CORNWALL

This Congress notes with utmost concern recent statistics on the impoverishment of the people of Cornwall, which is poorer than any county in England. Working people in Cornwall are up to £1,117 a year worse off than they were in 2010 and wages are the lowest in Britain with average earnings from employment almost £100 a week lower than the national average. The GDP of Cornwall is only 76% of the EU average. Seventeen areas in Cornwall are ranked amongst the most deprived in Britain. 14.2% of homes across Cornwall are in fuel poverty. In parts of Penzance 41% of children are growing up in poverty. Low wages, poverty and lack of prospects of a decent life are blighting the lives of families and communities and driving the younger generation away.

This dire situation is not only founded on cruel austerity measures and lack of infrastructure and community support but also on centuries of plundering of the rich resources of Cornwall and the oppression and exploitation of its working class and their families. The picture is all the more stark when set against that of wealthy visitors who treat Cornwall as a beautiful playground, oblivious of the poverty in their midst.

Congress holds that this class-based and callous treatment must not continue and holds that what is necessary is the building of a broad movement of challenge and the articulation and promotion of a very different people-focussed agenda in which poverty is eliminated.

Towards this end, Congress welcomes the recent establishment of a trades union council in Cornwall and the significant strides it has already made. Congress in particular congratulates the Cornwall branch of the CPB and individual comrades for all their work in supporting and revitalising the labour and progressive movement and for their class-based contribution to the economic, political and cultural struggle of the Cornish people for a just future in which their progressive aspirations are realised.

This District Congress resolves to promote and support the development of the class struggle in Cornwall, especially by supporting and strengthening the Cornwall branch of the CPB and the efforts of all its members and by raising the issues central to this resolution in our Party at every level and in the broader labour and progressive movement in the region. Congress calls on the incoming District Committee to take forward this work as a matter of urgency and priority.

 

 

 In a hall decked with the banners of the District and its branches, the delegates heard a report of work for the past two years and elected a new District Committee of eight members (three women and five men).

 

 

 

Delegates stood in memory of comrades Ron Champion, Theresa Barry and Cyril Smith who had died since the last congress and tributes were paid to them.

The congress resolved to place more emphasis on political education, appointing a new officer to organise this, and passed a strong resolution on Cornwall. This noted that Cornwall is poorer than any county in England, with wages the lowest in Britain and low wages, poverty and lack of prospects for a decent life driving the younger generation away. The picture is all the more stark, it went on, when set against that of wealthy visitors who treat Cornwall as a beautiful playground, oblivious of the poverty in their midst. It welcomed the establishment of a trades union council in Cornwall. Praising the work of the Cornwall Branch, the congress resolved to prioritise support for it and to raise the problems of Cornwall at every possible level.

 

Owain Holland, General secretary of the Young Communist League, spoke about the World Festival of Youth and Students which he had attended in Sochi, Russia, and thanked the District for its financial help in making it possible for him to go. He said that the Russian government had interfered with the festival by issuing invitations without the authority of the organisers, the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Nevertheless, the festival had been a great demonstration of international solidarity against imperialism and for world peace and an exciting and unforgettable experience for all who took part.

Rob Griffiths, General Secretary of the CPB, addressed the congress, giving updates on the current political situation, especially concerning the good prospect of a Labour government and stressing that a socialist Britain is impossible without a strong Communist Party. We put the full-bloodied case for socialism, he said, which the Labour Party never does. Bringing warm comradely greetings from the Party’s Executive Committee, he said that the response to the celebrations of the centenary of the Russian revolution had far exceeded the EC’s expectations.

 

 

 

Rob Griffiths stressed the need to explain our distinctive position on Brexit, to explain to progressive people the real character of the EU as a monopoly capitalist alliance of the main imperialist powers in Europe. He said that the aim of most business groups is to thwart the referendum result by creating an outcome that would be as close as possible to the substance of EU membership.

The General Secretary asked for strong backing for the Party’s financial appeal for £19,170 which was not launched to meet everyday costs but to run a recruitment campaign, to help build the Young Communist League, to pay for a new high-quality EC banner and to buy new technology including the ability to make laser billboard projections. He drew attention to the local elections on 3 April 2018 and pointed out the need to celebrate, in 2018, the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth (5 May 1818).

The new District Committee, meeting immediately after the congress, elected officers, re-electing Liz Payne as Chair and Ken Keable as Secretary.

 

“When the date was set for the 3rd congress of the South West England and Cornwall District of the Communist Party, no one could have predicted the political situation we would find ourselves in.” These were the words of Liz Payne, our District Chair, as she opened congress last weekend (18th of October). She was referring, of course, to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and the great victory for the left that this represents.

Delegates met in Exeter to discuss the current political situation locally, nationally and around the world. Resolutions covered topics from the Tory attack on trade unions, the Labour Party leadership election and the NHS through to local elections, foxhunting and the badger cull.