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16.12.12

The Icelandic example


"Small independent countries in northern Europe have fared well".

It's a refreshing message indeed when you consider that 'you're too small and too dependent to survive alone' is what we usually get from state governments and their establishments. Dominated by a majority national group - English, French, Spanish etc - is it any wonder that the concerns of a smaller national group within the same state are brushed aside or attacked without reason.

Firstly, there are plenty of independent states and autonomous regions that have a population, surface area or even both smaller than our mineral rich Cornwall. 

Secondly, what do they mean when they say alone? Is being part of an ever more integrated and federal European Union alone? Perhaps here we see one of the reasons why our current right-wing ConDem government is methodically severing our ties with the EU; and here's me thinking the LibDems were European federalists.

The Icelandic example certainly provides plenty of food for thought for other stateless nations in their quest for greater self-determination.

To follow the Icelandic experiment with democracy more closely you can find a section of articles at OpenDemocracy.

After the financial crash that wrecked the island's economy in 2008, Icelanders took to the streets with pots and pans to demand a new political and economic order. Their wish was granted in the form of a new, 'crowdsourced' constitution, drafted by a Constitutional Council whose members were ordinary citizens. In October 2008, Icelanders accepted the draft in a landslide referendum. What can we - and the European Union! - learn from the Icelandic constitutional experiment?

12.12.12

2011 Census results for Cornish

Nationalia: 57.5% state that Wales is their only nation, with highest proportions in the south east and lowest in the north east · Almost 14% of people in Cornwall declare a Cornish national identity · Englishness more than doubles Britishness in England · London emerges as the stronghold of the British national identity.

With no clear tick-box option for Cornish, and despite limited publicity that claiming such a national identity was even possible, the numbers have still doubled. Not enough some might be tempted to say but hasty comparisons with Scotland and Wales should be guarded against when considering these statistics.

For centuries now Cornwall has suffered Anglo-British propaganda. From all official government sources, establishment bodies, schools and mainstream media outlets we have heard only that we are English and that Cornwall is a simple shire county of England. Unlike Wales and Scotland our national identity has been given no official recognition as a 'home nation' via sports teams, arts bodies or other institutions. Quite the contrary in fact. The Duchy, our true constitutional status, has been swept under the UK's dusty moth-holed carpet. With this in mind is it not really quite miraculous that our Celtic identity has survived and a testimony to its strength. That over the decades dedicated individuals have given up so much to keep the flame alive should never be forgotten. Now for the 80,000 who claimed a Cornish identity to continue the struggle.

There can be no doubt now that for the 2021 UK census, alongside ones for English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish and British, a tick-box option for Cornish national identity must be included. When we note that in 2011 41% of Cornish school children (28,584 pupils out of 69,811) claimed a Cornish identity rather than English, British or other the contradiction with these latest results is evident. So that reliable statistics can at last be collected only one option remains for any responsible future government.

Equally clear is the existence of a sizeable minority population within Cornwall that has no recognition and therefore no provision for the promotion of its culture. The non-inclusion of the Cornish under the terms of the Council of Europe’s framework convention for the protection of national minorities (FCNM) has become an ever more glaring fault of the UK government.

5.12.12

It's got to be Gillingham!



2.12.12

Whose Europe? from the Wessex Regionalists

A guest blog here from the Wessex Regionalists that pretty much hits the nail on the head when it comes to my views on the Europe Union. The articles to be found on the Wessex Regionalists blog are of an excellent quality and well worth a read. All the more so considering their staunch support for Cornish self-determination.

"Every step forward is preceded by a suppression; every reform by the exposure of some abuse; every new idea is born because of the inadequacy of the old concepts." Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) 

Please don’t call us Europhiles. Please don’t call us Eurosceptics. We won’t be driven into any Manichaean pigeonholes. We might perhaps settle for ‘Euro-wary’, attentive to fresh possibilities to gut the British state from within but never fooled by warm, integrationist nonsense concealing a hard, neo-liberal agenda we can get at home. We love deeply our little bit of Europe but our attitude to the European Union could be characterised along the lines of ‘we wouldn’t have started from here’. The way to liberate the European consciousness is not to unite nation-states but to divide them. Division is what multiplies the cross-border issues and impels us towards their resolution at the regional and continental scales. (Trying to resolve them at the national scale just leads to war.) 

The Right in British politics knows what it doesn’t like but doesn’t often let on what it does like. So we have the Scots being warned off independence lest Spanish centralists, fearful of the Catalans, veto their application to (re-)join the EU. Yet the same broad Right can argue that being outside the EU is a good thing, for the UK, but somehow not for its constituent parts on their own. Implicit in this is the idea not only that the UK has critical mass in a global market but that the advantages this brings are for the good of all, and not just of London and its surroundings. An idea too easily disproved by self-evident facts to require further comment. 

UKIP’s results in this week’s three by-elections may have them believing that they are the new third force in British politics. A much more realistic view is that they are the new home of the protest vote and that normality will resume at the general election. UKIP, with their fanatical opposition to devolution, are just what the establishment ordered: a combination of safety-valve for the desperately disillusioned and attack dog against anyone suggesting meaningful reform of the creaking British constitution. 

Some meaningful reform of the creaking European constitution would be welcome too. The auditors’ qualifying of the EU accounts, now for the 18th year in succession, has become an empty annual ritual, like something out of Gormenghast. And it’s getting worse, though the cause owes more to faulty oversight nationally than in Brussels. The European Parliament’s merry-go-round between Brussels and Strasbourg continues, at vast financial and carbon cost. It will go on until MEPs do the obvious and boycott the Strasbourg sessions. Some face-saving formula can then be devised to allow the French Republic to let go. 

And the budget negotiations? Who needs UKIP when other European leaders might be happy to see the back of the British delegation? Of course the European budget should be cut, first, ahead of national ones. But national budgets in turn should be cut ahead of regional and local ones. We despise Britain’s government for its cherry-picking attitude to subsidiarity. Imagine how things SHOULD be. Regional representatives gather for talks, somewhere central within the UK. Carlisle, say. Wessex demands massive cuts in the UK budget in order to protect its own spending plans, which are under pressure from shires keen to safeguard the most essential local services. Eventually a deal is struck. Several common policies are jettisoned, with jurisdiction passing to the regional governments. The bloated Whitehall bureaucracy is forced to tighten its belt at last. Its international budget, for interfering in the affairs of other countries and generally throwing its weight around, is pared back. A transition package is agreed for regions worst hit by the contraction of UK Government spending. In the background, diplomats agree new protocols on inter-regional transport, trade and tourism. 

We might even imagine the slogan. In Britain, but not run by Britain. Sounds fair?