The people of Cornwall vote for ‘more of the same ’ can they expect support or sympathy?

Housing

It’s what we do in Cornwall, we moan, get angry (or get a ‘bit teazy’ as we d’say down here).  Our anger manifests itself when people buy-up Cornish housing stock.  Often referred as ‘2nd homes’  they can form part of a larger multi-property portfolio of a single individual.   The fact that these portfolio holders are depriving someone in Cornwall of their first home, is not worthy of  consideration.  Their ‘bolt-holes’ are their priority, not some uppity individuals in Cornwall trying to get on the housing ladder.


 

Planning

We get annoyed about planning and the unsustainable housing targets directed upon Cornwall by central government.  New housing built that does little for those earning the average wage in Cornwall, but more to accommodate the affluent from east of the Tamar.  Attracting population growth that affects climate change, imposes negatively upon our finite resources and infrastructure, is not only unsustainable, but also detracts from our quality of life.

 

Holiday homes

The latest target of our anger are holiday home owners that have taken full advantage of a loophole and have claimed over £50 million of grants.  These grants were made available to small businesses in Cornwall to help them survive during the coronavirus pandemic. 

These holiday home owners have taken advantage of a business rate loophole  that has properties valued for business rates when the owners declare their property is available to let as ‘holiday accommodation’ for 140 days or more in a year.  Any property registered for business rates, rather than Council Tax (Cornwall Council loses thousands of pounds in lost Council Tax) is likely to qualify for small business rate relief. This provides 100% relief from business rates, so no tax is due on properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.  

 

Underfunding

We are angered at the poverty in Cornwall and how it impacts upon our children and future generations.  Cornwall, (despite denials from Westminster) continues to suffer underfunding to the extent that the council has to impose exponential council tax rises just to keep our essential services running – not to make them any more efficient.  

The aforementioned issues are nothing new and all the main political parties are guilty.  Also, apart from appealing for more funding, Cornwall Council is virtually impotent.   It can do very little but remain culpable in directing the policies of Westminster upon the towns and communities of Cornwall.  

 

People vote for ‘More of the same’

People complain to councillors, make protests and start petitions – all to little or no avail.  Yet (and perhaps the most bizarre and ultimately self-defeating action) they insist upon voting for the parties that impose those unsuitable and unsustainable policies upon Cornwall that impacts heavily against them.  Can they therefore expect any support, or indeed sympathy, when they essentially vote for ‘more of the same’?  

 

Devolved Cornwall

Many decades have proven that Cornwall cannot make the  changes required by voting for the main political parties that deliver ‘more of the same’ – more second homes, more holiday homes, more unsustainable housing targets, more development and more underfunding that contributes to more Council Tax rises.

We require real change – and that requires real devolution – drawing down powers from the halls and chambers of Westminster, to the streets and communities of Cornwall.

The only party that campaigns for a devolved Cornwall is Mebyon Kernow.   Although not Independence, a Cornish Assembly would allow devolution to the extent of affording the people of Cornwall to have more say in how their lives are run, and that locally elected politicians can take the key decisions about Cornwall’s future – not the unelected bureaucrats or MPs who are dedicated more to their party than Cornwall, concerned more about keeping their £80,000 salary, plus expenses.

Consider joining Mebyon Kernow – the party for Cornwall.

If you would like to apply for membership offline, please click here.

A National Assembly of Cornwall

Despite recognition, the Cornish remain recipients of state discrimination

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

Section II

Article 4

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.

Article 5

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.

Article 6

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.

Article 12

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.  

Cornwall was never formally incorporated into the English state, yet suffers the ignominy of a subordinate ‘county’ of England

‘The concept of the Duchy (Duchy of Cornwall) rests on the existence of a separate and ancient territory of Cornwall. That separate territory has never been assimilated [included] formally into England’.

Mr Recorder Paul Laity (1989)

 

Ancient Duchy Charters acknowledge Cornwall as a place extra-territorial to England subject to its own tax-raising powers.  Exemptions exist because, in law, the English summons of exchequer does not apply to the leader of Cornwall (Duke of Cornwall) and the territory under his command.

This situation is outlined in the third Duchy Charter in ‘Letters Patent’ Royal Command:

We have granted to the Duke [of Cornwall] that he forever have the Summons of the Exchequer of Us or Our Heirs, so that no sheriff, bailiff or Minister of Us or Our Heirs enter those fees to execute said summonses, or do any other official act [officium] there except in default of the Dukes of the said place.

(3rd Duchy Charter, January 1338)

Further to the 3rd Duchy Charter, Sir George Harrision explained:
A careful examination of the 3rd Duchy Charter shows that all remaining Crown rights were transferred to the Duke (of Cornwall).  The Crown of England therefore has entirely denuded itself of any remnant of sovereign authority which it once enjoyed in Cornwall.   Duchy Attorney General Sir George Harrison, 1857.

 

 

 

 

We Cornish are proud of our identity – 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 identity: 

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.

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 and we are deluding ourselves if we think otherwise.

If Cornish players, and the Cornish in general, are in any way 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 identity 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 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

 

 

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

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.