The latest book by Bernard Deacon does as its blurb describes and ‘gives us a ground-breaking interpretation of the history of Cornwall between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans’.
During the introduction, Deacon explains that he ‘became increasingly surprised and not a little irritated that no-one had bothered to write an up-to-date or convincing narrative history of medieval Cornwall’ and to make sense of an age that no longer warrants the description of ‘dark’. He arrives at conclusions that echo those reached by John Angarrack and that ‘the central point about anglocentric historians’ attitude to early medieval Cornwall stands’. He also highlights the ‘failure to assimilate the Cornish culturally ultimately meant that they were never entirely assimilated politically’.
The Cornish language is now recognised and Cornish ethnicity finally afforded recognition by the UK Government. It can only be hoped that this recognition will see the Cornish become even less ‘culturally and politically’ assimilated; maybe even to the extent of their bringing recognition to Cornwall itself, rather than remain under an English administration and ‘county’ status.
This book is recommended reading for all those with an interest in this period of Cornish history, especially the Cornish themselves who, due to an assimilating anglocentric school curriculum, would remain ignorant of their ancestors’ progression during a period in Cornwall that may no longer be described as the ‘dark age’.
Cornwall Council: a mechanism for change, or the puppet of an assimilating English Administration?
The Cornish language is now officially recognised. Also, similar to the Welsh and Scots, the Cornish themselves are a recognised ethnic group within the UK under the terms of the FCNM agreement.
Yet this recognition to prevent Cornish assimilation is undermined by the fact that Cornwall itself continues to suffer the ignominy, the assimilation, of being reduced to an ‘English county’. An administration that serves to assimilate Kernow/Cornwall and therefore by definition has an assimilating effect upon the Cornish (the English School Curriculum fails to include Cornish history) which defies the spirit of FCNM that states:
Article 5: Without prejudice to measures taken in pursuance of their general integration policy, the Parties shall refrain from polices or practices aimed at assimilation of persons belonging to national minorities against their will and shall protect these persons from any action aimed as such assimilation.
The result of the 2011 Census found that in Cornwall, 73,200 people from 532,273 of Cornwall’s population (14%) recorded their ethnicity as ‘Cornish’. These figures that show that the Cornish are a minority group in Cornwall their homeland. Figures also demonstrate that the Cornish being a minority do not have the numbers, the critical mass required to effect change either through referenda, or the ballot box.
It should become the responsibility of Cornwall Council to adopt a more assertive role. Rather than being perceived as the ‘puppet’ of an English administration, it should act as a ‘mechanism for change’ to bring about a Cornish administration through the setting-up of a Cornish Assembly. Cornwall Council’s CEO Kate Kennally has stated publicly she is a ‘big believer in the [Cornwall’s] devolution deal.’
A letter sent to both the CEO Kate Kennally and Leader John Pollard of Konsel Kernow received a joint response written by Ms Kennally:
In relation to the specific subject of devolution, I am convinced that the Cornwall Deal which was agreed in July 2015 will be the catalyst to achieving greater autonomy for Cornwall, on the proviso that Cornwall can demonstrate that it has used that first tranche of devolved powers, flexibilities and freedoms to accelerate economic growth and deliver public service reform – particularly health and social care integration.
Linked to this the Leader announced at the full Council meeting on 26 January 2016 that the Local Government Boundary Commission has agreed to the Council’s request to vary the terms of the forthcoming *electoral review of Council divisions to allow for a fundamental appraisal of governance arrangements in the Duchy. It is not my place to second guess the outcome of the review or state a preferred governance model the outset. However, I fully anticipate that the creation of a Cornish Assembly or some form of devolved administration will feature prominently in the discussions.
CEO Kate Kennally.
The review of parliamentary boundaries, initiated by David Cameron, is due this month when it will become clear if Cornwall Council can demonstrate the ability of varying the Commission’s terms. What fundamental ‘appraisal of governance’ will be negotiated in the Duchy must be the groundwork that will result in Kernow/Cornwall having a Cornish administration; a Cornish Assembly.
* Boundary Review (based on the provisions within the Act and the present electorate of Cornwall) would inevitably include the creation of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” constituency.
The Cornish have their own recognised language and the Cornish people themselves are a recognised minority group in the UK. Cornwall has its own patron Saint, St Piran, who is celebrated on March 5th where Cornwall’s National flag is flown throughout Cornwall and areas of England. It has its very own National anthem ‘Trelawny’. Cornish place-names (an estimated 80% are of the Cornish language) provides visible evidence of Cornwall’s Cornish/Celtic identity.
Yet this identity remains hidden under a political cloak of an English administration. The voices of the Cornish minority are effectively ‘gagged’ as they continue to suffer the ignominy of English assimilation that forces Cornwall – the homeland of the Cornish – to be identified as nothing more than an ‘English county’ and the Cornish cry of ‘Kernow bys Vyken!’ (Cornwall for ever!) rendered meaningless.
An example of Cornish voices being ignored appeared on Wednesday 12th, December 2001, when a delegation from Cornwall presented a declaration consisting of over 50,000 signatures for a Cornish Assembly. The Labour government at that time chose not to respond.
While England imposes its own identity upon Cornwall, it demands that other cultures assimilate to an English identity also. This hypocrisy highlighted in the article ‘A land built on blood’ by Hywel Williams.
This assumed English superiority, so prevalent throughout the decades of colonising other countries, remains the case in Cornwall today, and upheld further by an Anglo-centric mentality that exists at Cornwall Council that calls for English devolution, rather than Cornwall having its own self-defining Cornish Assembly.
Cornwall’s assimilation is further assured by the imposed English school curriculum in Cornish schools. Failing as it does to include Cornwall’s history and its progress leading up to the Roman occupation and departure, its wars with invading Anglo-Saxons (English ancestors), it serves to define the ethnicity of Cornish children as ‘English’. With a curriculum that also excludes even a basic understanding of the Cornish language, its inevitable that sections of Cornish schoolchildren reject any pride in Cornish identity and instead become ‘English Wannabees’. Their assimilation complete.
During a Energy and Climate Change debate (14/7/2016) Cornwall MP Steve Double, raised the issue of deep geothermal as a source of renewable energy to the newly appointed Minister of State for Enviornment, Andrea Leadsom.
Eden Deep Geothermal Energy Project (Image: Eden Project)
As both these MP’s are in the pro-Brexit camp, its unsurprising that EU funding, being a factor towards Cornwall’s geothermal future , is notably missing from the debate:
“What assessment she has made of the potential contribution of deep geothermal as a source of renewable energy.”
“Owing to our geology, deep geothermal power is likely to make a small contribution to electricity supply. However, Cornwall is one area where the technology can work and I am pleased that this is part of the devolution deal for Cornwall. Deep geothermal heat has greater potential and we are supporting its development through the renewable heat incentive and through feasibility studies funded by the heat network delivery unit.”
“I thank the Minister for that response. Deep geothermal has the great benefit of being a baseload energy source that is not reliant on variable weather conditions, and, as the Minister points out, Cornwall is one place where great potential for geothermal lies. As she is aware, a scheme is being developed at the Eden project in my constituency. May I invite her to visit Cornwall to see for herself the huge potential that there is for geothermal development there?”
“I am grateful to my hon. Friend; nothing would please me more than a nice holiday in Cornwall right now. I am very pleased to hear that the EGS Energy and Eden project development is progressing well and, as he knows, it has the potential to produce power for about 4,000 homes and to make a very important contribution to the local community.”
Mr Double has assured the people of Cornwall that EU funding will continue at least until ‘the legal status of the UK’s relationship changes with the EU. He has made a further assurance that “The money we get from the EU is essentially just a small fraction of what we’ve handed over. If we leave the EU, we could utilise that extra £11bn a year in a number of important sectors.”
So can those in Cornwall who are in receipt of EU funding, or have applied for EU funding for the future, be assured that when the UK leaves the EU, Westminster will make up the shortfall? Not really, as Westminster’s refusal to fund Cornwall adequately was the reason it qualified for the EU funding in the first place.
With the new Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement likely to be about public spending and deficit reduction, Cornwall’s geothermal future is not looking good.
Although not requiring ‘official recognition’ to prove the existence of Cornish ethnicity, after centuries of English erosion, the Cornish were finally afforded recognition by the UK government in 2014.
But if this act had the potential for a demand that Cornwall itself should be afforded the same recognition, it didn’t materialise. It seems the Cornish, or at least some of them, remain happy to have their homeland remain under an English administration that allows further assimilation of Cornwall.
Proud to be Cornish
Throughout history, Cornish pride has been reflected in their battles with the English that included taxation, the imposed English language and more recently, Cornish people could be seen protesting against London’s ‘Devonwall’ agenda.
They have also campaigned tirelessly to reclaim their language that won official recognition in 2003 and, as mentioned earlier, campaigned for the recognition of their Cornish ethnicity that was in danger of being completely assimilated into an English identity. These people are ‘proud to be Cornish’ many of whom are invited to become Bards of Gorsedh Kernow, and declare that pride by writing ‘Cornish’ on the UK Census that provides statistical evidence on the proportion of the Cornish population.
The not so proud to be Cornish
However, this pride of being Cornish is not reflected throughout Cornish people. Indeed, Cornish identity may be described as a paradox; a minority within a minority. As already said, there are those who remain passionately Cornish, retaining their Celtic spirit similar to that of their kinfolk in Wales and Scotland, but with others it is more superficial, only appearing at certain times such as Cornwall’s ‘St Piran’s Day’ and rugby matches, then to be to be put away and reverting to an ‘English’ identity.
These so-called ‘English wannabees’ have either knowingly or unknowingly (an English school curriculum fails to include Cornish history) have chosen not to acknowledge their Cornish ethnicity. When speaking of ‘us’ and ‘we’ they are referring not to their fellow Cornish people, but rather to their adopted English neighbours. Having no use for their Cornish identity, no pride in being Cornish, their assimilation into ‘English’ has been complete.
Cornish people who cast aside their identity are effectively making the Cornish minority an even lesser minority, and risk Cornish identity being wiped out altogether.
Our Cornishness must not be treated like a suit or dress to be worn on special occasions. It should a matter of pride and also a personal responsibility that ensures Cornish nationality will survive for future generations.
People in Cornwall have aired views in local media mainly sighting immigration as their major concern. Most of those interviewed had regional accents that have drifted into Cornwall from the East – of the Tamar that is. But the lack of Cornish accents is hardly surprising since the indigenous Cornish people make up just 14% of the population.
Yes, the Cornish have inhabited this island since pre-Roman times and up until relatively recently (1549) the language of Cornwall was Cornish, but it went into major decline. You see, the English idea of assimilation is for everyone to assimilate with them, not the other way around. They resort to ‘reverse assimilation’ that was so successful in Wales and elsewhere, and decided to impose their English language prayer-book onto a Cornish speaking people.
Some 453 years later, a predominately English Westminster might have felt the pangs of guilt when in 2002, they finally recognised and agreed to fund the Cornish language. If they did, those pangs of guilt were merely a temporary blip. Last April, they decided to cut all funding for the Cornish language.
Now here’s the thing. After centuries of England’s imposed assimilation, it’s the English regions that are now protesting about how they are being overrun by immigrants who are failing to assimilate and are marginalising English identity. England is now demanding people learn English. ‘No change there then’ exclaim the surviving Celtic groups.
But the English have a problem. Their methodology has had to change. No longer can they charge into and claim the lands of other people to impose their identity. They have developed a less bloodthirsty tactic to ensure the survival of their ‘Englishness’.
No democracy is perfect or ever likely to be. The EU certainly isn’t and requires some fundamental changes. But no one can argue about the benefits of EU structural funding that has provided for Cornwall’s growth and inward investment that is set to continue. The European funding comes from budget contributions from all EU member states.
Cornwall’s Conservative MP Sheryll Murray, has said money from Europe would be better channelled through the government.This is also the view of Cornwall’s other Conservative MPs including Scott Mann; Steve Double; George Eustice and Derek Thomas.
This is a remarkable claim to make and evidence of ‘cognative dissonance’ in the minds of our MPs considering it was Westminster’s refusal to fund Cornwall adequately in the first place that guaranteed Cornwall’s EU funding.
So what has the EU done for Cornwall?
Over the last decade, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has benefited from EU investment to accelerate its transition towards becoming a sustainable, service-driven economy
£7.1 million for development of Pendennis Shipyard
£50 million invested into contructing the Eden Project
£4 million to redevelop Truro & Penwith College, including new buildings and the refurbishment of existing buildings
£173.2 million for Combined Universities in Cornwall
£3.9 million for the Aerohub Business Park near Newquay Airport
£6.7 million improving Land’s End and St Mary’s Airports
£53 million to bring superfast fibre broadband to 95% of the Duchy
£9.9 million establishing the Health & Wellbeing Innovation Centre at Treliske Hospital
£4.7 million towards the Peninsula Dental School, part of which is based at Treliske Hospital
£949.760 towards a new operations facility for the Cornish Air Amblulance
£24.3 million redeveloping Newquay Airport
£19.9 million constructing and developing the Wave Hub renewable energy project in St Ives Bay
There is a further £1 billion due to be invested in Cornwall over the next 7 years:
Camborne School of Mines: Funding for Cornwall’s Deep Geothermal Projects Funding to develop deep geothermal projects is being provided through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Programme. Running from 2014-2020 the European funded economic regeneration programme for the region will contribute to the EU ambition to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
‘Westminster gives Cornwall the crumbs from the top table
while the EU provides the opportunity for the full menu’
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