A vote of confidence – this week’s column

Posted on: 8th June 2022


• The dominant issue this week has been the vote of confidence. I refer of course to the resounding vote of confidence in Cornish Rugby. What a fantastic display by all of our Cornish teams. Our women’s team comfortably winning their Championship (tier 3) final in Richmond, the men’s team defeating Cheshire at Twickenham, and all of this after the recently victorious under 20’s team won their Championship as well.

The men had no right to defeat Cheshire, and on paper stood little chance. Playing, as they did a team almost entirely made up of players from at least one division above them. Outstanding. Congratulations to everyone involved.

• The decision of the Conservatives to grant another £700+ million of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of second home owners through the recently announced energy bill grant was shocking. It comes on the back of a decade in which they’ve failed to close the tax-loophole I alerted them to and which costs Cornwall about £15 million a year, and nearly £200 million of Cornwall’s covid aid which was handed out to second homers who use that loophole.

Even the Conservatives were finally shamed into acknowledging this unfairness, especially when millions of families are already struggling, and now depend on charity foodbanks. But they’ve had years to sort this out. If these taxpayer-funded windfalls were being paid to welfare benefit recipients or asylum seekers you can be sure the right-wing media would have harried the Government to stamp on it years ago.

• An all-party Public Account Committee report this week accuses the Conservative Government of splashing £billions in support of its “Levelling-up” slogan without considering value-for-money and proper due diligence. This should concern us all. Tax, public spending and national debt is greater than at any time. So, it’s important we have a government which acts with integrity and which concentrates limited resources on rebuilding our beleaguered NHS, our children’s future, combatting the growing inequality in this country rather than using taxpayers’ money on bribes used in a naked attempt to shore-up marginal seats which the Conservatives are fearful of losing.

• That someone as notoriously lacking in integrity and as dishonest as Mr Johnson can rise to become PM is a demonstration of the weakness of our democratic systems and the checks intended to set and uphold standards in public life. As some senior Conservatives have confessed, they will only drop Johnson if they judge him to be “more of a liability than an asset”. In other words, they don’t seem to mind how dishonest he is.

The 75% of non-payroll Conservative MPs who voted against Johnson should of course be patted on the back. However, most were simply waiting to see which way the wind blows. I congratulate MPs like Mark Harper and Steve Baker who spoke out on principle many months ago. But it’s reasonable to question whether those MPs who sat on the fence till this week were motivated by high principle or low self-preservation.