10 May 2007

As Tony Blair announces his retirement as prime minister I want to ask, What has the Blair government done for Cornwall?

I think it has done a great deal. Many of the things on the Vorsprung Cornwall post are down to government help but here’s a separate and first list:

– The minimum wage, opposed by the Conservatives at the time with unrealised dire warnings of economic mayhem. Cornwall has a vast army of low paid jobs and the national minimum wage has been especially beneficial here. Thank god it’s a national minimum wage too not a local one as the Liberal Democrats first talked of.

– The British economy continues to do well; we have low inflation and low unemployment in Cornwall. There have been ten years of stable economic growth and companies and people in Cornwall have benefited from this.

– Tax credits, despite the hiccups, are also benefiting families in Cornwall.

– Sure Start is helping young children and their parents.

– There have been real improvements in the NHS in Cornwall as well as difficulties. Yes, I know the NHS millions haven’t all gone where we’d like and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has serious debts but waiting times for treatment are well down.

– Social justice, with civil partnerships and a legal end to unfair discriminations based on age, belief, and sexual orientation, as well as on race and gender.

– Free bus use by those over sixty. This has enabled many of the elderly in Cornwall to get out and about more easily, including visiting family and friends, without eating into their pensions.

– Millions of pounds more have come to Cornwall schools and the improvements are tangible.

– The linking state pensions to earnings again, abandoned by the Conservatives, is on the horizon and will further increase the living standards of pensioners.

Alas, the government has failed to get enough housing built but the incoming government looks like it will make housing a priority; the minimum wage is still too low; and the RCHT debts are a worry.

Overall, the Blair government has done much to help make life better for the people of Cornwall and this government has been a success for people in Cornwall.