Thursday, 13 November 2008

Self-rule for Cornwall

This week, Peter Tatchell posted an article on the “Comment is Free” part of the Guardian newspaper’s website. Entitled “Self-rule for Cornwall,” it was a straight-forward and sympathetic appraisal of the many aspects of the Cornish movement – ranging from the many battles for the greater recognition of our nation, to the campaign for the Cornish to be recognised as a National Minority and the long-standing campaign for a Cornish Assembly.

I applaud Peter for taking the time to publicise what is going on in Cornwall.

However, for the sake of accuracy, I would like to point out a couple of things. The Cornish Constitutional Convention did not launch the declaration campaign for a Cornish Assembly. It was launched by MK in March 2000, the Convention was founded in the following July and, soon after, MK took the pragmatic decision to pass a large degree of the responsibility for the campaign to the cross-party organisation in order to better garner widespread support.

It is also a little unfortunate that the article uses the term “independence” when the reality is that in Cornwall the campaigns have primarily always been about devolution – not separation.

Over 1,500 comments were added to the site and, like many others, it disappointed me to see so many negative, inaccurate and offensive posts.

To quote just one correspondent as an example: “The Cornish wurzels deserve nothing but contempt and should be sent back to where they belong, labouring down the bottom of a deep hole, the deeper the better … heads full of pasties and rotten clotted cream … inbreds all.” Not a particularly nice thing to say.

Peter himself has described many of the comments as “anti-Cornish vitriol” and “bigoted stereotyped anti-Cornish posts” though, to be fair, quite a number of the comments from the Cornish side have also been unwise.

Many posters have decried what Cornish nationalism is all about. From a personal perspective, it is quite simple. Cornwall is a historic entity with its own distinct identity, language and heritage – it is a nation. Every person who seeks the greater recognition of the nation of Cornwall or campaigns for self-government for Cornwall is therefore a Cornish nationalist.

What is important to me is that the nationalism of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is inclusive and outward-looking. I am particularly proud that we campaign for a better deal for ALL the people of Cornwall and are never afraid to make a stand on global issues with significance far beyond our borders.

While I do not have the time to comment on all the issues raised I do feel it is appropriate, that as the Leader of Mebyon Kernow, I comment on a couple of the specific mentions of MK.

Some people clearly wish to perpetuate the myth that MK is only concerned with things such as the Cornish Language. “Kegs,” for example, states that: “Issues like housing, jobs and development are what most of the people I know are concerned about, not historical grievances and Cornish language promotion.”

Now I am proud of the work that MK members and others have done to protect and promote Cornish and to bolster local identity but this is most certainly not MK’s only focus. We are a modern political party committed to self government and our core values are prosperity for all, social justice and environmental protection.

I have looked back over the MK press releases that have been released over the last twelve months and here is a representative sample – support for South Crofty tin mine, opposition to the loss of 24 hour fire cover in Camborne and Falmouth, Liberal Democrat double standards, unitary authority chaos, supermarkets, climate change, opposition to 70,000 houses in the Regional Spatial Strategy, no to an incinerator at St Dennis, affordable housing, criticism of eco-town proposal, condemnation of racist attack on Quenchwell Chapel, call for rail improvements, arms trade, no to Post Office closures, energy costs, waste, and the list goes on.

In fact MK councillors have been extremely active on the issues of “housing, jobs and development.” Speaking for myself, I am one of the two MK councillors on Restormel Borough Council and I serve as the chairman of the Planning Policy Committee. Through this, I have worked extremely hard to help develop the Borough’s affordable housing plans, regeneration policies for the China Clay Area/St Austell and Newquay, while opposing the plan for an eco-town (spread over six sites) near St Austell. This is what being in MK means to me.

I would suggest that some of the critics of Mebyon Kernow need take time to see what the Party does stand for.

One last thing ‘Kegs.’ You also said that “when the Party Leader’s own (Welsh) wife takes the mick out of the cause you know you have a bit of a credibility problem.” With respect – what are you talking about? My wife is very supportive of the campaigns of MK, helps out in many ways, often gets very angry on my behalf when MK and Cornish campaigns are unfairly criticised and she is English – not Welsh!


Loic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loic said...

Well said. An ignorant minority constantly proclaim a myth that MK aren't campaigning on relevant issues. This is total rubbish. Where are MK not relevant? Nowhere! There are the most relevant and progressive party in Cornwall. We need them!