Wednesday, 16 October 2019


On Saturday afternoon - October 12, 2019 - the St Ives branch of the Labour Party held a public meeting called ‘Austerity in St Ives’ and filled the Salvation Army Hall in Wharf Road, with around 40 people in attendance. The idea for the meeting had been developed in the discussion that followed my talk to the local St Ives branch of the Labour Party which was based on my three blogposts on the theme of Cornwall Under the Tourist Surface - press the links below to open these three posts:

Cornwall under the Tourist Surface - Austerity since 2010;

Cornwall under the Tourist Surface - the Treneere Estate in Penzance;

Cornwall under the Tourist Surface - St Ives Food Bank

It has been so satisfying and exciting to be there at the birth of the idea for the meeting, help with the publicity and the delivery of flyers - and then be present at this important Labour event in Cornwall. We wanted to have a permanent record of the meeting so one of our members, Mary Fletcher, made contact with a local film-maker, Alban Roinard, and we hired him to produce a video of our speaker's talks. The summary below of each of the four talks is accompanied by a link to the video of that speaker's valuable contribution to the meeting. I've also added a link to the introduction by our constituency chairman - Rex Henry.  

George Osborne - Chancellor of the Exchequer (2010-15), now the editor of the Evening Standard

First, though, a detail about an important couple of minutes during that meeting. At one point - when Gill Pipkin in her excellent non-political talk about Citizens Advice in Cornwall and St Ives referred to those on benefit who had not been adversely affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit - a woman behind where Louise and I were sitting interrupted. She began making the case for all those in Cornwall whose lives have been damaged by Conservative policies based on the drive for Austerity. She was talking from the heart; she was a victim. Within a minute or two, she had become so angry she left the meeting - expressing in her final words her fury at anyone who had voted for the Conservative Party. That citizen of our country has been abused by those who govern our society. Her pain and anger must be heard and we must stop this madness.           

The meeting began with an introduction by Rex Henry in which he concluded that we could now talk about a Dickensian world in which there was a tale of two St Ives: the comfortable enough one that most of us in the hall knew and appreciated - and the largely hidden one where hundreds and hundreds of citizens struggled to make ends meet. 

Press this link here for Rex's Introduction.

The leaders of the Coalition Government (2010-15) - The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, is the Deputy PM on the left; the Tory leader, David Cameron, is the PM on the right. Both are responsible for the policy of Austerity. 

The first speaker was Nicole Broadhurst, the Labour Mayor of Penzance, who explained that she had worked in St Ives in her role within social services and then gave a compelling account of how the programme of Austerity that has been government policy since 2010 was never an economic necessity but always a political choice. Her statistics and stories showed how much damage has been done to the British economy and to the lives of ordinary people, many of whom are in work that does not pay enough to live on – and so depend on a state benefit system that does not meet their needs – and end up relying on charity in the form of food banks. 

Press this link here for Nicole's talk.

Jeremy Corbyn - our next PM

Gill Pipkin, the CEO of Citizens Advice (CAB), followed with a non-political summary of the work of her independent organisation locally in these challenging circumstances. She apologised for not being able to establish a CAB in St Ives due to a lack of volunteers and noted that it was an indictment on society that Citizens Advice which had been set up in the 1940s as a war-time initiative should still be needed today. In Cornwall, in the most recent recorded year, there had been 8,500 clients with 39,470 issues; nearly all clients came to the CAB with multiple issues. The introduction of Universal Credit had worked for some but for around 20% nationally, it had been ‘a bit of a catastrophe’. In Cornwall, with its patterns of self-employment and lower winter earnings; zero-hours contracts; and lack of training in IT skills and access to computers, the situation was extremely challenging and felt most by those least able to cope.   

Press this link here for Gill's talk.

Paul Farmer, the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, spoke next and gave a heart-felt picture of a society that now had huge problems, a lot of them arising from the deliberately imposed Conservative policy of Austerity, supported by the Lib-Dem Party in the Coalition Government (2010-15). We now have a society where the richest have seen their share of wealth rise by 5%, whilst the least well-off have become even poorer. It is an issue of imagination; the richest seemingly find it impossible to imagine what life is like for the poor. The media is part of the problem; press and TV appear more sympathetic to the natives of Borneo than our own poor. On the back of an economically insane policy, our nation has become diminished as the most decent things in our society such as schools and the NHS have been deliberately starved of money. Those responsible for Austerity have no vision for the future. Research shows that the areas most hit by Austerity are the ones most supportive of Brexit. The Austerity imposed by David Cameron has ended up creating a nation divided into two tribes, at present represented by the Brexit and Conservative Parties on the one hand and the Lib Dems on the other. The Labour Party has a vision that aims to unite the nation through policies for the many, not the few. 

Press this link here for Paul's talk.

Paul Farmer at the front with a tie surrounded by around 50 of his campaigning team - I'm second from the left - we're at the Heartlands mining heritage centre in Camborne - September 19, 2019. 

Chris Wallis, the organiser of the St Ives Food Bank, gave the concluding talk with a summary of how it first saw the light of day in 2012 and has grown since. Operating now from Chy an Gweal chapel in Carbis Bay, it provides 550 meals a week for around seven families, with that number rising during the winter months. In the Christmas period, 2,500 meals are served by volunteers. But all this is ‘scratching the surface’. This is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Children are going to school hungry; families would prefer to go to Penzance or Hayle for help to avoid the shame of being seen near the local food bank. The St Ives Coop food share scheme is helping top-up this church work. Expansion is necessary to meet the growing need that Brexit may well make even more acute. 

Press this link here for Chris's talk. 

A food bank in Cornwall

The public discussion of these issues at the meeting was informed and passionate with land-reform being raised as an important way to respond to the present crisis. 

The meeting concluded with Paul Farmer repeating his vision for a socialist future, fit for the 21st century, in Britain. Paul became a member of the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn was elected its leader in 2015 because he recognised in Jeremy a man who cared about people and had the policies to change our world for the better. I re-joined the Labour Party in 2015 for the same reasons. 

Press this link here for my socialist story from the website. 


Wednesday, 2 October 2019


And still they come - the Jago stories and the paintings.  My last American Connection blogpost was as recent as September 25, a week ago - but on September 28 I had a Facebook post from Beth Lundry in Nebraska, USA, accompanied by three images. I could not resist sharing the story and images with you straightaway, telling you at the same time that yesterday I made my final amendments to the text of 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' and very soon the indexer will be at work. After the index is complete the book will be ready for the printing press, with publication on the 1st of December, 2019!

Here is Beth's story:

In 1975 my dad was stationed at Upper Heyford Air Force Base in England. I remember Jago Stone coming to our house and painting the watercolor picture below from a picture that my mom took of my brother and I. I was five years old at the time and so amazed watching Jago painting for us that I still remember his visit 44 years later. He originally put my brother and I in the painting just like the picture my mom gave him but then changed it to all four of us on the far side of the river. My mom and I cannot remember where the picture was taken but I have always loved this painting so my mom gave it to me a few years ago and I have it hanging in a bedroom. I wonder how many other Jago paintings are out there and I'm excited to read the story of his interesting life!! Good luck with your search for more Jago paintings!

Beth Lundry, aged 5, with her brother - taken by her mum on a Polaroid camera. This shot is the start of the story …. read on for more detail.

Would the location of this idyllic setting remain a mystery? How did the artist respond to the 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019


Following the pattern that has now become normal, I am sharing the contents of my monthly Jago Stone newsletter - published through Mailchimp - with the wider audience who follow my blogposts on both sides of the Atlantic. Here is the text of the September newsletter, published around a week ago. Apologies to those of you who have already seen and read the following - but there is a very important update concerning publication.  

Available to pre-order - from the publishers (Unicorn), Amazon and Waterstone's

Around a fortnight ago, on Tuesday 3 September, I received this email from my publishers, Unicorn PG:

Dear Rob,
Thank you for your patience. Please find a draft - once you have had a look through please let me know of any changes you wish to make and then I can send it to the indexer.
I suggest we might move the launch to December to allow for our delays. I am so sorry.

 I replied immediately, agreeing that a December publication date would be the best time for the launch. Looking on the bright side, Christmas awaits at the end of December and people will be looking for good presents. What better than a copy of 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone'! 

Having spent the best part of these last two weeks in a painstaking proof-read of my 236 pages, I can assure you that it is still a remarkably good read. And you will have a 'clean' copy, with all the computer glitches removed - I've been identifying all those very many places where my words in standard text have been transformed into the italic text used for passages from other sources - and vice versa. A nightmare! And there was all the page referencing to complete now that the images have been placed in

Saturday, 21 September 2019


Back in late July this year I published a blogpost: 'WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND YOUR BACK IN A NEOLIBERAL SOCIETY - LOST LANDS OF BRITAIN'. I acknowledged my debt to an article published in the London Review of Books (LRB) on May 23: 'The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain' in which Brett Christophers estimates that the state has sold off 2 million hectares of public land - a tenth of our land mass - since 1979, the value of which at today's prices stands at £400 billion. The social housing component of that total is worth £40 billion - the single most valuable slice of that total sum but still only one-tenth of that extraordinary figure. Here's the link - press here - to take you back to that important and disturbing post.

Sometimes, an image can speak volumes …. a thinking point for you, dear reader.

Around the same time as I was publishing that blogpost, I read a special report in the i newspaper that was headlined: Aristocrat UK: landed gentry's fortunes double (Saturday 20 July 2019). Cahal Milmo's story revealed that Britain's 600 aristocratic families have become as wealthy as they were at the height of the British Empire over the last thirty years and specifically that their fortunes have doubled over the last ten years. In other words, since 2010 and the Tory premierships of Cameron and May - with their imposition of austerity that has seen millions impoverished - the landed elite have been raking in the money. This was material that needed sharing more widely. The links with the economic policy of neoliberalism in Britain require teasing out. Financial deregulation and economic liberalisation have been of huge benefit to these very rich men and women.

Just a reminder of where we've come from - another thinking point for you.

A hereditary title is now worth an average of more than £16 m - nearly twice the value it stood at prior to the global financial crisis of 2008. Since 1979 and the start of the Thatcher years, the value of

Tuesday, 17 September 2019


Brace yourself. This post will make for uncomfortable reading. Regular readers will know that my understanding of the world has been shaped by articles that are published in the London Review of Books (LRB) and that I value the opportunity to widen the circulation of these important ideas through the medium of my blog-posts. At the beginning of August, the LRB edition included a review by Francis Gooding of a book by David Wallace-Wells (2019), The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future. Here's the bad news:

Marshalling research from all quarters, Wallace-Wells 'paints a picture of disastrous change on an almost incomprehensible scale'. His focus is on the most direct effects of global warming - hotter temperatures, rising seas, extreme weather, and so on. He reminds us that of the five previous mass extinctions that we now know have occurred on our planet only the most recent was caused by an asteroid. The other four were all due to 'climate change produced by green-house gas'.

Our children are speaking truth to power. 

We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a rate 'considerably faster' than it took to cause the almost total destruction of complex life in the deadliest of these mass extinctions, 250 million years ago. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that if emissions continue at their present rate, the earth could be warmer by 4.5 degrees C by 2100. Permafrost in the Arctic is already melting, with the potential to release large amounts of methane. Hydrogen sulphide is currently bubbling out of the sea and forming vast organic dead zones of green sulphur bacteria in four hundred identified zones, totalling an area the size of Europe. The oceans are beginning to die.

Our future - their future - their children's future

'Dying Oceans' is one of 12 chapters in which Wallace-Wells analyses what he calls the 'elements of chaos'. Each is dedicated to a particular feature of a warming world, such as:

Crop failure - freshwater shortages - violent and unpredictable weather - leading to greater migration and more wars.

The US military is planning for a new era of conflict governed by global warming; so too is China. We are looking at the fantasies of science fiction coming true: end-time resource wars on a dying planet.  

Disaster movie - for real

Everything that happens within our interconnected ecological system has consequences elsewhere. One major wildfire in California can wipe out the emission savings of the entire state for a year. The loss of forests to fire adds to the disaster of worldwide deforestation, a major cause of increasing carbon emissions.

The 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions accepted that  a reduction by 2 degrees C was a 'must-meet target'. This now seems improbable. Overall emissions continue to rise. Wallace-Wells writes: 'We have now already exited the state of environmental conditions that allowed the human animal to evolve in the first place in an unsure and unplanned bet on just what that animal can endure. The climate systems that raised us, and raised everything we now know as human civilisation, is now, like a parent, dead.'

Extinction Rebellion protest during the PM's visit to the Royal Cornwall Hospital - 19/08/2019  

Faced with a planetary-scale crisis that requires urgent action now, the powerful and wealthy elites who govern us are left exposed - and that is why Friday's Global Climate strike is so important. Our children are saying the Emperor has no clothes - he is naked. Stop pretending - and act now.

12 noon - Monday 19 August, 2019 - the PM of the United Kingdom is driven away in convoy from the RCH, Truro as Extinction Rebellion and supporters deliver their message. The protesters never saw him - did he see or hear them? Press coverage of the protest: virtually non-existent.  

What we need - urgently - are vast, co-ordinated programmes of de-carbonisation.

What we have is the former head of British counter-terrorism claiming that Extinction Rebellion represents 'anarchism with a smile'. State security services and corporate interests line up to declare environmental groups a threat. In fact, such groups are in Francis Gooding's words: the 'vanguard of planetary salvation'.

Walls have ears - word got out of the PM's visit - the Extinction Rebellion protest was arranged forthwith - smart work! Supporters of Extinction Rebellion are shown in this image; Rob Donovan, the author, is on the far left …. 

If we are to save ourselves, the IPCC says that global mobilisation on the scale of the second World War will be necessary. This Friday is lighting up the way to such action. JOIN US, PLEASE!   I'm at Lemon Quay in Truro from 10.30 am - google to find the location of your nearest strike for sanity.

Finally, do click this link BY PRESSING HERE to revisit or read for the first time my May blog-post: CLIMATE CHANGE SOS - AND THE ROLE OF A JEREMY CORBYN-LED LABOUR GOVERNMENT

Sunday, 25 August 2019


In this blogpost I am sharing the material from the August edition of my Mailchimp Jago newsletter. If you have already seen this, I hope you enjoy refreshing a memory - and there is something new to savour: an image of the Amazon order page for 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' where the book is available for a pre-publication order at £20. Personally, I would take advantage of the pre-publication order at £15 on the Unicorn PG website - Unicorn is my publisher. If you are interested, press here for the link.


The biography is still waiting in a queue at Unicorn for final edits but the marketing team led by Louise Campbell has been in touch and various avenues are being explored. More on that next month. In this post, I will focus again on yet more Jago discoveries that came to me through cyberspace this past week.  

 The publication date is October 1, 2019

If you know anyone you think might be interested in these mailings about 'Jago' please encourage them to follow the link to my website. Here it is: They can join you as subscribers - 64 to date. Thank you, Suzannah, for adding your name to the list of subscribers.

You can also use this page to access all my Jago Stone blogs. The blog-posts are also there for your enjoyment - and comments. Press this link here to start accessing these posts:
First, a solution to last month's puzzle:
Where was the location of 'The Fox and Hounds' - Jago Stone (1978)?
Tantalisingly, the location of this particular Fox and Hounds remained unclear and so I made my plea for help. 
Trevor Jones, a Jago fan here in the UK who has been helpful before, came up trumps on 25th July when he emailed me with a google link, advising: 'Try this one, Rob'.  I did and it is

Saturday, 17 August 2019


The i newspaper published a piece by The Secret Barrister last Wednesday - August 14 - which deserves wider circulation. It has two headlines:

Johnson's plan to lock up more criminals is a con

While the Prime Minister is lying to you, the rest of the criminal justice system rots 

HMP Birmingham in crisis - Lockdown - 1 March 2019

Here is a summary of the main points - and a link to the secret barrister's website: press here.

  •  Boris Johnson's plans are a con. He declares: 'Left-wingers will howl. But it's time to make criminals afraid - not the public'. Criminals must 'get the sentence they deserve'. In other