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Anne Robinson in Hayle and Redruth

October 21, 2014

Hundreds of local people came to meetings with Watchdog presenter Anne Robinson yesterday for discussions on women and work. They also got personal reflections on her life, funny anecdotes from her work and an insight into a hugely successful woman with real personality.

Anne talked to a mixed audience at the Penventon Hotel about the differences between the way the sexes approach work, how men are often much more confident even when talking about things they know nothing about. She was typically forthright about internet trolls, bad reviews and critical letters: if harsh words bother you, don’t read them.

She also spoke of how her almost fatal alcoholism many years ago meant she was able to brush off personal criticism about her appearance as “not that important”. There was a very funny letter from someone offering to “cure” her “lopsided face”, which we all enjoyed as much as she clearly did.

Talking about creating the immensely successful role as the presenter of The Weakest Link from an unpromising interview that she was advised not to bother with, Anne emphasised the importance of taking up every opportunity, going to interviews, applying for that job, making that phone phone to find out more: “miracles do happen”.

It was a lively event, with challenging questions and answers from the audience to Anne and Labour candidate Michael Foster, covering immigration, Cornish identity and Dignity in Dying as well as the advertised women and work issues. The Penventon Hotel also did us proud with a wonderful cheese and wine spread and great service.

Michael Foster has been a good friend of Anne’s for many years and when he decided to leave behind his business interests and campaign for Cornwall, Anne Robinson was determined to come and support him.

She did that yesterday with great style and typical directness, describing Michael as “funny, very clever, generous and kind”, talked of his success in business, the skills he has to get things done and his long standing, passionate commitment to Cornwall and to Labour.

Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs

October 13, 2014

Literally. Head first.

On Saturday I learned some things that I already knew.

Running about at the top of stairs in stockinged feet is not a good idea.
I have wonderful friends and family.
The NHS is amazing.

I stepped too quickly out of the bedroom door, slipped, landed on the little half landing two steps down, put my hand out to save myself and the momentum carried me down the next 9 stairs head first into a wooden footstool that I had been using to stand on earlier to paint the ceiling and the door frame.

You might say ouch. I was incapable of speaking or standing up for a while. It’s funny what goes through your head. My lovely husband Steve came and held my hand as I fought off an overwhelming desire to close my eyes and drift off from a dysfunctional world of strange ringing noise, head pain and visual disturbance. I wondered if he would understand that I needed help and how he would get help as he cannot speak or use a phone. I wondered how long he would be there and how safe he would be if I passed out.

I did not wonder how much it would cost me to go to hospital and have treatment.

But all those worries galvanised me to phone a wonderful friend who phoned an ambulance. I was taken to Treliske, monitored all the way, checked by a consultant – even had an ECG to make sure I had not blacked out and given the all clear.

Just like that. All the care needed, reassurance and the prospect of any treatment needed. No credit card, no applications, payments, insurance, no ifs or buts.

While I was waiting (and by this time much recovered) a young girl with a tear stained faced and her arm in temporary splint was wheeled past me. That was exactly how it should be. I did not and do not care if she was Latvian, British or Nigerian, if her family is on benefits or rolling in money, I don’t care if she is HIV positive, foreign, a visitor to Cornwall or resident. Her need was greater.

That is our NHS, that is what matters, what we value. It speaks to the heart of the value we put on community, family, friends and our common humanity.

I cannot describe the fury and contempt I feel for Nigel Farage and his inane and utterly mean spirited comments. Or for this grimy coalition government and the way it is pressing ahead with fragmentation and division of the NHS, blaming workers for needing a decent level of pay. The coalition is simply using austerity as a cover for what they want to do anyway. The deficit is rising for goodness’ sake. If they had any integrity, they would admit it and protect what we know is precious instead of ripping it apart.

Apart from bruises and shock, I am fine. Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern. Thank you to the wonderful paramedics and NHS staff. I hope your strike today makes a difference, though I fear it will not.

I am looking forward to getting back in to the fray, stopping vile Ukip in its tracks and kicking out the Tories and Lib Dems to replace them with a government that cares about the spirit behind the NHS and is prepared to protect it come what may. Labour.

Budget and bodging?

September 1, 2014

Cornwall Council’s Adult Social Care department has problems.

Last I heard, the number of people needing support from the care system was rising at a brisk pace. In 2013 in response to the question ‘Is a flat rate budget sustainable over the next year?’ I was told by a senior council official ‘No.’

That was before the Lib Dems and Independents teamed up and cut the budget by about £11 million.

Now the department is about £11 million overspent – not surprising as Cornwall Council already spends less on elderly and disabled people than practically any other local authority in the UK.

Today, the Cabinet published their proposals for £196 million of cuts over the next four years. They make grim reading for anyone who cares about how we treat elderly, vulnerable and disabled people.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the money allocated for the public health budget though and some are claiming that the council is plugging gaps in adult social care with money from public health.

Surely not? And probably just a coincidence that Felicity Owen the respected Director of Public Health in Cornwall for many years has resigned and is leaving today.

Illogan By Election Result 10 July 2014

July 10, 2014

Labour 129 11% up 1%

Tory 215 18% down 11%

Lib Dem 277 23% up 9%

Lib 121 10%

Green 50 4%

Ukip 13% down 10%

MK 217 18% down 7%

Interesting result, which shows you can’t tell too much from a local by election. The winner, David Ekinsmyth is a local parish councillor who has worked hard in the village for some time and that was probably the most important factor.

Good to see that turnout was up: last year 31%, this year 32.4%, which is impressive for a by election.

Fraudsters in West Cornwall

June 13, 2014

http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Elderly-woman-defrauded-130-000-bogus-scammers/story-21230978-detail/story.html

Please don’t be fooled by this scam.

My bank contacted me recently because my card has been used fraudulently. They did not ask for my pin number, ask me to give my cards back, open another account or transfer any money or hand any over.

They are the bank – it is their job to protect your money and that is what they did in my case by stopping my card, stopping the payments and passing it to the police to deal with.

That is what happens in genuine cases.

If anyone turns up to you asking for your card, account details or for you to transfer or hand over money they are fraudsters. Please let elderly relatives know about this.

Camborne let down

June 10, 2014

It was the Camborne Town Council planning meeting last night and the Mark Group applied for retrospective planning permission for stone cladding two houses in College Street, saying it was an embarrassing mistake and should not have happened but they wanted the planning consent through to ‘put it right’ and save any problems for the owners in selling up in the future.

I could not believe my ears when other councillors got ready to rubber stamp it so had a real go and proposed we recommend refusal of planning permission and ask them to remove the cladding and put the houses right (presumably they would have to give a refund too).

Camborne is a historic town and a world heritage site. On top of that, any company that specialises in these sort of treatment should know that it is totally unsuitable for traditional granite and cob construction and will increase condensation and damp problems in the house.

I am glad to say that others were persuaded and everyone except Colin Godolphin supported my proposal. He said it is fine in his flat, so he can’t see the problem (though that is a totally different construction).

Cornwall Council’s enforcement team has decided it is ‘not expedient’ to take action, which is a disgrace. I wonder if they would take the same line if someone mistakenly cladded one of the Georgian houses in Lemon Street? (Truro!)

It is not good enough and this kind of cover up could encourage other firms to do the same and say ‘oops’ once they have pocketed the money.

I think Cornwall Council is letting Camborne down by not making the Mark Group put this right.

Seismic shift in Cornwall

May 26, 2014

Across the South West, all of us in the Labour Party are delighted that our lead candidate, the impressive and hardworking Clare Moody was elected last night to represent us in the European Parliament.

From three Tory, two Ukip and one Lib Dem representative for the South West, we now have two Tory, two Ukip, one Labour and one Green.

Cornwall’s part of the European elections was counted separately at Wadebridge last night and, as ever, the electoral team: counters, officers and clerks all deserve a vote of thanks for the hard work to make our democratic process happen in an unimpeachable way.

The interesting part for us here is that we can now look at the results across Cornwall as a whole and see some really big shifts in voting patterns.

The results are here reproduced from Cornwall Council’s website:

Name of Party Number of votes
An Independence from Europe 2,530
British National Party 1,106
Conservative Party 37,698
English Democrats 1,323
Green Party 16,398
Labour Party 16,122
Liberal Democrats 17,840
United Kingdom Independence Party 53,943

making a total of 149,960 votes and a turnout of 36.14% with 318 spoilt papers.

The big question now is what does this mean for the general election next year?

Let’s leave aside Ukip. It remains to be seen whether a party with policies that would deliver big tax increases for everyone except the well off (lower tax for them) could deliver the same swing in a parliamentary election. Protest is one thing, government is quite another. The Green vote is also fairly consistent at European elections but has never translated in to support at the General.

You never know – but the much more interesting question for me is what has happened to the rest of the votes.

The Conservative vote was down in Cornwall but even further down were the Lib Dems. Cornwall is supposed to be their heartlands. Even I would admit that, although they have almost completely disappeared from our neck of the woods (Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency, Falmouth, west Cornwall generally), they are stronger in other areas.

Even so, their vote over the whole of Cornwall was only slightly more than Labour’s.

The share of the vote is Lib Dem 11.6%, Green 10.9% and Labour 10.7%. That is over the whole of Cornwall, remember – where the Libs have three parliamentary seats. Labour has none at the moment, having lost ours in 2005, but we are only a whisker behind them.

In the last European election, the year before the last General Election, the Lib Dems polled 29,436 so their vote plummeted by nearly half this time. Labour polled 8483 in 2009, so ours almost doubled.

We know from talking to people on the doorstep that many centre and centre left voters are appalled by the Lib Dems’ treachery in joining the Tories in government. So far, local elections results – in West Cornwall especially – have shown a shift away from the Lib Dems. The next test will be the General Election in 2014, when those angry voters have the opportunity to cast their votes for Labour.

The other big difference in parliamentary elections is the personal factor. Graham Watson, the Lib Dems’ MEP in the South West, was well known, hard working and probably did not deserve to lose his seat. But people vote for the party, not the person.

When it comes to Westminster, voters often balance up their choice of party with support for a person. Party policies are a big part of the choice but they also want to sure they get an effective, hard working MP, who will take their concerns forward rather than being a yes man or woman to government.

In Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, we have Michael Foster: a very different kind of politician, who has recently come in to politics, driven by the desire to work for change in this part of Cornwall. Both the Lib Dem candidate and the Conservative MP are political insiders, who have made careers in the corridors of power and party offices.

It is going to be very interesting in this constituency. The three Lib Dem MPs may well be seeing the writing on the wall and contemplating losing their seats to Conservatives. In Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, we can stop the whole of Cornwall turning blue.

Michael is working to win in 2015 and the local Labour Party is right behind him.

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