1 August 2015
The Labour leadership election will be decided one the basis of one person-one vote. Each party member – and each £3 supporter – has a vote. Additionally, constituency parties can decide to support a candidate though as they have no vote this is merely declaratory and symbolic. There are six constituencies in Cornwall and each has a Labour party. This is who they have declared for:
Camborne and Redruth: no candidate declared for
North Cornwall: Jeremy Corbyn
St Austell and Newquay: Jeremy Corbyn
St Ives: Jeremy Corbyn
South East Cornwall: Jeremy Corbyn
Truro and Falmouth: Yvette Cooper.
It is clear that activist members of the party in Cornwall are mostly in favour of Corbyn, the leftist candidate.
The actual votes at constituency meetings have not been made public and of course individual members may vote differently from the constituency declaration. The St Ives party facebook website records that it was a close vote and a second vote was necessary; I expect those who did not vote for Corbyn in the constituency will not when they cast their real vote. Michael Foster, the Labour candidate for Camborne and Redruth in the 2015 general election, has publicly declared his support for Liz Kendall as next Labour leader.
14 May 2015
A light amidst the gloom of May 7.
I see that Jude Robinson won a seat for Labour on Cornwall unitary council in a by-election in Camborne. She is very able and I warmly welcome her return to the council to strengthen the progressive group of members. When she was previously on the council she was the one who first publicly pressed the living wage upon the councillors; she paved the way and opened minds to its adoption.
Cheers, Jude Robinson 29 October 2012
27 August 2014
A month ago I explained in the post MK stranded in yesterday that Mebyon Kernow (MK), the Cornwall nationalist party, was being left behind in devolution debates and stuck with a medieval model. That post looked at the positive comments on devolution in England from Andrew Adonis of the Labour party.
Labour pushes devolution in England
Now in a letter of 25 August 2014 to local authorities, Hilary Benn has reinforced Labour’s devolution message for England. Both Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties also support devolution in England. MK’s devolution fox is shot. They are not the party for Cornwall but the party for yesterday.
Benn, the shadow secretary of state for local government, says Labour will “pass power, money, and responsibility” to local authorities who will be expected to work cooperatively with one another. Labour will devolve “£30 billion of existing public spending over the next five years” to local councils and local economic bodies for the funding of growth projects decided by those local councils and bodies. Councils that prove themselves competent will be able to negotiate for more devolution of powers.
Response to asymmetrical devolution
Labour is giving convincing details of its England devolution project. The project is a belated but welcome response to the rising awareness among people in England that their country was disadvantaged by devolution to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The devolution asymmetry has caused unacceptable anomalies such as MPs from Scotland voting on laws that basically apply only to England, the asymmetrical distribution of the Barnett formula and its consequences for public services in the four component countries, the divergent party political support in those four. Labour seems to have come to a commendable understanding that the present arrangements are unsustainable and there must be democratic change for England.
It is especially welcome that Labour’s ideas are not bound up in an inflexible model, the failed regionalisation model. Now we are being offered an elastic and practical scheme that encourages cooperation across boundaries that have often been unhelpfully rigid. This reduces the likelihood that localisation will turn into parochialism and a postcode lottery of provision and opportunities.
How petty and parochial and irrelevant the Tamar obsession seems set against this.
Incidentally,there is a welcome promise in Benn’s letter to secure the building of more homes – again a contrast with Cornish political nationalism – but no acknowledgement of the last Labour government’s appalling record in this sphere, the worst domestic inaction of any Labour government in Britain, I think. That dismal record reflects the comfortably housed Labour cabinet’s utter failure over thirteen years in government to grasp the importance of house building, especially affordable housing, and I wonder whether the party is yet ready to prioritise housing.
Will it happen?
Of course all parties support devolution in England in opposition but have a less glittering record in office. Will it be different this time? I think it will because there is a keener awareness in central government of its limitations and a more realistic approach to devolution by local government. Localisation in a time of austerity also handily throws responsibilities and flak upon local authorities.
The irrelevance of MK
MK, the party of yesterday, is a failure. It has failed to attract much support for its signature proposal, a Cornish legislative assembly. Since I wrote my last post on this six weeks ago only six more signatures have been added and of course not all are from Cornwall. Remember the failures of political nationalism that I have charted: Campaign Kernow, the Cornish Fighting Fund, the petitions for an assembly, the petitions for a holiday on St Piran’s day. I sense that nationalism is now reluctantly with understandable disappointment and bewilderment facing up to MK as a failed political cause, oh dolor repulsae. I have pointed out several times MK’s dismal electoral record with few seats in local government, no seats in parliament and nowhere near getting any. This political failure continues while cultural Cornishness, even the invented and kitsch pieces, happily flourishes apart from the reconstructed language. See the Piran and Ptolemy post for an account of this discrepancy.
Is MK done for?
MK is not a serious contender party; it is rejected by the people of Cornwall, its ideas ill-developed, its arguments unconvincing, its whingeing tedious, its policies a tabula rasa bereft of details and costings. Its devolution notions have been outflanked. Can MK change, adapt its policies to the new circumstances? As yet it uneasily rests in the mistaken old certainties. If it does not change, and soon, it will wither away. Oh, I expect there will be an occasional flash but an unchanged MK is done for.
dolor repulsae: see Ovid Metamorphoses, book 3, Echo’s pain of rejection
MK and the grand academy of lagado 11 February 2014
Empowering Cornwall 8 March 2012
20 May 2014
Earlier this month Ed Miliband, the Labour party leader, indicated how Labour would reform the private rented sector of housing. There have been jeremiads of course.
The last Labour government had a lousy record on housing. Its affordable housing figures are shameful and indefensible. The new positive approach may be a Damascus moment and deep repentance for the past; it may be shaped by the proximity of a general election; whichever, let us rejoice that eyes and perhaps hearts have been opened.
The private rented sector matters. There are now more households in private rented housing than social rented housing. In Cornwall the 2011 census showed there are 77 000 people living in privately rented houses and in the post Hidden housing need in Cornwall (27 October 2013) I looked at some of the problems with disrepair. The report The condition of private sector housing stock in the south west region (March 2009) from the now abolished South West Regional Assembly showed that 55 percent of private sector housing in Cornwall was ‘non-decent’.
Labour is promising two major changes: longer tenancies and predictable rents during those.
Length of tenancies
At present private sector tenancies are largely for six months and at the end of that any new tenancy can carry a large rent rise. Yes, landlords should get a reasonable return on their money, but tenants should be protected from exploitative rises which very often taxpayers meet through higher housing benefit.
Most landlords are honorable but there are enough accounts of requests for repairs and complaints about damp leading to a refusal by some landlords to renew a tenancy for this to be a cause for action.
The present default six-month tenancy may involve charges for renewal from letting agents. The shortness does not help bring stability and security to families; children especially need a deal of continuity in their lives and a carousel of moving house and school is undesirable. The issue of stable housing, security, and continuity in a community arose with the bedroom tax in social housing too. The Tories and Libdems do not seem to understand these desiderata. They seem to see only houses as assets not homes.
See number 33 in this post on fees charged by letting agents and note how the Cornwall Libdems voted.
Labour is advocating limited rent control. Three-year tenants will experience limited rent rises, predictable rents not exploitative ones.
A concern is that any control of rent income will put off landlords and thus reduce the number of houses for rent and end repairs and maintenance. This is a misreading of what Labour is proposing, a modest control to serve both tenants and landlords. Since much rent is paid through housing benefit we all have an interest in managing rises.
We can have a balanced private sector with indecent housing brought up to standard, and with rents and tenancies that are just to tenants and landlords and recognise society’s interests.
And the rest
Of course the question about rents and tenancies in the private sector are only part of the issue of housing. At bottom there are not enough houses, including social housing for rent and purchase, for people – we are running at a national shortfall of around 140 000 a year. We must build more and the lack of uncontroversial sites is a challenge to everyone. It is also a test of how serious people take housing. Wailing about unfair rents and opposing a realistic program for affordable houses, as Mebyon Kernow does, is not a coherent housing policy.
22 November 2012
See update 10 December 2012 at the foot of this post.
ORIGINAL POST of 22 November 2012:
There were two debates in parliament the other day on regional and local pay in the NHS, a brief one in Westminster Hall ( Hansard 7 November 2012 column 246WH) and one on a Labour motion supporting national pay in the NHS and calling on the Tory Libdem government to intervene against moves to regional and local pay in the southwest, including Cornwall and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) ( Hansard 7 November 2012 column 868 onwards). I think regional and local pay in Cornwall will mean cuts in pay and probably worse holiday and sick conditions.
Labour’s arguments were damaged – fatally damaged, I think – by the brutal fact that the party started the process that undermined national pay. The 2003 Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act created foundation trusts and hospitals and empowered them to vary national pay; the 2004 Agenda for Change included the principle of regional pay; and Labour introduced some regional pay variation in the courts service. The 2003 Labour budget also talked of introducing regional pay throughout the public service.
Many Labour MPs opposed the creation of foundation trusts; Labour MPs for Scotland constituencies supported it though it did not apply to Scotland.
The heavy history of its past weighed Labour down and it was left unconvincingly saying that pay below national rates was not the intention of the ‘flexibility’ it legislated for. Incompetent legislators then.
If Labour wants to be taken seriously on regional and local pay, it has to acknowledge fully its record and either endorse it or renounce it.
As for the Liberal Democrats, in 2003 the amendment by Labour MP David Hinchcliffe to scrap the introduction of foundation trusts was supported by the three Cornwall MPs that voted, all Libdems: Colin Breed, Andrew George, Paul Tyler ( Hansard 8 July 2003 column 975). At the third reading of the bill ( Hansard 8 July 2003 column 1099, division 284), only thee MPs from Cornwall voted, the same three and against.
The other day all three current Libdem MPs in Cornwall, Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert, and Dan Rogerson, opposed regional pay in the NHS; they then voted against the Labour motion opposing regional pay in the NHS; and then they voted for the Tory Libdem government amendment to the Labour motion, an amendment which very noticeably did not reject regional pay but largely delineated Labour’s dismal record. I see that they may not have wished to support Labour, given its unresiled record, but to support an amendment that does not even mildly challenge or doubt regional pay in the NHS is, I think, puzzling given their with stated opposition to such pay.
Andrew George made early day motion (EDM) 719 on 13 November 2012. This “calls on the government to do all that it can to resist regional and local pay variations in public services” and knocks Labour. There are presently twelve signatures, mainly Libdem and including Stephen Gilbert.
The Libdem party had initially sought the regionalisation of the minimum wage but Labour, including Candy Atherton the then Labour MP for Camborne, rightly insisted on a national rate.
The Tories began this approach to NHS localised pay with their 1990 NHS and Community Care Act: see this interesting summary of the road to localised pay. They also initially opposed the national minimum wage. The other day the Tory Libdem government supported the NHS national pay scheme, also supported each trust deciding wages for themselves (with consultation with workers), and also declined to tell the southwest trusts to end their moves to regional/local pay. I think that is Yes but no but yes but no but …
I suspect they see the threat of a breakaway in the southwest as useful pressure on unions to settle the dragging national negotiations smartly. If those negotiations succeed, they may possibly make the southwest consortium redundant; if they fail, the government will have to expose its view on cuts in pay and conditions at the RCHT.
None of the three parties come to the issue of regional pay as saints and the Labour record is particularly dismal. Jude Robinson’s work for a living wage shines like a good deed in a naughty Labour world.
You can read the Cornwall MPs contributions in Hansard: Andrew George column 869 and 910, Stephen Gilbert 893, Dan Rogerson 900.
END of original post
UPDATE 10 December 2012
George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, told the Commons that the Tory Libdem government would continue “national pay arrangements in the NHS, prison service, and…ciivil service” but individual teachers’ pay would be decided by heads in school (Hansard 5 December 2012 column 875).
12 March 2011
See addition 21 March 2011
Original post 12 March 2011
In January Jude Robinson won a seat for Labour on the unitary council, the party’s first. Now a few weeks later Will Tremayne has won a by-election for Labour for Redruth town council.
Okay, it’s a parish council, the turnout was very poor, the Tories and Liberal Democrats are unpopular, there was no Mebyon Kernow distraction, and Redruth should be natural territory for the people’s party as it once called itself.
Nevertheless, this is another win for Labour in a barren county. This victory will encourage the party to reach for more and encourage people to vote for it.
Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis arboribusque comae, wrote Horace, frigora mitescunt Zephyris (Horace, Ode 4.7). Labour must hope this is so.
Oh, do not read the rest of the ode; it is not encouraging for any of us.
ADDED 21 March 2011
A poll by Marketing Means reported in the Western Morning News 21 March 2011 gives support for the parties in Cornwall as: Conservative 36, Labour 27, Libdem 18. The Libdems have dropped and Labour risen significantly but the sample is seventy five.
17 January 2011
The by-election in Camborne North for Cornwall unitary council on 13 January was notable for the Labour and Mebyon Kernow (MK) results.
Mebyon Kernow got 32 votes, a decisive defeat of the party and Cornish political nationalism. In this post I summarised MK’s very poor record generally in the recent unitary, European, and general elections in Cornwall and gave my assessment of the party’s place in Cornwall.
Jude Robinson, the Labour candidate, won the seat, formerly held by the Conservatives. She is the first and only Labour member of Cornwall unitary council. For Labour the by-election result is a could-be moment: perhaps this is a turning point for the party, the start of a general climb by it from the slough of election defeats in Cornwall? Certainly the Tory Libdem coalition means that centre-left voters are unlikely to believe that only a vote for the Libdems will keep the Tories out and national opinion surveys suggest many who voted Libdem in May 2010 have, since the formation of the Tory Libdem government, decamped to Labour.
Camborne North 13 January 2011 result: Labour 230 votes, 32.4 percent of the votes cast; Conservative 203, 28.6 percent; Libdem 152, 21.4 percent; Liberal 61, 8.6 percent; MK 32, 4.5 percent; Green 31, 4.4 percent; turnout 21.7 percent. For comparison, in the June 2009 elections for the full unitary council the result for the ward was: Conservative 346 votes, 37 percent; Libdem 182, 19 percent; MK 139, 15 percent; Labour 100, 11 percent; others 170, 18 percent; turnout 29 percent.