For many of my regular readers, this may be a little patronising but maybe it won't be. Politics is about trust (or more recently the abject lack of it) and familiarity. I always like to think of elections like job interviews, if you are to give someone the responsibility of representing an area and it's people, you need to know a great deal about them, what they believe in, what they will stand up for and whether you can trust them.
The same is true of parties, without knowledge of the party and it's policies and guiding principles, then the job of a candidate is futile. The challenge for any party and candidate is to let people know more about who you are and what to expect. This is especially true of smaller parties like Mebyon Kernow, although you can't pick up a newspaper or watch the news on tv without seeing the views of Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems the same is not true of parties like MK and other smaller parties in the UK.
This blog is about the party I (Rob Simmons) am standing for in this general election for the St Ives constituency. It's something I've meant to write for a while and prompted by the excellent UK General Election 2015 blog who approached me to write a short piece. That blog thrives on recording a huge amount of information on politics. It's obvious from that study that the author is aware that small parties, will play a huge role in this general election.
So who or what is Mebyon Kernow- the Party for Cornwall?
Mebyon Kernow is a political party, based in Cornwall, over 60 years old now. Founded in 1951 originally as a pressure group dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Celtic nature of Cornwall and open to members of all political parties. In the 70's it became a political party in it's own right and began to field candidates, in the years to come the party became a Cornish, left, green and de-centralist party and mirrored the progressive politics evident in other Celtic parties such as Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SNP in Scotland. These themes continue to this day and the party's policies revolve around three key principles Prosperity for All, Social Justice and Environmental Protection. Many of the specific issues MK has campaigned on have come to pass, such as a University in Cornwall and recognition of Cornwall as a nation.
Over the decades the party has grown in it's presence and ambition. In 2010 the party contested every constituency in Cornwall and collectively the party's 6 candidates gained 5,379 votes a record for the party and a promising sign of progress. Here in 2015 MK is standing again in every Cornish constituency with myself (Rob Simmons) in St Ives, Loveday Jenkin in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, Stephen Richardson in Truro and Falmouth, Dick Cole in St Austell and Newquay, Orlando Kimber in North Cornwall and Andrew Long in South East Cornwall. With Cornwall traditionally split between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and both held in low esteem here, particualry the Lib Dems, we are very hopeful of making significant inroads.
The party's manifesto will be launched at our Spring Conference (March 21st Bodmin). Details of the manifesto are being finalised, but it's safe to say, policies like, devolution to a Cornish National Assembly, opposition to austerity, promotion of the living wage, democratisation of various quangos, trusts and the LEP, environmental protection, a planning policy that address affordable housing, over development and second homes, will all feature strongly. It's the party's view that Cornwall's poor economic performance is a result of an overly centralised state and policies that are not designed for Cornwall and do not work for our benefit. For more insight it's worth looking at our manifesto for the Cornwall Council elections and policies on the MK website here and a Cornish Assembly here.
Mebyon Kernow goes into this general election with confidence, we are a small party. Our leader Dick Cole has recently raised money through crowdfunding, we rely on our members and their generosity in donations and time to fight this election campaign. We are nowhere near the 2 established parties in Cornwall the Tories and the Lib Dems in terms of funding and organisation, we don't have paid staff and phone banks. But what we lack in money we make up for in principles, passion and perseverance. Perhaps the following quote is in the mind of the Lib Dems as they send out press releases pleading with people not to vote MK.
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”