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What coalition? Partners face off in Camborne fight

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: January 12, 2011

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Voters will be able to deliver their verdict on the policies of the coalition Government tomorrow when Westcountry polling stations open their doors for the first major election since the General Election last May.

The eyes of the nation may be on the the Parliamentary by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth, triggered after former Labour minister Phil Woolas was stripped of his seat following a "dirty tricks" campaign.

But voters in one of Cornwall's most deprived wards also go to the polls tomorrow to elect their county councillor, after former Conservative member Bill Jenkin stood down in the wake of allegations of sexual assault.

On paper, Camborne North is a six-way fight to represent a constituency divided geographically and socially between the terraced streets of the down-at-heel town-centre and the detached residences which dot the leafier surrounding countryside.

But after the Labour vote – which once returned Candy Atherton to Westminster as MP in a constituency including Falmouth – fell away so dramatically in May, it is seen by many as a straight fight between the coalition parties.

And in the same way that Oldham East is being viewed as a bellwether for the future of the coalition, so Camborne North will be interpreted as a sign of how the national policies are playing with Cornish voters

Anna Pascoe, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is focusing on local issues which ought to dominate a local election – not least the way Conservative-led Cornwall Council is handling its own budget deficit – but concedes the result will have implications beyond County Hall.

After losing the South West Devon constituency at the General Election to Conservative Gary Streeter, the 29-year-old knows all about going head-to-head with her party's coalition partners.

But she refuted claims that the two parties are too cosy in government to renew ancient hostilities at the stump.

"There is no coalition in Cornwall for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems – we are two very distinct parties and local people recognise that," she insisted yesterday.

"We are definitely opponents and, though it is important to conduct the election in a respectful manner, voters know the Conservative record since they took over at county hall and the cuts that have been coming."

Cornwall Council's recent decision to cut £170 million from its budget over the next four years, with cuts of more than £10 million to frontline services and 2,000 job losses, will divide constituents.

But, unlike Westminster, where Lib Dems are asked to justify support for Conservative policies they opposed on the campaign trail, the political make-up at County Hall, run by the Tories with a group of Independents, allows them free reign to criticise.

Miss Pascoe maintains that the Conservatives remain "the front runners" in Camborne North with the Lib Dems a close second and Labour third. But the only recent form guide available is a Tory victory in a three-horse race for the Camborne Town Council North Ward by-election in November. The Tories won that seat with 478 votes, followed by Labour with 318 and Mebyon Kernow third with 279, but the margin of victory suggests an upset by Labour might well be on the cards.

The Conservative candidate, her un-related namesake, Denise Pascoe, 57, is similarly reluctant to read the national picture into the local battle.

"Most people are interested in local issues which are completely different and they cannot be compared – people vote for the person not the party," she said.

"Local results don't say much about the national ones and it just depends what is in the news – people are more concerned about everyday things, green field land not being built on, rubbish collections and clean streets."

Also standing tomorrow is Labour's Jude Robinson, who came third when George Eustice narrowly unseated Julia Goldsworthy from the new Parliamentary seat of Camborne and Redruth in May. Ms Robinson was contacted yesterday but had not contacted the WMN as it went to press.

Mike Champion (Mebyon Kernow), Paul Thomas Holmes (Liberal) and Jacqueline Norma Merrick (Green) complete the field.

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  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Dooby, Cornwall  |  January 14 2011, 8:34AM

    What coalition indeed! The people of Camborne North (and Oldham & Saddleworth) have spoken - the future is LABOUR. Time to call a general election ;-)

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    Mike's advocate and adviser Charles, Here  |  January 13 2011, 5:40PM

    WHAT VOTE MK? . Don't be silly! "If no one listens to the Tories or Lib Dems when they are in Government, who is going to listen to a bunch of crazy nationalists?!" Only another crazy nationalist Sarah! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W19QnOd9GbU&feature=related

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    robert, Camborne  |  January 13 2011, 9:01AM

    Voting MK is an utter waste of as vote. Petty nationalism will achieve nothing for Camborne or Cornwall. If you dissaprove of the government vote Labour if you supoport it Tory. But votew LD you've got to be joking....

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    Phil, Camborne  |  January 13 2011, 8:49AM

    For the first time ever I am voting for MK. They deserve a chance and I am fed up with Labour Tory Liberals. Sarah are you the same one who one minute lives up east then suddenly comes to Camborne or a different Sarah ?

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    Sarah, Camborne  |  January 13 2011, 8:39AM

    New Labour is dead and gone. You can see it, the Blair and Brown era is over with. When Candy Atherton was MP for Falmouth and Camborne, she got large sums of funding to regenerate this area. Are you seriously suggetsing they did nothing at all? I hope you are not suggesting to vote for Mebyon Kernow. They are an absolute joke, just ordinary politicians trying to hide behind the cover of locality. If no one listens to the Tories or Lib Dems when they are in Government, who is going to listen to a bunch of crazy nationalists!

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    Ian, Redruth  |  January 13 2011, 12:36AM

    New Labour (and I've seen no reason to think they are anymore than what they were before their ne leader came along) sold us out to celebrities and bankers. The local Lib Dems and local Tories have proved with the Devonwall constituency issue that Westminster takes little notice of them even though their London controllers seem to be as one. Wise Cornish people whether Cornish by birth or choice know who to vote for.

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    Sarah, Camborne  |  January 12 2011, 11:39PM

    This election is a real chance for us to show not only Cornwall Council, but the Coalition Government, that we are not happy. I am not just unhappy, I am angry. The Liberal Democrats have been fighting this election locally as if they have no idea their party is in a Coaltion. Anna Pascoe promises localism and basically no cuts to anything. I hate nothing more than political opportunism. We all know there has to be cuts, but I want to know where they candidates believe they should be made. The Lib Dems have let us down time after time after time. What's more, with the Coaltion areas like Camborne are becoming neglected. We need help and we need it now. But we are not going to get this help from the Tories either. The last Tory Councillor for this area resigned over allegations of sexual assault. He turned up to less than 5 council meetings in his whole term of office, similar to the other Tory Councillors for Camborne. The Tories are are not interested in us, the people of Camborne, they don't understand our needs. They don't stand up for Camborne. So, the only other "real" option is Labour. I know Labour have let us down in the past, but I along with many others are impressed by their recent changes. They have been very active locally, doing some great things nationally and have basically doing everything they should. This area of Camborne needs a Labour Councillor. Someone who knows the area, the people and the issues we need addressed. Their candidate Jude is an upstanding member of the community and has certainly got my vote. Labour deserve this seat for all their efforts, we desrve it because we want better.

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    robert, camborne  |  January 12 2011, 10:51PM

    If you want to oppose the government policy and send a clear message to London vote Labour tomorrow the only national opposition

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    Julia, Camborne  |  January 12 2011, 6:25PM

    No contest, vote Tory get Tory, vote Lib/Dem get Tory, why bother?

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    John, Camborne  |  January 12 2011, 12:44PM

    I am completely disillusioned with the Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives and so as a former Lib Dem voter who believes that it is important to vote, I shall be voting for Mike Champion a local man living in Camborne.