Having been around since pre-Roman times, it wasn’t until April 24th 2014 that the Cornish people received official recognition; the right to exist.
“Although, of course, we don’t need “official recognition” to prove that we are Cornish, securing our rightful status alongside the Welsh, Scots, Irish etc. is no less than the Cornish deserve.”
Cornishman, Andrew George MP
Now it’s time for Cornwall itself be afforded that same recognition and to exist as a recognised entity in its own right, rather than a subordinate ‘county’ of England.
Kernow/Cornwall remains under the influence of an assimilating English State
Now that the Kernewek/Cornish have official recognition, they remain at risk as Cornwall’s own unique identity is absorbed by the continuation of an ‘English county’ administration.
Calls from Gorsedh Kernow for Cornish language and history to be taught in Cornish schools becomes the headline: “Should Cornish be taught in ‘English’ Schools?” Cornish schools are ‘English’ schools and expected to follow the ‘English’ State School curriculum; a curriculum that doesn’t include Cornish language or Cornish history and effectively assimilates Cornwall’s celtic identity into an English identity.
Welsh/Scottish rugby are administered under the Welsh RFU and the Scottish RFU respectively. In contrast, ‘Cornish’ rugby falls under the English RFU and partakes in the English county championships.
Cornwall’s football, cricket etc, all succumb to an English administration. In fact, apart from Cornish Wrestling, its hard to pinpoint any sport in which Cornwall has a top-level structured ‘Cornish’ administration.
Cornwall is invariably described as being ‘in England’ (in fact upon closer inspection of a map, Cornwall, like Wales and Scotland, is next door to England, and practically separated by the river Tamar, of which the English King Athelstan declared its east bank to be the border between Cornwall and England) which is further public assimilation and akin to the old ‘you’re *expletive deleted* English’ put-down when Cornish people had the temerity to assert their identity.
‘County’ is another term used rather than ‘Duchy’. Broadcasters such as the ITV, BBC and Radio Cornwall especially, rarely use ‘Duchy’ when reporting on Cornwall. It seems the editorial preference is to use the more subsuming ‘county’ description.
Westminster has no respect for the historical Cornish border. It is seen as nothing more than a political tool (gerrymandering) to change the administration to favour one party over another. It became known as ‘Devonwall’ and yet another threat to Cornwall’s identity that remains on Westminster’s agenda.
The Duchy of Cornwall charters had Cornwall as ‘extra-territorial’ to England
It’s said that Cornwall’s unique constitution exists within the Duchy Charters that provide legitimacy to the claims that Cornwall has been, and should remain, extra-territorial to England thus ensuring Cornwall’s identity.
John Angarrack (one of the main contributors towards securing Cornish recognition through the FCNM) has thoroughly researched Cornwall’s relationship with the Duchy of Cornwall and describes the drive to ‘retain the duke’s powers and privileges as head of state of Cornwall without undermining London’s effort to absorb this Crown dependency into a greater England’.
The present Duke of Cornwall* is also major contributor to towards Cornwall’s assimilation and continued ‘English county’ admin overseen by Cornwall Council. By employing lawyers that uphold the status quo, he does indeed ‘retain powers and privileges in common with the head of state of Cornwall, while Westminster absorbs Cornwall, the Crown dependency, into a greater England’.
This erosion of Cornwall’s status and identity, has been achieved by covert, un-constitutional wheeling and dealing. Political desicisions made without any formal consultion or referenda for the Cornish people.
*(Assertions made by the Duchy that it is merely a ‘private estate’ has since been rejected by Judge John Angel. During a court case in 2011 that involved the Duke’s environmental impact upon Cornwall, the Judge ruled that the £700m estate should be considered a public authority and not a private estate.)
The Cornish find themselves in a position of which they are an ethnic minority in their own homeland
Cornwall is in a situation that has allowed Westminster, though its House Planning Policy Framework, to build housing in Cornwall that far exceeds the requirements for the natural growth of Cornwall’s population. It is un-sustainable in a Cornwall of finite resources and will further reduce the Cornish minority.
Cornwall Council, being the ‘English county’ council administrator, has very little choice in the matter except to devise its own ‘Local Plan‘ that more or less has to comply with Westminster. It seems a refusal of planning goes to a planning officer in Bristol, who invariably gives the plans the go-ahead.
This situation has been allowed to continue overtime and has progressed to the extent that sees the Cornish become a minority in their own homeland. (see article 16 of the FCNM). A situation that has resulted in Cornish people having little influence upon Cornwall’s indentity.
Perhaps even more remarkable, is that the Cornish themselves could be aiding the demise of Cornwall’s identity. As Andrew George pointed out, some people ‘steadfastly refuse’ to identify themselves as Cornish in spite of having strong Cornish connections, which includes their own distinctive Cornish surnames. These people are effectively reducing the Cornish minority even further.
A mechanism for change?
Cornwall Council had made much of acquiring ‘devolution’ from Westminster to Cornwall in England’. But however well intentioned, it is evident that nothing has been ‘drawn down’ from Westminster that will secure Cornwall’s identity for the future generations of Cornish children.
Cornwall’s political party Mebyon Kernow (Sons of Cornwall) has existed for decades to bring about a Cornish Assembly.
The Assembly would essentially secure Cornwall’s identity as a distinct ‘Cornish’ Cornwall, rather than its current administration as that of an ‘English county’ Cornwall.
But to bring about a Cornish Assembly was never going to be an easy campaign for MK and that remains the case. As mentioned earlier, the Cornish being the minority, struggle to form the ‘critical mass’ to effectively make the changes at the ballot box.
This, coupled with an English-centric media, reluctant to give MK airtime prior to elections – or at any another time for that matter – ensures the party are operating without the political ‘limelight’ that is afforded to the Westminster parties.
Mebyon Kernow continues with its campaign and could be the key, the mechanism for change. As the FCNM enshrined Cornish identity, a Cornish Assembly would do similar for Cornwall’s identity, no longer to be subsumed under an ‘English county’ admin.
“Onen hag Oll” is the Cornish motto. It means ‘One and All’ and that’s what it will take to bring about Cornwall’s recognition. Cornwall’s leaders, Cornwall Council, Cornish groups, Business, Schools – the people of Cornwall – One and All, working towards recognition of Cornwall’s identity.