to communicate who we are and what we really stand for. It is certainly true that we are the victims of political opponents who have a bigger voice and greater financial resources. But it is no use simply whingeing that we are hard done by – we have to go out and use what little we do have to maximum effect.

In my view we need to make the most of whatever opportunity presents itself to get MK’s message across. For the 2013 council elections we should continuously remind voters that MK is the party which will ‘Put Cornwall First’ in everything we say and everything we do - from the smallest parish ward to the Westminster constituency. ‘Put Cornwall First’ is the message and we need to make sure that when voters enter their polling booth next May the question that they ask themselves is “Who will put Cornwall first’ and immediately know the answer to the question.

At our conference we discussed a detailed manifesto. Such a manifesto is crucial in order to demonstrate that we have the knowledge, experience and ideas to back up our political promises. For me though, when the media is controlled by organisations which back the all-encompassing, English dominated, state, our policies and ideas should be distilled in order to optimise the chances that we get to put over our cause.

If I am asked the question – “Why should I vote for MK?” – I would answer because we are the only political party that will put Cornwall first. 

We are the only party that has a bespoke policy on planning policy and housing for Cornwall which would see an end to Cornish green fields and agricultural capacity being replaced by a theme park of second ‘homes’ and ‘leisure amenities’ for wealthy people. People who have no interest in Cornwall besides adapting it to suit their holiday requirements. For us, planning is about providing local needs housing and economic development to provide quality jobs.

Mebyon Kernow believes that the Unitary authority is not fit for purpose. There needs to be a re-think and we would act to provide greater levels of democracy. The representatives that the people elect should have the power to stand up to unelected council officers. MK supports a return to a committee system of local government. Ultimately a return to District Councils would serve Cornwall better and allow decision making to be put back into the hands of local people instead of Whitehall officials.

And Cornwall, the Cornish people and all the people who live here should be recognised as the nation that they are. We work to gain national minority standing for the Cornish people and insist that there should be a full and independent inquiry into the legal and constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall.

Our political opponents claim that a vote for MK is a wasted vote and a waste of time. This is, of course, nonsense and yet it strikes a chord with the electorate. The mantra goes along the lines of – MK won’t ever get enough votes to win enough seats to achieve anything so you may as well vote for X Westminster party to avoid Y Westminster party getting more power.

I would say that a vote for any Westminster party is a wasted vote. Whoever you vote for, as the saying goes, you will get the government. It doesn’t matter at all if you vote Tory, Lib Dem, Labour or UKIP they are all equally bad for Cornwall. 

MK needs your votes to be able to Put Cornwall First. Yet we need to be realistic in the goals that we set ourselves because we can’t possibly go from less than 5% of the vote in parliamentary elections to winning seats at Westminster in one election. If I were to ever have the privilege of standing for MK as a parliamentary candidate I would set a target of gaining 5% of the vote and keeping my deposit. This has never been done. My strategy would be to ask people to vote for me in order to achieve a realistic target because then they could believe that their vote would count. If we can increase our vote from 3% to 7% then increasing it further becomes more achievable as more and more people will realise that they can make a difference by voting MK.

In next May’s elections 10 MK Unitary councillors would give us a shot at holding the balance of power and thus punch well above our weight for Cornwall. 

There are people who are supportive of us yet frustrated by our lack of visibility. Help us to get enough councillors prepared to put Cornwall first and then we will gain the momentum we need to gather the resources to put into action the excellent suggestions that those people make.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


On Saturday, Mebyonkernow Kernow -The Party for Cornwal, set out its stall for and asked the People of Cornwall to help them to put Cornwall first.

The theme of the early part of the conference revolved around MK being forward looking and embracing modern technology. We believe that we have blazed a trail by being the first political party to use Skype during an active part of  a national conference.

One of the Cornish diaspora from South Australia, Christopher Dunkerley, posted his apologies for not being able to attend in person and sent the conference a message of encouragement and support from down under via a live video link.

Congratulations to our IT team for making this happen and for the coverage of the conference highlights, as they happened, on Twitter.

Our embryonic manifesto for 2013 was reviewed by our members. Where the London based parties rely on cobbling together bits and pieces from their central offices 300 miles away, MK tailors a bespoke programme for Cornwall.

Following lunch, the international flavour continued with a speaker (this time live in the flesh) from Brittany. Sofia Nehr, a member of the youth branch of the UDB, brought a message of greetings and a proposal to MK for the two groups to work together on a problem shared by both our regions - the problems created by multiple property ownership.

Dick Cole delivered an inspirational keynote speech and there were also excellent speeches from Cllrs Dr Loveday Jenkin and Andrew Long which set out why MK offers a truly different choice to the drab, grey and tired offerings from Westminster.

I also managed to put aside my nerves to get through my first ever political speech.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

My speech at the Mk conference

Transcript of my speech to the Mk conference if anyone is interested.

Dohajeth da puponen! Fatla genough?
Ow hanow yw Stephen Richardson ha Saws ov vy.
My name is Stephen Richardson and I’m an Englishman.
Now you may be asking why would I make that sort of statement at the beginning of my speech today.
Well what was your immediate reaction?
I’m hoping you thought something like “What difference does that make?”
Or - maybe - you thought “It’s good to see an Englishman at an MK conference?”
Because, you see, the theme of my speech today is how Mebyon Kernow, Cornish nationalism and wider nationalism across Britain and Europe are defined by their inclusivity.
I moved to Cornwall in 2008. Like many other blow-ins I had visited Cornwall on family holidays and I fell in love with her.
I saw the Cornwall that Will Coleman portrays in his superb film Hornof Plenty. 
Eventually, I came to live in the Horn of Plenty and I found that the people here welcome anyone who wants to join in with the party. So I put on my party clothes and I accepted the invitation to learn to dance to the Cornish tune.

Because this is what MK, and the people of Cornwall, do. We invite anyone who is interested to dance to Kernow’s music.
We welcome and include, we accept and encourage and we embrace and support anyone who wants to connect with the Party of Cornwall – Mebyon Kernow (in fact we’re so inclusive we’ve even been known to take on a few Liberal Democrats in the past!)
And yet the Westminster politicians host a party which is poles apart from ours. They aim to tell a story which is very different to the one that we have to tell.
They tell a story which is coldly calculated to foster a fear of the nasty Nats getting their wicked way.
But exactly how do they tell their story differently?
Well - when we have hope for the future London seeks to glory in the past.
Or if we endeavour to build an honest and open world for our children, London seeks to protect and shield its shady elder statesmen.
And when we venture to build a just society London insists on defending its imperial ethos.
But London is more and more under siege.
MPs in Westminster are staring full square down the barrel of Scottish independence.
In just two years’ time we will be attending our conference having witnessed the people of Scotland say YES to self-determination and NO to Unionist ideology.
This will be a breath-taking step forward for everyone in Britain, brought about by the leadership demonstrated by the SNP. Leadership which has been built with inclusivity acting as the mortar binding the will of the Scottish people together.
In Wales people like Leanne Wood and Jonathan Edwards are showing how it is possible to reject the greed of Thatcherism in order to build an inclusive society.
They are showing that self-belief in an inclusive Welsh nation is crucial if Wales is to develop a blossoming, yet sustainable, economy.
And we, here in Cornwall, are part of that international movement towards national self-determination. Our own inclusivity wears away at the lies told by those who preach fear and who would tout thinly veiled threats.
Please bear with me for a minute or two while I remind you of one of Aesop’s fables.
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger.” The Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller. Soon the traveller found it far too hot to walk with his cloak on and had to take it off.
The moral that Aesop wanted to convey was that kindness effects change better than severity.
And we need to behave like the Sun and allow Westminster politicians to rant like the wind.
Where they say ‘Us and Them’ we should say ‘We and Us’.
When they say Cornwall is too small. We’ll just smile and reply “Don’t you know that small is beautiful!”
And when they say that the Cornish people are too poor and stupid to run their own country, we’ll answer “Hold on - wasn’t it you that got us into this mess in the first place?”
If MK candidates are to win unitary seats across the whole length of Cornwall next May then we need to offer hope where London hawks fear.
It is our duty to inspire all the people of Cornwall.
To say that none of us is as good as all of us.
We have to create a vision where people like you and me, the passenger on the Bodmin bus, the schoolgirl in the Camborne classroom, the boy playing football in Callington, the woman working in the Truro office and the man walking his dog in Penwith – where all of us can make a difference by working together.
Working together for a Cornwall that is run for the benefit of the people who live here.
Run by people who live, study and work here and who know what the real challenges are and how best to meet them.
We need people that don’t care just about building their CV, or receiving the odd OBE from the palace, but people who truly care about the less fortunate in our society.
People like the late David Penhaligon, who recognised that an economy isn’t simply based on tourism, ice cream and deckchairs.
And people like Dick Cole, Andy Long and all our other councillors and volunteers who work tirelessly for Cornwall and all of her folk.
 I want to finish now and I want to ask you all to be the Sun and let the Westminster politicians be the Wind.
Enjoy the party being held in Cornwall, in the Horn of Plenty.
And help the Party of Cornwall forge a future that holds an invitation for everyone.         
Meur ras.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Judas Kiss for St Dennis

Apparently, when it comes to St Dennis, Cllr Lance Kennedy 'understands the concerns of local people'. Although he was originally against the idea of an incinerator he has seen the light because: 
 '...the hard facts are that we can’t afford to delay any longer.  The Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre has been thoroughly tested through the planning and legal processes over the past six years and has been found to be acceptable ...'
The only people that have found the project acceptable are the Cabinet, officers and their friends in Whitehall.
By way of compensation the cabinet has agreed to find £200,000 per year for the local community during the construction period and then £125,000 per year during the lifetime of the incinerator. So that's ok then.
There are at least two problems with this neat solution.
First, the compensation, clearly thoroughly deserved and needed by St Dennis residents, is another addition to the mushrooming costs of the retrograde, environmentally toxic, white elephant incinerator. The whole project is becoming more and more a financial burden to the people of Cornwall rather than the economic saviour that we are led to believe that it is designed to be. The Cornwall Waste Forum has exploded the myth that an incinerator is the only alternative and their technical experts have produced their own, fully costed and researched alternative that would be many times better for the environment - for a fraction of the cost. 
This project has already cost the people of Cornwall millions of pounds. What other costs have been hidden by a cabinet that is not prepared to listen to anyone but the unelected officers? Why are the councillors that make up the cabinet so determined to waste our money to fund an environmental disaster?
The second problem is that St Dennis's blood money, their 'Judas Kiss' simply won't even scratch the surface of the problems that the community will face. Rod Toms, a biological scientific expert, member of Cornwall Waste Forum and MK councillor has listed some of the myriad and disparate problems that will be facing the people of the village:
1) Physical illness. A Government ex-Minister said that, averaged out, individual incinerators could play a major part in seven deaths and fourteen hospital admisions per year as a result of pollution. Main culprits being soot and very small particles down to 100,000 of an inch that just pass clean through the skin and into the vital organs (Nano-particulates). Small particles of heavy metals of which the most dangerous are Chromium (cancer forming) Mercury and Lead (cause mental illness in growing children). PCBs (Dioxins) and PFCs (Furans) from plastic which interupt gland secretions and can lead to adult male sterility and lowered immune response in children.
2) Mental Illness. The stress of living adjacent to such a large  plant that you cannot escape from is already showing signs of effect (The Village has been blighted with the prospect of the development for at least 10 years).
3) Property blight. Estate Agents estimate that the value of properties in St. Dennis are about half the Cornish average.People who wish to move away cannot do so because they cannot produce enough equity to afford another property. Several affordable housing developments including a large housing association have been unable to let new build properties in St. Dennis
4) Bullying. School children are reporting that they have been taunted for a number of years by being called St. Dennis Dustbins
5) Air Quality. The Cornwall Air Quality Forum (Exeter University) stated in 2009 that the Air Quality in St. Dennis was only just below permitted levels due to China Clay Dust. As a result respiratory diseases were higher than average in St. Dennis. The situation was slightly improved when Clay production began to fall, but the Health Protection Agency and the Cornwall Air Quality Forum have been silent about what the effect of a combination of Clay Dust and Incinerator Emissions will be.
6) Physical Impact. The building which will house the furnace and the second part which will shelter the ash plant are enormous. They are only a few hundred yards from the village main street and the stack at 400 feet will tower over everything (It can be seen from over ten miles away and will be the biggest man made structure in Cornwall) In the attached photomontage of the High Street the red dot to the side of the stack is the actual balloon which was flown to indicate the height. It is the size of a Mini
7) Airborne debris. material fed into the Incinerator is only held there for two seconds. As a result quite a bit remains unburned and has to be fed through up to two or three times. Workers at Sita plants in the North have told us that "Yellow Pages are the worst". This material has to be moved around by front loaders and is bound to cause debris to be blow away.
8) Noise. The Plant is a massive industrial site and furnace operating twenty four-seven. The stack is fitted with a silencer, but this will deteriorate over time. The furnace is a blast furnace with air driven through it by a series of fans, and it makes a roaring noise. The ash is continuously extracted as it falls into a quenching tank and travels up an overhead conveyor to the ash plant. 8 am to 6 pm five and a half days per week there will be vehicle and loader movements on site.
10) Vehicle Movements In addition to waste lorries arriving and leaving the site, there will be bulk artics carrying bottom ash, and dust tankers carrying dangerous fly ash. There will also be deliveries of supplies, massive low loaders on several occaisions per year with spare parts (the plant needs to shut for three weeks every year so that the boilers can be replaced as they get eaten away by hot acid gas).
Staff cars will also be coming and going and this gives a total of about 300 vehicle movements per day or more than one lorry every two minutes.
11) Light Pollution. Because it is on the main approach to Newquay Airport the stack has to be fitted with bright aircraft warning lights. In addition the site will be brightly lit at night for security reasons.
12) Lack of regeneration. At the Public Inquiry, Cornwall Council gave evidence that the effect of the Incinerator would be to deter new modern businesses from coming to the area to start up. This loss would many times outweigh the handfull of jobs that the Incinerator would create.
13) Effect on existing businesses. Firms already in the area and particularly farmers, would be blighted by the fact that their products would be seen as contaminated. Farmers and Market Gardeners would not be alowed to apply for organic status to the Soil Association.
14) Quality of Life. In addition to all the above nobody would choose to live next to an incinerator. Nobody would want their children to grow up near one, nobody would want to play on the local sports field.