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Sunday, 28 August 2011

How Cornish do you feel?

There always in life, seems to be something that makes the wheels come off. Yesterday a guy posted on the “Kernow Branch of the Celtic Leagues” FB page, an e-mail response from someone that has contact with an MP, who is fighting for Minority Status. To summarize that e-mail, the petition I started to “Recognise Cornwall as a National Minority”, is “worded incorrectly” and is “premature.”

He also suggests that there is “cautious optimism” in regard to the Cornish achieving “Minority Status” and that the Minister in charge is currently considering the cause.
The fact of the matter is that the Govt. is preparing yet another draft for the United Kingdom’s “National Minority Status” groups, to present to the Council of Europe.  According to the Cornish Ethnicity Data Tracking Group, the recent draft that was released three weeks ago seemed to go backwards in terms of clearly defining what Minority Status means and what effect it will have on each group.  This is the report by CEDTG and it clearly sets out the issues that there are with the Govt. and its handling of “Minority Status.”
The UK Government has admitted to signing the Convention not to protect minorities but to “underline its commitment to tackle racial discrimination.” 
This one statement alone makes the whole issue become clouded. What is the govt. trying to achieve with Minority Status??
I am slowly but surely beginning to believe that “Minority Status” may well be granted to the “Cornish” but why is it I get this feeling that as part of that step Cornwall will remain part of England. A kind of, “We’ll give you Minority Status but Cornwall stays English!” A nice pacifier for the Cornish.

So what now?
I think the first thing that needs to be done is that some kind of classification needs to be created, as to what it is exactly the people of Cornwall want. From my own experience, it depends very much on what part of Cornwall you come from. I was born in Helston and lived in Falmouth from the age of 9, my mother is from Camborne and my Father lived in Penzance. Generally speaking there is a far greater Nationalist outlook in Camborne, Penzance and Helston than there is in Falmouth. I had many friends in school who were born in Cornwall but whose parents were not Cornish. Can you expect incomers to have the same passion for devolution or independence as a proper Cornish “Born and Bred” person?
I noticed that on some forums discussing the petition that there was a sense that the people of Cornwall should have a vote on the subject. I also noticed that the automatic assumption of a lot of people looking into this debate is that it is another cause initiated by the “Whining Nationalists.”

Redefinition is needed!
I feel that we can very basically split the Cornish debate into four categories which roughly encompass everybody but certainly not all.

1.    1.   No change. Those that believe Cornwall is part of England and that there is no need for any change.

2.     2.  Unionists--Cornish not English. Those that are quite happy that Cornwall is part of Great Britain and happy that Cornwall is part of the UK but would love to see Cornwall separated from England.

3.    3.   Devolutionists. Basically all that is in 2 (probably wouldn’t describe themselves as Unionists). But would also welcome some kind of Assembly in Cornwall.

4.     4.   Nationalists.  Want full independence from England and the United Kingdom.

This is a very rough breakdown and most people might be unable to categories their feelings into these simple boundaries. The key here is that we need to discover just how “Cornish” the people of Cornwall consider themselves. Any change to the status of Cornwall or its people needs to happen with a consensus of opinion. There must be a mandate that is supported by the majority for change to be successful.
I personally fall into category 2. I consider myself a Unionist, but want separation from England. The term “Unionist” is an expression that, as far as I can see, is one that is not used in Cornwall to categories people. Maybe it is about time it should! I have no statistics to back up this claim but I would hazard a guess that a very large chunk of people in Cornwall would fall into this category.

The waiting game.
There is certainly a groundswell of Cornish opinion that would like to see at the very least a separation from England. This is the approach everyone who is not a category 1. person in Cornwall should take. I get this strong gut feeling that Minority Status will only give us a status as a minority group but Cornwall itself will still remain part of England. Will that not serve to enrage us yet further? There is nearly a year before the Minority Status e-petition runs out and it gives us time to get the message out there that change is needed. Certainly from my own point of view, I have networked with like-minded people and I will be promoting the Unionist approach.

Cheering for Cornwall!
For me, and I believe for a lot of young people and moderates, separation from England opens the door for our sporting teams to represent our fine Duchy on the International stage. I’ve started a FB page “Cornish Pride, Cornish Recognition” and will be trying hard to branch out to the disenfranchised masses in Cornwall and get them interested in a separate Cornwall through non-political methods.
Please help me spread the word especially to those who don’t seem bothered by Cornish history.

Devils Advocate!
I’m already aware that my opinions have annoyed some Cornish Campaigners, believe me my heart says that I should fight strongly on the Nationalist front. However, my head tells me to achieve what we all desire first, separation from England, then we simply must attempt to involve more Cornish people, who ordinarily are turned off by those very things that makes Cornwall what it is.

Thanks especially to Rob @Cernyw for his support.
Let’s keep up the good work!

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