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This England = This Britain?

Taken from the Cornwall 24 forum:

H J Paton, in his "The Claim of Scotland" (1968), on page 20, provides this verse extracted from a poem in "Punch" magazine, which was bemoaning the then current spate of countries being renamed:
"Under Mr. de Valera
Ireland changed its name to Eire.
Britain strictly keeps its name,
It's called England just the same."
The origins of this English attitude towards the rest of these Atlantic isles is explored here in the Galfridian Conceit.

Just to add some important Cornish details to the myth of Locrine of England, Albanact of Scotland and Camber of Wales described in the Galfridian article above.

According to the myth Locrine, Albanact and Camber were the sons of Brutus of Troy, the first mythological King of Britain.

When Brutus died Britain was divided into Scotland, England and Wales, each part being given to one of his three sons. Brutus however came from the continent and with him came Corineus another mythological figure. Corineus was the first of the legendary rulers of Cornwall.

So we can see at the time of the creation of this myth Cornwall was clearly considered one of the distinct parts -nations- of Britain.


The Autonomy Project

From Unlock Democracy: The UK - and England in particular - is one of the most centralised countries in the world.

Unlock Democracy's new Autonomy Project lets you compare how your local authority compares in terms of self-governance with a variety of countries around the world and EU member states.

Kent has roughly the same size as EU member state Estonia and is larger than 12 US states. Even Cornwall is larger than Malta and Luxembourg. The Autonomy Project doesn't give you answers, but if you give you an idea of what is possible.

The Autonomy Project website

"Even Cornwall" Cheeky buggers! Far be it for Unlock Democracy to involve themselves in -Keeping Cornwall Whole- let alone mentioning our de jure autonomous constitutional status that we are denied. Still, it seems like an interesting resource that they've produced and one of interest for all campaigners for Cornish autonomy.


The Quango Cull

Quango cuts: full list of bodies under review

We know that the SWRDA's days are numbered but it also seems the Historic Buildings and Monuments Trust, aka 'English Heritage', is also to be merged with a number of other heritage organisations from around the UK. What will it be called, National Heritage, British Heritage?

Still not good enough! Liquidate the Duchy of Cornwall and return its material assets to the people of Cornwall. All Duchy properties and all sites currently run by English Heritage within Kernow should be administered for the people of Cornwall by a specially created Cornish Heritage Trust.

Could Heritage Kernow be the way forward?


Cornwall Needs You : Notifications

Under the Tamar Bridge, Saltash, Sunday 10th October, 2010. Keep Cornwall Whole will be holding a ‘respect the Tamar’ rally on 10th October in Saltash. This will follow a 2 day parade along the Cornish border arriving in Saltash by boat at 2pm. More details to follow later, but put the date in your diary now, and spread the word!

How to keep locally created wealth in Cornwall

A Workshop by Paul Martin of Kabin for Transition Truro.

Plugging the Leaks from the New Economic Foundation.

Plugging the Leaks was created to support people in communities to take a different approach to local economic development, one that can have a greater, more sustainable impact on their local economies than traditional regeneration initiatives.

Plugging the Leaks goes further than simply getting more money into the local economy through tourism, inward investment or funding. It re-generates the local economy from within, and takes advantage of the resources that a community already possesses.

Tues 28 Sept at 7.30pm
Pearson Room (blue door) Old Bridge Street, Truro
(opposite Cathedral car park, and a few yards from the shoppers car park)
Contact City Councillor Lindsay Southcombe, 01872 241 865


Keeping Cornwall Whole

If the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill becomes law it will result in the creation of a Devonwall parliamentary constituency thus violating Cornwall's centuries old frontier with England.

This will continue the blending of Cornwall out of existence and into the South West of England, West Country or whatever you want to call it. Such a parliamentary constituency would be a huge step towards the creation of a Devonwall region and a real blow to the current campaign for a Cornish assembly. Equally Cornwall is facing savage cuts and a VAT rise that will cost thousands of jobs and impact hardest on the poorest. What resistance to this assault on Cornish society and territorial integrity have we seen to date ?

Cornwall's Economy

Whilst defeatism seems the order of the day when facing the public spending cuts only Mebyon Kernow has turned the issue around and asked: "is Cornwall getting a fair share of public money in the first place?" Before anything is cut lets make sure we have an equal slice of the cake to begin with. If it turns out Kernow is underfunded compared to other areas of the UK then this needs to be considered when cuts are made. Local Labour members and the Greens have also voiced opposition to the budget cuts. Surely this is an opportunity for the Kernow Anarchists Network to make a name for themselves. Recently a quick Twitter conversation talked of a popular front of the Cornish left -MK, Labour, Greens- against the budget cuts. Good idea! Make sure Trade Unionists from Cornwall are invited along as well.

Cornwall's border with England

Lets start with our own Cornish government. So far the absolute silence from the Duchy of Cornwall has been deafening. This current threat to the territorial integrity of Cornwall has prompted nothing from our constitutional head of state Prince Charles Duke of Cornwall. As ever he seems happy plundering Cornwall of its heraldry in order to sell his jam and oatcakes. In stark contrast the Tory/Indy run Council has voted a motion urging the government to respect Cornwalls borders that was largely supported by Cornwall's councillors. Tory Cllr Alec Robertson Leader of Cornwall Council is on the list of supporters for Keep Cornwall Whole (KCW). Cornwall Councils Chief Executive Kevin Lavery has also spoken of the creation of a Devonwall constituency as a serious threat to Cornish devolution.

As expected Mebyon Kernow have opposed the creation of a Devonwall constituency from the start. A petition has been started by MK and they are closely implicated in KCW. Their ability to act however is limited by the lack of any MK MP's. A much larger number of councillors would also help. If you wanted Cornwall to have it's own distinctive voice and not be in this situation then you know who you should have voted for! There is only one party for Cornwall.

Until very recently our Lib Dem MP's, so often keen to dress up as Cornish nationalists, had been strangely quiet. In fact all our Con Lib MP's voted for the bill at its second reading. In October the bill goes into committee where amendments will be debated that could prevent a Devonwall PC. On the 14th of September Andrew George produced an amendment to that end. At the recent KCW meeting with Deputy PM Nick Clegg four Lib Dems were present including our three MP's. All made good points but a hat tip must go to Andrew George for the following comment used in his denial of any form of Cornish isolationism: "We love England so much, we want to protect its border".

Surprisingly the Conservatives have been more vocal from the start. At the second reading in parliament both tory MP's, Sheryll Murry and George Eustice, made the point that Cornwall is special, a Duchy, and needs to have its territorial integrity respected. Murry is on record as having asked the government to recognise Cornwall as a fifth country alongside England, Wales, Scotland and the Six Counties of Ireland. As well as mentioning Cornwall's de jure legal status as a Duchy in the meeting with Nick Clegg Sheryll Murry has also tabled an amendment seeking to ensure all parts of Cornwall must be included in constituencies which are wholly in Cornwall.

Local Labour activists have also spoken out against the border menace notably Jude Robinson and Charlotte MacKenzie. Jude seems to have taken the lead blogging regularly and starting a web petition. The Vice-Chair of the Cornwall Labour Party Jen Forbes was also present at the KCW meeting and continues to support the campaign. At UK level Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman (along with Jack Straw and Peter Hain) has also tabled an amendment that would protect Cornwall. Surprisingly Labour has been more than willing to mention Cornish cultural specificity in its arguments to protect Kernow's border. It seems gone are the days when Labour wished to force Kernow into the artificial South West region and run us from Bristol.

The Cornish Liberals, the Communist Party and the Cornish Democrats have said or done very little so far. Please let me know if this is not the case! The South West Libertarian Party have blogged once on the subject. Do these parties exist in Kernow? Do they want to? The Cornish Greens have some involvement with the KCW campaign. Nothing can be found on their website however. All of these parties defend some form of Cornish recognition. Excepting the Cornish Democrats all of them also support a greater degree of autonomy for Kernow. If they are serious about these policies then isn't it time they pulled their fingers out!

To date and more surprisingly Plaid Cymru, the SNP and their members have also remained silent. Equally grass-roots English regionalists such as Devolve have not moved perhaps little bothered by the choice of a Cornish or Devonwall region. Devolves support for the Regionalist Front of Dumnonia suggest a certain flexibility on their part.

As for UKIP and other forms of English or British nationalist there is nothing yet worth reporting. Various forms of British-hard-right supporting pond life have popped up on the This is Cornwall forum and BBC Cornwall blog to belittle efforts to protect Cornwall and rant in favour of Devonwall. That's about it.

Outside the world of party politics due respect must got to Adam Killeya the Lib Dem yet independent Mayor of Saltash for initiating the cross party Keep Cornwall Whole campaign. KCW organised the meeting with Nick Clegg and will probably go on to make representation to David Cameron. A full list of those supporting the campaign can be found here.

Bert Biscoe independent councillor and chair of the Cornish Constitutional Convention is also active in the campaign. One has to ask though what has the Convention been doing for the last ten years if such an attack on Cornwall's border can even be considered by government? Anyway, if you support Cornish devolution then you must accept this as a battle we cannot afford to loose.

Two of Cornwall's leading pressure groups come think tanks seem to be in an early hibernation. To date CoSERG and the Cornish Stannary Parliament have said nothing on the current threat. Their ropey websites give the impression that not much is going on. I do hope I'm wrong. I notice the Stannary is among the list of supporters for KCW. Lets hope they have something brewing to eclipse Operation Chough.

The Grand Bard of Gorseth Kernow, Mick Paynter, has spoken out strongly against any threat to our territorial integrity. He added: "It is a threat buried in the Coalition's plans for electoral reform. Lest there be any doubt as to the meaning of 'one and all' we should show it together by saying, loudly, that the Tamar has been our border for more than a thousand years. It is a historical border, it is a cultural border, it is a linguistic border, and it is recognised as such by Europe. The Tamar is our national border. Na wrewgh tava agan ordir! Hands off our border! Gesewgh Kernow dhe vos Kernow! Let Cornwall be Cornwall!" Does the old dog -Gorseth Kernow- have teeth after all? Perhaps more so than others we would have expected to be first into the fray.

The Cornish branch of the Celtic league has made the most radical noises so far with talk of blocking the Tamar bridge, hunger strikes and other forms of direct action. Lets hope it doesn't come to that but equally lets not rule anything out. I can't and won't pronounce on others willing to risk their health for the cause but lets all be ready for protest of one form or another. Don't push us into a corner!

Of the UK's think tanks there has been no mention of Cornwall excepting this article from the Federal Union. The internet campaign group 38 Degrees has however put KCW on its site for people to vote for. If KCW gets enough support then 38 Degrees will use the internet to lobby MP's and government for our cause. Please vote here: Campaign Suggestions.

The way forward?

Unity of action is a must. We have to build on the cross party cooperation within KCW and inform/involve much more of Cornwall's civic society. Could cross party cooperation have occurred when it came to the amendments? Surely our Lib Con MP's could have coordinated something together? It is up to our elected representatives along with local leaders from others parties to put aside party politics and work together. Additionally friends of all sorts outside of Cornwall need to be contacted and rallied to the cause.

Many comments have been made about how a Devonwall constituency would violate the Duchy charters or that our legal constitutional position could be used to fend off the threat. Equally some have talked about the Cornish national minorities right to have its territorial integrity respected. These are good points but can they help NOW? The Cornish are still not recognised under the Council of Europe's framework convention for the protection of national minorities (FCNM) and I'm not aware of any impending legal action that would confirm Cornwall's constitutional status as a Duchy once and for all. In fact the government has blocked all efforts at obtaining such recognition for the Cornish and is tireless in its efforts to keep the constitutional question under wraps. If we survive Devonwall then both avenues should continue to be fully explored (who is working on the FCNM at the moment by the way?) but are they going to help us today?

What can we do as individuals? If you haven't done so already then write to all your elected representatives. If you have then write again. Telephone them and, when you can, go and see them face to face. Get in touch with the party or pressure group of your choice. Ask them what they are doing and then offer your help. Talk to anybody who will listen, friends and family. Use your e-mail, Facebook or other social media account to spread the word. Write to the government, direct to Clegg and Cameron, and let them know why Cornwall should stay whole. Contact politicians around the UK in all parties. Write to papers and other media sources in Cornwall and beyond. Lobby your Union and any other think tank or organisation you suspect might be interested. Why not go international and write to the various European bodies as well as foreign governments? Be ready for protest and more vigorous actions. How far are we willing to go to protect our nation and the possibility of devolution? Think carefully about your answer to this question. 

Lib Dem, Labour and Tory have all used the language of Cornish nationalism in the defence of Kernow. Nick Clegg even admitted that "perhaps there needed to be a debate about Cornwall’s position within the UK." What of this will rest when the dust settles? Are we seeing a landmark shift in the perceptions of Cornwall or just more empty politicking? Too often it appears that all we do is defend the scraps that we already have, constantly on the back foot. This time lets keep up the momentum after we've ensured Cornwall's border and demand more. Lets keep all the politicians who've wrapped themselves in the St Pirans flag to their word. If we develop a good velocity and a decent unity then lets use it to push forward. If we win the battle for Cornwall's border then more than likely that victory will be based on Cornwall not being just another English county. A stepping stone therefore to greater things is what could be won or lost.


The Story of Stuff

If you haven't seen it already:


Pulling in all directions and pulling apart

Following the last blog post suggestion have been made that a Cornish republican party (presumably socialist?) should be formed. Much of the comment has come from people connected to the Cornish Celtic League.

Pressure groups like the Celtic League, Stannary Parliament and Constitutional Convention should rest at a comfortable distance from party politics. Of course there will be inevitable overlap in membership between MK and the groups mentioned but, nonetheless, such groups must stay open to the pro-Cornish from all political backgrounds excepting the extreme right. They should provide welcoming environments not just for MK members but also Cornish Liberals, Libertarians, Communists, Greens and, why not, members of LibLabCon undergoing pro-Cornish rehab? Equally those non-aligned, independents sceptical of all political parties, who still want to campaign for Kernow should be welcomed with open arms.

Cornish pressure groups have the incredibly important role of producing unity of cause and consensus for action across party political lines. This role should not be jeopardised by too strong a connection with one party or loose talk of the creation of another.

The purpose of -The Cornish Republican- was to nail my colours to the mast in support of republican democracy. That being said I do not support the creation of a new pro-Cornish political party. Previous parties, Cornish Nationalist Party, Ang Gof etc, have been and gone leaving little trace except perhaps some bitterness, division and disappointed supporters. Those that have lead the dance for change in Wales and Scotland have been the mainstream and hard-working Plaid and SNP. While I don't doubt the sincerity of the smaller republican groupings in these two countries it is not them who have brought change.

Another Cornish party to dilute the already limited amount of supporters is not what we need. Mebyon Kernow already exists and needs peoples commitment and sweat. I hope people really do understand this. If you are serious about change then join MK and work your dam guts out because that's what's needed.

That being said, if a Cornish Republican Socialist Party was formed I would wish them the best of luck. How could one not? Perhaps a more radical and in-your-face approach to politics would attract those in Kernow that might otherwise have shown little interest. A like role perhaps for the Kernow Anarchists Network. Supporting absolute grass-roots self-determination and 'bio-regionalism', I salute their actions and hope for a neighbourly and cooperative synthesis between our efforts.

To the right of the political spectrum exists already a grain around which a new Cornish party could form. The Cornish Democrats currently have an unusual mix of Cornish cultural nationalism, UK political unionism and  Anglican morality. Not what I would vote for in a million years but, with some changes, perhaps a potentially successful formula.

Currently the party seems dominated by its creator and his ideals. To build a wider base of support and a larger membership he is going to have to let go a little and tone down certain politico-religious tendencies.

A majority of residents support the promotion and protection of Cornish culture and language and would agree to some form of recognition for Cornwall's distinctiveness. Left-of-centre political nationalism and self-government are clearly (unfortunately) less popular. Here the CD's have an interesting angle in supporting Cornish cultural particularity but also UK unionism. Their Euroscepticism will also appeal to many a Cornish voter. It's sad however that the parties leader feels the needs to bang on about the English Monarch and the Anglican church completely snubbing Cornwall's own constitutional Duchy and attachment to Methodism.

I'm not going to lose too much sleep over the bizarre policy directions of the Cornish Democrats but It would be good to see a more credible right-wing Cornish party competing with UKIP and the Tories on their own ground. That being said a Cornish party competing with the British right is one thing but another Cornish party competing with the Cornish left, Mebyon Kernow, seems like an exercise in futility.


The Cornish Republican

From Democrat to Republican. Why the name change?

I've been mulling over the idea for some time now but it must be said that the creation of the Cornish Democrats helped me decide. An additional peripheral factor in the decision making process was also not wanting any accidental connections to be made between this blog and either the English Democrats or the Devonwall Democrats.

So much for the grains of sand that helped precipitate the change, but what of the ideological background.

Undoubtedly the use of  -Republican- by a Celtic nationalist will bring shrill cries of extremism from certain quarters, some heartfelt, and some disingenuous. Not just once have I been informed that this blog is a bit too radical, that it goes to far and risks leaving the average Cornish resident a little perplexed, amused or concerned for my mental health. The new title isn't going to do much to resolve this problem I know, but as a blogger I'm free to be honest about what I think. Others from the Cornish movement should of course feel free to write their own more moderate blogs if this is what they feel is best.

Am I still a democrat? Yes of course but who the hell isn't a democrat of one form or another these days? Always the radical democrat in that I wish to see people given far more democratic control and responsibility over their own lives. A Cornish assembly, decentralisation to communities, greater use of referenda, a democratic federal Europe, industrial democracy, real electoral reform and much more. Something else is need then to describe a campaigner for Cornish popular sovereignty. What could be better than Republican?

It should be said however that I totally reject all forms of paternalistic, centralised and top-down republican models, the French state being the perfect example. Disguised behind the rhetoric of secularity and legal equality the French state has succeeded in favouring one ethnic identity and its language, franco-french, at the expense of all the other nationalities contained within its frontiers. This has resulted in a cultural ethnocide of language and identity as well as the massive centralisation of power in Paris. Simply note how the numbers of Breton speakers have plummeted since the revolution as a clear example of the destruction done. Today France is one of the only states in Europe to have neither ratified nor signed the framework convention for the protection of national minorities (FCNM) from the Council of Europe the excuse given that it is anti-constitutional.

For a fascinating insight into the lack of popular sovereignty in the UK I cannot recommend better than the article -A grubby little stitch up that must be exposed for what it is- from the campaign group Republic. Additionally for a conversation with Wales' republicans then try Y Repwblic.

Of course the Cornish suffer from the double blight of living with the Duchy of Cornwall as well as England's Monarch. Whether you fully accept the suggestion made by some that the Duchy is behind all attempts to stifle the progress of the Cornish movement there can be no doubt that this feudal body has a level of power unacceptable in a modern democracy. Equally one could claim that the Duchy has betrayed the Cornish on countless occasions in refusing to stand up for Cornwall's unique constitutional position thus aiding and abetting in the erosion of the Cornish identity. Take the Duchy's silence concerning the threat to Cornwall's territorial integrity as one example among hundreds. Happy to use the symbols of our nation to sell his jam the current Duke seems little concerned for the territory of his Duchy.

I hope you'll join the Cornish Republican in calling for a full public inquiry into the Duchy of Cornwall followed by a referendum on its and Cornwall's future. Give the constitutional powers and financial assets of the Duchy to the residents of Cornwall for them to dispose of as they see fit and then dissolve this feudal relic.


Breton Graffiti

They certainly seem to have a talent for it.

This particular piece of art states - Breton for ever! French never!

A risky venture no doubt, but couldn't Kernow do with some repainting of this calibre.

Educative and non-violent direct action, surely the establishment would prefer that rather than more extreme measure?

Breton Graffiti

They certainly seem to have a talent for it.

This particular piece of art states - Breton for ever! French never!

A risky venture no doubt, but couldn't Kernow do with some repainting of this calibre.

Educative and non-violent direct action, surely the establishment would prefer that rather than more extreme measure?


Our own Cornish media

The Cornwall 24 news website and forum has been re-looked and is now up and running.

The team behind C24 are now looking for people to submit news and blog articles. Cornwall deserves its own independent media and this is one such project. Please get in touch with them if you can help. Their contact details can be found here: About Cornwall 24.


The Great Cornish Transition

Some interesting reading for the weekend here from the New Economics Foundation: The Great Transition (pdf)

Of particular interest to readers of this blog may be the chapter -The Great Localisation and Engagement- which argues for the re-localisation of our democracies and economies (pages 56-66).


Breizhistance by éirígí

Breizhistance: The Struggle for Independence and Socialism in Brittany

From the website of éirígí the Irish socialist republican political party.

Breizhistance by éirígí

Breizhistance: The Struggle for Independence and Socialism in Brittany

From the website of éirígí the Irish socialist republican political party.