Wednesday, 29 April 2020

A Cornishman and true

Earlier this week David Mudd, the former MP for Falmouth and Camborne passed away at the age of eighty six. He was a huge figure in Cornish politics during the 1970s and 1980s, won six consecutive elections and represented the Camborne area for twenty two years and in that time he saw no less than five different Prime Ministers.
David Mudd left a lasting impression on those he represented. Even in recent elections, nearly thirty years after he retired I still find constituents who mention him fondly. My first agent when I stood for this seat in 2010 was John Herd who had previously worked as an agent for David Mudd. I am told that David had an exceptional memory especially when it came to remembering names. It is said that he could walk down the street and know the names of almost everyone he encountered. That is quite a talent which I envy. I have always had a memory for facts and information but confess that I frequently struggle with remembering names.
Some years ago while on holiday in Devon, I ventured into a book shop and came across one of the books that had been written by David Mudd, "Cornishmen and true". It was an account of the lives of a selection of Cornishmen from history, some famous, some less so who had done some remarkable things. David was passionate about Cornwall and for a period of time was said to have been a member of Mebyon Kernow while also being a Conservative MP. I am not sure modern politics would be able to accommodate dual membership of this sort but things were perhaps more laid back in the 70s. David was also a lay preacher for the Methodist church and a Cornish Bard.
Like me, he was a pupil at Truro Cathedral School before he went for a career in journalism. He did national service on merchant ships and then ventured into radio and broadcast journalism. Before becoming the MP for Falmouth and Camborne he was also a presenter for Westward TV News.
At every election, much is made of the fact that the Camborne and Redruth seat is a marginal seat that changes hands often and, as I know from experience, journalists very much enjoy asking the incumbent MP how they feel as the count is about to begin. David Mudd managed to get through six such occasions and in there had some quite remarkable majorities. Whatever different political persuasions people might have had, no one could doubt that he was a Cornishman and true.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Pulling together to get through this crisis

Like many of you I am writing this article from home as the Coronavirus continues to restrict our day to day lives. We have made very good progress in controlling the virus with new hospital emissions having peaked last weekend and with things now on a downward trajectory and with the first tentative signs that the death rate is starting to follow.
The steps that everyone took to observe social distancing and stay at home where possible has taken the pressure of the NHS and new capacity created through the Nightingale Hosptials has meant that there was never a shortage of intensive care beds and ventilators. However, it is too early to make any changes and last week the government took the decision to extend the current restrictions for another three weeks and to review again at that point.
Modern technology allows a large number of us to continue in our day to day roles, even Parliament has managed to find a way of coping with the situation with the evolution of a hybrid parliament using video conferencing meaning that MPs can continue to carry out their duties and take part in debates via video rather than having to be physically in Parliament.
In my role as Environment Secretary I have been working hard to address the challenges that the virus has posed to the country. From working together with major food retailers to ensuring that supermarkets have the stock to meet demand, supporting vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating, and working with farmers and the agricultural industry continue to be supported during these difficult times.
Earlier this week, Captain Tom Moore completed his aim to walk 100 laps of his garden before he reached the age of 100. As a former soldier during the Second World War, Captain Moore had already given much to his country, but felt compelled to continue to devote himself to his country during these difficult times. At the time of writing this article Captain Moor had raised over £27million for health charities and his efforts have become something of a symbol for the public’s support for nurses and doctors during this difficult period.
Now more than ever during these difficult times it is important that we all continue to look out for one another, helping elderly neighbours by doing a shopping run for them, or walking their dog if they are staying at home and keeping in touch with family and friends by phone. Everyone has made sacrifices in the weeks that have gone by and it is right that we thank all those who have given so much to help others, however in the weeks ahead we all need to continue to pull together to get through this Coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Helping others during these difficult times

Earlier this week the Prime Minister was released from hospital to continue his recovery at home following his battle against the Coronavirus. It is great to see him making a recovery after having such a difficult encounter with the virus and we all wish him well and a continued recovery.
His message of thanks to the NHS and the nurses who helped him during his time in intensive care will have struck a chord with many. In recent weeks millions have turned out in their gardens or doorsteps every Thursday evening at 8pm to clap for the NHS and show their appreciation. We also recognise all of the key workers who are helping the country through this crisis including those working in supermarkets, in the food industry, in public transport or the police as well as the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who are working for charity groups and food banks to help get food to those in need.
Here in Cornwall, many businesses such as hotels and restaurants have suffered a severe blow with the tourism industry placed on hold. Although they are suffering financial distress some hotels are offering accommodation for NHS workers and many other businesses have rapidly adapted to a new delivery to home model. There have no doubt been a lot of pasty sales in recent weeks and businesses like Baker Toms have started a mobile bread van focusing on delivering fresh bread to rural communities and my own family and their team at Trevaskis Farm have turned to home delivery of shopping from the farm shop with all the restaurant staff re-deployed to this new and unexpected task.
In Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and across the country, smaller charities, community groups, neighbourhood associations and friendly social media apps and groups are all connecting with a core purpose of helping the vulnerable and those who most require it. They are doing extraordinary work and without them many may have faced real hardship.
This week the Government will review the social distancing measures that are in place. It is now clear that they are having an impact with the number of hospital admissions stabilising or starting to dip but it is probably too early to relax things very far, so we are likely to have several more weeks before we start to see light at the end of the tunnel. We may not be able to meet one another but we can all still speak so remember to pick up the phone to family and friends and offer to help elderly neighbours who may want you to assist with their shopping.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

We'll meet again

The very sad news that the Prime Minister has been admitted to hospital this week to support him in his fight against the Coronavirus has brought home to many the seriousness of this virus and the reason why such drastic steps have been necessary to bring it under control. The virus is indiscriminate, and the conditions can be quite variable. While the vast majority of people will usually experience symptoms similar to flu and come through within a week, in some cases there are more complications. The Prime Minister is a fighter and I am sure he will pull through this with the fabulous support of our NHS and we all wish him a speedy recovery so that he can take the helm again.
The better news is that the measures that have been taken are starting to have an impact. The numbers of people using public transport and in public places has fallen sharply and people are needing advice not to travel unnecessarily. As a result, while there is still a tragic daily rise in both new cases and, sadly, deaths, the growth in the number of cases is moving in a more linear way rather than the exponential growth that is a normal in an epidemic like this where there is no immunity in the population. This is important because the concern all along had been that an exponential growth in cases would lead to very high numbers of hospital admissions and overwhelm our NHS. At the moment, the growth in the number of cases, while placing a pressure on our hospitals is within the levels that have been comprehensively planned for in recent weeks and months.
Last Sunday the Queen also addressed the nation as the country continues to grapple with the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic. The Queen acknowledged the challenging time that many are experiencing and paid tribute to all those who are working on the front line, giving themselves selflessly as we work to return to more normal times.
The social distancing measures put in place are obviously very difficult for everyone. It has had a severe impact in many sectors of the economy that have had to close and with some beautiful weather last weekend it is hard for people to be staying at home. However, it is important that we all try to limit our social interaction, maintain distance wherever possible and go out for exercise but limit the time we spend away from home. This will remain important as we approach the Easter weekend in order to ensure we continue to suppress the spread of the virus. Easter is traditionally a time when families come together or even travel away for a nice break and it will be difficult for many to be separated from their family and relatives this year. We have all had to get much more used to using digital technology to keep in touch or even the old fashioned phone and that will remain the case for now.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Working together to beat the virus

Over the last week the Coronavirus pandemic has developed at pace with the numbers of those who have contracted the virus and died from it sadly rising. The epicentre of the outbreak remains London and other major urban centres like Birmingham. Currently, the number of cases in Cornwall remains lower but the numbers will continue to rise over the next few weeks. The NHS have been planning and preparing for the challenge ahead. We each have a part to play by staying at home where possible and reducing our contact with others to protect the NHS and help to save lives.
Last weekend, the Government announced the establishment of strategic coordination centres across the whole country which will bring together senior members of the emergency services with local authorities and the NHS to lead communities through this period. This will help to coordinate a local response.
From Cornwall to Cumbria they are ensuring that frontline people have the right protective equipment. As hospitals prepare their response across the country there has been a huge surge in demand for masks and other protective equipment. The National Supply Distribution Response Team have now delivered 170million masks, 42.8million gloves, 13.7million aprons, 182,000 gowns, almost 10million items of cleaning equipment, and 2.3million pairs of eye protectors, all to 58,000 NHS Trusts including GP surgeries and pharmacies. Every single GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices and home care providers have or will shortly receive a delivery, and the Government will not stop until it has got people the equipment they need.
There has also been an amazing response in other ways and this crisis has shown our country at its best as it responds quickly. British manufacturers like Dyson and JCB are working together to develop and manufacture a big increase in the number of ventilators. We have built several huge new Nightingale Hospitals at places like the Excel exhibition centre in London to increase our hospital bed capacity. Food producers have pulled out all the stops to help good food to people’s homes and help those who are vulnerable top and unable to go out and there has been an explosion of offers from volunteers with a government call for volunteers leading to 750,000 people stepping forward to help.
Locally I wanted to assure you that I and my team have been working hard to answer all your questions and concerns that you may have amid the ongoing pandemic. Whilst we are receiving a large volume of correspondence we will always help you the best that we can.
At times like this it is important that we all look out for one another. Cornwall has always had a great ability to pull together as a community so play your part. Remember to pick up the phone to family and friends and offer to help elderly neighbours who may want you to assist with their shopping. We have some very difficult weeks ahead but it can also bring our the best in our communities.