by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter
A Cornwall councilor has criticized attempts to blame the cost of living crisis on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine saying it has been “decades in the making”. Mebyon Kernow councilor Andrew Long made the comments in a debate at full council yesterday.
He was responding to comments made by Conservative council leader Linda Taylor when councilors were discussing a motion proposed by Labour’s Kate Ewert to address the cost of living crisis. Councilors were being asked to support a call for more help to support individuals and businesses.
Cllr Taylor said: “We all recognize the cost of living is a really big issue for a lot of people in Cornwall.” She then highlighted a recent cost of living summit which had brought together representatives from the private, public and voluntary sectors to look at what could be done to help people.
Cllr Taylor added: “The point that I want to make is that we are here because of an aggressor in Russia. I am very happy that the UK has been very supportive of the Ukraine country.” But she added that the cost of living crisis was “the consequences of the tyrant we have in Russia”.
She then praised Prime Minister Liz Truss and the Government for the energy price guarantee and grants which are being provided to people to help with the cost of energy bills. Cllr Taylor also successfully put forward an amendment to the motion, which means that a letter asking for additional support from the Government would only be written after the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers a fiscal statement scheduled for Friday.
Well, utter chaos ensued. Cross party members spoke in support of my motion, the leader amended it to take the teeth out of what she would write to the Gov. Complete confusion over substantive motions. But anyway, it passed… which is good. https://t.co/Zth4DLk909
— Kate Ewert 〓〓 🌹 (@KateEwert) September 21, 2022
However, responding to the leader’s comments, Cllr Long said that councilors should not “kid yourselves” that the cost of living crisis was because of the conflict in Ukraine. I highlighted that the need for food banks had been rising over many years and that people had been struggling to pay their bills years before Putin invaded Ukraine.
After explaining that he would be volunteering on a soup run in Plymouth, he said: “Please don’t kid yourselves that this cost of living crisis is down to the evil dictator that is Vladimir Putin. This has been decades in the making. This has been going on for decades.
“Prior to his invasion in Ukraine we were still having families, many, many families, who could not afford to feed their children coming to the soup kitchen to get a hot meal. We had students, university students, our future, having to either heat or eat.
“This is well before the invasion of Ukraine. Let’s not kid ourselves that that evil man has been the cause of this. It has been decades in the making.
“So, whatever we do we must remember it is not just what is happening now that is the problem, there is an inbuilt problem we have as a society. We are the fifth richest country in the world yet we have the number of food banks we have and the number of soup runs we have right across this United Kingdom where we are having to feed people who can’t afford to feed themselves.
“When we are debating this, it is not political point scoring as this isn’t an individual government, it is a societal issue, but let’s remember there are no short term solutions for long term problems. We need all of us working together to sort this out. We can’t have a situation where our children of tomorrow are having to be fed by volunteers because they can’t afford to do it.”