Final line-up in Camborne & Redruth confirmed: the Geoffs versus George

We now know the 99% certain line-up for Camborne & Redruth a few hours before nominations close for the general election. After several days of prevarication the Liberal Democrats finally revealed their candidate as Geoff Williams. As predicted here, Illogan-based Geoff was chosen, according to the Lib Dems, at a ‘packed’ meeting. Might have been a small room though. Geoff was a founder-member of the Lib Dems in the 1980s and is described as a ‘veteran’ local politician, having been around since the time of Gladstone.

Farmer/PR man and sitting MP George Eustice, won’t lose many nights sleep over the Lib Dems. Now buoyed up by escaping a spell in prison, George will be even less worried by the Greens’ announcement that their candidate is strangely also called Geoff. Coincidentally, Geoff Garbett (68), who contested the constituency in 2015, is, like the other Geoff, also a retired teacher and lecturer. Even more uncannily, he’s also a founder member of his party in the ‘south west’. And, stretching the bounds of credibility to their utmost, he’s also a parish councillor.

The Greens, having, as implied here last week, eventually decided not to stand in St Ives, will be trusting local Lib Dems might do the decent thing and return the favour. Fat chance. So far Liberal Democrats have displayed not a glimmer of any willingness to reciprocate in Cornwall and indulge in so-called ‘progressive’ allying. They’re sticking to their tried and tested Gilbert and Sullivanesque presumption that anyone who isn’t a little Conservative must be a little Lib Dem. The Greens’ less than startling performance in the local elections is unlikely to alter that.

And sadly, there’s no MK candidate. For a few moments last weekend MK considered standing in St Austell & Newquay and Camborne-Redruth. But instead the party has decided to save its money and go into hibernation for four years. Knackered by the locals, they’ve been wrong-footed by the TMaybot’s evil plan to call a general election merely in order to undermine the chances of Cornish nationalism for another generation. It remains to be seen whether Cornwall will survive this latest blow.

Not that, for the Tories, there can be any Cornish nationalism of course, as there’s no Cornish nation. And if some people, like the Council of Europe, say there is, then they’re European and automatically wrong and deluded and, well, just foreign and can’t be believed. So, you Cornish oafs and mugwumps, clear the road and leave ‘our country’ safe from the separatists and fit for foxhunters, offshore investors, hedge funds, speculative developers and the super-rich.

P.S. There’s also a Labour candidate called Graham.

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Nightmare turns out to be true. Pundit flees public wrath.

Phew, just woke up from a horrible nightmare. Dreamt that the polling companies had got things totally screwed up. Instead of the hung parliament everyone predicted, with Labour and Tories neck and neck, there was somehow a Tory lead of 6%. In the dream a wasted landscape was disgorging thousands of blue zombie neoliberals, shuffling through endless acres of supermarkets and housing estates, waving English flags and forcing people into food banks with cattle prods.

Aaaaaaaargh!!!

What the hell happened? Confounding every single pollster, the Tories are on course for a majority after all. We can look forward to enjoying another five years of smarmy David Cameron preening himself and crossing the Amazon Tamar for the occasional holiday in Kensington by the Sea. While the sinister George Osborne dons his hard hat and visits all the building sites. And for the first time since the 1930s all Cornish seats have gone Conservative. The future is blue. Look on the work of the great voting public and despair.

For the sake of posterity I suppose I’ll have to record the results. Here they are.

Camborne & Redruth

George Eustice (Conservative) 18,452 40.2%
Michael Foster (Labour) 11,448 25.0%
Bob Smith (Ukip) 6,776 14.8%
Julia Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) 5,687 12.4%
Geoff Garbett (Green) 2,608 5.7%
Loveday Jenkin (MK) 897 2.0%
turnout 68.5%

North Cornwall

Scott Mann (Conservative) 21,689 45.0%
Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem) 15,068 31.2%
Julie Lingard (Ukip) 6,121 12.7%
John Whitby (Labour) 2,621 5.4%
Amanda Pennington (Green) 2,063 4.3%
Jeff Jefferies (MK) 631 1.3%
John Allman (Independent) 52 0.1%
turnout 71.8%

St Austell & Newquay

Steve Double (Conservative) 20,250 40.2%
Stephen Gilbert (Lib Dem) 12,077 24.0%
David Mathews (Ukip) 8,503 16.9%
Deborah Hopkins (Labour) 5,150 10.2%
Steve Slade (Green) 2,318 4.6%
Dick Cole (MK) 2,063 4.1%
turnout 65.7%

St Ives

Derek Thomas (Conservative) 18,491 38.3%
Andrew George (Lib Dem) 16,022 33.2%
Graham Calderwood (Ukip) 5,720 11.8%
Cornelius Olivier (Labour) 4,510 9.3%
Tim Andrewes (Green) 3,051 6.3%
Rob Simmons (MK) 518 1.1%
turnout 73.7%

South East Cornwall

Sheryll Murray (Conservative) 25,516 50.5%
Phil Hutty (Lib Dem) 8,521 16.9%
Bradley Monk (Ukip) 7,698 15.2%
Declan Lloyd (Labour) 4,692 9.3%
Martin Corney (Green) 2,718 5.4%
Andrew Long (MK) 1,003 2.0%
George Trubody (Independent) 350 0.7%
turnout 71.1%

Truro & Falmouth

Sarah Newton (Conservative) 22,681 44.0%
Simon Rix (Lib Dem) 8,681 16.8%
Stuart Roden (Labour) 7,814 15.2%
John Hyslop (Ukip) 5,967 11.6%
Karen Westbrook (Green) 4,483 8.7%
Loic Rich (Independent) 792 1.5%
Stephen Richardson (MK) 563 1.0%
Rik Evans (NHAP) 526 1.0%
Stan Guffogg (POP) 37 0.1%
turnout 70.0%

So how do we explain this victory for zombie politics? Clearly, either a good number of Tory voters were lying through their teeth to the pollsters, or there was a very late (as in picking up the pencil in the polling booth and changing your mind late) swing to Cameron and Co. It’s easy to come up with a list of possible explanations. Pick from the following. Enough people have been insulated from the aftermath of the 2008 crash. Pensions and incomes for the elderly (who vote) have held up. The media has kindly disseminated the Tories’ magical and mendacious narrative of creating economic ‘success’ while Labour left us ‘with no money’. Those who endure the brunt of austerity policies don’t tend to vote. The population is becoming more politically illiterate and can’t tell s**t from sugar.

The Tories’ success is also greatly aided by a rigged voting system that allows expats on the run in Spain to vote for 15 years but makes it more difficult for students, tenants, the mobile and dispossessed to register in the UK. And of course, you can win a majority of seats with the votes of just 24.1% of the registered electors. Or put it another way. The Tories win 36.5% of the vote and get 330 or so seats while Ukip gets 12.5% and just one. There’s something a trifle unfair about this but for the life of me I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So what can we look forward to? Manifestly, for the moment we’re locked in a neoliberal future. That was always going to happen, as a stunning 87.5% voted to continue the politics of austerity. Whatever cuts the Tories eventually make will impact on the poorer and more vulnerable just as they did during the last parliament, while their chums in the City and financial sector can look forward to big handouts and tax cuts to come.

Local government will continue to disintegrate, while public services and chunks of the NHS are sold off to the first spiv or con-artist who happens to show up with a wad of cash. The Equal Constituencies Act will become law, entailing a complete re-shuffling of parliamentary seats every five years and consolidating the Tories’ hold on the levers of government, as they fasten their suckers more firmly on us. The planet will go on frying as little real effort is made to decarbonise energy. Indeed, expect the continuation of massive subsidies for fossil fuel companies as we stick our collective ostrich heads deeper in the sand.

The prospects for Cornwall over the next five years look dismal. Look forward to the ongoing de-Cornishization of our communities as developers celebrate the return of the Tories and get the green light to run rampant over our land. The affordability crisis will worsen as another wave of second home owners greedily cast their eyes west to England’s first colony. Anticipate the crumbling of local services and an increasing gulf between lifestyle Cornwall and lifestruggle Cornwall. Count on the promise of never-ending population growth as the unstated Con/Lab/Lib promise of a million people in Cornwall by the end of the century moves closer to fruition. Contemplate the growing congestion as our towns become monuments to the slash and burn neoliberal consumerist vision. Watch zombie politics tighten its grip on our little, pumped-up, local council elite, myopic, mistaken and misled by assorted bureaucrats and ‘opinion-formers’ in hock to the parasites who’re plundering our land.

So how wrong were my predictions? Clearly, I was a gullible idiot to believe in the polls. I didn’t think they could all be so wrong, but they were. In particular, the hints of a last-minute swing to the Lib Dems in the polls turned out to be in fact a last minute swing to the Tories. Although, as it’s become so difficult to tell them apart, you can surely cut me some rope here, folks.

If we look more closely at my predictions earlier this week and compare them with the actual results we can see that I badly underestimated the Tory vote in Cornwall across the board by 6-10% and overstated the Lib Dems by 4-8%. On the other hand my predictions for Labour, Ukip and the Greens weren’t that far out at all and I was bang on the MK share, with the sole exception of St Austell, where I was just 1% out. Moreover, I got the order of the top four candidates correct in South East, Truro and St Austell and was almost right in Camborne-Redruth. In Truro & Falmouth my predicted scores were right for six of the nine candidates, which can’t be bad. My biggest failure however was in not seeing the Tory clean sweep and predicting the Fib Dems would hold on to two seats.

But let’s not waste any tears on them as they brought their downfall entirely on themselves. They should now do the decent thing in Cornwall, dissolve their party and get out of the road. Moreover, their incompetence over the past few decades must take some share of the blame for allowing the toxic English nationalist Ukip to gain a foothold in Cornwall.

Meanwhile, the Greens’ surge came and went three or four months too soon. As for MK, although their vote held up from last time in the face of a squeeze from five other parties and the usual BBC ban, is it not time to rethink the strategy of contesting parliamentary elections and throwing away £3,000 every five years? Now the focus must be the Cornwall Council elections in 2017. The work of stopping people wasting another vote on the Lib Dems, Labour or Ukip becomes the urgent task. More imagination and involvement in bottom-up local campaigning is likely to be the key.

Although in England the politics of fear, scaremongering and greed have triumphed, there are some silver linings to this train crash. The Scots have shown us that the politics of hope are always possible. Turnout rose by up to 10% in Scotland but was fairly static in England (although rising slightly across Cornwall). Levels of disaffection and disillusion remain at record levels. The trick is to turn those disillusioned non-voters into voters for change. The SNP has done this; it should not be impossible here. Labour and the Liberal Democrats’ pathetic caving in to Tory bullying when they joined in demonising and isolating the SNP has backfired very badly. Even had Labour held on to its Scottish seats it wouldn’t have prevented a Tory majority, so it’s lucky for the Scots that they proved immune to that particular canard.

The danger now is that the Tories will cynically find some way to remove the Scottish MPs from Westminster. That, plus the Equal Constituencies Act and a dysfunctional voting system, will then cement them in place and make it very difficult to see how they will ever be shifted by a politically torpid and dumbed down English electorate. More hopefully, the election has driven another nail into the coffin of tactical voting. All those people in Cornwall who at the last moment voted ‘with their head’ but now see it had zero effect on the outcome should hang those heads in shame. Until we resist the siren call of tactical voting we will never rid ourselves of this antiquated electoral system and join the vast majority of more enlightened democracies elsewhere in Europe.

Finally, there’s the question of legitimacy. As the Tories gloat their way back to their Westminster sinecures and set about allowing their mates to go on plundering the planet, they’ll be doing it with the active support of less than a quarter of the British people. Is this right? Is it fair? Is it proper?

Camborne & Redruth: Coalition set to retain seat

The old Falmouth-Camborne seat was a three-way marginal from the 1990s to 2005. Yet, like the majority of the other Cornish seats, the new Camborne & Redruth seat is looking a safe bet for the Tories this year with a ragtag of competitors struggling to win second place and with their eye on the election after next.

Julia Goldsworthy was once Lib Dem MP here. Ah, those were the days, the days before the expenses scandal, the financial crash caused by having too many nurses and teachers, or the failed austerity policies of the Tory/Lib Dem Government. She’ll now be lucky to get third place as the latest poll in this constituency puts her behind Ukip. As Lib Dem activity in the constituency has withered away, so have Julia’s poll ratings. Those who voted for her last time to keep the Tory out have now deserted in droves and she’s down to a pathetic 13 or 14% in the polls, an astonishing 24% drop on the Lib Dem score in 2010.

It’s unlikely she’ll actually do that badly, but a toxic hangover of Cleggite Liberal Toryism, the whiff of dodgy expenses claims that clings to her and an inability to shake off the tag of Westminster insider-ism dogs Julia. It looks like the end of the line for her, which induces a momentary and unaccountable spasm of pity as she’s actually one of the better Lib Dem candidates on offer in Cornwall.

Crowds wait at Camborne for Loveday Jenkin to speak
Crowds wait at Camborne for Loveday Jenkin to speak

While Julia is doomed, former Lib Dem voters may as well cast around for other homes for their protest votes. Such as the Greens’ Geoff Garbett or MK’s Loveday Jenkin. The Greens were spotted canvassing a deserted Redruth Fore Street on bank holiday morning and will be looking to save their deposit. Loveday, scion of one of Cornish nationalism’s royal families, has fought a robust campaign and will be looking to add to the 775 votes she got in 2010.

Although a rather late choice following an earlier typical Ukip candidate cock-up disaster, Bob Smith of Ukip has been taking his band of angry middle-aged men leafleting and canvassing through the streets of Camborne-Redruth and especially the Ukip heartland of Hayle (what is it about Hayle?) Ukip was at one point tipped to be a serious contender here as it looked like a three-way marginal – Tory/Labour/Ukip – last summer. But the Ukip surge faded and he’ll do well now to retain third place.

Labour voters on way to poll at Redruth
Labour voters on way to poll at Redruth

However, for a properly angry middle-aged man, we have to turn to Labour. Labour has taken a novel approach this time, adopting as its candidate a self-made millionaire from London with a holiday home on the Helford who made his fortune advising media celebrities. Michael Foster claims he’s a new sort of politician. It’s difficult to see why. It can’t be, as he asserts, because he’s a businessman. The House of Commons and even the Labour Party is stuffed full of those these days. Indeed, he seems to be ‘new’ in the sense of being very old. Ross Poldark would have been very familiar with Foster’s political style as it reminds us of the eighteenth century when candidates would throw their money around to buy seats in pocket boroughs.

Pouring his own money into the constituency, Foster has been wildly outspending other candidates in the run-up to the election. But this new very old candidate has also injected some much-needed controversy. Sailing close to the wind when soliciting postal voting and making the usual outrageous statistical misrepresentations, Michael Foster was then accused of directing a volley of earthy cursing and threats against MK’s Loveday Jenkin at a hustings. The former Labour parliamentary candidate here, Jude Robinson, has loyally dismissed the allegations as not containing a word of truth and just being ‘silly stuff’.

Michael Foster tries to look sweet
Michael Foster tries to look sweet

While losing your rag with Loveday is something that’s hardly impossible, as anyone who has sat through a meeting with her might attest, the notion that she went to such inordinate and excessive lengths and concocted such an extensive and elaborate fabrication is just not credible. It might also be easier to believe it was all made up had there not previously been a series of bizarre episodes where Michael Foster’s anger management issues appear to have got the better of him. For example, he threw a mobile phone at Tory MP Sheryll Murray during a BBC TV debate, is reported to have blown up at the Greens’ Geoff Garbett at an earlier hustings, lost it when questioned by a student at a Tremough event, and has been alleged to have tried to take away Truro Ukip candidate John Hyslop’s phone on another occasion, almost provoking a fight.

Just make sure you don’t stand anywhere near him at the count when the results come out. As it doesn’t look as if this unsettling mix of eighteenth century political style and the usual bullying and arrogant bluster that seems to overcome the Labour party when in Cornwall will work. While all this nonsense goes on, PR lobbyist and strawberry farmer George Eustice calmly and quietly slides his way back into Parliament, courtesy of the very poor choice of candidates made by the old London-orientated parties.

Here’s my forecast.

1. Eustice (Con) 34%
2. Foster (Lab) 22%
3. Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) 20%
4. Smith (Ukip) 15%
5. Garbett (GP) 7%
6. Jenkin (MK) 2%

Postal vote fraud fears surface in Camborne and Redruth

Update: Further to the story below more evidence is coming to light that the Labour party in Camborne and Redruth is deliberately flouting Electoral Commission recommendations on how political parties should handle postal votes. The Commission recommended in January 2014 that party workers

Should not take, complete or help to complete postal or proxy vote applications.”

Yet Labour in Camborne and Redruth offers on their website to ‘send a volunteer to bring a form and help fill it in

In 2010 21% of the 42,808 votes cast in the constituency were by post. If this proportion rises markedly this year we’ll need to ask how exactly this happened.

votelabour

Concerns are growing in the Camborne and Redruth constituency over the way the Labour Party locally is handling postal vote applications. When Blair’s Government tried (and failed) to increase turnout by making it ridiculously easy to obtain a postal vote, it opened the door to fraud and vote rigging. A series of high-profile fraud scandals ensued, mainly involving Labour candidates in the big English cities.

So much so that a top judge last year concluded that postal voting enables election-rigging ‘on an industrial scale’ and was ‘unviable’. After peaking in the early 2000s fraud cases have tailed off although the possibility remains of widespread fiddling by political parties interfering in the process. In this context, some are worried that Labour’s practices in Camborne are bringing the possibility of similar manipulation of postal voting to Cornwall.

The Electoral Commission provides clear guidance for political parties. Why is this being ignored?
The Electoral Commission provides clear guidance for political parties. Why is this being ignored?

The Electoral Commission’s Code of Conduct on handling postal votes clearly states
because of the risk of suspicions that the application may be altered and the risk of the application being delayed or lost in transit, the local Election Registration Officer’s address should be the preferred address given for the return of application forms.

In 2014 it went further and recommended specifically that political parties
should not include an intermediary address for the return of postal or proxy vote applications – all applications should be returned directly to Electoral Registration Officers.

But what do we find in Camborne and Redruth? There, accompanying an election communication from its candidate Michael Foster is an application for a postal vote. The party also kindly provides a freepost envelope for its return. Although voters are advised to return the form to Cornwall’s Electoral Registration Officer, whose address is given, the freepost envelope is instead addressed to the Labour Party at Commercial Square, Camborne. They then promise to send it on.

Why such a roundabout route to the Electoral Registration Officer? By blatantly ignoring the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in this way the Labour Party in Camborne might not be breaking electoral law, which is weak in this area. But it is sailing very close to the wind, and hardly acting in the spirit of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations.

Labour candidate in false poll claim storm

Why can’t centr(al)ist party politicians ever be honest with us? Take Michael Foster, Labour’s millionaire candidate for Camborne and Redruth, who’s pouring his cash into winning the seat. As his huge over the top Labour placards suggest, Michael is a firm believer that size matters. He’s also been over-egging things a bit when it comes to reporting recent opinion polls.

An election communication from him states ‘the recent opinion poll by Lord Ashcroft of people in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle puts Labour neck and neck with the Conservatives‘.

Actually, it does nothing of the sort. The poll, taken on 24th-26th March, shows the following.

When asked how people would vote if there was an election tomorrow, voters responded like this

Conservative 39%
Labour 26%
Ukip 14%
Lib Dem 10%

When asked how they would vote when they considered their local candidates they replied as follows

Eustice (Conservative) 37%
Foster (Labour) 24%
Smith (Ukip) 14%
Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) 13%

‘Neck and neck’ in Labourland seems to mean running 13% behind the Tories. By the same logic Labour is ‘neck and neck’ with Ukip and the Lib Dems, as the gap back to those parties is less than that to the Tories. Was this just an unfortunate typo? Or did it result from an inability to understand statistics? Or is it best described as a downright lie deliberately employed to mislead voters?

It’s hardly surprising that around a fifth of voters believe all politicians are corrupt. Foster can’t be the only joker in the pack. There must be other examples of dodgy misuse of polls or voting data across Cornwall. If you come across anything similar why not put a comment here or get in touch.

Constituency polling: Coalition still set to win all Cornish seats

Ashcroft’s polling organisation yesterday published poll details from eight constituencies described as Tory-Lib Dem marginals. While the joyous prospect of Clegg losing his Sheffield seat has not surprisingly grabbed the headlines, four of Ashcroft’s polls were taken in Cornwall. This gives us a unique snapshot of the intentions of voters in Cornwall as of last week.

Here are the headline shares of the poll, with the change since the last Ashcroft polling done back in June (Camborne-Redruth) and August (the other three seats). Truro is now deemed to be safe for Sarah while everyone is assuming the Tories have South East Cornwall stitched up.

Constituency voting intentions, March 2015, Ashcroft polling

North Cornwall St Austell & Newquay Camborne & Redruth St Ives
Con 36% (+4%) 32% (+5%) 37% (+8%) 33% (+2%)
Lib Dem 38% (+5%) 26% (nc) 13% (-1%) 36% (+4%)
Labour 6% (-4%) 10% (-3%) 24% (nc) 10% (-1%)
Ukip 13% (-7%) 20% (-5%) 14% (-12%) 11% (-7%)
Green 6% (+3%) 6% (nc) 8% (+3%) 7% (+1%)
Others 1% (nc) 4% (+1%) 3% (+1%) 3% (+1%)

Since last summer there’s been a swing back to the old familiar territory of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The bar chart shows the average change in the four seats.

poll change cornish seats

The Tories are up across the board. It’s a somewhat more mixed picture for the Lib Dems. Their vote has risen in St Ives and North Cornwall, but in Camborne-Redruth it’s fallen slightly (through within the margin of error) and in St Austell it’s stagnating. It seems that while Andrew George can hold on to a personal vote and Dan Rogerson rely on North Cornwall’s Liberal voting tradition to fend off the Tories, in St Austell Tory Tory Steve Double is doing a lot better than Lib Dem Tory Stephen Gilbert.

It’s bad news for Ukip as across all four constituencies their support of last year is fast crumbling away. From being the main challenger to the Tories’ George Eustice in Camborne, they’ve slipped to also rans and only in St Austell does there remain a sniff of a possible upset.

Labour are also suffering from the squeeze. Even in Camborne-Redruth, where their candidate has thrown a truckload of cash at the seat, they remain well behind Eustice, although now positioned to be the main recipient of any anti-Tory tactical voting here.

As a protest vote for Ukip becomes increasingly pointless, voters might as well cast around for other more radical options. On paper the Greens look to be doing well, pushing up their vote since last summer. However, as the ‘Green surge’ peaked in mid-January and then turned into a Green slide, it’s likely that something similar has happened in Cornwall and been missed by these polls. They must be disappointed that there’s no evidence at all of any Green surge in St Ives, one of their ten target seats. In fact the Greens are somewhat surprisingly doing better in neighbouring Camborne-Redruth. Nonetheless, the party enters the election campaign proper with a solid base to build on and can look forward to saving their deposits.

There’s even some cheer here for MK, ignored and marginalised in the grand carnival of Westminster elections. In all seats except North Cornwall (where they’re presumably not standing) the vote for Others has consistently risen. This is likely to understate potential MK support as polling organisations do not prompt with their name, unlike Ukip and the Greens. Indeed, when voters mention ‘another party’ the secondary prompt includes the BNP. Yet the BNP is not standing and only had one candidate in Cornwall last time around, whereas candidates for ‘the party that must not be named’ have been in place for over a year now.

Overall then, from this it looks like four Tory/Lib Dem coalition MPs and two Lib Dem/Tory coalition MPs in May. No change basically. Although the share of the poll for the coalition parties has slumped from 83% in the 2010 general election to 62-63% now in these four seats, the majority of the great Cornish electorate prove they can be comprehensively fooled yet again. Even now. Exit stage left, muttering.

Lambs at Camborne and dogs in St Ives: it’s a menagerie in the west

The election campaign proper is upon us. Let’s ignore the fatuous farce that passes for electioneering in the London media and concentrate on the local more grassroots battles, as the streets of our fine old Cornish towns echo to a collective stifled yawn. What are our candidates up to as the phony war ends? Let’s look at the two West Cornish constituencies first.

Down in St Ives, Andrew George has been cuddling badgers and badgering electors about the environment for all he’s worth. The environment joins the NHS as as his preferred campaigning themes. In the dying days of the old parliament he joined with Caroline Lucas to promote an NHS Bill, abolishing the internal market and reducing reliance on the PFI. That’s Caroline Lucas of the Green Party though, not Andrew’s former Conservative colleagues, who he seems to have divorced. All of which body language suggests a desperate damage limitation exercise directed at fending off the challenge of the Green Party’s Tim Andrewes.

Green Party voter in St Ives
Green Party voter in St Ives

Tim is concentrating on climate change, unlike the Westminster parties and their leaders. Although the St Ives Greens’ most popular Facebook post last week was actually not about climate change at all but carried a much more important photo of a labrador who’s apparently intending to vote for the Greens. This is quite common these days given the ridiculous ease of obtaining postal votes. I expect the lab probably has several postal votes tucked away in its collar. The neighbouring Green Party’s campaign for Geoff Garbett in Camborne-Redruth has no dogs, but monkeys. Three daft ones will be at the Big Green Party this coming Saturday. Where they will presumably discuss soil erosion, surveillance, coal plant emissions and Natalie Bennett’s brain fade.

Climate change doesn’t seem to worry the Tories’ Derek Thomas too much. He wants more people to drive to Penzance and St Ives to do their shopping and thinks the car park charges are far too high and is putting us off fulfilling our duty as good consumers. MK’s Rob Simmons was going to the other extreme and avoiding such localism by blogging about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the need for a moral foreign policy. Will the Gaza Strip run in Gulval though?

Labour’s Cornelius Olivier was at the demo at Treliske, where 38 degree supporters presented their petition against further privatisation. It turned out that Cornelius had his own spare petition tucked away in his back pocket, and he duly presented it. You’re never alone with a petition and Cornelius is rarely seen without one.

Up the A30 at Redruth 38 degree supporters were accosting members of the public last Saturday looking for more signatures supporting the NHS. Although most of the campaigners seemed to be MK activists. Where were all the Labour, Green and Lib Dem activists? Sorry, did I really write ‘Lib Dem activists’? Obviously a senior moment.

Julia Goldsworthy has been busy reminding us yet again that the Lib Dems need only an extra 66 votes to get her back to Westminster and rather forlornly pleading for volunteers. A pity however that most of the other 16,000 odd votes she had in 2010 are now just history. Several nice comments about Mr Milibland on her Facebook page suggests the Lib Dem strategy in Camborne-Redruth is if you want Miliband vote for Julia. So that’s one thing the Lib Dems and David Cameron still agree on then.

While Julia angles for Labour votes so does Labour’s candidate, big-spending businessman Michael Foster. While Ed Miliband turns for support to a hobbit, Michael insists on inviting all his old celebrity chums down to talk to us. Last week it was the turn of someone called Larry Lamb. Although how a character from Toytown will play on the Pengegon estate and why getting him down from London is supposed to convince us to vote Labour remains a bit of a mystery.

Larry prepares to address Camborne Labour Party
Larry prepares to address Camborne Labour Party

As Camborne Labour Party was looking froward to being addressed by something they would later eat with mint sauce, sitting MP George Eustice was getting into trouble at the other side of town. Campaigners against the inexorable sprawl of Camborne into the surrounding countryside think that George (rather than eating a lamb) is trying to have his saffron bun and eat it. He’s said so many contradictory things about plans for massive housebuilding in and around Camborne, Pool and Redruth that voters are having difficulty seeing where he stands on the issue. No matter; he tells us he has a plan. Oh bugger it, it’s the same as the last five years.

I almost forgot all about Ukip. As supposedly serous challengers (according to their house newspaper the Western Morning News that is), they’re strangely invisible in west Cornwall. In St Ives, the Ukip south west candidates’ page tells us that in St Ives Graham Calderwood has a twitter account. But the party’s mastery of this new-fangled social media lark appears less than impressive as we then discover the account doesn’t exist.

Ukip's St Ives twitter account gone awol
Ukip’s St Ives twitter account gone awol

Over in Camborne-Redruth Bob Smith has finally got Ukip’s first leaflet out (commercially delivered). Although this single effort has been rather drowned out by the tons of Tory, Lib Dem and Labour stuff that weekly passes from doormats to recycling bags with scarcely a glance, causing a mounting capacity crisis for local paper recyclers. Bob promises that if we vote Ukip, we’ll get Ukip. Now there’s a novel thought. Or is it a threat?

Tomorrow – what’s going on in Truro/Falmouth and St Austell/Newquay?