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29.3.11

Cornwall Labour not Cornish?

At the moment I don't live in Kernow. I was born and grew-up there but, like many young Cornish folk, I had to leave the Duchy to go to university. Between 1998 and 2002 I lived and worked back in Kernow but I was drawn away again, first to London then to Paris, by the love of my life. In the months to come my next big move will be to Brittany, Cornwall's sister nation across the British Channel. Will a return home to Cornwall be on the cards one day? I certainly hope so, but finding a job in one of Europe's poorer regions is no easy task.

For many legitimate reasons I have not wanted details of my private life to be too closely connected to my political blogging. I'm not running for election, politics is not my career and I don't hold any public office. I'm not even a journalist. I'm just a simple blogger. I don't really see any problems in anonymity. Perhaps some will see evidence of cowardice. Perhaps they are not entirely wrong, but does a prospective employer need to have direct access to all my political writings? With my friends, on the other hand, I have always been open about my political opinions and place of residence. Until recently all my Facebook friends, via my real name account, will have been in no doubt as to my politics and home address. Here I am guilty of a great naivety perhaps.

It has now become evident that my personal details have been circulated amongst Labour activists in Cornwall. How they got them I can only speculate but suffice is to say a couple of well known Cornwall Labour people had access to my details via Facebook. Friends? When I dared criticise the party on Twitter someone from within their ranks lost no time in circulating my private details to his/her fellow activists. Today, when in debate with Labour people on Twitter, it is usual for them to state where I live in an effort to invalidate anything I may have to say about Kernow. Please remember!  I'm neither a politician nor do I want to be. I am just a member of the public. Yet Labour activists still felt it perfectly acceptable to circulate my private details and then use them in the public domain in an effort to discredit my opinions.

The more than alarming message must be: Beware if Cornwall Labour have access to your private information. 

I would like to point out to those Labour activists that I have  never used their personal details - place of birth, place of residence or anything else - in any of my blogs. I had always considered such school yard antics a little demeaning. I'm a Cornish man currently living abroad who blogs about Cornwall. Labour activists think it proper to point this out in personal attacks against me. Should I now feel it acceptable to return the favour? Until now I've purposely avoided using peoples personal details. Maybe it's time to change.

An interesting detail then is that the vast majority of the Labour activists who so gleefully circulated my personal details are not from Cornwall. Most of them are from England.

Why should it be that so many Labour people in Kernow come from out-of-Duchy? A surprising number seem to have drifted down from London and around - down-shifted - after city burnout. Others appear parachuted in for specific elections only to disappear after election defeat.

Could this explain Labours continued hostility to the Cornish question and their almost total failure to incorporate Cornish distinctiveness into their policies?

We all remember how 'local' Labour refused to support the campaign for a Cornish assembly and instead slavishly followed their superiors in Westminster in their efforts to impose a South West assembly - now happily scuppered. Even after Cornwall produced a petition of 50,000 signatures calling for a referendum on a Cornish assembly - asking for democracy - 'local' Labour turned a blind eye.

Equally, who can forget Labours dogged and irrational refusal to recognise Cornish culture under the Council of Europe's framework convention for the protection of national minorities? Did 'local' Labour speak up on behalf of their Cornish constituents? Of course they didn't.

So is there a connection between the English origins of  many in Cornwall Labour and the parties anti-Cornish behaviour? Is the fact that the Cornish identity is an alien identity to these people the reason they serve it so badly? Are some English who move to the Duchy anti-Cornish?

Thankfully I think I can say that in the majority of cases the answer is no. When we take a look at the membership of groups such as the Celtic League, Mebyon Kernow, Cornish Constitutional Convention and any number of Cornish cultural organisations we soon find they contain people of diverse origins including many from England. Enlightened individuals who understand that when you move to a new place, certainly  a place like Cornwall, you should approach its culture with respect and a little humility. God protect me from the ignorant who move to other  countries in search of better weather or a different style of life only to treat the local culture with disdain.

Perhaps herein lies the problem with Cornwall Labour. Those attracted to Labour are attracted by its British state-nationalism. Of course I can't expect everybody who moves to Cornwall to support devolution but to be so fervently and actively opposed to Cornish empowerment certainly poses questions as to the way these people think. Is it that after moving into a place like Cornwall some people develop a sense of guilt when faced with the endangered national minority identity? Does this same sense of guilt then quickly turn to a simmering dislike of that which makes them feel guilty? 

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