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Democracy Initiatives

Some projects for Cornish voters to think about. First is called 38 Degrees

In the wake of the MP expenses scandal, trust in politics and politicians in the UK is collapsing. Political parties may suddenly be falling over themselves to “get tough” with the worst MP expenses offenders, but can we rely on politicians to clean up this mess on their own?

At the moment we’re stuck with disgraced MPs until the next election, no matter what they have done. We need MPs to answer to us, and that means a new “recall law” to give local people the power to call a fresh vote and sack disgraced MPs. Right now party leaders are debating how far they need to go to regain our trust, and if we act quickly together we can influence them and get this new law passed.

Second is an initiative from Make My Votes Count called Referendum 2010 that is demanding a referendum on a new electoral system.

The expense crisis reveals a nation governed by a political elite that has stopped listening and who are accountable to no one but their party machines. Too many MPs seem more interested in changing their homes than changing the world. Our society faces real problems - mass unemployment and growing poverty, the threat of climate chaos and an erosion of our civil liberties to name but three. These all require effective government working on behalf of the popular will. Yet our whole political system is close to collapse. We demand a new electoral system that makes everyone's vote count.

Worthy of support in my opinion. We certainly need to give some corrupt politicians the boot as well as obtain a more representative electoral system.


A crisis of representation / A need for change

Burke's representative relation, by which one individual rules in the place of many and in the name of their interests is now so contorted that three million children in one of the world's richest democracies live in poverty; so corrupted that elected officials clean their moats with public money while over two million people look for work; so subverted that one hundred billion pounds has been pumped into banks saddling the British people with debt while bankers' wages resume their precipitous rise.

Taken from an OurKingdom article by George Gabriel.

It describes the situation perfectly and is wholly appropriate to describe the situation in the Duchy with both the establishment and political classes. What went through Julia's mind when she used tax payers money to buy that rocking chair? The disenchanted public whose ever increasing cynicism her greed and irresponsibility has only added to, is she aware who some will vote for now?

But what next? Is it enough to punish the thoughtless and the greedy and leave it at that? What a wasted opportunity for change that would be. The economic crisis plus this latest MPs expenses scandal gives us all, more than ever, the right to demand change.

Unlock Democracy offers some helpful suggestions with -We need real reform not another man in tights- and -Accountability not apologies . Of equal potential interest is this publication -The Liberal Republic- from Demos a think tank and former darling of New labour. They say:

The good society is messy and unpredictable because it vets power in the people. Power should be held at the lowest level possible. Instead of 'devolving' power, our assumption should be that power is vested in people. Only when there is good reason should power be consolidated upwards to communities, local agencies, national government or international bodies. The 'good society' is not a perfect shape to be carved by the elite out of the crooked timber of humanity. It is created by independent, capable people charting their own course through life. This is the foundation of the liberal republic, a society built on the idea that power originates and belongs with people. Populated by powerful citizens, it is a cacophonous, unpredictable and messy place. A place where people have the freedom to live in the manner of their choosing and the power to determine their own version of the good life. A place where institutions exist to serve individuals, not the other way around. A place where equality is measured not by what you have, but by what you can do.

Perhaps the above is the production of an organisation trying to reposition and ensure its survival in a post Labour UK, but noble sentiments that I can't help nod along with nonetheless.

Will any of the major UK parties take note? I expect so but only in order to collect a few more votes and attack the opposition. Once in power only watered down sops of reform will be chucked out to the public. None of them has the slightest interest in true radical change. Such change is going to have to come from us.

Democratic reformers unite!


Stop the BNP in the Duchy

For the forthcoming Cornish Unitary elections four British National Party candidates will be standing in the Duchy: 'Liskeard South and Dobwalls', 'Padstow', 'Threemilestone and gloweth', 'Newquay Treloggan'.

Angry at the miss management of the economy and disgusted by (political) scandal after scandal many my be considering boycotting the unitary and EU elections.

Worse some may be contemplating voting for the BNP as a protest. Our own Cornish MPs embroilment in the expenses affair has certainly added to this growing cynicism.

Cornish Against Racism would like to encourage all who can to vote to do so. The BNPs support is motivated and will certainly come out on polling day. An unused and wasted vote is wind in the sales for the far right.

If you are seriously considering voting for the BNP as a protest please reconsider. There are other parties that exist as serious alternatives to the big three London based parties that equally deserve your protest vote. A vote for Mebyon Kernow, Independent or Green will carry your message to the establishment without supporting intolerance and xenophobia.

Vote for anyone but vote against the BNP! Vote against hate!


Wales Can - Cornwall Can

An inspirational website here to cast an eye over: Wales Can - The Independence Initiative.

As a web effort it's pretty good at getting across the Plaid message and also promoting an interactive debate on the future of Wales.

In one video we are asked: Where would a ‘yes’ vote in a Scottish referendum on Independence leave Wales? A pertinent question for Cornwall and, in my opinion, the response is similar. Cornwall must ensure that a process of devolution is well underway before the Scots leave the Union.

Another video of interest asks: Why do some peddle the myth that being pro-Welsh independence means you're anti-English? Because the big three London based British nationalist parties, Lib Dems, Labour, Tories, will say anything to attack an opponent perhaps?

All good stuff and certainly useful for the Cornish movement and Mebyon Kernow to study. Don't we need something similar where we can sensibly debate Cornwall's future?

Sub-Regional Equality Bill event

The first ‘Sub-Regional Equality Bill Event’ will take place in Plymouth on Tuesday 16th June at Plymouth Pavilions in Plymouth.

The half day session will include an overview of the Equality Bill and the aim of the event is to gather feedback from around Cornwall and the South West of England, seeking out what stakeholders see as the key priorities for Cornwall and the South West.

They could start by highlighting the differences between Cornwall and the South West of England!

Events will also be held in Bristol and Poole. Further details are available on the website which is available here: June events.

Please fill in and return the booking form by post or email by Monday 8th June to Jack Horwood, email: Jack.Horwood@equalitysouthwest.org.uk

A Flyer for the event is available here: Plymouth Flyer
A Booking Form for the event is available here: Plymouth Booking Form


Mebyon Kernow on Vote Match

Following some hurried e-mail exchanges Unlock Democracy has decided to include Mebyon Kernow in their Vote Match project for the South West government zone.

Take the test and then help out by sending Vote Match to all your contacts. Unlock Democracy has the following to say:


With the current crisis in Westminster, you could be forgiven for not realising we are just a couple of weeks from an election. On Thursday 4 June, UK voters will have a chance to elect their representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years (some parts of the country will also be holding local elections).

Turnout for European elections is typically low and this year's is expected to be no exception. This is hardly surprising when 51% of the public claim to know 'not very much' or 'nothing at all' about politics (Audit of Political Engagement 6, Hansard Society 2009).

It is with this in mind that Unlock Democracy has launched Vote Match. Last year, thousands of people used our pilot Vote Match for the London elections and our version for the European Elections is better than ever.

The tool is incredibly simple: give your opinion on 30 statements, mark which ones you consider to be particularly important or unimportant, and the website calculates where you stand in relation to the parties based on their own responses to the same statements. It's totally transparent - the website doesn't just give you a match, it explains how the calculation was made.

We don't expect you to base your vote on the result Vote Match gives you. But we do hope it makes you think. And if you have no idea of how to vote next month, we hope it will help you make up your mind.

Have a go straight away. And please forward it on to all your friends and family to help them make up their minds as well. We've tried to make this as easy for you as possible with the help of Twitter and Facebook. If you have a blog, you can even embed the Vote Match directly on your own website!

Unlock Democracy, 6 Cynthia Street, London N1 9JF


R8YourPolitician and Cornwall

A response here from the R8YourPolitician project.

The R8YourPolitician web site is an excellent tool for people who campaign, lobby and petition the government. The website is open to everyone in the UK. Small groups, large groups, youth groups, community groups. It is there for everyone to use.

R8 Your Politician takes an independent position. We do not get involved in anyone’s Politics or Political campaigns. We merely facilitate the rating of Politicians, maintain the web platform as a shared space for everyone to use. It’s up to the citizens to put forward questions for opinion polls for the website. It’s up to citizens to send us articles, videos and photos.

If anyone in any of the organisations you know and deal with would like to send us some articles on the topics that are most important to them then we will add them to the website. We would like to highlight the issues that are important to citizens across the UK. We believe that the R8YourPolitician website will empower citizens at the local level and help them get their message out to the mainstream, backed with good, accurate, professional public opinion polls. If enough people take part then politicians cannot ignore the data. The polls will also be widely viewable by the rest of the country.

If a group or organisation would like a “public opinion poll” added to the website then kindly ask that group or organisation to submit the questions for the Poll to us. We would really like an organisation or group to official commission a Poll on the web site. So we would create the Poll and next to it say “this poll is commissioned by >” . Also the website is organised into counties. We envisage for each county section of the website local news, local polls and information relevant to citizens in that county. If you or any of your friends would like to help us get the ball rolling for your county then please send us the relevant information for your region. I live in Belfast, I may not be the best person to be adding what I think is the best information for people in your region. Ideally we would like active citizens engaging and telling us what they wish to see.

For example, say you live in Cornwall

When you browse to the Cornwall section of the website you would like to see local news, links to the local politicians in that area, articles, blogs and other links to relevant sources for people in that region. We are open to suggestions and ways to better improve the site and services for citizens. The website style and features are not set in stone if enough citizens request the same changes we would put them forward for change.

We are currently meeting with Politicians and getting them on board with this project, so far we have 7 politicians. Please encourage your local Politician to send us an email and endorse this project. We are here to help create more accountability and transparency in government. The project needs active citizens as well. If you are a member of a particular organisation that campaigns then what we can offer you is your own section of the website with your own unique URL.

Example : http://www.R8YourPolitician.co.uk/mygroup

From this interface the group or organisation can manage their own blog (included in main site) , forum, media and run your own polls etc. We are currently testing this section of the website we just need a group or organisation to test it with.

English Democrats in Cornwall

With the news that Keith Riley, former Liberal Democrat, will be standing in the Unitary elections (Newquay Pentire) for the English Democrats Party (EDP), Cornish Against Racism would like to ask the candidate what he thinks of his parties electoral alliance with the extreme right wing white nationalist England First Party? 

An article exposing the connections between the EDP and EFP can be read here on the Open Democracy website.


Draft Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Scheme

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly is committed to promoting equality in access to services, health outcomes and in employment for all members of the diverse community it serves. We aim to ensure that this is at the centre of our work, and is integral to all of our functions and policies.

We are currently developing an Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Scheme which will incorporate our statutory requirements in relation to Race, Disability and Gender Equality. This is the subject of full consultation and involvement.

This will replace the three schemes already in existence, and will also consider: religion and belief; sexual orientation; age and human rights.

Click on the following links to access the Equality Scheme or the Easy Read Equality Scheme.

All feedback can be sent via email or download this form and return it to Kate Milton, Equality and Diversity Senior Manager, NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Peninsula House, Tamar View Industrial Estate, Kingsmill Road, Saltash, PL12 6LE. Responses are required by 31 May 2009.

For more information on the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT current Equality Schemes, please follow the links below:

Race Equality Scheme
Board Paper October 2008 - Progress Report and Action Plan
Board Paper April 2009 - Race Equality Scheme Review
Disability Equality SchemeBoard Paper November 2008 - Progress Report and Action Plan
Improving Health and Care Services for Disabled People - Department of Health
Gender Equality Scheme
Board Paper December 2008 - Progress Report and Action Plan
Every Disabled Child MattersBoard Paper November 2008 - PCT Charter Update


GO MK!!!


Gouel Erwan / St Yves day

Happy St Yves Day / Gouel Erwan Louen

The Bretons certainly know how to throw a party, and following the all Breton final to the Coupe de France they've got good reason to make this coming Gouel Erwan (St Yves day) all the more memorable.

After the recent debates surrounding St Pirans, St Georges and the other national saint’s days perhaps we could take a look at how our party loving Celtic cousins set about things. On the 17th of May one of the oldest communities of emigrants from Great Britain will be celebrating their national day. For the first time this year the council for the French administrative region of Brittany is taking a direct part in the organisation of the St Yves festivities the new website being one example of their efforts.

Instead of simply being cast aside as the source of xenophobia, national identity can act as a pole around which an inclusive societal project can be generated. Perhaps we should consider territorial identities as a prerequisite for inclusion then because one needs to be included into something. Cornishness, Englishness and all other national identities are a source of solidarity then.

As an obvious manifestation of this principle the festivities for St Yves provide a certain recognition for the indigenous Celtic culture but do so in a way that is open and welcoming to all. Bretons by adoption are more than welcome to dance the Gavotte. The lessons have been learned in Breizh from St Patrick and the Irish. The solidarity resulting from the strong Breton identity is starting to be seen as lever that can be used to move communities for the good of society. Residents and expats, those born there and those adopted, all brought together by a shared love of a distinct territory and its culture.

This and more. It's been realised that hyped and funded events like St Yves with the backing of Bretons and Celtophiles around the globe are a chance to showcase Brittany and its economy to the world.
What is Cornwall waiting for?

Powerless Figureheads?

The Monarch and Duke are just powerless figureheads? 

Don't you believe it. Privy Council, Royal Prerogative and much more are explored in this interview with Adam Tomkins on Republic TV. It's a great interview and lays things out very clearly.

Can there be anymore doubt in the Stannaries concerns over Duchy interference in Cornish matters?

Equality Bill and Consultation

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a briefing on the Equality Bill, which has been prepared for the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, which took place on 11th May 2009 – to read the briefing please see:
Equality Bill Brief here.

Government Equalities Office: Consultation

The Government Equalities Office have announced the launch of the UK’s Consultation on the European Commission’s (EC) proposal for an Equal Treatment Directive to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation outside the areas of employment and vocational training – for more details click here.



European Elections toolkit

On 4 to 7 June 2009 elections for the European Parliament will take place in all EU Member States. 

ENAR has prepared a toolkit for anti-racist civil society organisations to engage in the elections campaign and to enable them to effectively lobby for the prioritization of anti-racism on the European agenda. The toolkit can be downloaded from the ENAR website.


Cornwall Pride Tickets Go on Sale!

Tickets for the Cornwall Pride’s evening marquee party at Lemon Quay, Truro, are now on sale!

This event culminates the free, day-long celebrations on Saturday 8 August 2009, which starts with a city-centre parade through the streets of Truro. In the afternoon, Victoria Park in Truro will have the feel of a village fete with live bands, entertainment and stalls suitable for the whole family. The ticket-only adult evening event runs from 7pm until late at Lemon Quay. Headlining the evening is 80s chart sensation Hazell Dean who scored three top 10 hits with "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)", "Who's Leaving Who?" and "Searchin' (I Got To Find a Man)".

Hazell will be joined by Rozalla who hit the big time in 1991 with the song "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)". Other performers on the night will be 3SL singer Andy Scott Lee and top Cher tribute act Tania. These will be supported by popular local favourites Neon Luv Chicken, The Vanity Girls, MK1 and Electroesque. Hosting the evening will be drag artiste Miss Kitty. Tickets are now available for purchase at Qdos bar and Hall for Cornwall, both in Truro, at a cost of £10 each.

Tickets can also be bought online from the Hall for Cornwall website at http://www.hallforcornwall.co.uk/. Entry to the marquee is by wristband only – tickets can be exchanged for a wristband in Victoria Park (afternoon) or at the marquee (evening). There is limited availability, so buy now!

Funding opportunities for voluntary and community groups

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today announced a new £10.2 million Strategic Funding Programme, providing three-year project-based funding of up to £450,000 for community and voluntary sector organisations.

A first priority area will fund organizations providing guidance, advice and advocacy services in areas including education, health and employment, as well building capacity where there are gaps in local provision, for example for women who have experienced violence. A second priority area will support increased co-operation between groups -- including ethnic or religious communities -- in areas where there are known tensions.

A third priority area is support for legal advice and awareness of legal rights. This will operate as a separate Programme which is expected to launch in June.

The Commission is particularly keen to fund activity that directly serves and involves individuals and local communities, that meets an unmet need, and that has the potential to inspire and inform longer-term activity that helps promote the Commission’s objectives. The new funding programme builds on the Commission’s 2008-09 interim programme, and is at the core of a soon to be launched three year strategy which will set out the Commission’s vision of a Britain built on principles of fairness, equality and respect.

A series of local funding surgeries, providing information, advice and guidance to those voluntary and community organizations that wish to apply for the funding will be held across the nine English Regions, Wales, Scotland and from 18 May – 3 June 2009.

The deadline for applications for strategic funding is 5pm, June 12, 2009. Results from the first tranche of applications will be announced towards the end of July 2009.

The programme includes a simplified two stage application process to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy and ensure that applications that don’t meet the Commission’s criteria are identified at an early stage. Improved monitoring will ensure value for money throughout the lifetime of each funded project.

For more information:


The Cornish Internet Invasion Continues

Vote Match Europe, a project in part from Unlock Democracy is due for launch on Monday 11 May. 

Vote Match is a short quiz that voters can fill in to match their views with the views of the election candidates. In the interests of minimising any unintended biases, the tool is intended to be as transparent as possible: Candidates and parties will be asked to provide their own answers based on their own published policy. Users can include and/or exclude parties and candidates from the survey as they see fit and add extra weight to those issues which they consider to be important. The website does not simply give you an answer - it shows you how the results are calculated. Vote Match is not about telling people how to vote and we do not support any political party. Rather, it is about encouraging voters to consider which issues are important and informing them about where the parties and candidates stand.

Next Mash the State is campaigning for all UK local councils to provide RSS news feeds on what they are doing. Such an RSS feed service would allow people to have regular and frequent updates on Council news via the Internet. Cornwall Council currently does not provide an RSS feed. More information on the campaign here. Mash the State are a grassroots campaign to encourage UK government and public sector organisations to make their data available to the general public.

Finally Rate Your Politician have created a new E-Democracy web platform for the citizens of the UK that, among other things allows you to rate your politicians.