Wednesday, 18 April 2018

"Pills and Profits"


For many years, I have been a supporter of the Global Justice Now organisation, which was previously known as the World Development Movement. It campaigns for a “more just and equal world,” and seeks to mobilise people across the UK with a wide range of campaigns for social justice.

Much of its focus is on less-developed countries, but it is also playing a leading role in a campaign against large corporations making massive profits from the sale of medicines.

Global Justice Now has published a report entitled “Pills and Profits,” and a central tenet of the document is that the public sector has played a pivotal role in the discovery of new medicines. It states:

“The UK government is the second largest funder country, after the US, for research and development (R&D) in diseases that predominantly affect poor countries. The UK Government spent £2.3 billion on health R&D in 2015 alone. Globally, it is estimated that the public pays for two-thirds of all upfront drug R&D costs, with around a third of new medicines originating in public research institutions. On top of this, many medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies are often built upon a large body of scientific work undertaken and paid for by the tax payer.”

The report also makes it clear that that “even when the UK Government has funded a substantial proportion of the research and development” for innovative medicines, “there is no guarantee of an equitable public return on this investment.” It is also the case there is no promise that patients in the UK and further afield will be able to access the medicine at an affordable price.

Intellectual property rights ensure that large pharmaceutical companies have time-limited monopolies and are able to generate huge private profits – charging “high prices for products with relatively low production costs.”

These companies often claim that they need a commercial incentive to undertake further research and development, but they “consistently spend more on sales and marketing.” The reality is that their priority is shareholder dividends and that is plain wrong.

Global Justice Now is right to point out that the high prices of new medicines are unsustainable for an already under-funded NHS, while many patients in poor countries around the World are denied access to new pills and treatments because of the cost.

It is good that Global Justice Now has joined forces with Missing Medicines – a coalition of UK organisations, which want conditions on all public health research to make sure the medicines developed are affordable and accessible here in the UK and across the World. Please support this campaign.

[This is my article in today’s Cornish Guardian newspaper].

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Remembering Joel Cole


This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War and I am pleased to be involved with a project to remember the fallen from Fraddon, Indian Queens, St Columb Road and Summercourt. Organised by St Enoder Parish Council and part-funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, it involves the publication of a book which will include the life stories of more than seventy servicemen who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 conflict.

I would like to share what we have found out, so far, about one of the men. He happens to be my second cousin, three-times removed, and died one hundred years ago today.

Joel Cole from Fraddon was born in 1884. Both of his parents were local to St Enoder Parish and he worked in the china clay industry. He married Laura Annie Tregunna from the parish of Veryan in 1906 and they had two children, though one died while an infant.

Joel enlisted at Newquay and served with the 7th Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, which was particularly badly hit during a German Spring Offensive in March 1918 near Picardy. In his history of the regiment, Hugo White has written that 18 officers and 413 solders from the Battalion “were killed, wounded or reported missing,” though “thankfully, many of the missing eventually found their way back to the Battalion or were reported as prisoners of war.”

The war diary for the Battalion listed Joel as “missing during operations 22-3-1918 to 2-4-1918,” while the Cornish Guardian in May 1918 reported he was a prisoner in Germany. Sadly, his family were unaware that he had already died, approximately one month earlier, at Cologne’s Fortress Hospital on 11th April 1918. He is buried in the city’s Southern Cemetery.

Joel’s passing was not confirmed in Cornwall until August 1918 and on the first anniversary of his death, Laura Annie Cole paid a heartfelt tribute to her husband and “darling daddy of Charlie” with a notice in the Cornish Guardian:

He dropped like a flower that’s nipped in the bud,
He has the repose of the gentle and good.
Cold, cold lies the clay of his mouldering head,
But sweet is the rest of the innocent dead.
And the love which we love him shall dwell in each breast,
Till we meet him again in the realms of the blest.


Anyone interested in finding out more about the project is welcome to view a display, which will be in the Ante-Room of the Indian Queens Victory Hall on Saturday 21st April, between 10.00 and 1.00. The Parish Council is particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have family memories and / or photographs about local servicemen from the First World War.

This is my article in today’s Cornish Guardian.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Next MK meeting in St Austell & Newquay Constituency


The next meeting for Mebyon Kernow members in the St Austell & Newquay Constituency has been arranged to take place on Friday 13th April.

The meeting will take place at ClayTAWC in St Dennis and start at 7.30.

We will be using the meeting to plan our approach to numerous local campaigns and activities.

Anyone from the St Austell & Newquay Constituency, who would be interested in attending the meeting and / or finding out more about MK and its local campaigns, can call me on 07791 876607 or email dickcole@btinternet.com.

ONS confirm decision on tickbox has not yet been made


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has today confirmed that it has not yet made a decision about whether there should be a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census.

This confirmation followed a programme entitled “Thinking Allowed” which was broadcast on Radio Four yesterday (Wednesday 4th April at 4.00), on which a representative of the ONS stated it was actively considering a potential four additional tickboxes for the next census [Jewish / Roma / Somali / Sikh].

This statement was not fully accurate and based on an old briefing, published at a time when the ONS was not actively reviewing the request for a Cornish tickbox.

The Office of National Statistics has added that the full content of the ethnicity / national identity questions haven’t yet been decided, it is continuing to listen and engage with communities to inform its decision, and will soon be meeting with representatives of Cornwall Council to discuss the evidence on this matter that had been submitted to it.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Man Engine at Geevor


Well done to everyone involved with the Man Engine for another awe-inspiring celebration of Cornwall, our mining heritage and our very Cornishness, at Geevor today.

Loved it all and enjoyed the fun of the Cornish Embassy bus, which is supporting the push for Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census.



Highly recommended. Do go and enjoy the experience at Heartlands or the Wadebridge Showground, or even further afield, if you can.