We Cornish are proud of our ethnicity – but only on England’s terms.

It was the time when we Cornish thought our day had come when on the 24th April 2014, the UK government finally recognised Cornish ethnicity: 

The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish now affords them the same status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.

Five years later and no such status for the Cornish has been afforded.  The Cornish, and Cornwall itself remains  under an assimilating English administration. 

Rugby for instance, one of the main sports in Cornwall, has clubs that fall under the governing body of the English RFU, not a Cornish RFU similar to that of our Celtic counterparts in Wales.

Cornwall plays rugby at county level against Devon along with the other English counties.  Waving and flying the Cornish flag of St Piran; the singing of ‘Trelawny’ doesn’t change Cornwall’s position as that of being subservient under the English flag of St George.  We are deluding ourselves if we think otherwise.

If Cornish players, and the Cornish in general, are in anyway aggrieved at the current situation, it’s not evident.  The pride demonstrated among those Cornish players selected to play for England, and their joy when England wins, shows Cornish ethnicity seemingly counts for very little, except perhaps to wave  St Piran flags after victory.

Supporters too are thrilled when fellow Cornishmen are selected to play for England.  Cornwall’s local news papers, Radio Cornwall and online social media, delight in highlighting those Cornish players that are playing, or have previously played, for England.

With Cornwall’s top rugby club ‘Cornish Pirates’ aspiring to play in the English premiership, Cornwall’s MPs, Cornwall Council and local rugby clubs choosing to remain subservient to England, there is no clear assertion for any demand for change now, or anytime in the near future. 

We are proud to be Cornish, but only on England’s terms.

The Surnames of Cornwall – by Bernard Deacon

‘The Surnames of Cornwall’ by Bernard Deacon

 

The latest book by Cornish historian Bernard Deacon covers the unique Cornish surnames.   Of the famous rhyme by Richard Carew  ‘By the names Tre, Pol and Pen you will know Cornishmen’  Deacon explains, “Actually, you won’t.  At most, you’ll only know about one in 20 Cornishmen (or women) by these criteria. Even in the later 19th century, only around 4-5% of people in Cornwall had surnames beginning with Tre, Pol or Pen.”

The famous Cornish inventor Richard Trevithick (he was not English, as described by some) took his high-pressure steam engines to the silver mines of Peru.  Large Cornish communties gathered all over the world.  The hard rock tin miners were established as far afield as Austrailia; South Africa; Mexico etc; and  it’s estimated that  60% of Cornish people formed the population of Grass Valley in California!

And of course Cornish surnames can be found around the UK not least in the mining district of Yorkshire.

This book is a must for Cornish people and the Cornish diaspora all over the world, and could prove invaluable to those researching their Cornish family tree.

The book can be purchased here: The Surnames of Cornwall

 

 

An analogy of the Cornish electorate

In his book ‘The Pigeon Tunnel’ John le Carré includes a preface that describes him being taken by his father to Monte Carlo on a gambling spree.

Near an old casino was a sporting club that had a length of lawn which included a shooting range that looked out to sea.   Under the lawn ran small parallel tunnels leading to the sea in which live pigeons are inserted that had been hatched and trapped on the casino roof.    Their task was to flutter their way along the dark tunnel and appear in the sky as targets for gentlemen waiting to shoot them down.  Those pigeons that were missed or wounded do what pigeons do and returned to their birth on the casino roof where those  same traps awaited them.

It serves to provide an analogy of the Cornish electorate at the ballot box. They vote for the Westminster parties only to be shot down by those same parties that continually fails them.   They do what the Cornish do and return to the ballot box, election after election, and do exactly the same thing only to be failed again.

The Cornish: Strangers In Their Land

 

Cornish Ethnicity Recognised

In 2014 the UK government formally recognised the Cornish as a national minority that followed its earlier recognition of the Cornish language in 2002.  The Cornish having inhabited this island of Britain for centuries  wonder why the UK government recognition took so long to as ‘The Cornu-Britons had been alive and well since Roman times and the origins of Cornwall date to a period well before that time Devon was grabbed by the English’ (Bernard Deacon: ‘Cornwall’s First Golden Age’)

However since Cornish recognition, the UK government has done little to address Cornish culture and accused of neglect by the Council of Europe;  in fact it has cut all funding for the Cornish language.

Dick Cole, leader of Cornwall’s political party Mebyon Kernow, said ‘the UK government was failing to fulfil its obligations to the people of Cornwall.  The government signed up to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities but have failed to deliver it’.

 

Strangers In Their Land 

In 2011, and despite Cornwall Council’s Cornwall-wide campaign stating that people can write-in ‘Cornish’ on the census, barely 14% of those in Cornwall recorded their ethnicity as Cornish.  Claims that UK Census lacked a Cornish ‘tick-box’ is put forward for the low percentage. Meanwhile, the Cornish continue with their campaign for a dedicated Cornish ‘tick-box’.

The Cornish TIckBox Project: Gemma Goodman, Project Manager, Cllr Jesse Foot, George Eustice MP and Will Coleman of Golden Tree Productions (Image from CornishStuff)

Like other ethnic minorities, the Cornish are becoming increasingly alarmed. As their language has been eroded, so too is their dialect.  Cornish accents once to common to towns in Cornwall, have been replaced by accents common to those the east of the Tamar.  Enabled by decades of mass in-migration, the resulting Cornish minority are in danger of having their number reduced to an even lesser minority; strangers in their land.

The welcoming civic culture of Cornish people has perhaps contributed to their own demise.  Mary McArthur observed, ‘unless the category of Cornish is submerged its possible that the incomers of today will become (or produce) the Cornish of tomorrow’. (Professor Philip Payton, ‘Cornwall – A History’ the revised and updated edition).

The observation that ‘incomers of today will become the Cornish of tomorrow’ would be a most welcome outcome, but clearly this has not been the case – at least not relation to the amount of inward-migraton to Cornwall.  When the Cornish people voice concerns about the reduction, and therefore possible extinction of their ethnic group,  rather than receiving welcome support, sections of the ‘majority’ claim they are ‘made to feel unwelcome’ by the Cornish  – which is one of the more polite expressions directed against the minority.

 

The Future?

We live in hope that the minority of Cornish voices will eventually be heard and supported, not only by Westminster, but also those by those who choose to cross the Tamar and live in the land of Kernow.

Oll an gwella
(All the best)

 

Note:
The Cornish are inclusive:
Cornish by choice
Cornish on purpose
Cornish by Birth
Cornish by marriage
Cornish by accident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornish language recognised, Cornish people recognised: now Cornwall itself must be recognised

Cornwall and the Cornish have existed on this island of Britain prior to the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons.  Yet our Cornish language had to wait until November 2002 for offical recognition, and a further 12 years  for the Cornish themselves to receive official recognition on April 24th, 2014.

It’s now time that Cornwall itself be afforded recognition, to exist as a recognised entity in its own right, similar to that of Wales, Scotland and England, not the continuation of an assimilated, subordinate ‘county’ of England.

Cornwall having the right of self-determination is not just the demand from the Cornish.  Cornish identity is inclusive and people that have moved to Cornwall include some that have an empathy, a sense of belonging to Cornwall and consider themselves Cornish, also feel that Cornwall should have recognition.

 

Recognition in what form?

Recognition will be in the form of a Cornish Assembly similar to that of Wales and Scotland.  Although not full independence, it allows devolved powers designed to suit Cornwall rather than the ‘one size fits all’ policies handed down from Westminster.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall continues its campaign for a Cornish Assembly.

‘The historic Nation of Cornwall has its own distinct identity, language and heritage. As one of the four nations inhabiting the British mainland, Cornwall has the same right to self-determination as England, Scotland and Wales. Mebyon Kernow is leading the campaign for the creation of a National Assembly for Cornwall, with the necessary powers to unlock Cornwall’s true potential’

The Green Party manifesto supports a Cornish Assembly:

‘The Green Party recognises that Cornwall has a distinct historical and geographical identity, and supports (and will actively campaign for) the establishment of an Assembly for Cornwall, which will be supported, in turn, by a new local government structure’

Please consider joining Mebyon Kernow

Or

The Green Party 

 

 

Oggy! Oggy! Oggy! means Pasty! Pasty! Pasty!

Oggy! Oggy! Oggy! the well-known Cornish chant that is the abbreviation of the Cornish language word ‘Hogen’ the the Cornish word for ‘pasty’ and the later version of an Old Cornish word ‘Whyogen’.

Homemade Cornish ‘Oggies’ Pasties

Over the centuries the pasty developed to what has now become the traditional recipe that is recognised under Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) and Protected Designations of Origin. They were usually eaten at crib or croust time and were especially handy for Cornish tin miners.


Ingredients:
Pastry
Beef
Turnip*
Potatoes
Onion
Salt & Pepper
Milk/Egg glaze

The vegetables should be cooked from raw within the pastry and crimped off-centre.  It’s not a pre-cooked stew spread over pastry as one ‘celebrity’ chef did and then claimed it to be a traditional ‘Cornish’ pasty.

Some people use leeks, or carrots (yes, carrots) and ‘crimp’ the pasty near to the bottom, or across the top. This is fine, but that’s just a ‘pasty’ and doesn’t adhere to the traditional Cornish pasty recipe, therefore it’s not a traditional Cornish pasty.

And it has to be Gwrys yn Kernow! (Made in Cornwall)

*The English refer to this vegetable as ‘swede’.

 

Cornwall’s mistrust of Westminster’s politicians eroded further by our own MPs

An example of why Cornwall’s electorate mistrust and lack confidence in their own politicians can be seen further in the following excerpts of a letter from Cornwall MP Sarah Newton in reply to Mr Lance Dyer, Truro City Councillor for Redannick Ward, Cornwall. The full text may be read here.

‘We are very fortunate to live in a democracy where there are a politicians promoting a wide range of views. Cornish nationalists take every opportunity to pick fights with what they call ‘Westminster politicians’ and stir up grievances. The Scottish and Welsh nationalists adopt a similar strategy, trying to undermine politicians like myself who are not only very proud of our deep Cornish roots but also support the Union’

This paragraph alone provides Cornwall’s electorate  with an insight into the mind-set of Ms Newton and how she interprets  voters that have the temerity to question Westminster’s politicians as ‘to pick fights’.

We in Cornwall do question Westminster’s politicians. It’s our right in a so-called democracy to hold politicians to account and yes, they all sit at Westminster. There are indeed those in Cornwall who strive for Cornish devolution. To have its distinct history, language and culture recognised and incorporated through the formation of a Cornish Assembly that will also serve to draw down powers from Westminster: devolved powers that can be better managed by the people of Cornwall, rather than the ‘one size fits all’ diktat of the over-centralised Westminster. These then, are the people to which  Ms Newton refers to as ‘Cornish nationalists’.

She also chooses not to recognise that, unlike the xenophobia of English nationalism that’s evident in groups such as This is England, Britain First, National Front, and National Action etc, that promotes the superiority of their own group to the exclusion of all others, Cornish nationalism is a Civic nationalism that is inclusive and respects all ethnic groups, none of which are deemed superior to the other and are entitled to their own beliefs.

It must also be stressed that an Assembly is not about an ‘independent’ Cornwall. That is how Ms Newton and her ilk conveniently choose to undermine the issue: intending to instill a ‘project fear’ that aims to keep the status quo of Westminster’s control. But of course, independence was at the top of her fellow Cornwall MPs’ agenda when it came to the UK leaving the EU. The ‘building of bridges’ to which they elude now collapse under chauvinistic anglocentricism.

‘I am very proud of my deep Cornish roots and am proud that along with my fellow Cornish MPs we have delivered significant investment into Cornwall, including the Cornish language, heritage and culture over that last few years. I am confident that we will continue to see investments in years to come too’

Again, complete hypocrisy from Ms Newton as she continues to proclaim being ‘proud of my deep Cornish roots’ – so proud in fact that her Tory party stopped all funding for the Cornish language. Further, Cornwall’s status as one of the poorest in the UK and wider EU was eased by European Funding. Upon Brexit the funding will cease and her party of austerity will succeed in making Cornwall an even greater recipient of Westminster – induced poverty.

Ms Newton was also against the Cornish being included within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as evidenced in an article from a column in a local paper:

‘The Convention commits member states to protect what the EU calls ‘minority groups’ living within its borders from persecution. On signing the Convention in 1998 the Labour Government interpreted the term minority group as meaning a racial group. Some in Cornwall are therefore calling on the Coalition to designate the Cornish as a racial group, to pave the way for protection under the Convention. Whilst sympathising with their passion for Cornwall’s distinct identity, culture and history, I have to part with campaigners on this issue’

Ms Newton’s ignorance on the issue should be highlighted as it was the Council of Europe that was the architect of the FCPNM – not the European Union. Also clear that Ms Newton’s claims of her ‘deep Cornish roots’ resembles her integrity – somewhat shallow.

Cornwall’s electorate will ensure any of Ms Newton’s further erroneous utterances will fall  under even more scrutiny – and more mistrust.