We’re all in this together

Posted on: 18th May 2011

Originally posted June 29th 2010

More Mazey Days, more Flora Days, more Lafrowda, Fair Mo and feasts. More Golowans. More halting the “mighty roar” (as Town Crier Piglet puts it) of our towns’ traffic. More space and time to uplift our communities.

That’s the prescription to overcome the dark clouds which have now been cast over the country by a series of announcements from up there in Westminster. These pronouncements tell us that things must get worse before they, hopefully, get better. “We’re all in this together,” we’re told.

The contrast between the creativity, colour, excitement and shared pleasure of the Mazey Day pageants in Penzance last weekend and the very dark clouds of austerity and bitter argument in Westminster couldn’t be more pronounced.

I always come away from regular visits to local schools inspired and encouraged. The hope, optimism and strong sense of excited anticipation restores my faith in and hope for the future. There are also increasing occasions these days when local schools come to visit me in Westminster. I only hope that they come away as reassured and inspired as I do when I visit them!

However, inspired I was this week to make a stand against the juggernaut of heaped up bad news in last week’s Emergency Budget. As some of you know, I dared to risk offending my colleagues in our Coalition Government by questioning the wisdom of hitting poor families, charities, rural travellers, building restorationists and commerce generally with a hike in VAT next year. This dramatic and possibly unnecessary measure could stall our economic recovery.

Whilst most saw my effort as a useful contribution to an important debate, some chose to interpret it as a major seismic event which could destroy the Coalition Government!

The Chancellor said he expected “the richest to pay most and the vulnerable would be protected”. But a VAT rise to 20% would hit the poorest most, I said. Those who dropped us in this mess should do most to get us out. In which case the Bankers’ Levy should raise more than the £2.5 billion flea bite proposed (in contrast to the £13 billion raised through the VAT increase).

We have to raise money through taxes rather than cut more services. Important local projects like the new helicopters (2 new Sikorsky S92s) for an enhanced Search and Rescue Service at Culdrose are now on hold. The Coastguard team at St Just are now threatened with being disbanded without any local consultation or consideration and, as we know, the Isles of Scilly Ferry Link project is under reconsideration pending the Spending Review this autumn.

I urge those reviewing these decisions to watch or join our local schools on a Mazey Day pageant or on a Furry Dance through Helston to restore their optimism for the future.