Archive for the ‘reunification’ Category

The Summer of Discontent – David Cameron would like to think of Scotland’s referendum as a little local difficulty.  Perhaps that’s why the mainstream media stay so quiet about the widespread discontent now simmering across Europe as our continent awakes to new possibilities.  Catalans are ignoring Madrid’s refusal to allow them a vote on independence.  Basques are thinking along the same lines.  Venetians have already voted for independence from Rome, in an unofficial poll, and are now agitating for the right to hold a real one.  Plaid Cymru’s leader has recently renewed the call for Welsh independence, proclaiming that ‘independence is normal’.

Mebyon Kernow has published a consultation document on establishing a National Assembly of Cornwall.  (Labour continues to brief against the idea.)  In Northumbria, a plethora of groups is staking a variety of territorial claims, with the regional political party model increasingly pulling ahead of the old mantra of ‘working within the Labour Party’, the ‘big red thumb’ under which so many live, that has so clearly failed to deliver.  The Wessex Regionalists, encouraged by the official flying of Wessex flags on St Ealdhelm’s Day, are beginning to draft proposals to put to the electorate in 2015.  Even the BBC is clumsily beginning to explore the deeper England of the future.

In many ways, across many countries, this is looking to be the hour.  And in France, the stakes could not be higher, with a new regional map about to be imposed, one a lot worse in many areas than the current one and consequently already leading to vigorous action against the Paris regime.  The best that can be said about it is that it could actually have been worse still.  Relief?  Well, no – revolutions often kick off when expectations that events are finally moving in the right direction are cruelly dashed, revealing how real reform has never even been on the agenda.  The one thing leading Parisian politicians all seem to agree upon is that there must not be a region that covers Brittany, the whole of Brittany and nothing but Brittany, whatever the Bretons think.

Brittany is a kind of Scotland.  Each has a Treaty of Union with its larger neighbour, the one in 1532, the other in 1707.  Although both were the result of bribes and duress, these treaties guaranteed the continued existence of certain historic national institutions and the freedom of local folk to make at least some of their own decisions.  The concessions won by Scotland have grown to the point where it may even put the Union behind it.

Brittany has fared much, much worse.  French revolutionaries ignored the treaty and, abolishing the Breton institutions, launched two centuries of systematic persecution that has never fully abated.  In 1941, the collaborationist Vichy regime redrew the regional map of France.  Brittany, traditionally five départements, was reduced to four, with the ancient ducal capital of Nantes attached to an artificial ‘Loire Country’ region, where it remains to this day.  The Paris technocracy won’t be budged from the view that a single region with two large cities – Nantes and Rennes – just won’t work.  Try it and see then.  You know, like Edinburgh and Glasgow, Cardiff and Swansea, Bristol and Southampton.  No.  That’s too empirical by far.

François Mitterrand of the Parti Socialiste came to power in 1981 pledged to decentralise power.  There were bold changes.  Elected regional councils, and the abolition of tutelage, the system whereby local decisions could be blocked or reversed by the departmental Prefect acting as guardian of the centralist interest.  But the boundaries of the regions remained unchanged.

Now another ‘socialist’ President, François Hollande, has grasped the nettle.  France’s 22 regions are to be reduced to 14.  ‘Socialism’, one would think, is about society.  And society is made up of communities, intermediate powers between the centre and the individual that need to be cherished.  Not so for Hollande, ever true to the Jacobin ideal that the job of the State is to nip community in the bud, in the name of the one true community – itself.  So the claims of Basques, Catalans and Savoyards to separate regional status continue to be ignored.  Those of Alsatians, long recognised, are to be overturned.  Small but distinctive regions like Auvergne, Limousin and Picardy are likewise to be abolished.  In the one piece of good news, if the reforms do happen, the two half-Normandies are (as we predicted) to be re-united at last.  The result will be a single region with two large cities, Caen and Rouen.  Yet by a stroke of the same pen, Brittany is to remain partitioned.

Does it make any sense, other than in the terms of continuing Parisian supremacy?  Of course not.  But any questioning of the new arrangements is to be suppressed.  The new law will make it impossible for a département to choose to change the region in which it is placed.  You will have the identity that Paris decides that you will have.  Having your own, real identity is a threat to the unity of France and that would never do.  Why is that, when a France divided, along traditional lines, would be so much more pleasant and interesting than the dull conformity of a united one?  It’s a French thing, the wholly irrational foundation of the supposedly rational Republic, as indivisible as the Holy Trinity.  There are questions you just don’t ask because the mental capacity on the other side just isn’t there.  Those in the UK who remember Labour’s regional White Paper from 2002, Your Region, Your (Lack of) Choice will find all this refusal to engage in debate irritatingly familiar.

Hollande already has a good deal of Breton fare on his plate, put there by the Bonnets Rouges – ‘the Red Caps’ – a movement recalling a 17th century tax revolt with constitutional issues thrown in.  Like all successful reform movements, the new Bonnets Rouges cross class lines, combining traditional autonomist thinking with the aspirations of a new generation of entrepreneurs for whom a more distinctive Brittany is just part of the real world of 21st century economics.  It’s a point we’ve often made about Wessex – that we simply have to get our act together as a region for marketing purposes, building a ‘brand’ with a reputation for quality and reliability.  Otherwise we shall have Labour’s alternative thrust upon us – our cities, with their hinterlands, set against each other within a British/English framework that allows London to tax the fruits of our efforts and then give us back what we beg for nicely.

France proclaims its values, supposedly universal, to be liberty, equality and fraternity.  It honours none of these because in every case they are applied in a partisan way by a State that cannot understand why it, as the judge of them, should be bound by them too, even to its own disadvantage.  There is no liberty for conquered nations, their once treaty-assured rights trampled underfoot.  There is equality for those who think, speak and act French and an unconscious, sneering hatred for those who demand to be different.  There is fraternity only in the sense that Big Brother is watching you and legislating you out of existence.

Is the French Republic sustainable on such terms, in a broader Europe that is keen to appear just and civilised, two things that France is not?  Its ruling class, stuck in the 18th century, remain in denial about the new Europe now emerging around and below them.  Happy to embrace as their national anthem a bloodthirsty and dishonest hymn of racial hatred, while treating attacks on the communities that form the building blocks of the French State as normal, reasonable behaviour.  Those who believe these psychopaths are ready for the chop deserve the support of freedom-seekers everywhere.  Why abolish regions to save money when you think how much could be saved just by devolving 99% of the central State?  France, one and indivisible; the sovereignty of the Crown-in-Parliament.  Call it what you will, centralism is a common enemy.  So bring on the real revolution: the sooner France has proper regions with recognisable names and boundaries, and proper, regionally-rooted powers, the sooner Wessex and other English regions can point to their example.

Taken form the Wessex Regionalists blog. 

The Breton press are reporting that in France’s regional boundary changes proposals there will be no Breton reunification, the current Breton region will stay the same while it is proposed that southern Brittany/ Loire Atlantique is retained by the Pays de Loire region.

However, the debate is not over. Apart from numerous negative economic side effects the move will act to undermine the growth of Breton-medium education in Loire Atlantique.
Breton leader Christian Troadec said: “This is a new blow to the reunification of Brittany.. political courage would have been, under the land reform, to have an immediate end to this separation decided by the Vichy regime and Marshal Petain. Nantes in Brittany… has been claimed and reaffirmed by the Bretons in the five departments at every visit, every survey!
“The future of Britain has again been decided by technocrats in an office in Paris… Paris has once again butchered Brittany.. With 5 departments, we would have counted more than 4.5 million people and could talk to other European states or countries like Scotland, Catalonia, the German landers … Our economic development capacity would have seen a tenfold increase. Our jobs and our standard of living too.”
To help oppose the move and to support reunification please write asap to Mr Hollande: http://www.elysee.fr/ecrire-au-president-de-la-republique/

You can sign the petition on the Bretagne Réunie website here:  http://www.bretagne-reunie.org/soutenir/signez-la-charte/

Equally you can contact the collective 44=BZH and ask how you can help: http://44breizh.com/
Over 10,000 people marched in Brittany’s historic capital on the 19th of April 2014 to demand the administrative reunification of Nantes and its surrounding department, Loire Atlantique, with the rest of Brittany.
The French administrative region of Bretagne minus Nantes and Loire Atlantique department.
Currently Brittany is divided between two bodies of regional governance: 4 departments are regrouped in the administrative region of Brittany, whilst the 5th historic department of Brittany, Loire Atlantique, is attached to the totally artificial technocratic Pay de la Loire region.
The historic borders of the Duchy of Brittany.
It’s worth noting that Nantes and the Loire Atlantique department were separated from Brittany by the collaborationist French ‘Vichy’ government during the second world war.
The current French socialist government has promised to reduce the number of administrative regions and simplify local government by abolishing the departments. Breton campaigners have therefore seized the chance to powerfully restate their desire for a reunified Brittany in which the councils of the 5 Breton departments and the regional council are fused to form a single assembly for Brittany. Another alternative being touted by some French politicians is the creation of a Grande Ouest region much like a South West or Devonwall region for Cornwall but on a much larger scale.
Grand Ouest
Before the French presidential elections so much was promised to Brittany. Radical decentralisation to the regions and the ratification of the charter for minority languages were clearly stated as objectives by the to-be-victorious Socialist candidate. However, following ‘advice’ from an obscure constitutional committee, the president has decided not to ratify the charter and his radical decentralisation has turned to farce. 
Leaving aside the small circle of loons from the far-right, Brittany has many other organisations   campaigning for its democratic, cultural and social rights.

In an effort to address the governments broken promises, by mobilising Breton civic society, the Galv Pondi (facebook) – the Call from Pontivy in Breton – has been issued. Expressly excluding the far-right, Galv Pondi is open to all individuals and organisations to sign up to and support. So far the Union Démocratique Bretonne, Parti Breton, BreizhistanceMouvement Bretagne et progrès, Europe Ecologie les Verts, Bretagne Réunie, Ai’ta, 44=Breizh and Kevre Breizh have signed. What are the Celtic League, Celtic Congress and a whole list of others waiting for? Please visit the website of Galv Pondi, sign the manifesto, leave messages of support and then share with your friends.

The UDB has also created a petition on Avaaz.org to support the campaign. They write: Accordingly, the undersigned people urge the President François Hollande : – To ratify the European Charter for Minority Languages, as promised by the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, his campaign pledge No. 56. – To make, without delay, the necessary arrangements for the reunification of Brittany. What is possible in Alsace should also be so in Brittany – To enable and support the creation in Brittany of a bilingual public television station following the example of Stella Via Corsica, transmitting to the five Breton departments. – To give Brittany, in the context of the future decentralization law, a special status that – inspired by those of Scotland, Wales and Catalonia. If special statuses are available for major cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille why not for Brittany? The signatories want to bring these claims to the State so that our basic democratic rights are finally met. For more information follow the link beside : http://www.breizh-united.net

The above Breizh United  / Galv Pondi is a continued effort at dialogue hoping to apply pressure on the government in Paris and politicians in Brittany. The campaign Yes Breizh (facebook) on the other hand is explicitly aimed at independence. Wishing to capitalise on developments in Scotland and Catalonia, Yes Breizh is a platform designed to promote public awareness and debate. They write: “Yes Breizh is an educational process that aims to unchain speech and thought on the issue of an independent Brittany. Because there are always several alternatives in the destiny of nations, it is urgent to keep the door open to other visions of the future for Brittany”. Not a bad idea for Cornwall perhaps. Again you can help by signing their petition and circulating their website.
 
Both the former manage to avoid contamination by the far-right by, in the case of Galv Pondi, simply banning them from taking part or, as does Yes Breizh, only allowing people in their individual capacity to sign the petition. Unfortunately Kelc’h An Dael, (facebook) an association to promote the establishment of a Breton parliament – in itself a great idea –  has chosen neither option. KAD clearly display the support they receive from the far-right nationalist party Adsav. The result being that the vast majority of other Breton groups want nothing to do with them going as far as to exclude members of their organisations that have joined KAD.

Leaving aside the ethical arguments of giving any publicity to the far-right just imagine Mebyon Kernow openly standing beside a Cornish equivalent of the National Front or BNP and I think you’ll understand the simple tactical error. Have various manifestations of the far-right brought Catalonia and Scotland to the brink of independence? Have the centre-left in Scotland or centre-right in Catalonia achieved so much by associating with racists, islamophobes, homophobes, eurosceptics and conspiracy theorists? A parliament for Brittany is such an important idea why tie a lead weight to its neck by association with fascists?

The French Parliament has voted in favour of a change in the law that could herald the reunification of Brittany. 
In the evening of Wednesday 21st December 2011 the French Parliament voted in favour of allowing residents of a department to hold a referendum without the agreement of other residents of the region. 
The change in the law could potentially mean that residents of the Loire Atlantique department, which forms part of the historic nation of Brittany and includes the historic Breton capital city of Naoned/Nantes, will be able to vote in favour of unification without having to convince others in the region to do the same. In 1941 the Loire Atlantique department was merged with the French Pays de la Loire region by the Fascist Vichy Government, which it has remained a part of ever since. 
It has been reported that there is widespread support among the people of the Loire Atlantique department for reunification with Brittany and similarly people in Brittany are in favour of this piece of their historic territory returning to them. Within the last decade in particular there has been a growing movement among activists to raise the profile of the campaign to reunify Brittany. In June this year a mass demonstration took place in Naoned that attracted 5000 people. The aim of the protesters was to apply pressure on the French presidential candidates, in time for elections in 2012, to come out in support of Breton unification. In June 2010 the Breton Regional Council voted in favour of a motion on the `territorial collective’ of Brittany, which recognized the Loire Atlantique department as part of the traditional territory of Brittany. 
Currently the Pays de la Loire region has approximately 3.5 million residents, with 1.3 million of these people inhabiting the Loire Atlantique Department. The new law could potentially mean that the 1.3 million residents of the Loire Atlantique Department can vote on whether they want their department to return to Breton control, without the approval of the other 2.2 million residents of the Pays de la Loire region. For the Loire Atlantique electorate to be able to decide whether their department is reunited with Brittany, without having to convince the rest of the Pays de la Loire region is a significant development, because traditionally the inhabitants of the Pays de la Loire region outside of the Loire Atlantique Department have been against reunification. 
Naoned is an economically strong region in its own right and currently the capital of the Pays de la Loire region. The president of the Pays de la Loire region, who is one of the biggest opponents of reunification, said he was “surprised” by the vote. A close advisor to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Franck Louvrier, said he was pleased by the draft amendment, arguing that the idea of giving the Loire Atlantique Department back to Brittany was “decidedly favourable” and welcomed the development, which he said was a democratic move. 
The draft text of the bill will now need to go before the French parliament’s upper house, the Senate, for approval. 
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact: Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League: Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912 M: 0044 (0)7787318666 gensec@celticleague.net The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query. 
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