Monday, 25 November 2013

Coalition councillors and the cuts ...

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian (published on Wednesday), builds on comments that I made at MK’s 2013 Conference. It will be as follows:

In my keynote speech at Mebyon Kernow’s Annual Conference, which took place last week, I challenged Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors to walk away from respective parties in protest at central government cuts.

The comment has certainly generated a fair amount of feedback. Some people thanked me for what I had to say, while others have criticised me for “playing politics.”

But I believe it was important that I made the challenge I did.

Coalition cuts to local government are truly disproportionate – and they are undermining the ability of councils to provide those public services that individuals, families and communities have a right to expect.

I honestly believe that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Eric Pickles are continuing to slash funding to local government, because opposition to the cuts from their own local councillors is not strong enough.

That is why I – somewhat cheekily – suggested that if Conservative or Liberal Democrat councillors were serious about stopping or reducing the extent of the cuts, they could send a strong message to the Coalition by walking away from their respective parties.

It cannot be denied that if the local government base of their parties was reduced, the Government would change direction - that is, after all, the sort of decisive political message that the likes of Cameron, Clegg and Pickles would understand.

I know that most councillors – of all political parties and none – are extremely angry at the unpalatable position in which they find themselves, trying to bridge black-hole after black-hole in local budgets.

But when Cornwall Council considers budget matters, it sometimes seems that there is even a denial about the impact of the massive cut in funding from their own Coalition Government.

Local Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors seem more concerned about engaging in the normal, day-to-day, political theatre of County Hall, trying to out-do each other for some local political gain – even arguing about who is best at taking “difficult decisions.”

There are a total of 67 councillors on Cornwall Council who are members of parties of the Coalition. They would surely wield significant influence and power if they, with their colleagues from around the whole of the UK, challenged the austerity cuts of their own Government.

The question is: will they stand up to central government or be complicit in the damage being imparted on to Cornwall.

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