If you are interested in the content of this blog then join us on Facebook and follow Radio Free Cornwall.

29.12.10

Defend the Human Rights Act!

Defend the Human Rights Act: the Aso Mohammed Ibrahim case shows the need for a strong response | openDemocracy

It seems the HRA needs defending from not only the right-wing populism of the Daily Mail but also that of the ConDems. An interesting article above that sifts through the lies and misrepresentations of those hostile to human rights.

Perhaps the lack of recognition and protection given to the Cornish national minority is a continuing bone of contention between us and the London establishment but don't let that blind us to the progressive step forward that is the HRA.

28.12.10

Crises of Capitalism

27.12.10

Sovereignty

I was reminded of one of Cornwall's constitutional peculiarities the other day by a tweet from Keep Cornwall Whole.

Perhaps you know this already but within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland you never really own the land you live on. If you are ever lucky enough to buy property you'll do so as a freeholder. Essentially you are 'free' to 'hold' this land for as long as you like and dispose of it as you see fit but you don't really own it. The land is held from the Lord Paramount. In the UK this is the Crown.

If you die without heirs -intestate- your land reverts to the Crown and is disposed of by the Crown Estate. The bigger legal concept is that of Bona Vacantia or ownerless goods. So what? You might be asking. After all we do need a way of dealing with intestacy, ownerless goods, mineral rights, treasure trove and so on. Very true, but where does this right to Bona Vacantia come from and what can it tell us about the Cornish question.

Clearly the answer is sovereignty. Who has sovereignty over the territory in question has the rights. In England and Wales this is the Crown. Equally in Scotland and the Six Counties of Northern Ireland it comes to the same Crown. Within the territory of the Duchy of Lancaster the Monarch recuperates Bona Vacantia as she/he holds the rights to the Duchy. This is always the case. The money generated from the Duchy of Lancaster is filched by the Monarch as an income. An interesting constitutional question therefore is whether the Monarch has the de jure constitutional power to govern the Duchy of Lancaster differently from the rest of England?

To recap: the Crown is sovereign over the UK's 'home-nations' and so has the rights to Bona Vacantia, amongst other things, in these countries. In Cuba, Malaysia, the USA, so on and so fourth, the Crown has no such rights because in these places it has no sovereignty.

Is that the whole story within the UK? No, not quite. Within Cornwall -to many the historic county of Cornwall- Bona Vacantia is not the right of the Crown but the Duke of Cornwall instead. In other words Prince Charles Duke of Cornwall gets to trouser the money. So does this mean that in some legal constitutional de jure way the UK Crown and its government are not sovereign in Cornwall even if they do exercise de facto authority? Does that equate to the Duke of Cornwall being the constitutional head of state of Cornwall having un-exercised sovereignty?

It should also be noted that besides the already mentioned Crown, Duchy of Lancaster and Duchy of Cornwall ALL other royal titles found within the British Isles are merely titular and carry NO constitutional power. They are just for show. Only the Crown, Duchy of Lancaster and Duchy of Cornwall are mentioned when new laws are passed. They are protected from having their rights infringed by the new laws. No other titles are mentioned as they don't have rights and powers that could be infringed upon. Take for example the Tamar Bridge Act of 1998 which states in section 41 under Crown rights:

(1)Nothing in this Act affects prejudicially any estate, right, power, privilege, authority or exemption of the Crown including (without prejudice to the general law concerning the applicability of statutes to the Duchy of Cornwall) the Duchy of Cornwall and, in particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, nothing in this Act authorises the Authorities to take, use, enter upon or in any manner interfere with any land or hereditaments or any rights of whatsoever description—

(a)belonging to Her Majesty in right of Her Crown and under the management of the Crown Estate Commissioners, without the consent in writing of those commissioners; or

(b)belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall or enjoyed by the possessor for the time being of the Duchy of Cornwall, without the consent of the Duke of Cornwall testified in writing under the seal of the said Duchy or, as the case may be, the consent in writing of two or more of such of the regular officers of the said Duchy or of such other persons as may be authorised under section 39 of the [1863 c. 49.] Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1863; or

(c)belonging to a government department, or held in trust for Her Majesty for the purposes of a government department, without the consent in writing of that government department.


You'll never find anything like that for the Earl of Wessex, Duke of York or Duke of Edinburgh. An interesting constitutional can of worms don't you think? Many more of the Dukes rights over the territory of Cornwall can be found here. What is the basis in constitutional law for these rights? Cornish constitutionalists are unanimous in stating that sovereignty over the territory of Cornwall was annexed and united to the Duchy of Cornwall when it was created in 1337 and that since this date, in legal terms, nothing really has changed. Returning to the subject of freehold: in Cornwall you hold your land from the Duke of Cornwall as Lord Paramount over the territory of Cornwall.

Why was Cornwall chosen for the creation of this very particular constitutional arrangement? Could it of had anything to do with the fact that Cornwall was inhabited by Cornish Britons with a long history of fighting for their independence? Could it of had anything to do with the rich mineral wealth of Cornwall?

We could comment that today to deny the Cornish their recognition via this special legal status to the point of even denying them any open and honest knowledge of the Duchy and its history is an effort by the establishment to erase Cornish specificity.

So what is on my belated Christmas wish list with regards the above? Well to start with what on earth is this nonsense of a Monarch (even if fused with a partially elected government) or Duke being sovereign? We the people are sovereign. It is only because enough of us continue to believe in the Monarchy and Duchy or ignore them as being unimportant that they continue to exist favouring as they do their small selection of super-citizens above the laws that govern the rest of the populace. Return the sovereignty of Cornwall to the residents of Kernow for them to govern themselves as they see fit.

22.12.10

Country Standard: Cornwall

Country Standard: Cornwall- a monthly radical magazine for rural workers establised in 1935. This site celebrates its work and that of the National Union of Agricultural Workers "Sharpen the sickle! The fields are white; 'Tis the time of the harvest at last".


The above link will lead you to their articles about Kernow.

19.12.10

Cultures united to honour diversity and democracy

In Corsica, Cultures United to Honor Separatism - NYTimes.com.


A message above from the European Free Alliance, EFA Youth and the Centre Maurits Coppieters for 2011.

18.12.10

UK Uncut : Duchy Cut!

UK Uncut: "At the same time as making massive cuts to public services, this government is letting rich individuals and corporations avoid billions of pounds of tax. Join UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue and Customs (BSRC) and become part of an army of citizen volunteers determined to make wealthy tax avoiders pay."

As a token measure how about the Duchy of Cornwall being brought fully within the UK's tax laws so that its Duke pays his fair share. Personally I don't think his voluntary  tax contributions are sufficent in our modern democratic age.

The Duchy of Cornwall has a constitutional existence outside of standard UK laws (rather like the legal status' of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Due to this relic of feudalism the Duke is not obliged to pay tax on the profits from his Duchy to the UK exchequer.

From -The Duchy of Cornwall a very peculiar private estate- by John Kirkhope expert in Cornish law:

The right not to pay tax.


Firstly it should be noted that the Duke of Cornwall is entitled to the income of the Duchy but not the capital.


Next, in the report issued by the House of Commons in 2005 it was stated: “In accordance with normal practice the Duchy is not subject to tax as it is not a separate legal entity for tax purposes. However, His Royal Highness is subject to income tax on the Duchy’s net income.”

The statement is surprising and difficult to understand. Effectively, the Duchy is exempt from capital gains tax and presumably inheritance tax. Asset sales, on which capital gains tax may potentially have been due, have totalled £123 million since 2001. Presumably this considerable benefit makes the task of running a ‘well managed’ private estate much easier.

It is in this regard that the Duchy website is misleading. It states: “The Prince of Wales already pays income tax on the Duchy’s surplus.”

He does not. He pays voluntarily an amount equal to the income tax he would have paid if he had been liable.

In reply to a question from the public accounts committee Mr Ross stated: “The Prince pays tax on a voluntary basis in exactly the same way as any other taxpayers.”

I don’t know how many of us pay tax on a voluntary basis.

The Duchy enjoys a highly privileged tax status unique to a ‘private estate’. In accordance with ‘normal practice’ it does not pay capital gains tax or inheritance tax and income tax is paid on a voluntary basis. The last figures published show the Duke’s income from the Duchy was £16 million. His voluntary contribution, equal to the income tax, would be £3 million. For completeness sake the Duchy does pay VAT.

ippr - Without local financial powers, Pickles' Bill is 'lipstick localism'

ippr - Without local financial powers, Pickles' Bill is 'lipstick localism'

Breton solidarity for Cornish students

Solidarité avec les étudiants cornouaillais en lutte contre la dégradation de l'enseignement supérieur - Le blog des Jeunes de l'UDB - Re Yaouank an UDB - UDByouth

It's gratifying to see such support for Cornish students coming from the Breton Democratic Union, MK's sister party in Brittany.

Unfortunately the most vulnerable and poorest will suffer the most from the proposed cuts. Don't forget to follow the developments of the Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance here at March the Fury.

I certainly hope the Labour party doesn't perform a hostile takeover of the Alliance in Kernow but it looks like party politics will take precedence with them as usual. If Labour monopolise the anti-cuts movement it will simply become the victim of party politics. It should not be forgotten that Labour brought in fees in the first place so their sudden conversion to champions of the anti-fees movement seems somewhat hollow.

MK polices: Increase support for students. We are opposed to tuition and top-up fees, as introduced by Labour, support a return to grants for first degree courses and would reinstate the right of students to claim benefits such as housing benefit.

Breizh Leaks - France created itself by destroying five cultures

The below is taken form WikiLeaks and details a cable sent by US Ambassador Craig R. Stapleton following a meeting with former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard.

2. (C) Rocard, like former president Valery Giscard d'Estaing (reftel), believes that French history provides the keys for understanding French politics and France's policies. Rocard's point of departure is France's emergence as a nation-state. The history of other European nation-states is that of linguistic communities serving their trade needs. France created itself by destroying five cultures -- Breton, Occitan, Alsatian, Corsican, and Flemish. "We are the only European nation which is the military creation of a non-homogeneous State. This makes France difficult to govern to this day. This explains our difficulty in reforming, our slowness," he [MR] said.

Like most things with wikileaks there is no great surprise but the simple fact to have it acknowledged in black and white has a profound effect nonetheless. The rest of the cable make for interesting reading. Now has anything been leaked about inconvenient Duchies and unresolved territorial claims?

Breizh Leaks - France created itself by destroying five cultures

The below is taken form WikiLeaks and details a cable sent by US Ambassador Craig R. Stapleton following a meeting with former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard.

2. (C) Rocard, like former president Valery Giscard d'Estaing (reftel), believes that French history provides the keys for understanding French politics and France's policies. Rocard's point of departure is France's emergence as a nation-state. The history of other European nation-states is that of linguistic communities serving their trade needs. France created itself by destroying five cultures -- Breton, Occitan, Alsatian, Corsican, and Flemish. "We are the only European nation which is the military creation of a non-homogeneous State. This makes France difficult to govern to this day. This explains our difficulty in reforming, our slowness," he [MR] said.

Like most things with wikileaks there is no great surprise but the simple fact to have it acknowledged in black and white has a profound effect nonetheless. The rest of the cable make for interesting reading. Now has anything been leaked about inconvenient Duchies and unresolved territorial claims?

16.12.10

Living Cornish!

Following the post -Dead Cornish?- it gives me great pleasure to reproduce the following press release from the Celtic League.

The status of the Cornish Language was reclassified last week by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who recognised that the language was not `extinct', but 'critically endangered'.


Last Wednesday (8th Dember2010) the most recent edition of the Atlas of World Languages in Danger was published, which for the first time recognised the existence of Cornish as a living language. In February 2009, the Cornish language was classified by UNESCO as extinct, despite numerous complaints from individuals and organisations, including the Celtic League. Previous to 2009, UNESCO listed endangered languages in the Red Book of Endangered Languages, which the Atlas has superseded. The online Atlas is a much more comprehensive list of the world's endangered languages and also includes some interactive features. In 2009 though, Cornish was listed as extinct alongside the Manx language, leading some linguists to question its academic validity.


Over the last ten years the Cornish revival has grown rapidly, with the language has been recognised by the (UK) government and receiving funding for its development. Manx was even further advanced in its revival than Cornish, with the language being taught in its own Manx medium schools system and as part of the curriculum in others.


Campaigners were therefore surprised to discover that UNESCO had described both languages as extinct in 2009. Following an outcry by campaigners and a re-designation of the degrees of endangered terminology on the Atlas, both Cornish and Manx have now been reclassified, with Manx being reclassified earlier on this year. Both languages also have a `revitalised' status, showing that they are revived.


Nevertheless, this means that all the Celtic languages are now recognised as living, albeit endangered languages, for the first time by the UN. The Breton language is the only Celtic language that is not `officially' recognised by the state government. The Celtic languages also occupy all classification categories with the exception of `extinct'. The classification of the six Celtic languages is as follows, with the healthiest classification at the top. A rough approximation of numbers of speakers compared to population can be found alongside.


Cymraeg/Welsh: Vulnerable (611,000 speakers out of 2.98 million population)


Gaeilge/Irish: Definitely endangered (80,000 speakers out of 6.1 million population)


Gàidhlig/Scottish: Definitely endangered (58,652 speakers out of 5,168,500 population)


Brezhoneg/Breton: Severely endangered (200,000 speakers out of 4,365,500 population)


Gaelg/Manx: Critically endangered (revitalised) (1,689 speakers out of 76,315 population)


Kernewek/Cornish: Critically endangered (revitalised) (2,000 speakers out of 500,000 population)


The 2010 edition of the Atlas has been made possible through funding by the Norwegian government.

If you want to lear more about the Cornish language then try Maga - The Cornish Language Partnership. To listen to some Cornish then try Kernewegva.com. Finally probably one of the most important developments in Cornish language recently has been the creation of Movyans Skolyow Meythrin: We aim to provide a happy and relaxed atmosphere in which nursery school age children can learn both the English and the Cornish languages through play, songs and games. The emphasis is on building the child's confidence and self-esteem in a high quality, stimulating educational environment. We consider that there is no better preparation for a multilingual world than having two languages in your own life and community.

14.12.10

Taming the Vampire Squid: Take back our banks



Worth it just for the title.

A couple of opportunities to fly the Cornish flag.

A couple of opportunities here to fly the Cornish flag.

If you click on the -Events- link on the Our Democratic Heritage website you'll find a map of the UK which includes a reference to the 1497 Cornish Rebellion. Perhaps the project would benefit from more Cornish input on key dates in the UK's history.

Then we have English and Welsh Diaspora: Regional Cultures, Disparate Voices, Remembered Lives Loughborough University, 13-16 April, 2011 organised by Loughborough University - Department of English and Drama.

While the histories of Scots and Irish rural and local culture are well documented, and Celtic tradition celebrated, less explored are the traditional ways of life of English and Welsh rural or local communities and identities in terms of diasporic event. ‘English and Welsh Diaspora’ aims to address all aspects of rural and regional experience, consciousness, and representation of displacement, dispossession, the transformation or destruction of communities, the idea of community, across a millennium of change and loss, from the Norman Invasion and the Harrowing of the North, the loss of Welsh and the decline of the language community in Wales, to more recent historical and cultural events, such as the closure of mines and factories, the gentrification of villages, and the closure of post offices. There will, in addition be the exploration of the historical transformation of the landscape, the relation of land to identity, regional as opposed to national identity, folklore, folk practices and oral tradition through song, dance, story-telling and forms of ritual and seasonal practice.


Papers are welcome from all humanities disciplines, including, but not restricted to, English, History, Geography, Cultural Studies. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following: Representations of agricultural labouring classes; regional narratives and representations; Brythonic traditions; George Eliot and the midlands; landscape and identity; traditional song; folklore and belief; seasonal ritual and practice, oral traditions; enclosure; myth and tradition; changing ways of life; John Clare; the village; Thomas Hardy; dispossession and displacement; the remains of Anglo-Saxon culture and language; riots, rebellion, and protest; agricultural and labouring class poetry; William Cobbett’s rural rides; cricket and rural life; de-Cymricization; local and communal subjectivities; ‘documentary literature’ from Woodforde to Blythe; mummers and Morris; modern English and Welsh rural life; parish records and local history; disappearance of the Welsh language; the Poor law; cultural memory and oral tradition; charity and the poor; politics and policing; rural and regional dialect; parish life; gypsies, witches, poachers, highwaymen and other demonized groups; rural crafts; technology and the destruction of traditional agricultural practices.

Certainly something there for Cornish academics to get their teeth into.

Bretons fight to save language from extinction - CNN.com

Bretons fight to save language from extinction - CNN.com

Bretons fight to save language from extinction - CNN.com

Bretons fight to save language from extinction - CNN.com

Britain to take major step towards written constitution

Britain to take major step towards written constitution - Telegraph. I'll be interested to see if the Duchy of Cornwall is mentioned or if, once again, it is swept under the constitutional carpet away from the inquisitive eyes of Cornwall's citizenry only to benefit the Duke.

11.12.10

Pay Day: Truro Protest Against Tax-Dodging

One for all Cornish Republicans to attend : Pay Day: Truro Protest Against Tax-Dodging

Another Breton party to add to the list

As promised the Marie of Carhaix Christian Troadec has launched his new party Mouvement Bretagne Progrés.

Their current mission statement is to defend and promote the political, social and cultural interests of the whole of Brittany and its population.

From what I can gather so far we can consider Troadec and his new party to form a kind of populist Breton left. Good luck to them and with solidarity from Kernow.

Another Breton party to add to the list

As promised the Marie of Carhaix Christian Troadec has launched his new party Mouvement Bretagne Progrés.

Their current mission statement is to defend and promote the political, social and cultural interests of the whole of Brittany and its population.

From what I can gather so far we can consider Troadec and his new party to form a kind of populist Breton left. Good luck to them and with solidarity from Kernow.

Scottish aim to hijack AV referendum. Couldn't we do the same?

Scottish independence campaign aims to hijack AV referendum | openDemocracy

Important Announcement: An Independence Referendum Will Take Place On 5th May 2011

Spoil your ballot for an English parliament! « A National Conversation For England

If the government presses ahead with Devonwall then surely a similar -Justice for Cornwall- campaign to hijack the AV referendum could be tempted. Why not couple Cornish devolution, territorial integrity and national recognition as the demands?

10.12.10

More from the EDL in Kernow

It didn't take long for the Kernow Defence League to reveal their true colours. Renamed to - EDL - English Defence League - Cornwall Division (Kernow) - where their loyalties lie should now be in no doubt.

Doubly despicable for their low-brow populist xenophobia as much for stamping an English fascist logo on the Cornish flag - they really don't seem out to make friends in the Duchy.

English nationalism is indeed a source of constant despair. When will we see a progressive left-of-centre nationalist party campaigning alongside the UK's EFA members? Why not an English Socialist Party to work with the Scottish equivalent? To compound the situation the only left-wing blog for English self-determination -England Left Forward- has been closed by its author.

The previous post on this blog looked at English regionalism so before anybody points out the inconsistencies of blogging about English regionalists and then following it with a call for a progressive English nationalist party, I support the people of England's right to self-determination. If they want a single parliament then they should have it. On the other hand if they decide that regional parliaments would better suit them then so be it. What's sure is that the current unfinished devolution of power is unsatisfactory for all concerned.

Leaving aside the hard right English Democrats and their sometimes allies, the neo-nazi England First Party, what other parties exits? The English Radicals, One England and The English Peoples Party, more or less, all make the -Not left. Not right. Just English- claim. However they all seem to have a nervous dislike of immigration, a rampant euroscepticism and a need to talk tough on issues of law and order. If it walks like a Tory and talks like a Tory... To their credit the English Radicals have called for a distributist economy -"According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or a few large businesses or wealthy private individuals (plutarchic capitalism)"- but then again so have the BNP. They also have a decentralist approach to English government and don't, on the face of it, seem hostile to the Cornish national identity.

Political parties aside there is also the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP). Sadly it appears to be flooded with the most virulent anti-Cornish members of the EDP. There are also a large number of English nationalist blogs a few of the best being Toque, A National Conversation for England, Rise Like Lions and Britology Watch. If anybody knows of any others of note do let me know.

Of course if UKIP were to become a eurosceptic UK federalist  party as suggested in -A Federal Union – a new approach to devolution?- then it would pull the carpet from under the feet of the various English nationalist parties whose members would be quite happy with a parliament for England within a larger federal GB. Still not much chance of that considering the difficulty most UKIP members have in digesting devolution.

Exceptions aside there simply isn't much more to say about the current state of political English nationalism other than it's: not progressive, not Cornwall friendly, not even very English just right-wing.

9.12.10

HOPE not Hate Cornwall College

A quick shout out to HOPE not Hate Cornwall College. Join them in their good work.

5.12.10

The wonderful chaos that is English regionalism

Clearly Cornwall's case for 'regional' devolution would be aided by similar well established and popular grass-roots regionalist movements around England.

So what exists? This post is just a short summary of the various English regionalist movements as of December 2010. The artificial government zone regionalism and the connected campaigns preferred of Labour will not be treated here. Only regions proposed by the people for the people are of interest not lines on maps drawn by technocrats in London.

Wessex: The Wessex Regionalist Party, The Wessex Society and their blog. Mention should also go to the Enchanted Lands blog from David Robins. They are long-standing campaigners who do contest elections and are generally stalwart supporters of the Cornish movement.

The Regionalist Front of Dumnonia. They insist on including Kernow and in doing so step on the toes of both the Cornish and Wessex movements.

Northumbria: Not much here except various Facebook groups and this Free Northumbria blog (no longer  in existence). As far as culture we can find the Northumbrian Language Society and Northumbriania. There seems much potential for a unified autonomist movement but little action. Perhaps Yorkshire, part of Nothumbria, speaks more to people today as a devolvable region?

Yorkshire Independence (no longer in existence) - Campaign for devolution. A new arrival from a region that I would have expected to be much louder in its demands for recognition and devolution. On a cultural level you also have the Yorkshire Ridings Society. Perhaps one advantage they have is the support of those keen on the Labour government zones. This campaign clashes with that for Northumbria therefore precluding cooperation.

Mercia: The Acting Witan of Mercia, Sovereign Mercia, The Mercian Socialist Party, The Mercian Nationalist Party and their blog. Lots of what appear abandoned websites, joke websites and phantom parties? Surely a little more unity and professionalism is need to make the case for Mercia.

Federative efforts: England Devolve is the best but seems to be suffering from a lack of interest. Then there are the following blogs which seem to emanate from the same source: Regionalist.net, Decentralise UK and the Human Scale. Is there a forum where English regionalists can come together, debate and promote their ideas? Ah yes there is -English Regional Devolution and Independence- but it seems a little quiet!

The Green Party of England and Wales are long term supporters of devolution and decentralisation their Cornish branch advocating the creation of a Cornish Assembly.

Some mention should go to Unlock Democracy. In e-mail exchanges with them I have obtained expressions of support for Cornish devolution. Equally they are committed to devolution within England. Sadly though they  are fair weather friends and would be quick to support devolution to the artificial government zones rather than the grass-roots regions.

Grass-roots English regionalism lacks visibility and sadly there doesn't seem to be much unity of action at the moment to counteract this. Is this indicative of a lack of interest in regional devolution in England? Wouldn't it be in the best interests of those grass-roots regionalists who are serious about their campaigns to come together and create a professional lobbying front with greater visibility? If not then the scene is going to remain one associated with abandoned blogs, joke websites, phantom parties and weekend activists.

2.12.10

Tremough Occupation | Students in Falmouth Fighting the Cuts

The Cornish Republican supports Tremough Occupation | Students in Falmouth Fighting the Cuts