Parliamentary Sketch : “All in it together?”

Posted on: 31st May 2012

An exciting time in the politics of Westminster and of West Cornwall.

The Queen comes to Parliament to give us a real Queen’s Speech – i.e. one in her own words rather than words written for her by the Prime Minister. The whole of the Westminster Village was in raptures of excited anticipation. Even the stony hearts of renowned republicans thawed as they were caught up in the spectacle.

Meanwhile in West Cornwall the names of some of those who have the privilege of carrying the Olympic Torch from Lands End were announced. Clearly we want May 18th and 19th to be an outstanding shop window for West Cornwall to present itself to the world. All eyes will be upon us.

Back to the House of Commons where the marathon attempt by some of my colleagues and I to derail the unloved Health and Social Care Bill finally came to an end. Our valiant endeavour did not succeed, though we achieved minor victories in helping to make the legislation less bad (not good enough) than it would have been. The battle doesn’t end with the passing of the Bill. There’s still work to do with local GPs, other clinicians and Councils, to do our best to protect the integrity of the NHS.

Meanwhile in West Cornwall there’s important progress being made in plans to safeguard the Penzance to Scilly Ferry Link and secure major investments in St Mary’s and Penzance harbours. The project timetable is challenging, but if both communities can galvanise local support and good will we will get there. Also new plans have been passed for Hayle. We’ve been there before, but with major public investment in infrastructure improvements in the harbour we hope this will encourage the private sector to step up to the plate this time.

Westminster is now debating Government plans for tax and spending. When the Chancellor introduced his first Budget in 2010 he promised that, in seeking to restore the public finances, “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden and the vulnerable will be protected”. The debate will dwell on plans to cut the tax burden of the wealthiest and the suggestion that public sector workers in the poorest regions – like Cornwall – should be paid less. I believe this contradicts the efforts of a one nation Government which needs to bring up the economies of the poorest areas so they can share the fruits of economic growth.

Westminster and West Cornwall may be poles apart but we’re still “all in it together”.

20th March 2012