Archive for the ‘republicanism’ Category

Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch of sixteen Commonwealth Realms 1, three Crown Dependencies 2, fourteen British Overseas Territories 3 and various Australian and New Zealand Overseas Territories 4. None of those Realms, Dependencies or Territories has a relationship with the Crown which is as ambiguous as that of Cornwall and in none of them does the same situation with regard to the ownership of land apply. The land of Cornwall is owned by the Duke of Cornwall. There is no other province, county, shire, call it what you will, in which the ultimate owner of the land is other than the monarch or the State. This is an issue which I shall explore in more detail shortly. Already it is clear Cornwall is different.

The above is part of the introduction from a paper called Cornwall – “A Category of its own?” produced by visiting research fellow at Plymouth University and Notary Public John Kirkhope. The paper in full can be found here and more of his work here.
Why do so many Cornish autonomists show a borderline pride in Cornwall’s status as a Duchy when one would perhaps expect ardent republicans wanting rid of the English royals?  British (mostly English in fact) republicans would argue that the Duchy, along with the rest of the Monarchy, should be abolished, whilst in the other Celtic nations exist far more open and vocal republicanisms. Why not in Cornwall? When you consider the long list of feudal undemocratic powers the Duchy has over Cornwall why the paradoxical royalism? One answer is that the Duchy is a marker of Cornish uniqueness – our specific accommodation within the UK – and a testament to our long lost independence. But to acknowledge the Duchy as a marker of distinctiveness is not to caution its existence and wish that it continue.

So how about the following as the starting point for a Cornish republican conversation? We demand a full public inquiry into the Duchy and its relationship to the territory of Cornwall and UK. We request that the Duchy be liquidated and its financial assets invested for the benefit of Cornwall whilst any of its unique rights, powers and privileges be vested in a democratically elected Cornish body of governance.

As I’ve been tapping this blog post Republic have launched their new campaign – Take back the Duchy.  They write:

For certain Cornish autonomists and cultural admirers, the Duchy of Cornwall’s peculiar constitutional status gives Cornwall a degree of autonomy which it would otherwise lose.  The argument goes that to attack the distinctiveness of the Duchy of Cornwall throws out the baby with the bathwater.

There’s actually some merit in this. Cornwall is constitutionally distinct from the rest of the UK. Cornwall, as a region, has a language, culture, religious tradition, climate and economy alien to the rest of the UK. Whatever its faults, the Duchy gives recognition to this.

But there are other ways in which Cornwall could express its distinctive culture in ways which are modern, democratic, and far less intrusive- the recognition in 2014 of Cornwall as having protected minority status is one.

Another concern is that if the Duchy were absorbed into the Crown Estate, it is unlikely that money generated would be re-invested in Cornwall. Cornwall, being generally less wealthy than other parts of the UK, is in greater need of this money.  But actually very little of the Duchy’s revenue goes to Cornwall now. There is much to be said for earmarking revenues generated in Cornwall for expenditure in Cornwall- but this could be achieved by a separate department within the Crown Estate or by passing the funds to an independent trust. The Duchy as it currently exists is very poorly qualified to handle this kind of enterprise.

It should be stressed that Republic is proposing an end to the organisation of the Duchy, the operation that currently pays a multi-million pound profit to Prince Charles.  We do not dispute Cornwall’s unique status but would argue that along with the rest of the UK Cornwall deserves a more democratic and accountable settlement. 

You can read what they have to say about Cornish distinctiveness and the Duchy here: Doesn’t this Undermine Cornwall’s Autonomy?

Whilst I doubt that Cornish republicans and British republicans will ever agree on some fundamental issues there are still occasions where common ground can be found. Perhaps this latest campaign from Republic is a good example: Campaign against royal secrecy | Republic
As more evidence seems to emerge daily(1)(2) of the Duke of Cornwall’s completely antidemocratic right to influence the governance of Cornwall and wider UK perhaps it’s time for us to consider demanding a proper modern democracy. Perhaps it’s time for some civic republicanism.
The OurKingdom article by Jose Luis Marti linked to above is interesting if a little surprising in its choice of Spain as an example of working civic republicanism. Whilst I’d be over the moon to obtain the same degree of recognition and self-determination for Cornwall that is enjoyed by Catalonia, Galicia or the Basque Country, as a republican, I’d prefer an elected head of state. However, as Marti writes, a republican democracy should strive to reduce all forms of domination, something I can only agree with:
Civic republicanism has a very simple idea: we must avoid or minimize domination in the world. No matter what kind of domination, no matter what source, no matter who is being dominated and by whom. We must minimize domination, being careful of not producing a greater domination in the process. To do so is to empower the weak, while controlling and restricting the powerful. According to this view, the source of all political evils is the imbalance of power that makes domination possible. Power, of course, comes not only from economic means – although obviously these are very effective. Power may come, for instance, from unequal access to information, from cultural inequalities, from sexist cultural patterns, and from many other sources. 
We must sweep away the last relics of our feudal past whilst ensuring Cornwall does not continue to struggle under the mismanagement of consecutive English governments. The Duchy of Cornwall must be handed over to the democratic control of the Cornish populace and not simply abolished.
Sadly many a ‘British’ Republican (in their vast majority from England), at best, know nothing of or care little about the Cornish question and, at worst, are actively hostile wishing to see a centralised London based British Republic.
To end I’d just like to point out that whilst certain anonymous blogs * close to Labour have been trying to convince us all that the Duchy of Cornwall is simply a private estate and not really an issue, Cornish autonomists have been steadfast in their exposure of this outrageous feudal relic.
* Please note that the blog linked to allows for no comments indicating an author terribly sure of her/his opinions.

Republic are holding a meeting in Kernow to discuss their Abolish the Duchy of Cornwall campaign. The details of the meeting are here.  

Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith will be there to discuss the campaign. The meeting will be asked to make some decisions about the issues involved and what the aims of the Duchy campaign should be (for example, what should happen to the Duchy’s land? What should happen with Cornwall’s constitutional status?).
Can I invite all those interested in Cornish constitutional issues to go along with an open mind and the will to debate.

If, as is claimed by our constitutionalists, the Duchy is an all powerful legal entity that exists outside the UK’s legal framework then I don’t think it will have much to worry about from Republic. What the campaign will do however is draw the public’s attention toward the Duchy. It will give greater credence to the fact that the DoC is anything but a simple collection of private estates.

This wave of publicity could be used by a wise and well coordinated Cornish movement to forward its arguments in the public domain. Does such a movement exist? Already voices have been raised in protest on the Cornwall 24 forum at Republics “external interference” in Cornish affairs. From reading some of the comments on C24 you get the impression that some contributors think they can stop Republic or at least ignore them until they go away.

At the end of the day the campaign will go ahead whether the Cornish movement engages with it or not. We shouldn’t shun Republic but rather pursue a polite yet firm dialogue with them that stresses Cornwall’s right to constitutional recognition.

Lets not be bought off by symbolic gestures empty of any real hope for Cornwall. 
We’ve been here before haven’t we? Yet another attempt by the establishment to flatter the Cornish national identity but leading to what exactly? Can we now expect a Cornish assembly and inclusion in the framework convention for the protection of national minorities? Perhaps a Cornish-based educational curriculum in our schools and full public inquiry into the constitutional position of the Duchy are in the pipe line?  At least we can hope for an end to the threat that hovers over our border with England in the shape of constituency reform?

I won’t be holding my breath.

The royals via the despicable Duchy have pumped Cornwall of its resources and now that the well has dried up they pillage our identity to sell biscuits. To hell with them!

Good on the members of the Kernow branch of the Celtic League who attended the Republic rally in London. Now is not the time to get dewy eyed about the Monarchy. Republicanism is the only answer. The Duchy must be liquidated with its constitutional powers being given to a devolved Cornish assembly and its assets invested for the people of Cornwall.