Wednesday, 18 May 2016

EU Referendum

Last week the referendum campaign got going properly with Boris Johnson kicking off a nationwide tour for the Leave campaign starting in Cornwall and with local volunteers delivering thousands of leaflets to get the message across the county.  These volunteers play an important role because the pro-EU campaign have benefited from over £9 million of tax payer funded support on a pro-EU leaflet.

I took a decision in February to join the Leave campaign because I didn't like the way our Prime Minister was sent back from Brussels empty handed after he tried to argue for the return of powers.  He got nothing.  So I think we should show them we are serious and act decisively to end the supremacy of EU law.  We should replace our membership with a different sort of partnership where we stop sending £350 million a week to Brussels and stop European Courts undermining our democracy.

None of the arguments put forward by the pro-EU campaign have been very persuasive.  In fact, as the volume of scare mongering propaganda has increased, the credibility of those arguing we should remain has gone down even further.  We have had all sorts of bankers and bureaucrats wheeled out to tell us how to vote.  These are usually the same sorts of people who said we should join the euro and have a track record in being wrong.  We have also had an American president ordering us to get to the back of the queue while other EU countries want us to stay because they need our money.

In my view, as a country, we should do what is right for us in this referendum and vote to leave.  We should not allow ourselves to be told what to do by other countries.  We will always have an international outlook, but this is one occasion when we should think about the UK.  Here in Cornwall, I am detecting a growing consensus that we would be better off if we were to leave, but nationally this contest is going to be very very close.  

Thursday, 12 May 2016

PCC Elections

This time last week voters across the UK went to the polls for the local elections. In Cornwall we had the second election for Police and Crime Commissioner.  This is still a relatively new role and many people remain sceptical about it.  However, it should be remembered that this is not a new tier of administration within the police as some presume.  

It is simply a directly elected role to replace the old, unaccountable Police Authorities that existed before. So whatever people might think about the performance of Tony Hogg over the past three years, it is difficult to argue that having a more visible, elected role is not a step forward from the days of Police Authorities.

The election was much closer this time and the turnout much higher. The Labour Party also put more effort into the election than they did previously.  That’s good because important democratically elected roles like this only work when the political parties contest them vigorously. Political parties are not always popular because, in power, they have to take difficult choices.  However, without political parties, and the thousands of volunteers who give up their time to deliver leaflets, democracy simply does not work.  

I was very pleased to see Alison Hernandez elected our new PCC. She had actually gone for the role three years ago and was only very narrowly beaten by Tony Hogg.  What impresses me about her is that, in the intervening years, she has really developed a real understanding of what is required in the role. She has worked out the bits that Tony Hogg got right and what she would like to retain. This is crucial because any new PCC should build on their predecessor, retaining what is right and changing what is wrong. In particular she has some really good ideas on developing the "tri-service" model like what is currently used in Hayle. There are certainly challenges ahead, but I think Alison has what it takes to earn the respect of the police and to champion the great work they do.


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Trevithick Day

We had fine weather and a great turnout at Trevithick Day last weekend, and although the Puffing Devil was absent from its place at the head of the parade it was fantastic to see so many people coming out to celebrate the life of Cornwall's greatest engineer and inventor of the steam locomotive.

Six years ago, when I was first elected to Parliament, I made Richard Trevithick the main focus of my maiden speech.  I found a wonderful statement from him saying that, although he had been criticised for trying new principles and was left in severe financial hardship as a result of his pioneering endeavours, he knew in his own heart that he had brought forward new ideas that would be of boundless value to his country.  For many years, Trevithick's achievements were not really recognised which makes it all the more important we celebrate them now.  

For me the achievements of Richard Trevithick epitomise the contribution made by Cornwall to the industrial revolution, and while Holmans and the mines may be gone, Camborne and Redruth still has many world leaders in specialist engineering. We have LDD, based in Tolvaddon, which works on offshore oil projects in countries as far flung as Argentina and Malaysia, while Severn Subsea in Redruth helps manufacture complex components for the oil and gas industry.  DP Engineering, also in Redruth, manufactures specialist components for the aerospace industry while Rigibore in Hayle produce highly specialised, computer guided drill bits for use in precision hydraulics manufacturing.

In some cases, the driving forces behind these companies trace their roots back to Holmans.  It is why the greatest legacy left by Holmans wasn't the buildings but the people they trained. I would like to see us build on our heritage and expertise in engineering.  We are seeing our local schools bring in a renewed focus on science and technology to prepare the next generation for a rewarding career in technology and, in recent years, the government has delivered a huge expansion in apprenticeships to help young people get a career.