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A new local money in Brittany. Why not in Cornwall?

The Bretons have beaten us to the mark once more with the creation of their first local currency for the city and suburbs of Brest. The new Héol (sun in Breton) will help support local producers and businesses.

For more on alternative currencies watch this video from Bernard Lietaer - Money Diversity:

A new local money in Brittany. Why not in Cornwall?

The Bretons have beaten us to the mark once more with the creation of their first local currency for the city and suburbs of Brest. The new Héol (sun in Breton) will help support local producers and businesses.

For more on alternative currencies watch this video from Bernard Lietaer - Money Diversity:

Alternative finance radicals

Following blogs here on alternative economics I've decided to link to the following article that provides a great résumé of what is open to Cornwall.

A facinating read with good links that should be read by all who want to find a new way ahead.

With the disgraceful news of the fall in economic performance in Cornwall and the awarding of further Convergence funding from the European Union now is the time to try something new. First off lets have a Cornish Assembly so that the people of Cornwall can decide how their funds should be spent. 


The Pro-Cornish in the UK and beyond

This post provides a short explanation of the list of 'pro-Cornish' groups included on this blog. It is periodically updated.

Members of the Cornish movement should feel free to contact, lobby and join some of the following in order to maintain good relations and promote the Cornish cause. If any other group believes they should be included then please do contact the blog author and explain why.

First things first. It is my opinion that Cornwall would be best served by having the maximum number of our elected representatives coming from Mebyon Kernow the party for Cornwall. They provide the most Kernow friendly and progressive voice for the Duchy. It is simply for the citizens of Cornwall to engage with the party and ensure it provides the strongest possible voice for our nation and all its diverse communities. Don't take my word for it read their policies and make your own minds up.

The EFA is a European party that regroups democratic nationalists and autonomists from around the EU. It's left-of-centre, greenish and contains MK, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the UDB as members.

Thus leading on to our 'sister' Celtic parties Plaid and the Scottish National Party. Plaid and its members have often been stalwart supporters of the Cornish cause. Long may it continue. The SNP is a different story however and a cold silence on the Cornish question is often all that seems to blow down from the north. Is this due to the ignorance of its members on Cornish issues or party policy to avoid meddling in 'English' affairs? Probably a bit of both is my feeling.

I suspect not every pro-Cornish individual can be convinced to join and vote for MK. In that case why not engage with another party and argue the Cornish case. An interesting website can be found here to help explore your political position: The Political Compass.

The parties below have all, to a greater or lesser extent, campaigned on Cornish issues and/or given clear recognition to the Cornish nation. It is for them now to affirm their commitment to positively resolving the Cornish question. Non party political organisations - Constitutional Convention, Stannary Parliament, Celtic League and CoSERG - exist and I'm sure they'd be happy to welcome new members aboard.

Long term supporters of devolution to a Cornish assembly the Cornish Greens also call for further decentralisation down to our local communities. Electoral pacts between the Greens and MK have been struck in the past. Both parties are brought together in the Green / EFA European parliamentary alliance. Additionally nobody needs reminding of the campaign work done by Green Party member Peter Tatchell.

It's sad to see however that the Greens often campaign in the 'South West of England' as opposed to creating a fully autonomous Cornish Green Party. Currently the Cornish Greens are merely a subdivision of the Green Party for England and Wales. A situation which suggests that the local Greens are allowed to co-opt Cornish nationalist arguments in the Duchy but that the central party is far from ready to accept Cornish difference.

What to say about the janus faced Lib Dems? Two of their MP's - Andrew George and Dan Rogerson - at times come across as barely closet Cornish nationalists. Campaigning on Cornish devolution, national minority recognition, constitution and language issues. Much good work has been done. Compare this to the sometimes anti-Cornish actions of the rest of the party and one can be left a little puzzled. Take for example Dan Rogersons interesting, yet doomed, Government of Cornwall Bill. At a Lib Dem party conference all aspects of devolution were discussed except the Cornish devolution bill produced by one of their own MPs. The situation is explored further in this MK press release: Loveday Jenkin demands to know why Lib Dem Conference ignored Cornish devolution. The cynical explanation: We have Cornish Lib Dem MP's happy to make token efforts in order to gather up the Cornish autonomist vote but that's about it. The less cynical point of view: We have one maybe two maverick MP's who push their party to the limits in seeing what they can get for Kernow and who often find themselves in conflict with their London based party and even fellow local party members.

The best of the rest

The Wessex Regionalists and England Devolve seem to have nothing but good wishes for Cornish aspirations. This is in noticeable contrast to the vast majority of English nationalists who appear to by nothing more than xenophobic, reactionary, disillusioned rejects from the UK's right-wing British nationalist circles.

The Communist Party party gives recognition to the territory and nation of Cornwall. A distinct Cornish branch for the party with a dedicated website or blog are missing even if one of their website states they represent the South West of England and Cornwall. They write:  The Communist Party also recognises the special position of Cornwall in relation to the rest of England. Our party's programme, Britain's Road to Socialism, notes that: “The distinctive cultural and social characteristics of Cornwall should be expressed through a directly elected Cornish Assembly, with powers that match local aspirations” and that: “The national movements in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall also contain substantial progressive and left-wing elements that oppose reactionary policies of monopoly capital and the British state".

No time for fascists Cornish or otherwise.

Some may be asking why the BNP (or one of the splinter groups) are absent from the list following their recognition of a 'Celtic Cornish folk community' and the display of Cornish used at one of their branch meetings. If a couple of misguided and barmy old Cornish gits want to act as the BNP's Cornish monkeys, to be trotted out to dance in front of white trash blow-ins from up north, whenever this Anglo-supremacist racist party wants to convince people it cares about Kernow then too bad. Let them pass the last days of their retirement in the company of English fascists if that's what they want.

The other absentees

Noticeably absent are the UK Labour party, the Conservatives and UKIP, along with a handful of (more openly) English nationalist parties.

To be fair Labour are not the bottom of the pile. The Labour government did instigate devolution to Scotland, Wales and the Six Counties. Equally they gave recognition and funding to the Cornish language. Finally local Labour PPC, Charlotte MacKenzie, has supported the campaign for a Cornish tick box option on the 2011 UK census. That being noted the last Labour government also: 1) Chucked the Cornish Assembly petition of 50,000 signatures in the bin. 2) Refused to recognise Cornwall as its own natural European region. 3) Ensured that a large chunk of Cornwall's governance was done via unelected English quangos. 4) Refused to recognise the Cornish as a national minority under the terms of the Council of Europe's framework convention for the protection of national minorities. 5) Refused to investigate the complex relationship between the Duchy of Cornwall and the territory of Cornwall.

From the Conservatives we have seen some efforts at co-opting of the language of Cornish nationalism but very little else. Now its for them to take on board the saying 'actions talk louder than words'. UKIP? Nothing to date worth reporting concerning the Cornish.

Nothing to do with the Liberal Democrats, this self described "non socialist 'left of centre' radical political party" gives full recognition to a Cornish nation and is happy to describe Kernow as a Duchy separate from England. They support devolution to the various countries that make up the UK including Cornwall. They say: Cornwall is under threat from Big Brother Labour governments, and ignored by Conservative ones. The EU for example, wants to encourage minority nations, languages, and cultures like Cornwall. London governments are eroding Cornish rights and freedoms. Lately they denied us the right to fly our ancient National flag on a par with England. All the more surprising when you consider they advised people to vote UKIP in the May 2010 general election.

I've decided to cast my nets wider and include pressure groups, think tanks and other organisations. On to the list will go the following organisations for the work they have done and recognition given to the Cornish nation: Celtic League, Federal Union of European Nationalities, Center for World Indigenous Studies, World Network for the Collective Rights of Peoples, Scottish Republican Socialist Movement and England Devolve.

Equally onto the list goes the Cornish Nationalist Party. They aren't currently a registered UK political party but you do hear from them in the Cornish press from time to time. The Roseland Institute will serve as their link.

Following their interesting blog post in praise of Cornwall I've added Unlock Democracy to the list. For their work towards a more autonomous, resilient and inclusive, low carbon communities in Cornwall Transition Cornwall are also new to the list.

For their support of Cornish recognition and/or autonomy the Yorkshire Devolution Movement, the Cliff Edge Signalling Company, the Acting Witan of Mercia, Democratic Reform Party, Federalist Party of the UK, UK Libertarian Party and Green Left have now been added.


Whither Cornish Literature?

“Books are the windows through which the soul looks out,” said Henry Ward Beecher.

So where, we may ask, is Cornwall’s soul? Cornwall’s culture has been rightly celebrated in recent years and yet the role of a discernibly Cornish literature in that culture has been overlooked. I’d charge that it has been variously neglected, forgotten, or else misappropriated for the tourist industry in such guises as the Daphne du Maurier festival. Provocative? Perhaps, but not without provocation.

Cornwall has inspired and produced many writers over the years, but those most celebrated ‘Cornish’ writers are rarely Cornish. Du Maurier, Graham, Betjeman and Lawrence all were immigrants. That is not to take anything away from what appears to have been a very genuine affection that each of them had for Cornwall but it has to be acknowledged that their views and experiences, as immigrants, are necessarily different from those authors who are Cornish born. In acknowledging that affection, it is important to acknowledge the validity of their representations of Cornwall – it is, today, rightly almost impossible to discuss issues of identity without throwing Edward Said’s name into the conversation and recognising that we forge our identities in opposition to an other. Immigrant authors, just like immigrants generally, arrive with a preconceived notion of Cornwall and Cornishness which is gradually mutated through daily contact.

The indigenous Cornish ideas of Cornwall and Cornishness are likewise transformed by immigrants and the ideas that they bring with them; this is the essence of cultural evolution. Cornish born writers then, should have a different voice than immigrant writers (themselves different to those writers who may depict Cornwall without any first-hand experience) but their voice is rarely heard. Golding and Thomas won critical acclaim for their fiction in the twentieth century, but their lack of direct engagement with Cornwall in their work means that few even realise that they are Cornish. Pilcher wrote famous Cornish novels but they belong to a tradition of romance novels which render the place almost irrelevant – her stories could have been set almost anywhere with a beach.

Burley, another genre writer, did come close to offering a portrait of Cornwall almost unique in its Cornishness. People of all walks of life clamber through his pages and almost to a fault they are mistrustful of interference in their personal lives by the state, they are fiercely independent and yet they are frequently downtrodden, dejected or angry. By having a Cornish immigrant as the protagonist in the clear majority of his books he also allows affectionate caricatures and pithy comments to find their place. We can laugh at both the immigrants and at ourselves in an environment free of any malice. It is by holding up such mirrors to our thoughts and feelings that we can understand them better – witness the reaction to the recent online release of the short-film Tamara.

So what of Cornwall now? Where is our soul and how can we protect it?

“The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out, and after an era new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the heart of men centuries dead.” - Clarence Day

The greatest single body of Cornish literature remains the Mediaeval miracle plays, which have been of ever increasing interest over the last hundred years or so, as the Cornish language movement has gathered pace. Evertype have now undertaken to publish several books, both new and translations of English classics, in Cornish (one would hope, increasingly in SWF, but that is a debate for elsewhere). Some of these books are translations of new works by Alan Kent and all of them are to be commended in their efforts to rapidly build the literature necessary to support a written language. They do not, however, embody the spirit of that Cornish literature discussed here – the window into our collective soul.

Alan Kent has been probably the highest profile Cornish literary academic in the last decade and has now also written several novels which show him to be a writer of rare talent as well as a prodigious worker. One man cannot, however, be termed a movement and it is to be hoped that where he leads others may follow.

In order to make that following easier, I have recently created an online home for Cornish Literature at http://cornishlit.wordpress.com/. The idea behind this website is to provide a single focus for those interested in Cornish literature, in both Cornish and English, and thereby to foster dialogue and to help forge a critical and supportive community. The website will feature reviews of Cornish fiction in the loosest possible sense (including Cornish, Cornish-immigrant and, where they become known, Cornish diaspora writers), alongside opinion pieces and news items. As the website grows it is hoped that it will also be possible to add some short stories and poetry written by Cornish writers. 

If you’re interested in participating in this project by contributing to the website then please do contact me, my details can be found at http://zooarchaeology.co.uk/commercial-work-and-contact.php

Contributed by Lee G. Broderick


St.Pirans day


In praise of Cornwall | Unlock Democracy

In praise of Cornwall | Unlock Democracy. For me the campaign for devolution and decentralisation has always been about bringing power closer to the people and allowing communities to have a greater say over their own affairs. Why should decisions on transport, education or the environment be taken in Westminster, far way from the people they effect? The assumption that the policy framework should be the same in Birmingham as in Kent, stifles innovation and lets down local people. The centralised way we run England is not the norm in the democratic world; in most countries of a similar size far more power is exercised at a lower level (you can see how England compares by trying our Autonomy Project tool). 

When it comes to discussing devolution within England, the debate has traditionally been dominated by the big cities, regions and counties. Under the last government what discussion there was a top down one where central government decided who, if anyone, was allowed more power. 

But there has always been an alternative voice arguing that devolution doesn't have to be a top down affair and shouldn't be simply about size, but should be about local identity and need. 

This alternative voice has been loudest and most persistent in Cornwall. In fact it is the one area of the country that managed to generate genuine enthusiasm (50,000 signatures representing 1 in 10 Cornish residents) for the last government’s proposed regional assemblies only to be told that the legislation didn't apply to them. It still has a ongoing campaign for greater autonomy and Cornwall Council is probably the only Council that has a cabinet member responsible for devolution. Cornwall is the only English County with its own language and nationalist movement, which argues that Cornwall is a nation in its own right and should be considered a distinct part of the UK in the same way as Scotland and Wales. In a poll in 2004, 44% of those asked said they felt Cornish, rather than English or British. 

However this isn't a argument simply for Cornish exceptionalism; indeed such an argument may hinder the campaign for greater autonomy in Cornwall as it would requiring a large amount of legislative time just for Cornwall rather than linking into the wider debate about devolution and decentralisation within England. There is no reason that other parts of the country, be they Kent, Birmingham or Yorkshire should not have the same right to autonomy if they wanted it. 

I have little doubt that if a mechanism was introduced to enable communities to be able to pull down powers that Cornwall would be near the front of the queue. But it would not be alone; people in other areas would doubtlessly seek greater devolution as well. For many Cornish people, the push for devolution has two objectives: recognition as a national minority and greater autonomy. They may find that by establishing themselves as the vanguard of a more decentralised England, they will ultimately be successful in achieving both.

Protest in New York for the Breton Language

Protest in New York for the Breton Language