by Bev Haigh-Jones

As advertised in the last newsletter and via our Events pages, on Saturday 6 November we took to the streets again with our “SOS Save Our Standards” stall. This was timed to coincide with the COP26 summit, though there were also other issues that were very much to the fore.

When we initially planned the Camborne stall it was to raise issues of sewage discharge, food standards, animal welfare and the effect of long distance trade deals on the climate. We wanted to challenge George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Foods and Rural Affairs, to respond to our questions, as well as gauge the feelings of the voters in his constituency.

However, between the initial planning stage and the actual day, it became obvious that other standards were also under serious threat, when the government passed a motion to completely overhaul the Parliamentary Standards Committee. This action would have resulted in the suspension of the disgraced Tory MP, Owen Paterson, for serious breaches of the rules, namely lobbying for a company who employed him as a paid consultant, being put on hold. It could even have resulted in the suspension being overturned altogether by the proposed new committee. Fortunately, a revolt within the House resulted in yet another U-turn by the Johnson regime, but we felt that it was too important an issue to overlook on the day.

The day itself went well. It was cool and blowy, as one might expect in November, but nevertheless the turnout of volunteers was good and at one point we had ten people in the group. The response from the public was also encouraging, with opinions very largely matching our own and no hard-nosed, right wing types in evidence. Our board (not a Brexitometer) had pertinent questions relating to those issues that we felt to be most relevant and the results can be seen below.

There were a few “don’t know” answers, and one person who thought that trading with the other side of the world was going to help the climate, but apart from that, the results were rather conclusive.As well as the board, however, we also had a door! This was available for anyone who wished to write a question, or comment for George Eustice and our plan was to deliver it to Mr Eustice’s office which was just around the corner from the stall. Unfortunately, although we did take the door there, along with the completed board, the offices were closed – but there will be another day!

Since the stall, of course, evidence of sleaze and corruption continues to surface within the Tory party and it would appear that COP26 has failed to reach an agreement that will have a chance of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The UK has also failed to agree to ceasing new excavation for fossil fuels, the use of which is the biggest cause of global warming.

In short, there is still much to be done to highlight the damage being caused by this government. Whether it be the corruption, the failure to support our critical services such as the NHS and Care Services, the breakdown of UK/EU relations, the failure to replace lost EU funding, or any other of the false promises, we need to hold them to account.

We will be out there on the streets again at some point, highlighting these issues or any others that might come to our notice.