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Cornish tickbox for 2011 UK census campaign update

It seems that there are no plans to include a Cornish tick box option on the 2011 UK census; Mebyon Kernow provide full details here

There will be tick boxes for English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British. Those wishing to record themselves as Cornish will need to tick the ‘Other’ box and write in Cornish. This comes after the previous census were around 37,000 people wrote in Cornish after being first forced to deny their Britishness.

The Celtic League suggests that to boycott the census would be the most appropriate response and, whilst I can understand their anger, is this the most effective way forward?

If mass civil disobedience was on the cards with thousands across the Duchy refusing to fill out the census then perhaps, but is this going to happen? A small group of determined but ultimately ignorable individuals refusing the census will serve no purpose whatsoever.

I stand to be corrected and I'm open to other points of view on this.

Some other ideas passed to me by colleagues are as follows.

The first thing is to ascertain that the Cornish code remains on the data base so that those who identify as Cornish will be recorded as such.

The second is to ask what significant concerns there were in Wales about the lack of recognition of 'Welsh' as a separate ethnic group that differed from those raised in Cornwall, and whether it is simply a matter of numbers. What qualifying criteria merit giving the Welsh a tick-box that does not apply to the Cornish.

The third is to seek the support of the Welsh Government for the Cornish case.

The fourth is to enlist the active support of the Cornish MPs to engage with ONS to press for a review of the White Paper position - this should include a meeting with the Home Secretary.

It is folly to refuse to complete the census - firstly, because nobody will take any notice; secondly, it will reduce the number of Cornish responders; thirdly, it is too early in the game to be taking such an entrenched and defeated position. What matters is the Parliamentary Order, not the White Paper. This is the moment to exert positive, constructive pressure via MPs and the Unitary Authority.

In the end, the real criteria for determining the value of census data is whether there is a demand for the data once it is collected. Therefore, looking at page 49 of the White Paper, paragraph 3.53 lists a number of benefits of ethnic data. A polite, constructive and engaging question to all public service providers in Cornwall should ascertain the extent to which they place value upon understanding the needs of those people who describe themselves as 'Cornish' and to follow this up with a request for them to indicate to the ONS that they will find Cornish data useful, and will purchase it.

We could also press the new Unitary Authority to undertake to market the method for ticking OTHER and writing in Cornish, as ONS did in Wales in 2001 - which only produced a similar result to that achieved in Cornwall. One key point to put to the ONS is that their method (tick OTHER etc) produces a return which errs by a factor of 1:5 - this happened in both Cornwall and Wales in 2001). It is surely important for the credibility of the census that returns accurately reflect the real position; otherwise this may raise questions about the accuracy of other parts of the Census.

A constructive suggestion could be that the Welsh version of the form could be circulated in Cornwall with an alteration to the tick-box descriptor - perhaps Cornwall council might be prevailed upon to support the cost of this very minor change at the printers!

Additionally this has been passed to me:

Census outputs online consultation and blog - the next phase

The online Census Output consultation is back with a second phase based around a new website. The pilot website supported an online survey for which we received completed responses from over 500 people or organizations. We will soon be publishing the full results from the survey on the new website in stages.

Using the blog on the new website we aim to

- publish results and analysis of the online survey
- provide commentary and Census views on the findings
- allow you provide specific user feedback to Census views
- allow you to suggest topics that are new and related that you want to see discussed
- continue further detailed discussions raised in the associated forum section

As well as the blog and forum, we also hope users will edit and contribute new content as part of the Census Output wiki section. This allows both the Census Offices and Census users to contribute in a collaborative approach to developing a store of metadata and information about the Census and the output from it. Specific areas can be developed over time, including but not limited to, an initial glossary style definitions section.

How to view and join the site

The new website can be found using the same web address:

If you have bookmarks which linked to deep subsections of the old website these are no longer valid. Similarly if you were registered with the old site, and wish to log in to the new one, you will need to re-register.

Anyone can view most areas of this site, but joining and logging in lets you contribute, either by adding comments to specific pages, replying to or starting forum threads, editing existing page content, or authoring new pages. Joining also provides benefits such as regular email alerts with news about significant site additions and updates.

You can find out how to join here:

We hope users will find this continued online approach to consultation useful and appropriate, and encourage users to join and contribute freely to all areas of the site. Continued and engaged use and contributions from users will help to inform us in making decisions about continuing the online approach in the future, and all feedback from users and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.


Cornish Research Network

Just like to plug a new venture coming from the Institute of Cornish Studies called the Cornish Research Network (CRN). The network was created to encourage research on contemporary Cornwall and to bridge the gap between academic and policy communities in Cornwall.

They organise seminars on the second Thursday of every other month. Forthcoming seminars include;

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 - Aaron Cooper (Huddersfield University)
Cornwall, Identity and Sustainability

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 - Julie Tamblin, Transition in Cornwall

Thursday July 9th, 2009 - Harriet Hawkins, David Harvey and Nicola Thomas (University of Exeter) The Politics of Identity in the Cultural Industries in the Southwest.

Some past works include Cornish Nationalism by Jade Farrington and Perceptions of Cornwall and economic impacts by Joanie Willett.

Good to see academics trying to engaging with policy makers. With this in mind I'd just like to highlight some possibilities for Cornish input that the CRN, or any of our other Cornish organisations, might be interested in.

First there is the European Citizens' Consultation. The European Citizens’ Consultations 2009 (ECC 2009) will bring together citizens from all 27 EU Member States to discuss - with each other and then with policy-makers - some of the key challenges facing the EU. ECC 2009 will focus on the issues which are currently of greatest concern to EU citizens in the run-up to the 2009 European elections. In doing so, ECC 2009 is seeking to answer the question: “What can the EU do to shape our economic and social future in a globalised world?”

Next the left of centre think tank Compass is inviting policy proposals to be submitted and debated on the site How to Live in the 21st Century and at meetings around the country. The proposals will then be voted on by the Compass membership - forming the policy priorities for the organisation to campaign on.

If anyone is interested in fighting the Cornish corner and making the case for devolution, equality or any other issue then there are two opportunities.

Finally as an after thought, and for those working in the Social sector in the Duchy, there is the Social Platform an alliance of representative European federations and networks of non-governmental organisations. The Social Platform and its members are committed to the advancement of the principles of equality, solidarity, non discrimination and the promotion and respect of fundamental rights for all within Europe and in particular the European Union. The Social Platform promotes social justice and participatory democracy by voicing the concerns of its member organisations.


Celtic World

Pan-Celtic projects spring into existence in regions of Celtic immigration around the world, but for all their good intentions they often seem to be rather ephemeral, and leave me thinking that there is much potential going untapped.

Some recent examples I can think of include: the Assemblée Celtique in Brittany, the Celtic Alliance of America and the United Celtic Brotherhood of Australia. I'm sure there are many other examples both past and present.

Do the Celtic League and Celtic Congress have strong and active branches in these places that could welcome the people involved in the above and give them more constructive and permanent channels for their valuable efforts? Perhaps what we need to see is the effort that has gone into these projects going into running active League and Congress branches instead.

When the Cornish Fighting Fund kicked off would it not have been great to see established and well organised Australian, US, South African and Canadian branches of the League acting as the focal point for the mobilisation of support in each of these places?

The news that the League is looking into acquiring NGO status with the UN is great but is it doing enough to attract and organise the Celts and their sympathisers from the new world? As always it comes down to a question of manpower and time I suppose. I note also that the Cornish branch of the Celtic Congress is calling for people to help and looking especially to attract younger generations.

Volunteers needed!


Devolution Question should be discussed UK-wide, not just by Scottish elites

An article here from Unlock Democracy which I think is spot on.

“Like the Calman Commission, we strongly believe that Scottish devolution has been a great success. The rest of the UK would benefit from greater devolution and decentralisation as well.

“However, the implications of furthering Scottish devolution affect the whole of the UK, not just Scotland. There is a real danger that if it looks at Scottish devolution in isolation of the wider constitutional settlement, the conclusions of the Calman Commission could prove to be even more divisive than the status quo.

“Sadly the First Report suggests this may well happen. For example, it warns against greater financial autonomy on the grounds that it would lead to less ’shared social citizenship.’ That may be true in Scotland but the experience suggests that, if anything, the lack of financial autonomy is causing resentment in England and goes to the heart of Tam Dalyell’s West Lothian Question. Fundamentally, we believe this to be a false dichotomy; a fairer and more transparent financial settlement will be good for Anglo-Scottish relations on both sides of the border.

“Finally, the competition between the Calman Commission and the Scottish Government’s own National Conversation is divisive and will potentially lead to a stalemate. Neither review has shown much interest in engaging the public beyond the usual suspects. Unlock Democracy continues to call for a Scottish-wide Convention lead by citizens, not the great and the good, feeding into a wider process involving people from across the UK.”

So when do the Cornish get the chance to debate their constitutional arrangements? Was the petition of 50,000 signatures not enough to spark the process. Did we ever really have a choice about Unitary status? Is it right that the Duchy, which can still meddle in Cornish politics, exists beyond the law? The Scottish get two constitutional commissions in what can only be described as a political competition yet the Cornish along with the people of England get nothing except ignored.


Awen and Cornish National Cinema.

the cultivation of a sustainable independent media industry in Cornwall and to support the community in which we live and work...

.......is one of the great aims of the social enterprise media production company based in West Cornwall called Awen. If no one is going to do it for the Cornish, if no one is going to give us recognition then it's up to us to take what we need and organise ourselves.

You can find out much more about the Cornish film industry at the website for the Cornwall Film Festival.

Below is a short youtube documentary about the the Cornish National Cinema.

The Cornish question in debate on BBC Radio Cornwall

This in from the people behind the -This is NOT England- website.

If you missed the live debate on the Laurence Reed show Radio Cornwall you can listen to it here: Cornish Nationalism debate on BBC Radio Cornwall

The two hour debate included guests John Angarrack, Historian, author and Director of Cornwall 2000; Dick Cole leader of Mebyon Kernow and Phillip Payton from the Institute of Cornish studies.

Many Cornish issues were covered including The Duchy, The Cornish Fighting Fund, Cornish recognition, getting Cornish History and language into schools and the Cornish Assembly question.

The radio Cornwall team had been out on the streets of Cornwall asking the public about Cornish identity and whether Cornish history and language should be taught in Cornish schools - the results were very positive.

Callers were then invited to phone in. Nigel Hicks called and spoke on behalf of the
Cornish Stannary Parliament, Graham Hart urged people to pledge to the CFF and talked about how he first found out that he was Cornish not English. Other callers included Mike Paynter the deputy Grand Bard of the Gorseth.

I particularly liked the metaphor used by one caller of a large extended family to describe national affinities. For example you can be born into a family (nation) but equally you can be adopted. Equally the debate between Philip Payton and Dick Cole concerning the Unitary Authority was an interesting start but really needs to be thrashed out. Is the Unitary a solid basis on which to build an assembly or is it a step in the other direction?


Taking Liberties / Cornish Independence at the British Library

How to vote for greater Cornish self rule with the new British Library -Taking Liberties - interactive website.

The homepage for the site is here: Taking Liberties :: home

To vote however you must visit the interactive section here: British Library - Taking Liberties Wait for the flashy introduction to pass and then click on the 'UNITED KINGDOM?' option at the top of the page. You will then be given the option of 'CORNISH INDEPENDENCE' amongst others. Click on this and you will have some presentations as well as some opinions to vote on.

The English devolution option is also worth a look as are many other issues in other sections.

It's not the best presentation of the Cornish question I've seen and, suprise suprise, the word 'duchy' isn't used once, but it's better than nothing.


A Europe of Regions

A quick note to bring to your attention the Committee of the Regions (CoR) a political assembly that provides local and regional authorities with a voice at the heart of the European Union.

"A new sustainable governance model to build "Europe in Partnership" can only be achieved with the active involvement and institutional recognition of Europe’s regions. Thus, once the Lisbon Treaty is in force, the devolution of legislative powers within Member States to sub-national levels must be taken into account at European level. Multi-level governance has to become the foundation of Europe's good governance,"

Centralisation cannot be the basis for an effective Europe - Europe needs a new Masterplan; read more here.

The Welsh language has also made its debut within the European Union at the CoR. Perhaps it’s to be followed by the other UK regional languages including Cornish?

Despite English becoming ever more present in the working and personal life of millions of EU citizens, the United Kingdom is rich in regional languages, from Cornwall to Shetland. It is therefore appropriate that in 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue; the CoR will recognise this and grant special status to the UK regional languages.

At the initiative of the UK government, the CoR Bureau on 25 November took a decision that will allow languages that are officially recognised in the UK to be spoken in CoR meetings. Just as with Basque and Catalan, the cost of interpretation, and translation of documents on request, will be borne by the UK Government.

The first beneficiary is expected to be Welsh. Welsh and English have the same status in Wales, where about one-in-five of the population speak it. At present there is just one Welsh speaker in the Committee of the Regions, alternate member Nerys Evans (Plaid Cymru), who is a member of the National Assembly for Wales. Local councils and the Welsh Assembly issue their literature and publicity in Welsh versions, and most road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh.

Original article here.


Cape of Strangers indeed!

Cornwallia: Penisula of Foreigners.
The Atlas of True Names has us down as the Cape of Strangers. After having grown up in Glasney I can confirm the appropriateness of this designation.