Cornish nationalism

From Academic Kids

Cornish nationalism is a movement which seeks greater autonomy for the area of Cornwall which advocates assert is not a county of England as is generally regarded, but a separate nation which has never been formally incorporated into England. Cornish nationalists who assert that Cornwall is, or ought to be, separate from England, do not necessarily mean to advocate separation from the United Kingdom, but merely Cornwall's recognition as one of the home nations of the UK.

Some Cornish nationalists question the legal legitimacy of English rule in Cornwall, although their claims are not generally recognised within the United Kingdom (or sometimes within Cornwall itself). However, many see some degree of autonomy as a stepping stone towards this, and are supportive of the Cornish Assembly Campaign.

The Cornish independence movement received unexpected publicity in 2004, when the alternative Christmas message, (featuring The Simpsons) showed Lisa Simpson chanting Rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn (freedom for Cornwall now) and holding a placard saying "UK OUT OF CORNWALL".


Political Parties and Pressure Groups

The political parties Mebyon Kernow and the Cornish Nationalist Party are key advocates of greater Cornish home rule. The Celtic League and Celtic Congress have a Cornish branch and recognises Cornwall as a Celtic Nation along side Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales and Brittany. The league is a political pressure group that campaigns for Independence and Celtic cooperation.

The Cornish Stannary Parliament acts as a pressure group on Cornish constitutional and cultural issues. The websites of the CSP provides an over view of their main points and current campaigns. The CSP has one of its members in the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN). In 1977 the Plaid Cymru MP Dafydd Wigley in Parliament asked the Attorney General for England and Wales if he would provide the date upon which enactments of the Charter of Pardon were rescinded. The reply, received on 14th May 1977, stated that a Stannator's right to veto Westminster legislation had never been formally withdrawn.

Cornish Solidarity are a non-partisan political pressure group that calls for the recognition of the ethnic Cornish as a national minority.

John Angarrack of Cornwall 2000, the Human Rights organisation, has written two books to date, Breaking the Chains and Our Future is History. They detail many of the core issues of the Cornish national movement as well as a reexamination of Cornish history.

Tyr Gwyr Gweryn (Cornish for land, truth, people) was originally a focus group formed out of members of 'Cowethas Flamank', a Cornish affairs group, and participants in Kescusulyans Kernow (Conference on Cornwall) having a special interest in the constitution of Cornwall.

History of Cornish nationalism

Henry Jenner was an important figure in early 20th-century Cornish nationalism. He made the case for Cornwall's membership in the Celtic Congress, pioneered the movement to revive the Cornish language, and founded the Cornish Gorseth.

Traditionally, much support to Cornish nationalism has come from Welsh nationalists, who have often seen the Cornish as their Brythonic Celtic kindred. For example, Mebyon Kernow has a twinning arrangement with the Blaenau Gwent branch of Plaid Cymru.

Some intellectual support for Cornish nationalism has come from the Institute of Cornish Studies, affiliated to the University of Exeter.

In 2000, the Cornish Constitutional Convention launched a campaign for a Cornish Assembly. This was a cross-party movement representing many political voices and positions in Cornwall, from Mebyon Kernow and Cornish Solidarity to the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. It collected over 50,000 petition signatures.

A distinct culture/ethnicity?

Many Cornish nationalists will, in addition to making legal or constitutional arguments, stress that the Cornish are a distinct ethnic group or nation, that people in Cornwall typically refer to 'England' as beginning east of the Tamar, and that there is a Cornish language. If correct they argue the Cornish therefore have a right to national self determination. For further information on these topics, see Cornwall, Constitutional status of Cornwall, Cornish language, etc.

Campaigners in 2001 for the first time prevailed upon the UK census to count Cornish ethnicity as a write-in option on the national census, although there was no separate Cornish tick box. In 2004 school children in Cornwall could also record their ethnicity as Cornish on the schools census. Additionally, the Council of Europe has been applying increasing pressure on the UK government to recognise the Cornish for protection under the Council's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Cornwall and the Duchy of Cornwall

County or Country?

Some nationalists argue that the de facto constitutional status of Cornwall is a Duchy and country and therefore not a county of England, the Duchy and current government deny this claim. Nationalists often point to a lack of cooperation shown by the Duchy authorities when requests are made for an investigation of constitutional issues. In 1997 the Liberal Democrat Andrew George MP attempted to raise a Duchy related question, he was prevented by an injunction that disallows MPs raising any questions in Parliament that are in any way related to the Duchy. At the time he was told it was a "restricted action"; to raise such a Duchy related question might "cast reflections on the sovereign or the royal family" and that there was a "similar injunction on speeches".

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