Cornish – The despised identity?

Posted: April 8, 2010 in bill of rights, civil rights, national minority

The Government has released the results of its deliberative assessment of our constitutional future. The document can be found here (pdf): People and power: shaping democracy, rights and responsibilities.

In modernising such an archaic democracy as the UK it is good that the government consults the public on what should be their rights and responsibilities. Citizens have rights and states have responsibilities. I would argue that one key responsibility of any state is to properly accommodate and ensure the well-being of its own internal national minorities.

Now the above document does treat the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and, to a lesser degree, English identities, but what mention is there of the Cornish? Less than none is the jaw dropping answer. I’ll explain. In the text we are treated to some babble about Geordie and ‘Arsenal fan’ collective identities yet zero on the Cornish. It’s perfectly acceptable and correct, in my view, to discuss the regional identities of England -Yorkshireman, Geordie, Cumbrian etc-, but to do so without a mention of the Cornish seems almost deliberate.

Lets just remember that 37% of Cornish school children prefer Cornish rather than English or British when describing their identity (see latest PLASC Cornish schools ethnic monitoring data). Cornwall has its own recognised lesser used brythonic language – Cornish. Both the Council of Europe and the old Commission for Racial Equality suggested that the Cornish could be recognised under the framework convention for the protection of national minorities (something Labour refuses to do). The Cornish have their own code for national identity (06) for the 2011 UK census (but no tick box as both Tory and Labour MPs voted against).

Can any of the English regional identities -(Geordie!)- say the same? Clearly the answer is -no- yet football fans and Geordies get a mention whilst the Cornish get forgotten.

Did the government simply overlook the Cornish when considering identity questions in the UK? I find that hard to believe, and I know at least one Cornishman contributed to their consultation, so why are we ignored?

Cornish – the inconvenient identity for the state?

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