9 July 2012

I have tried to show how the Tory Libdem government is distributing austerity and the dire effects of that on people on my doorstep here in Cornwall and elsewhere in Britain. Now I do not believe that Cornwall is singled out for ill treatment by this and previous British governments; the evidence plainly shows that that is not so; and Cornish political nationalism (including the Libdem lite version) presents a case based on simplicities that disregard the complexities. Furthermore, I believe that there are only limited circumstances in which we can usefully talk of Cornwall as a whole, though nationalism tends to talks like that; for example, I do not believe that all Cornwall is uniform in its affluence and poverty and circumstances and way of life and I have argued that we can identify where help is most needed and we should direct it to there. Generalised claims of singular unfairness to Cornwall are unconvincing; the evidence does not support them and, indeed, contradicts them; and these unsustainable claims lead Cornish political nationalism into intellectual incoherence and narrow parochialism.

I think this matters because there is a heavy case against the current government: its welfare choices are disproportionately affecting the poor – everywhere in Britain.

Read this excellent post by Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) which discusses this disproportion – and a failing at the BBC. It also links to the report (which covers 2008 and afterwards) for Action for Children, the NSPCC, and the Children’s Society, In the eye of the storm: Britain’s forgotten children and families. There is a summary here.

That’s children and families everywhere in Britain, in Kent and Derbyshire, in Newcastle and Camborne, in Carmarthen and Dundee. Everywhere in Britain. Everywhere. Yes, I am keenly interested in what is happening in Cornwall but not Cornwall alone. I think this issue of disproportionate austerity demands on the poor can be tackled effectively only by a party for Britain not a one-county party. There is a challenge here for Cornish political nationalism to raise its eyes eastwards and northwards.

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects…” Jane Austen Mansfield Park chapter 48