After many years of campaigning, the Cornish language received formal recognition on 5th November 2002.
After further campaigning, the UK government finally recognised the distinct identity of Cornish people under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on 24th April 2014. A legally binding instrument under international law affording Cornish people the same status of protection as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, Welsh and Irish.
Now consider the following:
Articles of the FCNM
1 The Parties [UK] undertake to guarantee to persons belonging to national minorities the right of equality before the law and of equal protection of the law. In this respect, any discrimination based on belonging to a national minority shall be prohibited.
1 The Parties undertake to promote the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national minorities to maintain and develop their culture, and to preserve the essential elements of their identity, namely their religion, language, traditions and cultural heritage.
2 Without prejudice to measures taken in pursuance of their general integration policy, the Parties shall refrain from policies or practices aimed at assimilation of persons belonging to national minorities against their will and shall protect these persons from any action aimed at such assimilation.
1 The Parties shall encourage a spirit of tolerance and intercultural dialogue and take effective measures to promote mutual respect and understanding and co-operation among all persons living on their territory, irrespective of those persons’ ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity, in particular in the fields of education, culture and the media.
1 The Parties shall, where appropriate, take measures in the fields of education and research to foster knowledge of the culture, history, language and religion of their national minorities and of the majority.
And yet, even though the UK government signed up to those articles, the Cornish language and history continues to be excluded from the school curriculum in Cornwall. Children in Cornwall, taught the state-imposed curriculum that ignores the articles of the FCNM, remain the unwitting subjects of state assimilation.
Office for National Statistics
Discrimination against the Cornish is extended further by the ONS. The FCNM is ‘A legally binding instrument under international law affording Cornish people the same status of protection as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scottish, Welsh and Irish’. Yet, unlike the Scottish, Welsh and Irish, the ONS refuses to include a Cornish identity ‘tick-box’ on the UK Census.
The 2011 UK Census required those who wished to identify as Cornish having to tick ‘Other’ then write in ‘Cornish’. The result was 14% recorded their identity as Cornish.
Apart from being discriminatory, excluding a specific Cornish tick-box undermines the purpose of the UK Census in accurately recording data for those wishing state their identity as Cornish. For example, in 2001, the inclusion of a specific tick-box for “Welsh” increased the percentage of people identifying as Welsh from 14% (similar to the 14% that identified as Cornish) to 66%.
The ONS continues to refuse recommendations from the Council of Europe to “Take the necessary measures to include a Cornish ‘tick-box’ in the next census in view of the Cornish people’s recognition as a national minority”.
The Cornish remain the recipients of state discrimination; the only group recognised by the Government under the Framework Convention that do not have the option of a tick-box in the UK Census.