Sunday, 17 February 2019

Cornish language cheques and "Go Cornish"

My article in his week’s Cornish Guardian considers progress with the Cornish language. It will be as follows:

There are so many truly wonderful aspects to Cornwall’s identity and culture, and I personally consider that the most important factor in our distinctiveness to be the Cornish language.

This is because, to me, the continued existence of our own Celtic language, emphasises that we have a national identity, rather than simply a regional or county character.

Over the years, a large number of people have worked so incredibly hard to promote and celebrate Cornish – teaching students, producing books and magazines, using the language in music and the arts, and raising its public profile. So much of this work has been undertaken by dedicated volunteers, and I believe we owe them a great debt.

Significant progress has been made in recent decades and, in November 2002, the status of the language was recognised through the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. This international agreement committed the UK Government to a range of measures to protect and develop the language and, in 2014, this was followed by the recognition of the Cornish through the Framework Convention for National Minorities.

But sadly, central government has failed to meet its obligations and, in 2016, it shamefully ended its funding of Cornish.

Unsurprisingly and quite rightly, in 2017, an opinion from a Committee of the Council of Europe was extremely critical of the UK Government’s failings and challenged it to act on the “linguistic and cultural rights” of the Cornish, and to rethink “the decision to cut all funding for the Cornish language in view of the disproportionate impact such a measure will have on the delicate process of revitalising a minority language when access to other public financial resources is limited.”

There were also other recommendations in the opinion, which included calls for a Cornish Language Act and for the BBC to show support for the language.

Action from the relevant authorities has not been forthcoming and it has been reported that Lloyds Bank is now refusing to accept cheques written in Cornish. I find I unbelievable that Lloyds have issued a statement saying that “it cannot take cheques in languages employees do not understand.” Really? How difficult can it be to understand “peswardhek peuns” when it is written next to “£14.00”?

Lloyds Bank accepts cheques in other Celtic languages, such as Scots Gaelic and Welsh, which further emphasises the ridiculousness of their approach to Cornish.

On a more positive note, a new online Cornish language resource has been launched by Golden Tree Productions, in co-operation with Cornwall Council. To find out more and identify your local class, log onto

Please note: the image of the cheque has been supplied by Ray Chubb from Agan Tavas, who is leading the campaign to raise awareness of the position of Lloyds.

Cornwall's so-called "devolution deal" - three years on

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian focused on the three year anniversary of Cornwall Council’s “devolution deal.” It was as follows:

Cornwall Council recently published an impact assessment on the so-called “devolution deal,” that was agreed between it and the UK Government in 2015. The document sets out what has happened over the last three years or so.

An accompanying press statement described how the agreement was “ground-breaking,” and added that Cornwall had made history by being the “first rural authority to achieve such a deal.”

People may remember that, at the time, the UK Government claimed it was a “major step” in their commitment to “extend opportunity to every corner of our country” and that Cornwall would be gaining “historic new powers.”

I see it very differently and I do not consider that the “devolution deal” was about devolution at all. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that it contained some stuff of merit, but it was essentially an accommodation between the UK Government and local government in Cornwall on a limited range of specific matters.

I cannot see how anyone can keep arguing it was significant, especially as it did not even need legislation in the House of Commons to be agreed.

It is such a contrast to what has happened in Scotland and Wales where, this year, people will be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the National Assembly of Wales and the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament has planned a year-long programme of events to celebrate what has been achieved over the past two decades and it is an impressive list. It has legislated for free personal care for the elderly, free eye and dental tests, an end to prescription charges, an end to tuition fees for students, the introduction of votes for sixteen year olds, numerous land reforms and much, much more. They also brought the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow.

In addition, the Scottish Parliament has proved to be an institution which has been able to champion the best interests of Scotland. This has especially been the case in recent years, when it has fought to ensure that the Westminster Parliament knows what would be in the best interests of Scottish communities.

Here in Cornwall, we need a similar body that has the power and authority to make the key decisions about the political, economic, environmental and cultural issues that matters to us all.

Anyone interested in finding out more, can request a free copy of MK’s booklet “Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall” from me at

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Will Cornwall be a priority in a post-Brexit UK?

My article in his week's Cornish Guardian looks at whether Cornwall will get a fair share from Westminster in a post-Brexit UK. It will be as follows:

Last week, Mebyon Kernow’s economy spokesman Andrew Long challenged the Prime Minister and Cornwall’s six MPs to “come clean” about their post-Brexit plans for regional investment.

In particular, he sought confirmation whether Cornwall will receive the same level of investment from the UK Government that it would have done from EU structural funds.

The reaction to our statement, on social media and elsewhere, was quite varied. Given the manner in which Brexit continues to dominate political discourse across the UK, I suppose I should not have been surprised that some considered it scaremongering or simply another aspect of an anti-Brexit “project fear.”

But MK’s challenge is very important. It follows new analysis from the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) about the regional development funding that would come to the United Kingdom in the 2021-2027 period if it stayed in the European Union.

The CPMR report clarifies that the low level of economic performance in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly means it would continue to be classed as a “less developed region” and, along with West Wales and three parts of northern England, it would have received the top level of structural funding.

Andrew Long has pointed out that “there is great inequality across the United Kingdom” and Cornwall has received significant structural funding, not least because of “decades-long under-investment” from central government.

I share his lack of faith in the present UK Government and fear that Cornwall will not be a post-Brexit priority for May and her colleagues.

I was fortunate to be able to raise some of these concerns on a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, but I was very disappointed with the response from George Eustice, Fisheries Minister and MP for Camborne and Redruth.

He spoke about how future regional funding would be through a “Shared Prosperity Fund,” though the UK Government has yet to publish meaningful information about how this would work.

Mr Eustice also said that the total amount of money in the Fund has not yet been decided, adding it “may be a little less” or “may even be more” than has come through the EU structural funding in recent years. Worryingly, he gave no specific commitment to Cornwall.

In addition, there have been multiple reports about a Government plan to support a number of deprived areas in the north of England and elsewhere with extra cash, as long as their Labour MPs back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. This would presumably mean there would be even less regional funding available for investment in Cornish communities.