>The new politics of Cornish identity

Posted: March 3, 2011 in anti-fascism, equality

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Fear and HOPE | The new politics of identity is a report from the Searchlight Educational Trust. One to be read and digested by the Cornish movement. A quote taken from the foreword of the report is below:
The real floating voters, primarily ‘identity ambivalents’ – appear to be on a journey away from all major parties. This poses the very real threat of a new potent political constituency built around an assertive English nationalism. This is not the politics of the BNP, but of a reframed English identity politics that includes various ethnic groupings. Moreover, lazy arguments of English island ‘exceptionalism’ and moderation are questioned. Put simply, unless political parties step up and provide a new language of material wellbeing; of identity and belonging then these political forces might refract into more malign forms. As such, the political class has been warned.
As such isn’t it about time the left started to accept post devolution Britain with its re-emerging Scottish, Welsh, English and Cornish national identities. We need a tolerant and progressive approach to the multi-national UK not more centrally imposed British state-nationalism. If the grass-roots national identities are ignored and maligned then the far-right has a free licence to prosper and position itself as their only defenders. Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than with English identity and the sadly right-wing English nationalist movement.
Is Cornwall immune? The situation is far less dramatic than in England but, we have already seen efforts from the BNP and UKIP to build upon their pro-Cornish credentials and pretend to be the only true defenders of Kernow. Cornish nationalism does have a healthy dislike of the more aggressive and centrally derived forms of British and English nationalism. Equally, as a movement, it is firmly rooted on the libertarian left of the political spectrum. Complacency should be avoided however. The temptation of British nationalism – more acceptable to the Cornish sensibilities of some than English nationalism – should not be underestimated.
A new politics of identity is needed that respect the various British national identities – Cornish included – and around them builds the aspired-to open and tolerant society. Devolution to Scotland and Wales has created strong civic national identities that are welcoming and inclusive in these countries. Civic Welsh national identity can now have many different ethnic, racial and religious faces. It’s no-longer the simple preserve of the Welsh national minority. For those undecided on the question of a Cornish assembly I’ll leave you with the following quote from Before the referendum tomorrow, ask what devolution has done for Wales:
Post-devolution Wales has become a more inclusive and welcoming community increasingly shaped by a shared commitment to equal opportunities and human rights.
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