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Admirable politician 12: Dick Cole

Twenty years ago, at the Mebyon Kernow National Conference on 4th October 1997, Dick Cole was elected the Leader of the Party for Cornwall. Two decades on, Cllr Cole continues to be a prominent public figure who is still at the helm of MK and serving his local parish of St Enoder on the unitary authority. First elected to Restormel Borough Council in 1999, he was re-elected in 2003 and 2007.

During this time, he balanced his civic duties with his work as an archaeologist (Cornwall County Council). When Cornwall Council was created in 2009, Dick stood down from his employment, so that he would be able to stand for the new authority. He was subsequently elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

Mebyon Kernow party leader, Dick Cole

In the most recent local election from earlier this year, he polled a vote share of 83%. His majority was the largest achieved by any candidate in Cornwall, and this was his fifth consecutive local election contest in which he polled over 75% of the vote.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall – is a modern and progressive left-of-centre political party, campaigning for a better deal for Cornwall and a fairer, more equitable world. It exists to fight for ALL the people of Cornwall, with a political programme that puts Cornwall first and offers an alternative to the London-centred parties.

Speaking on behalf of MK’s ruling National Executive, Deputy Leader Cllr Loveday Jenkin has paid tribute to Dick’s work as Party Leader. She said: “Dick’s long-standing commitment to Cornwall and its people is extraordinary. He has been at the heart of so many campaigns and it is truly remarkable that he has found so much energy to battle for Cornish communities over such a significant period of time.

“It is inspiring how hard he has worked as the leader of Mebyon Kernow and as a proactive local councillor. We are extremely proud of the work that he has done pushing for meaningful devolution to Cornwall, fair funding for Cornwall and its public services, as well as his interventions on a host of planning, housing and other matters. It is disappointing that so much of MK’s pro-Cornwall agenda has not found favour with the other political parties in Cornwall and Westminster, but we are determined to continue to campaign with Dick to secure a better deal for one and all in Cornwall.”

Earlier this year, Dick was listed as No. 3 on the “Cornish List” of the top 50 people who “lead the way in campaigning on Cornish issues” and “flying the black and white flag for Cornwall.”

The list was prepared by the Cornwall Live website, for the Cornish Guardian, Cornishman and West Briton newspapers. He has been at the forefront of numerous campaigns for a better deal for Cornwall, its communities, economy and environment. Read about six of his many achievements here.

Cole addressing MK conference

Extract: Statement on the 2017 General Election

“Over the past few months, the UK Prime Minister made numerous assertions that there would be no snap General Election. She also repeatedly stated that the next General Election would take place in 2020, as specified by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. As a consequence, Mebyon Kernow has not been making preparations for parliamentary elections and, in 2017, we have focused our efforts on the elections to the unitary authority and town and parish councils across Cornwall. Our members consider that the Prime Minister and other Westminster politicians have shamefully misled voters on this matter and are extremely angry at the disrespectful way in which the General Election was announced during local elections. General Election campaigning undoubtedly over-shadowed and subverted the elections to Cornwall Council, where the focus was shifted away from important local issues and onto Westminster party politics, to the obvious benefit of the Conservative Party.”

Dick commented on Facebook that it had been hard to generate coverage in the mainstream media for MK. It announced that the party would not be contesting seats at the 2017 General Election. As a consequence, he then had to spend much of the day dealing with the media – a live interview with Radio Cornwall at 7.00, and recorded interviews with both ITV and BBC Spotlight. It seemed strange that there was almost zero coverage of MK’s local election campaign on television and yet when they announced they were we not going to stand they got full coverage.

In his time as a councillor, Dick has been particularly well-known for the active support he has given to local groups in his division.

He has been personally responsible for more than forty successful grant applications, large and small. In all, over £570,000 has been secured for St Enoder Parish Council and other community groups.

These projects have included the construction of new community buildings, improvements to existing village halls, as well as the purchase and installation of new play equipment and skate parks. 

Hopefully one day there will be proportional representation in England, giving Mebyon Kernow and the Green Party the chances that the SNP have in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

 2014 meeting with Natalie Bennett, then Green Party leader and Emily McIver of East Devon Green Party





Smaller parties: Mebyon Kernow – ‘progressive left-of-centre’

In an earlier post, there was a reference to the possibility of a coalition of the left involving Labour, the Liberal Democrats and possibly other smaller parties as the most likely outcome of the 2015 election, according to Citibank’s analysts.

mk logoHaving covered the Greens and NHAP, we now turn to Mebyon Kernow, a progressive left-of-centre party in Cornwall.

MK has a good presence in local politics and is putting up an able candidate in the general election: Councillor Richard (Dick) Cole – below. MK is working to build a confident and outward-looking Cornwall with the power to take decisions which direct affect the people of Cornwall, locally.

mk conf dc

Its policies are founded on three core values:

  • Prosperity for all
  • Social justice
  • Environmental protection

Read more here:

Policies include:

mk flyerA poll undertaken by Survation for a research and film documentary project at the University of Exeter (Penryn) sampled 500 voters in the Camborne and Redruth seat.

It found that voters in the constituency supported the devolution of more power from Westminster to Cornwall, with 60% in favour and only 19% opposed. It also found that 49% of respondents supported the creation of a Cornish Assembly (similar to that in Wales) with 31% against.

dick coleCllr Cole (right) told conference delegates: “The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond described the whole process as a ‘triumph for democracy,’ while even the Better Together campaign acknowledged that there was a ‘cry for change,’ which was likely to be ‘echoed in every part of the UK.’ “Friends, it is up to us to ensure that the echo from Cornwall reverberates across the length and breadth of the whole United Kingdom, and we must – with confidence – put our case for Cornwall into the political spotlight, and build the momentum to bring home significant political and economic powers to our local communities.” 


Incinerators – the rhetoric is of localism, the practice is dictatorial

The applause for a member of this week’s Question Time audience who said the burning of waste was not wanted stopped the programme for quite a while – the longest rally this viewer has seen on Question Time.



Powerful lobbying for ‘waste to energy’ projects led to the licensing of 103 incinerator sites in 2010 . . . Incinerators are being imposed on communities by government, with DEFRA often expressing strong support, in conflict with the report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee in 2009-2010 which pointed out that the costs and health impact of PM 2.5 is estimated to cost up to £20.2bn. These companies say that emissions are low but the should read about one of many examples of flawed monitoring which mean that emissions can rise above acceptable levels. 

A few examples of threatened communities 

In Cornwall

In March this year the Government won a Court of Appeal challenge against a ruling which quashed its decision to grant planning permission for a £117 million waste incinerator project in Cornwall. Last year the Secretary of State granted permission. The company says the incinerator will generate enough electricity to supply 21,000 homes by burning 240,000 tons of non-recyclable household waste a year. Lawyers for SITA have said that if the project was halted, or delayed, the total cost to council taxpayers from landfill tax and other costs would rise to well in excess of £200 million. 

In Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire County Council’s scrutiny committee blocked the ‘call-in’ of a decision to award a contract to Urbaser Balfour Beatty. Cllr Stan Waddington said DEFRA had insisted Gloucestershire still needed to cut its landfill rates. There are charges that information about “gate fees”, the amount companies will be charged to burn their waste, was kept from opposition councillors. 

In Worcestershire

A delay in granting planning permission to EnviRecover to build an incinerator will “hit rate payers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the pocket” to the tune of £16 million in landfill tax charges, according to Mercia Waste Management. The company, which is contracted to manage public waste for both counties, wants to build a £120 million facility at the Hartlebury Trading Estate in Worcestershire. 

And two in Norfolk

Proposals for an incinerator in King’s Lynn gather pace and there are plans for Cory Wheelabrator to build another, smaller, plant at a site in Snetterton.

And these impositions come from a government which said on its official website, that through its Localism Bill and other measures, it “trusts people to take charge of their lives and will push power downwards and outwards to the lowest possible level, including individuals, neighbourhoods, professionals and communities as well as local councils and other local institutions.”