The ideas expressed in this document do not necessarily represent Labour Party policy at any level. They have emerged as discussion points, during brain-storming sessions at the first-ever Cornwall Labour Party conference, held at Heartlands, Redruth, on Saturday 23rd March 2019.
About 80 Labour Party members from all over Cornwall attended. This document attempts to pull together notes made during various policy workshops and, where appropriate, has added links or references to existing policy/statute to help explain how ideas might work in practice.
In many respects these ideas represent a fundamental challenge to the status quo. They seek to carve out a clear, distinct identity for the Cornwall Labour Party so that voters taking part in the 2021 local council elections are offered a genuine choice. Politics should be creative. This is why we are political activists, and not just technocratic functionaries.
At the moment, the ideas in this document are therefore simply starting points for further research. Brain-storming is useful as a way of devising an idealised wish-list – but what is actually possible might well turn out to be different.
Many of the ideas are clearly dependent on the election of a Labour government and the Cornwall Labour Party will continue its research alongside members of Labour’s front-bench teams in Parliament.
It is to test, develop and revise these ideas that the Cornwall Labour Party now plans to consult widely, both within and outside the Labour movement, over the next two years. There is nothing exclusive or prohibitive about any of the ideas in this document. Everything is up for grabs. If you think something is wrong, or missing, talk about it at your CLP. You have two years to help us get it right.
By going through all of the notes which survived the conference, it is clear that there are some possible points of contention, or of a lack of consistency, eg: our carbon-neutral target date: is it 2025 or 2030? Tourism tax: this was favoured by the economy workshop (Michael and Patrick), but rejected by the leader’s workshop (Steve); “No project will be agreed by Labour’s treasury team unless it is carbon neutral” (economy workshop) – this maybe not a problem, but it would rule out support for several capital projects currently before the council, in their present form, because County Hall has not conducted any carbon audit and has not devised a carbon budget. Housing, roads and the spaceport would all have to be scrapped or substantially revised. The possibility of decriminalising cannabis in Cornwall, as a pilot area, was either rejected or not considered by the leader’s workshop but was thought worthy of exploration by some at the police and crime workshop. As drafted, the document calls for further research to design a study (which is a long way short of decriminilisation.) But some members might want to delete any reference completely.
I am also aware that some members feel that some of the criticisms levelled at Cornwall Council, or local health authorities, are unfair or ill-informed; some members believe themselves to be experts; others think the attempt to democratise the manifesto is itself a distraction. We shall see. On average, Labour group manifestos for the 2019 council elections ran to about 25 pages. This Cornwall document is currently at about 20-22 pages. A few of the policy ideas are duplicated, and will be more concise once we have discussed which section they should belong to.
Our ambition is nothing less than the most imaginative, best-researched and thoroughly costed election manifesto local government has ever seen.
To anyone whose notes I have misunderstood, I apologise, and invite you to write the relevant section yourself, as you said you would three months ago!
Huge thanks are due to Paul and Joy Bassett, of North Cornwall CLP, without whom there would have been no March conference at all; to Michael Chapman, of Truro & Falmouth CLP, and to Patrick O’Sullivan, of South East Cornwall CLP, who took the time to write-up their thoughts; also to Kate Thomas of Truro & Falmouth CLP who read some of those initial documents and offered wise revisions and suggestions.
Graham Smith 16.6.2019