Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Cornish paradox?

On Saurday, the annual Mebyon Kernow Conference was held at Bodmin and I was re-elected as Party Leader. 

In my address at the event, I looked back some fifty years to the 1960s when MK founder-members (and husband and wife team) Richard and Ann Jenkin published a book titled Cornwall – the Hidden Land.

In this publication, they argued that the emergence of a Cornish political party was “one of the most promising signs that Cornwall will continue to exist as a Celtic country and not decline into merely an administrative division of England.”

I reminded the MK Conference that, 15 years ago, I had co-authored a book about MK with Bernard Deacon and Garry Tregidga. And, in the conclusion, we had considered what the Jenkins had said.

We pondered how “since the 1960s, there has been an unmistakeable enrichment and intensification of the Cornish sense of ‘Celtic’ identity.”

But, at the same time, we noted how Cornwall was being submerged into SW bodies and wrote: “Cornwall has indeed ‘declined’ into a state of what should more accurately be described as being part of an administrative division of England, rather than even being an administrative division of England in its own right.”

At the Conference, I spoke about how this paradox continues to the present day. Four years ago, the Cornish were recognised as a national minority and it is clear that the “enrichment and intensification” of our wonderful Cornish identity continues apace.

I also believe there is a growing confidence in the way we are making the case for greater Cornish recognition, and the most obvious example of this is the amazing “tickbox bus,” and the campaign for inclusion on the 2021 census.

And yet central government continues to refuse to recognise Cornwall as political, economic and cultural entity.

The threat of a cross-Tamar parliamentary seat still hangs over us and the United Kingdom is still an over-centralised state. There has been no meaningful devolution to Cornwall, the UK Government views us through the prism of local government, and now central government and the unelected “Leadership Board” are promoting the so-called “Great South West” regionalisation project, which would mask Cornwall and its needs.

We have even had the proposed police merger and the attempt to centralise some cancer services out of Cornwall, but thankfully these moves have been curtailed – largely because of public opposition in Cornwall.

Surely it is time for this paradox to be consigned to history, and Cornwall’s national interest to be properly reflected in all aspects of government policy.

[This will be my article in this week's Cornish Guardian.]