Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall, has outlined its objectives to make 2016 the year of “…Cornish recognition”. This follows the UK’s long overdue designation of the Cornish people as a national minority in Britain under the Council of Europe’s “Framework Convention on National Minorities”. Announced back in 2014 by the then chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, relatively little has been done to give substance to Cornwall’s recognition and MK is now seeking concrete steps to move the Celtic territory’s case forward.
“MK Deputy Leader Cllr Loveday Jenkin said:
“Mebyon Kernow believes that 2016 must be the year that Cornish recognition – in terms of politics and governance, territoriality and culture – becomes a mainstream issue across the UK.”
The Party for Cornwall is preparing a detailed representation which will be sent to the leaders of the Westminster political parties. It will challenge them to act on MK’s concerns.
MK economy spokesman Cllr Andrew Long has added that “national minority status was a landmark ruling,” but it “must help lead to the people of Cornwall achieving greater control over their “political and economic lives through the creation of a legislative National Assembly of Cornwall.
“I repeat MK’s call for a new democratic settlement which recognises and respects Cornwall’s status as one of the historic nations of the United Kingdom.
“Cornwall merits stand-alone legislation for meaningful devolution of significant powers to a National Assembly of Cornwall, within the framework of the United Kingdom.”
Recognition of Cornwall’s territoriality
MK members remain extremely concerned about the refusal of central government to recognise Cornwall as a “distinct national community for all forms of governance, administration and service provision.”
Cllr Long added: “Public services for Cornwall should be run from bodies based in and committed to Cornwall. It is not right that civil servants in Exeter, Bristol and London have more say than democratically elected politicians in Cornwall.
“We are also angry that Cornwall’s national border is not respected by this Government, and we give notice today that we will be redoubling our efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the upcoming parliamentary boundary review which would lead to a cross-Tamar Devonwall seat.”
Recognition of Cornwall’s distinct identity and language
Mebyon Kernow is also increasingly nonplussed at central government’s seeming unwillingness to respect, recognise and invest in Cornwall’s distinct identity and language.
Cllr Loveday Jenkin added: “Cornwall has a unique national identity, grounded in its culture, language, traditions and history, as well as a distinct constitutional position.
“But while central government accepts our national minority status it appears disinterested in supporting our culture in a manner appropriate to the schedules of the Framework Convention.
“It is particularly unbelievable that they have yet to make any announcement on whether there will be any money for the promotion of the Cornish language.”
There have been some interesting developments in Cornwall over the last couple of years in terms of language protection and revitalisation with a local Conservative Party MP, George Eustice, now voicing support for the reintroduction of Cornish as an optional second language in the school curriculum in the UK (though note the hostile comments in his Facebook post on the matter).
Unfortunately political developments have been far less favourable and the progressive nationalists of MK continue to serve as a minority party of local government. If you want to learn more about Mebyon Kernow please visit their website, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.