Tuesday, 29 April 2014

National minority status for the Cornish - an inclusive campaign

The below post will be appearing in tomorrow's Cornish Guardian.

It is fantastic news that the Government has confirmed that the Cornish will be recognised as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection for National Minorities.

I am delighted that all the Celtic peoples of these Islands – the Cornish, Irish, Scottish and Welsh – are now afforded equal protection through the Framework Convention. It provides a significant boost for all aspects of our culture and identity, and will undoubtedly boost Cornwall’s standing across the UK.

At this time, I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all those people who have campaigned on this issue over a very long time.

First and foremost, I would like to put on record my gratitude to independent councillor Bert Biscoe. He has been the real driving force behind the campaign for some twenty years, bringing people together to form an inclusive cross-party and cross-sector campaign, while consistently putting gentle and persuasive pressure on a wide array of government ministers, government departments and civil servants.

Bert secured grants from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust towards the production of detailed reports, which were presented to central government in 1999 and 2011.

The first Cornish National Minority Report was produced by Bernard Deacon, with much of the research undertaken by Julian German and a foreword provided by Mebyon Kernow councillor Colin Lawry. I was pleased to be member of a Steering Group along with Bert and John Angarrack, David Fieldsend, the late Richard Ford, Stephen Horscroft, Ann Trevenen Jenkin, Mark Kaczmarek, Prof. Philip Payton, Neil Plummer, Alastair Quinnell, Hugh Rowe and Graham Sandercock.

I also remember that a number of people provided specific help with the original report including Prof. Anthony Alcock, Amy Hale, Davyth Hicks, Phil Hosken, the late Richard Jenkin, Ronald Perry, the late Alan Prisk, Ian Williams and Peter Wills.

The second Cornish National Minority Report was produced by Ian Saltern of the Azook Community Interest Company. With the agreement of former Cornwall Council Leader, Alec Robertson, this report was partly funded by Cornwall Council.

The production of this report was again supported by a wide-ranging pool of individuals which included John Angarack, Miranda Bird, Bert Biscoe, Peter Burton, Will Coleman, Bernard Deacon, Julian German, Andrew George MP, Stephen Horscroft, Adam Killeya, Jenefer Lowe, Paul Masters, Annie Moore, Colin Murley, Mary Neale, Alastair Quinnell, Dan Rogerson MP, Claire White and me.

Full cross-party support for national minority status was shown by a strongly worded foreword that was signed by the leaders of all groups on the Council. Alongside Alec Robertson (Conservative) and myself, this included Doris Ansari (Liberal Democrat), John Wood (Independent) and Jude Robinson (Labour).

Also, throughout the 2000s, Bert Biscoe attended a range of meetings with representatives of central government, accompanied by people such as John Angarrack, Nigel Hicks and the late Jim Pengelly. John Angarrack, as director of the organisation Cornwall 2000, also took legal action to challenge the refusal of central government to recognise the Cornish.

A range of organisations have provided firm and vigorous support to the campaign, including the Celtic Congress, Celtic League, Cornish Constitutional Convention, Cornish Solidarity, the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, Gorsedh Kernow and Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall. Many provided funding while others, such as the Celtic League through their Convenor Michael Chappell, have been active lobbyists.

More recently, following a parliamentary question by Stephen Gilbert MP and an invitation from DCLG Minister Stephen Williams, officers and councillors at Cornwall Council have been working on a third detailed representation. Much of the work has been ably carried out by David Read and Stephanie Vandike, supported by a steering group which I served on alongside Bert Biscoe, Malcolm Brown, Will Coleman, Mo Fuller, Julian German, Ed Rowe, Ian Saltern and Doug Scrafton.

It was wonderful to watch television and listen to the radio, last Thursday, to see and hear Liberal Democrat Minister Danny Alexander making the widely and warmly welcomed announcement, with the full support of local Lib Dem MPs Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert and Dan Rogerson. It was also refreshing to see cross-party unity with unequivocal support from local Conservative MP (and Government Minister) George Eustice, Labour spokesperson Hanna Toms, MK spokespersons Loveday Jenkin and Andrew Long, independent councillor Julian German and many, many more.

While it is impossible to list everyone who has played a part in the campaign, I would like to express a massive “well done” to one and all!

1 comment:

kevin.bennetts@hotmail.com said...

You have forgotten the Stannary who campaigned doggedly in the wilderness years and particularly Cornish Solidarity where Alan Prisk Richard Angove and Tony Piper did so much to bring Cornish people together and secure objective one funding.