Monday, 23 May 2016

ONS respond to requests for Cornish tickbox and it is not good news ... yet!

The Office of National Statistics has today published its “full response” to the consultation on content for the 2021 census for "England and Wales.” Also included on the ONS website are a range of topic reports, including one on “ethnicity and national identity.”

I am disappointed in the response from the ONS in relation to requests for a Cornish tickbox in 2021, which would be similar to that afforded to the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh in 2011.

The organisation does reference the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in relation to the Cornish, but also states that the ONS continue to believe that the “provision of write-in options in the ethnic group and national identity questions meet this user requirement.”

Obviously, I think this is not appropriate, though the ONS has also confirmed that there will be a further consultation on options for ethnic group questions.

Specific extracts from the topic report are as follows:


Background

In April 2014 the Framework Convention was amended to include Cornish as a National Minority group. When announcing this change, the Government stated: “The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.” They go on to state: “The Government’s approach to the Framework Convention is to be modified to recognise the unique position of the Cornish as a Celtic people within England. It is without prejudice as to whether the Cornish meet the definition of “racial group” under the Equality Act 2010 7, as only the courts can rule on that.”

Summary of consultation responses

From across the consultation responses specific requests for additional options within the ethnicity question included; Anglo-Irish, Cornish, Cypriot, Eastern European, English, Gypsy, Irish Traveller, Jewish, Kashmiri, Latin American, Orthodox Jewish, Roma, Sikh, Somali, Turkish, Western European, White Cornish, White European and Yemeni. Some respondents also advocated allowing respondents to tick multiple categories and removal of the use of colour terminology.

Requests for additional options within the national identity question included further regional identity options, for example Cornish.

Equality implications of the updated view of ONS


In 2014, the Cornish were recognised as a National Minority under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. ONS continue to believe that the provision of write-in options in the Ethnic Group and National Identity questions meet this user requirement. In the 2011 Census, 83 thousand usual residents wrote in ‘Cornish’ as their National Identity. Of these, 73 thousand lived in Cornwall, comprising approximately 14% of the population. The remaining 10 thousand resided elsewhere in England and Wales.

Despite the availability of write-in response options ONS has received feedback from some stakeholders expressing the need for the inclusion of more tick-box response options within the ethnic group and national identity questions. Dedicated tick-box options are included where the user need for the data is strongest as space on census forms is finite both online and on paper. With this limitation in mind, ONS intends to undertake a review of the ethnic group response options, and will consider this alongside the national identity and religion response options. This review is discussed in greater detail in the following section.

Next steps

ONS intends to undertake a review of the ethnic group response options, and will consider this alongside the national identity and religion response options. This will involve consultation with stakeholder groups that have expressed an interest in this question.

The review will follow a similar format to that undertaken prior to the 2011 Census whereby response options were prioritised. This methodology is described in the Information Paper “Deciding which tick-boxes to add to the ethnic group question in the 2011 England and Wales Census.” This methodology will be reviewed and updated to reflect current legislation. This will involve engagement with key stakeholders to ensure data needs to support the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010 are well understood.


For more information, see https://www.ons.gov.uk/census.

The Cornish language: Kellys of Cornwall and a lack of support from the Tories

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian looks again at the cuts to Cornish language, focussing on recent comments by certain Tories and the Early Day Motion. It will be as follows:

The decision of “Kellys of Cornwall” to put a Cornish language tv advert at the very heart of their new marketing campaign has provided a massive boost for everyone working to promote the language.

The advert will be broadcast across the whole of the United Kingdom over the next six weeks, but has already generated significant publicity for the ice cream producer – and Cornish itself.

In celebrating our culture and heritage, Kellys see the commercial and economic value in using our distinct language to promote Cornwall and build its positive brand message, also raising awareness of the wonderful goods produced locally.

Kellys should be applauded for taking this initiative. It stands out in stark contrast to the shameful attitude of the UK Government, which recently cut the £150,000 per annum funding to enhance and promote Cornwall’s national tongue.

I have to say I am particularly disappointed by the inaction of Cornwall’s six Tory MPs on this matter, with them saying that Cornwall Council could “make it a priority to fund” the language if they wished, while implying that the so-called “devolution deal” had made more money available – which it hasn’t!

In reality, it is the UK Government which signed up to both the Charter for Regional & Minority Languages and the Framework for the Protection of National Minorities. They have an obligation to support and fund Cornwall’s distinct identity and culture, including the language.

Indeed, a five year programme of funding was actually in the “devolution deal” until removed by central government just before the document was finalised. The leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard, has confirmed that he had been “reassured” by the Department of Communities and Local Government that the removal of funding from the document “was a technical matter” and “that another funding route would be identified.”

Put simply, the Conservatives have broken their promises on this funding, and it is disingenuous in the extreme to use the “devolution deal” as a reason for the cut.

I am proud that Mebyon Kernow’s sister parties in the Westminster Parliament have put forward an Early Day motion (EDM) which has called for the funding cuts to be reversed.

Tabled by Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party, the motion has been signed by 42 MPs including 29 members of the SNP and all three members of Plaid Cymru, the single Green MP and a member of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party. In terms of the establishment parties, the EDM has only been supported by five Labour MPs (out of a total of 232) and three Lib Dem MPs (out of eight). Not one of the UK’s 330 Conservative MPs has backed the language, which is frankly appalling.

At the time of writing, an online petition against the cuts has secured nearly 8,000 signatures. It you haven’t signed it yet, please do so. It can be located at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/128474

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Going to Twickenham …


Well done to the Cornish rugby team for their good win over Surrey at Camborne today, and securing a place in the “county” championship final at Twickenham (Sunday 29th May).

It was great to see some many rugby supporters out in force, and to catch up with so many friends, old and new. It was especially nice to meet Michael Young and Ben Gilby, two MK members who both live outside of Cornwall but do so much good work for our cause.

Like many others, no doubt – I have spent the evening searching the internet for tickets, and I will be off to Twickenham a week tomorrow to support the men in black and gold.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Kernow King as Trevithick: Indian Queens Pit; Sunday 22nd May


It is less than 48 hours to the first of this year’s events at Indian Queens Pit and it should be a beauty.

The event has Ed Rowe (Kernow King) performing as Trevithick – “Cornwall’s greatest son” – and it is described as a “biographical comedy.” Directed by Kneehigh Theatre’s Associate Director Simon Harvey, it also stars actress Mary Woodvine.

The play will be on Sunday 22nd May, starting at 7.30. Tickets are only £9.00 and will be on sale on the night. We would love to see you there, enjoying a wonderful evening and supporting Queens Pit.

Report on day 5 at the EiP: affordable housing policies

Today’s deliberations at Newquay’s Atlantic Hotel included a morning session which covered the Council’s proposed affordable housing policies.

Sadly, the basis of much of the discussion was dictated by the recent Appeal Court decision to allow central government to re-introduce a threshold of ten housing units, below which affordable housing could not be sought (except in certain rural areas where the threshold would be five).

Once again, local policy is being undermined by the actions of central government.

One local contributor at the EiP noted that it was telling how, earlier in the week, developers and their representatives had argued that the need for affordable housing was a key justification for an uplift in housing numbers. But today, these same individuals were, with breathtaking double-standards, arguing for lower affordable housing targets and the inevitable delivery of less local needs housing.