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Real England by Paul Kingsnorth

I e-mailed the author of Real England -Paul Kingsnorth - for his thoughts on the Cornish question, his response is below.

He gives a very refreshing opinion for someone who is in many ways an English nationalist. He contacted MK members and does treat the Cornish question in his book, which I've yet to read, so perhaps his response below should come as no surprise. The call for an English Parliament and English nationalism in general should not be judged too quickly on the basis of the cluster of rightwing, europhobic and reactionary parties that has sprung up since devolution.

In e-mails that followed Paul and I both looked forward to the day when English and Cornish could work together for a more equitable settlement for all.

He wrote:

It often seems to be the case that those who speak for England and those who speak for Cornwall end up at loggerheads in the current constitutional debate. They shouldn't. Whatever your views on whether Cornwall is, or should be, part of England, it seems to me that there is a growing clamour both in England and in Cornwall for the same thing: recognition of cultural identity, and a just political settlement.

Since 1998, England has been politically disadvantaged, and for longer than that it has seen its cultural identity dismissed in favour of 'Britishness' or 'multiculturalism.' Cornwall, as others can articulate much better than me, has similar issues. The problem facing Cornwall, though, it seems to me, is not 'the English' as such - I doubt whether most English people even know of the debate. The problem is the British establishment.

It is the British establishment - desperate to save 'the union' on which its future depends - which denies a cultural identity to both Cornwall and England; and the British establishment which denies them both political representations too. I am a firm believer in self-determination for all peoples. I visited Cornwall when writing my book, Real England, and saw - and wrote - a lot about the serious economic and political disadvantages there. There's no doubt in my mind that Cornwall should have an assembly if its people want one. Similarly, there is no doubt in my mind that the English should have a parliament. I believe both would breathe fresh life into our respective nations and identities, and that both could work together very well.

Things are changing fast, and the British state in its current form will not last. I'd love to see the English question and the Cornish question answered at the same time. I hope we can all work together to pursue both goals.

All the best,



rr25 said...

Surely part of the problem is the boundary question? It would be perfectly possible (and in some ways more logical) to argue for a "Greater Dumnonia" (aka West Wales) encompassing the whole of the West Country.

It might even be logical (on the rather depressing analogy of Bangladesh) to argue in favour of a Welsh state incorporating Cornwall (and Brittany if you wanted to be really ambitious).

cornubian said...

If you think nations and national identities should be ultimately disposable in the name of 'boundary questions' then I suppose your right. However I will have to disagree.