Sunday, 30 August 2009

Cornish World

From Nigel Pengelly

Dyth da (good day) and welcome to the first Cornish World and myCornwall newsletter.

Every month I’ll be bringing you the latest news and views from The Duchy.

Never mind the weather; Cornwall is still the place to be this summer

Maybe we’ve not been to the beach that much but that has given us time to explore the hidden and special places of Cornwall; the real Cornwall.

The latest issue of Cornish World explores the areas of natural outstanding beauty; the places that really stand out come rain or shine. While we’re outdoors we also uncover the top picnic spots for a little al fresco dining – with or without the umbrella.

Cornwall has more museums than any other region in the UK. The Duchy is home to Britain’s smallest museum and also the deepest. We explore the amazing antiquities of these havens of heritage. To read about Cornwall’s great and wonderful museums click here

In 722, the Cornish aided by the Welsh secured a dramatic victory over the invading Saxons in a battle that brought peace to Cornwall for more than 220 years. This long period of peace dramatically developed Cornish culture and we explore the legacy of this little-discussed victory of our forefathers.

Sowena, Nigel Pengelly.

Cornish World Magazine Issue 65

Subscribe to Cornwall’s best-loved magazine and receive a free CD of Cornish music and a Kernow car sticker.

Broadcasting on, this month is a new schedule of programmes offering something for everyone with a passion for Cornwall.

The Gastronome channel sees Jamie Oliver at the graduation of his latest protégées at Fifteen Cornwall and there’s a quest to find the ultimate pasty! Send in your video recipes for proper Cornish perfection and we’ll pick a winner.

On myKernow, the first installment of Stories in Stone talks about the history of Cornwall, through the stone monuments, gravestones and other mineral ‘deposits’ left by our predecessors. From the stone crosses to the neolithic remains, Cornwall is alive with history and the rocks tell a wealth of stories.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The People's Railway

Subject: B B B R

Roger Oliver Lewis (LSE) wrote
at 23:16 on 24 August 2009
You may be interested in this!

BBBR is a new a-political pressure group seeking the re-integration and re-nationalization of the UK rail network. Only recently founded, we are very serious about getting the message out there and intend for this to become ever more intense the closer to the election we get.

BUT we need enthusiastic activists to join us - to sign the No. 10 petition (see link from the Bring Back British Rail fan page), to request stickers to stick where-ever you can and most important of all to join an email distribution list through which we will be able to organize regional teams whose job it will be to get out to the stations and promote the message.

Check out the website at; and email us to get stuck in!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Comment on "Lockerbie Bomber" Release

The Scottish Justice Secretary's decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has aroused enormous controversy, but here are a few points worth making:
There is evidence that Libya was not behind the bombing, that Iran probably was the instigator;
Al Magrahi has served a long sentence for a crime which may not have been his doing;
He is on the point of dying from prostate cancer and the release was a compassionate act;
Making the decision to release him was a courageous one and it strengthens the Scottish government insofar as it can act unilaterally if need be;
The Scottish government has powers which enable it to act independently in some areas despite intense pressure from America and others, for example;
It proves that the nationalist government does not court popularity for its own sake from its electorate but relies on good judgment and wise policies, while acting in Scotland's best interests.

Defending compassion

Kenny MacAskill explained his decision in a long and detailed statement at a news conference in Edinburgh. He declared that “Scotland will forever remember the crime” that was perpetrated in Lockerbie, and that the “pain and suffering of victim’s families will remain forever”.

He added, however, that Scotland’s "justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown".

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Demise of Great Britain and the Emergence of its National Dependencies

The Times
August 4, 2009
Time is up for once-great Britain

by Stryker McGuire

Even in the decades after it lost its empire, Britain strode the world like a pocket superpower. Its economic strength and cultural heft, its nuclear-backed military might, its extraordinary relationship with America — all these things helped this small island nation to punch well above its weight class. Now all that is changing as the bills become due on Britain’s role in last year’s financial meltdown, the rescue of the banks and the ensuing recession. Suddenly the country is having to rethink its role in the world — perhaps as Little Britain, certainly as a lesser Britain.
This is a watershed moment for the UK. The country’s public debt is soaring, possibly doubling to a record 100 per cent of GDP over the next five years, according to the International Monetary Fund. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research forecasts that it will take six years for per capita income to reach early 2008 levels again.

The effects will cascade across government. Budgets will be slashed at the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, affecting Britain’s ability to project power, hard and soft. And there’s little that can be done to reverse the trend, either by Gordon Brown or by David Cameron. As William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said in a recent speech: “It will become more difficult over time for Britain to exert on world affairs the influence which we are used to.”

History has been closing in on Britain for some time. The rise of China and India always meant that Britain would have a smaller seat at the increasingly crowded top table of nations. It also meant that the US would recalibrate the so-called special relationship as it sought new partners and alliances, inevitably shrinking the disproportionate role Britain has long played in world affairs.

Tony Blair made a final stab at greatness with what amounted to a 51st-state strategy: by locking Britain into America’s wars — on terror, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq — London achieved an importance it hadn’t had since Churchill. But whatever advantage Britain gained in the short term was wiped out by the political damage Mr Blair’s strategy caused at home. Ordinary Britons and even members of the Establishment grew critical of what they saw as London’s subservient relationship with Washington. Mr Blair’s authority was diminished, his political agenda at home suffered and it became clear that Britain’s geopolitical default setting would no longer be to follow America’s lead automatically. Mr Blair may merely have postponed the inevitable: a lesser Britain is a consequence of world events.

The global recession has hit virtually every country, but Britain more than most. The great engine room of British prosperity, the financial sector, now feels like an anchor. The IMF believes that Britain’s slump will be deeper and longer than that of any other advanced economy. The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefits has jumped from 1.3 million (4.6 per cent of the workforce) in 1999 to more than two million and is on track to top three million.

The OECD says Britain’s recovery may begin this year, but will lag behind those of other rich countries. At the moment, Britain is arguably saddled with the worst public finances of any leading nation, thanks to voracious spending in recent years and to borrowing that is growing faster than in other developed nations. Britain is so heavily indebted that one political commentator dubbed it Iceland-on-Thames, suggesting that Britain could follow that nation into bankruptcy.

What makes the British case stand out even more is that it is the only country of its size in recent history that has sought such a disproportionately large role on the world stage. During the Cold War, Margaret Thatcher saw herself as second only to Ronald Reagan as a leader who helped to bring down the Soviet Union. During Mr Blair’s decade in office, Britain fought three wars — in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq — in which its military participation was right behind that of the US. Now that’s changing.

The UK still maintains one of the largest defence budgets in the world, but probably not for much longer. As the number of British deaths in Afghanistan has risen dramatically, both Labour and the Conservatives have felt obliged to say they would not reduce defence spending, so as not to put troops at greater risk. But in the longer term experts say big cuts are inevitable.

A Royal United Services Institute paper estimates that the MoD budget will be cut by 11 per cent in real terms over the next six years. Other estimates are much higher. Paddy Ashdown, a former Royal Marine, has said the annual £35 billion MoD budget might have to be cut by almost a quarter, which would put Britain more in line with traditionally lower-spending continental powers. Britain’s role in the world will shrink with its budget.

The future of Britain’s nuclear force, the ultimate symbol of a great power, is also uncertain. Britain’s submarine-based Trident missile system is due to be replaced over the next decade at a cost of some £20 billion. But according to a recent poll 54 per cent of the British people say that Britain should give up its nuclear deterrent altogether. That’s unlikely, but it may force the next government to find a cheap way to extend Trident’s lifespan. Traditionally, being a nuclear power was one way of securing permanent membership of the UN Security Council, and any downgrading of Britain’s deterrent could strengthen the demands of big emerging powers that they should have more seats on the council, possibly at the UK’s expense.

The glory days of the City of London are now grinding to a halt, too. London stole the march on Wall Street by seizing the highest growth areas, such as hedge funds, exotic derivatives and the like. Unluckily for London, these areas were also the hardest hit by the financial crisis. But now London, like New York, awaits a slew of new national, regional and global regulation that appears likely to diminish its role in the world for years to come. The EU has already endorsed the creation of a systemic risk board with oversight powers that will include the City. Britain has sidestepped such intervention in the past, but this time is different. Germany and France appear intent on restraining the excesses of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and may seek to engineer reforms that steer a greater share of global capital flows into more cautious continental hands.

London, as the glitzier icon of laissez faire, will pay a steeper price than Wall Street in the financial new world order. Ever since the Big Bang of the 1980s, London has regulated the banking industry with a light touch. If European regulations are harmonised to include London and if London’s light touch gets a little heavier, the City could suddenly become “more antagonistic to the institutions that are being regulated”, as Andrew Hilton, of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, puts it. In that event, financial centres such as Singapore and Hong Kong could draw business away from the City.

Britain’s bout of reflection on its last gasps of empire comes at a natural point in its history. The Great Recession came as a surprise and has accelerated the trend, but the rise of China, India and Brazil, and the changing ties to a declining America, have been visible for many years. As America turns to building new ties with the advancing powers of Asia and Latin America, Britain can only feel less special. The nation is in the totally predictable grip of the ennui and grumpiness that accompany the end of a political era.

Eleven years ago, the year after Mr Blair swept to victory, he spoke in Dublin of a Britain that was “emerging from its post-empire malaise”. Phrases such as “new Labour” and “new dawn” and “new Britain” were not yet curdling on the tongue. Today, Mr Blair is two years out of office and Mr Brown suffers from a grey, been-there-too-long aura. Long gone is the cultural ferment of Cool Britannia that made London the capital of cool in the early Blair years.

Pity the prime minister who takes over from Mr Brown. A Conservative victory at the next election would have little of the game-changing feeling that accompanied Mr Blair’s triumph 12 years ago. Then, Britain bought into Mr Blair’s mantra because it was real enough: the economy had already begun a period of unprecedented growth, immigration was enriching the country, an entrepreneurial fervour crackled across even the old industrial heartland. Today that has evaporated. The great test of the next prime minister will be not only to redefine Britain’s place among great nations but also to renew the kind of spirit that has ruled Britannia in the past.

Stryker McGuire is contributing editor of Newsweek magazine.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Beeching's Blunder

Of interest to railway enthusiasts....

Subject: Timothy Belmont 1st July 2009 08.32

If there is one thing most of us agree about, it is the deplorable demise of British Rail - as a single network - fifteen years ago. I believe it was a mistake, albeit with right and proper intentions, because British Rail - operating at a considerable loss - was being subsidized by the taxpayer hugely.

Contrary to popular belief, Lady Thatcher had retired as Prime Minister by the time the process began; Sir John Major made the decisions. But we are still supporting the private railway companies heavily, in a financial sense, to this very day, aren't we?

It was predictably inevitable that the railway network would become disjointed with synchronization of time-tables and other things impossible and confusing, let alone tariffs. Personally I'd like to see the whole of the United Kingdom run within a revived British Rail network. That vision remains highly unlikely, especially since Northern Ireland is practically detached from the rail infrastructure; and now that devolution has been restored to the Province. That debate is for another day!

The Government is taking the East Coast Route, run by National Express Group PLC, back into public ownership. Surely this is a golden opportunity for the Prime Minister and his government to begin the process of re-nationalization?

More to the point, has Mr Brown the courage and determination to take such a bold step?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Make it Another Place - A Senate House

House of Lords Reform - a timeline

1909 - The House of Lords causes a national outrage by blocking the government’s ‘People’s Budget.’

1911 - Parliament Act: Asserted the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation-blocking powers of the House of Lords.

1949 - Parliament Act: Further limited the power of the Lords by reducing the time that they could delay bills, from two years to one.

1945-1951 - Salisbury Convention: Established the principle that the House of Lords will not oppose the second or third reading of any government legislation promised in its election manifesto.

1958 - Life peerages Act: Increased the ability of the Prime Minister to change the composition of the House of Lords and considerably lessened the dominance of hereditary ‘part-time’ peers.

1963 - Peerage Act: Allowed the disclaiming of peerages, and permitted female and Scottish hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords.

1999 - House of Lords Act: Removed right of hereditary peers to sit in House of Lords, however, 92 hereditary peers were kept.

2007 -The House of Commons vote overwhelmingly in support of either a 100% or 80% elected House of Lords.

20?? - Success: With your help the UK has a fully elected second chamber!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Nobody in Charge at No.10

The country (Britain) is on automatic pilot. The Prime Minister and his Deputy are both on holiday. Peter Mandleson just got back from his holiday in Corfu and declared that he is not in charge. However, it appears that the country is running a whole lot better without these people being in charge.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Curtailing Rights and Privileges

It appears that one undisclosed policy of the present UK government is to withdraw services, curtail personal freedom and invade privacy. The latest in a catalogue of measures designed to demean and emasculate the individual citizen is the proposal to withdraw free public travel on the buses to all who can still afford to use a car. Thus, the right to travel free will be means-tested. It is yet another ill-thought out and ineffectual idea, the sort dreamed up by petty bureaucrats who have nothing better to do, for the end result will be to put more cars on the roads and take people off the public buses, in particular the pensioners who depend on this free service, thereby increasing pollution and road congestion. This measure, if it ever sees the light of day, will counteract any other measures which are being taken to reduce the carbon footprint. It is time that the public voted with their feet before any more insane measures are rolled out.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Britain's Draconian Immigration Laws

Britain's immigration laws are nothing short of outrageous. They deserve nothing less than contempt. These Patagonian visitors who wish to visit Wales, their Fatherland, for cultural purposes have once again been denied entry into Britain. The people of Wales should make their voice heard in the corridors of Westminster and at the gates of Whitehall. Those who wish to enter for legitimate reasons are spurned and turned away by this government, while those who enter for nefarious purposes are allowed freedom of entry and the so-called Border Agency is a pathetic farce.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Charles, Duke of Cornwall, his Investiture

Prince Charles may be said to have had a lucky escape. There was a state of high security in Caernarfon on the day of his investiture as Prince of Wales. After all, Wales had had its own prince, native-born, named Owain Glyndwr, who had established a Welsh Parliament in Machynlleth, centuries before the Assembly was set up in Cardiff and the wheels of devolution were set in motion. Caernarfon was indeed tense and everyone was on high alert at the castle which had been built as a stronghold by King Edward I as he set out to subjugate the Welsh and ring Gwynedd with bastions of stone. There was indeed a bomb plot which was uncovered in the nick of time and the prince was able to complete his investiture as Prince of Wales and return to the palace in London unscathed.

Wales has now matured as a nation and has gained in stature and confidence, retaining its own true culture and language in the face of great odds. It is a kind of miracle. It is unlikely that an investiture will ever be held again, at least in Wales, and the government must be well aware of the sensitivity of such an occasion, insulting to some, among a people who have suffered past indignities and have been cowed by feelings of inferiority and despair, even desperation. Wales is a nation reborn from the ashes of the British Empire and it is quite likely that the investiture of Charles, Duke of Cornwall will be the last.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Alex and Queen Elizabeth of England

As we (should) know the present Queen Elizabeth is not Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland because Queen Elizabeth I of England reigned before the Act of Union of 1707. The queen recently paid a visit to the Scottish Parliament as recognition of the parliament's tenth anniversary. Alex Salmond, the chief minister, was present and in his speech he alluded to the possibility of a change in the constitution whereby Scotland would regain its independent status. It is quite likely that, despite the queen's invidious title, she would remain as nominal head of state in Scotland and that Scotland would become a dominion just as Canada, Australia and New Zealand are. The main concern is that Scotland should achieve complete autonomy at the earliest opportunity and it is not such an issue as to whether or not the nation achieves this goal as a monarchy or as a republic.