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27.12.11

The reunification of Brittany a step closer?

The French Parliament has voted in favour of a change in the law that could herald the reunification of Brittany. 

In the evening of Wednesday 21st December 2011 the French Parliament voted in favour of allowing residents of a department to hold a referendum without the agreement of other residents of the region. 

The change in the law could potentially mean that residents of the Loire Atlantique department, which forms part of the historic nation of Brittany and includes the historic Breton capital city of Naoned/Nantes, will be able to vote in favour of unification without having to convince others in the region to do the same. In 1941 the Loire Atlantique department was merged with the French Pays de la Loire region by the Fascist Vichy Government, which it has remained a part of ever since. 

It has been reported that there is widespread support among the people of the Loire Atlantique department for reunification with Brittany and similarly people in Brittany are in favour of this piece of their historic territory returning to them. Within the last decade in particular there has been a growing movement among activists to raise the profile of the campaign to reunify Brittany. In June this year a mass demonstration took place in Naoned that attracted 5000 people. The aim of the protesters was to apply pressure on the French presidential candidates, in time for elections in 2012, to come out in support of Breton unification. In June 2010 the Breton Regional Council voted in favour of a motion on the `territorial collective' of Brittany, which recognized the Loire Atlantique department as part of the traditional territory of Brittany. 

Currently the Pays de la Loire region has approximately 3.5 million residents, with 1.3 million of these people inhabiting the Loire Atlantique Department. The new law could potentially mean that the 1.3 million residents of the Loire Atlantique Department can vote on whether they want their department to return to Breton control, without the approval of the other 2.2 million residents of the Pays de la Loire region. For the Loire Atlantique electorate to be able to decide whether their department is reunited with Brittany, without having to convince the rest of the Pays de la Loire region is a significant development, because traditionally the inhabitants of the Pays de la Loire region outside of the Loire Atlantique Department have been against reunification. 

Naoned is an economically strong region in its own right and currently the capital of the Pays de la Loire region. The president of the Pays de la Loire region, who is one of the biggest opponents of reunification, said he was "surprised" by the vote. A close advisor to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Franck Louvrier, said he was pleased by the draft amendment, arguing that the idea of giving the Loire Atlantique Department back to Brittany was "decidedly favourable" and welcomed the development, which he said was a democratic move. 

The draft text of the bill will now need to go before the French parliament's upper house, the Senate, for approval. 

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact: Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League: Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912 M: 0044 (0)7787318666 gensec@celticleague.net The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query. 

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.  Website here and news group here

The reunification of Brittany a step closer?

The French Parliament has voted in favour of a change in the law that could herald the reunification of Brittany. 

In the evening of Wednesday 21st December 2011 the French Parliament voted in favour of allowing residents of a department to hold a referendum without the agreement of other residents of the region. 

The change in the law could potentially mean that residents of the Loire Atlantique department, which forms part of the historic nation of Brittany and includes the historic Breton capital city of Naoned/Nantes, will be able to vote in favour of unification without having to convince others in the region to do the same. In 1941 the Loire Atlantique department was merged with the French Pays de la Loire region by the Fascist Vichy Government, which it has remained a part of ever since. 

It has been reported that there is widespread support among the people of the Loire Atlantique department for reunification with Brittany and similarly people in Brittany are in favour of this piece of their historic territory returning to them. Within the last decade in particular there has been a growing movement among activists to raise the profile of the campaign to reunify Brittany. In June this year a mass demonstration took place in Naoned that attracted 5000 people. The aim of the protesters was to apply pressure on the French presidential candidates, in time for elections in 2012, to come out in support of Breton unification. In June 2010 the Breton Regional Council voted in favour of a motion on the `territorial collective' of Brittany, which recognized the Loire Atlantique department as part of the traditional territory of Brittany. 

Currently the Pays de la Loire region has approximately 3.5 million residents, with 1.3 million of these people inhabiting the Loire Atlantique Department. The new law could potentially mean that the 1.3 million residents of the Loire Atlantique Department can vote on whether they want their department to return to Breton control, without the approval of the other 2.2 million residents of the Pays de la Loire region. For the Loire Atlantique electorate to be able to decide whether their department is reunited with Brittany, without having to convince the rest of the Pays de la Loire region is a significant development, because traditionally the inhabitants of the Pays de la Loire region outside of the Loire Atlantique Department have been against reunification. 

Naoned is an economically strong region in its own right and currently the capital of the Pays de la Loire region. The president of the Pays de la Loire region, who is one of the biggest opponents of reunification, said he was "surprised" by the vote. A close advisor to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Franck Louvrier, said he was pleased by the draft amendment, arguing that the idea of giving the Loire Atlantique Department back to Brittany was "decidedly favourable" and welcomed the development, which he said was a democratic move. 

The draft text of the bill will now need to go before the French parliament's upper house, the Senate, for approval. 

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact: Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League: Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912 M: 0044 (0)7787318666 gensec@celticleague.net The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query. 

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.  Website here and news group here

23.12.11

The Duchy incompatible with democracy

The General Secretary (GS) of the Celtic League has written about the unrivalled influence of the Duke of Cornwall in his column in the West Briton newspaper this month. 

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot argues that the Duke is able to exercise considerable power in Cornwall that seems to place him outside of "the rules and regulations that govern everyone else", following leaked documents that show the Duke is able to veto or modify laws that affect his vested interests, especially in the Duchy of Cornwall estate. The full text of the article is set out below.

"What do you get when a private business man is able to exercise exceptional power over public legislation and exploit his public office to further his private interests? No, this is not the beginning of a funny joke, but the reality of life in the `delectable duchy' under the Duke of Cornwall, where paupers starve and princes - or rather a Duke - enjoys unrivalled influence. 

If you think I am joking, take the last month for instance. At the end of October we heard that the Duke of Cornwall had been asked for his consent on 12 government bills on a range of issues, mainly affecting the Duchy of Cornwall. It is unknown if the Duke suggested alterations to the proposed legislation, because he is except from Freedom of Information Act requests. It has been revealed that if proposed legislation could potentially affect the Duke's private Duchy of Cornwall interests, then the Duke has a right to veto. I am sure many other business men in Cornwall would like the opportunity to do the same. 

As a private estate the Duchy of Cornwall can escape public scrutiny, but it enjoys a range of powers that are normally reserved for public institutions, like the government. It's all very well for apologists to say that the Duchy of Cornwall is a complex legal entity, but somebody seems to know what it is when there is money to be made. Homeowners on the Isle of Scilly are still reeling from a legal loophole that has allowed the Duke to buy the land on which their homes are built, even though this power is only normally reserved for public bodies. Neither does the Duchy carry out environmental assessments as its farming of non native oysters in the Helford have revealed, because if you are the Duchy of Cornwall anything is possible. 

Residents in Truro have started an e petition against a proposed complex development that the Duchy of Cornwall backs, to build on a green field site. In any other circumstance the application would hardly be considered, but this is the Duchy of Cornwall we are talking about. Then last week we hear that the Duke is planning on imposing metal detector licences in Cornwall for those people who enjoy combing the beach on the foreshore, which the Duchy of Cornwall owns as part of its Duchy Estate (is that the private part or the public part I wonder?). Of course, if you die in Cornwall and no one is entitled to your estate your money goes to the Duchy of Cornwall and likewise if a company registered in Cornwall is dissolved leaving assets, the Duke takes these too. Not a bad set up for any mafia boss … I mean businessman. 

To be fair, the exercise of these privileges makes good business sense for any enterprising man and the egg is on the face of those who have let this dirty business go on for so long. But the problem is who can take this man and the pursuit of his private interests to task? A friend once told me that as a Royal Navy diver in the 1970's he had once arrived late for dinner on the ship he had been working, because of a mild case of the bends. On asking for a late meal he had been refused by Charles Windsor, in his Royal Navy capacity. Unhappy with the response he received the man told me that he had asked for Windsor's superior officer and the response from Windsor was that he was the next King of England and he had no superiors. Perhaps this man still thinks he can work outside the rules and regulations that govern everyone else? Well it would seem he can, especially where the Duchy of Cornwall's concerned. " 

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact: Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League: Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912 M: 0044 (0)7787318666 gensec@celticleague.net The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query. 

The campaign group Republic also has the Duchy in its sights. You'd think however that if they are trying to involve the people of Cornwall then they'd organise their meeting in Cornwall. Anyway details can be found below.

At our planned Plymouth meeting in the new year one of the topics on the agenda will be the creation of a new campaign focussed on the abolition of the Duchy of Cornwall. With the Duke of Cornwall - prince Charles - getting ever nearer to the throne it is high time his cash-cow duchy was directly challenged by the people of Cornwall. If you would like to know more about this new project please get in touch with me by emailing: graham@republic.org.uk
 

17.12.11

English Regionalism - from where the second wind?

John Baxendale has produced an interesting article for OurKingdom that can be found here: England, Scotland and the North: a view from 'flyover country'. The basic premise being "with Scotland on the road to further devolution if not independence, and the cuts set to deepen, its time to talk about the oft-forgotten North of England".

Even if the 'oft-forgotten North of England' remark has this Cornishman choking on his pasty, quite correctly he points out that, differently to Cornwall, the left in the North of England has worked hand in glove with the Scottish left to resist "with a greater or lesser degree of success the hegemony of the south-east with its wealthier finance and service based economy". The left from the North of England and Scotland elected Blair and, if a Scottish parliament was the first wave of devolution, an assembly for the 'oft-forgotten' North East was the second. John suggests that Scottish independence would destroy this partnership leaving the North of England in a much weaker position to face London.

Whilst Baxendale doesn't overtly call for devolution to Northern England in this article its still the logical conclusion of his point of view. Equally, whether formed by default by Scottish, Welsh and Irish independence or created otherwise before, he is in no doubt that an English parliament would simply reinforce the isolation of the North. Should we not conclude the same fate would await Cornwall?

I support the creation of an English parliament in that I support the independence of Scotland and Wales as well as the reunification of Ireland. Even if the English nationalist parties that exist seem to be - at best europhobic reactionaries and at worst neo-nazis - I can only wish the best of luck to our fellow Celtic nations in their quest for independence thus creating an English parliament.

That being said Cornwall and parts of England remote from the circles of influence of London need to consider now more than ever a renegotiation of power before Scottish independence ensures a Tory majority and the predominance of the South and South East of England for decades to come.

At the end of his articles John Baxendale writes "for that matter let’s hear about Cornwall and East Anglia". I have to say this left me a little perplexed. Is Cornwall simply another potential English region silently queuing up alongside the likes of East Anglia in the hopes of getting some scraps from Londons table? Is he not aware that Cornwall has a distinct national identity, its own language, an established autonomist movement and a petition of 50,000 signatures calling for the creation of a Cornish assembly? Either John is being disingenuous in ignoring the always inconvenient Cornish question or he is simply ignorant of it. Perhaps Cornwall, being the only 'region of England' that has an organised grass-roots campaign for autonomy, is an embarrassment for a campaigner for Northern devolution still smarting from rejection? Or more worryingly is it that he has only heard faint murmurings of a regionalist sentiment coming from Kernow? If the latter is true then the Cornish movement really needs to think about how it communicates with the outside world.

What of the grass-roots English regionalists and federalists that do exist? The campaign for Yorkshire devolution seems to have fallen silent leaving only a handful of  Facebook groups. The UK Federalist Party has merged with other EU federalists to form the European Federalist Party and seems more focused on federalism at state level in Europe rather than on a sub-state and much more human scale. A tactical error I think. The Northumbria Party seems a little more dynamic than the precedent Northumbrian regionalists whilst both Wessex and Mercian autonomists seem to have little changed. Much still remains to be done to give grass-roots English regionalism an audible voice.

14.12.11

15 named Cornish speakers who lived after Dolly Pentreath and before the revival.

Dolly Pentreath didn't speak a word of English until her twenties, so we can safely say that she was a monoglot in her adulthood, I am not aware of how much English she actually did speak and have been meaning to check the contemporary sources for a while now.

There are over a dozen named Cornish speakers that lived after her death. John Nancarrow of Marazion, not yet forty in 1777. William Bodinar, died 1789, would chat for hours in Cornish with Dolly. An engineer from Truro called Thompson who was the author of Dolly Pentreath's epitaph and was said to have known far more Cornish than she ever did. Ann Wallis, died c. 1844. Jane Barnicoate, died c. 1857. Mary Kelynack. John Tremethack, died 1852 at the age of eighty-seven. George Badcock, grandfather of Bernard Victor of Mousehole, taught some Cornish to his grandson who went on to impart much of his knowledge to Cornish revivalists Rev. Lach-Szyrma, Henry Jenner, and Fred W. P. Jago. Anne Berryman (1766–1854), of Boswednack, Zennor. John Davey Snr. and John Davey Jnr., died 1891, also of Boswednack. There is good evidence that at least three native speakers outlived John Davey junior: Jacob Care of St Ives, died 1892; Elizabeth Vingoe of Higher Boswarva, Madron, died 1903, who taught at least some Cornish to her son; and John Mann of St Just, alive in 1914.

One of the main definitions of a living language is that it is passed on to children. John Mann was interviewed at the age of 80 in 1914, he said that he had always conversed in Cornish whilst at play as a child in Boswednack.

We do know that the Cornish Lord's prayer, Creed and counting systems were used quite widely through the 19th and into the 20th century. In 1935 there was a man who reported that when he was a youth, in about 1875, he used to go to sea with some Newlyn fishermen who were in the habit of speaking Cornish while on the boat and held conversations which lasted up to ten minutes at a time. John Davey Jnr. could converse on a number of subjects in Cornish and was known for songs and poetry learnt from his father. Unfortunately only one piece is known to have been recorded.

A guest post above from the indefatigable Ellery, many thanks to him. If anyone has ever posed the question as to the place of the Cornish language and Cornish dialect on this blog then let me clarify things. My abilities in both do not permit me to do them justice and I have no desire to do anything but a proper job. That being said however if people want to submit articles in either Cornish or  Anglo-cornish dialect that follow the line of the Cornish Republican then I'd be happy to publish them. 

For those who wish to learn Cornish start here: Maga - the Cornish language partnership.

For those that want to learn Cornish dialect start here: The Federation of old Cornwall Societies.

4.12.11

Take heart

Here are two articles about the much under publicised constitutional revolution in Iceland that has seen the people take the power back from the banks and political elites. 

Let the 99% and those that occupy take heart. 

Let all those who campaign for an empowered, social and ecological Cornwall equally take heart as a country of 318,452 shows what can be done when the citizens awake. If a nation smaller than ours can demand a new settlement than it is only for us to decide what we want. To be masters of our own destinies or the mere pawns of financial elites and their political lackeys in London.