15 June 2007

I shall update this post from time to time. The original post was dated 23 January 2007.

Cornish nationalists use petitions to promote their views on the political status of Cornwall and Cornish ethnicity. Here I shall try to keep an eye on what they are signing up to on the web, along with other petitions about Cornwall. Unless stated otherwise, these petitions are on the pm website. The website does not say which signatories live in Cornwall.

There are today about 410 000 adults in Cornwall.

It looks as though most online petitions about Cornish political issues do not attract many signatures and none, so far, have got more than a thousand (about 0.25 percent of the adult population of Cornwall). As a means of rallying and demonstrating support these online petitions are failures.

Ended petitions

Cornwall, the fourth nation
A petition, which ended on 20 January 2007, called for the recognition of Cornwall as the “fourth nation of Great Britain.” It got seventy three signatures, about eleven percent of them women (based on forenames).

Cornwall separate
When it ended on 15 February 2007 a petition which said the duchy of Cornwall should be “a separate state within the UK” had attracted 276 signatures, of which about a fifth are from women judging by the forenames.

Stop building unaffordable housing in Cornwall and elsewhere
This petition ended on 30 April 2007 with thirty five signatures.

Determine own government
The petition called for Cornwall to determine its own future government and ended 5 June 2007. There were eight signatures on closure.

Extant petitions
The increase in signature numbers since mid-April, three months ago, are in parentheses.

Independent Cornwall
A petition ending on 8 January 2008 calls for “the Celtic nation of Cornwall” to be granted “independence.” On 19 July 2007 it had fifty nine signatures (50).

2011 census
On the pledgebank website there is a petition which began on 15 January 2007 and ends in 2011 saying that unless there is a tick box for Cornish ethnicity on the 2011 census the signatories will no complete the census form. The signatories’ pledge is conditional on another one thousand people signing up. At 19 July 2007 there were 393 signatories (255).

Deliberately not completing a census form is an offence here under the Census Act 1920, section 8 (1).

There is a petition asking for the 1549 uprising, which the petition calls the “Cornish genocide,” to be recognised. It ends on 1 February 2008 and on 19 July 2007 it had forty six signatures (37).

5 March Bank holiday
A petition to make St Piran’s Day, 5 March, a bank holiday had 849 signatures on 19 July 2007 (762). It ends 30 January 2008.

On the petitiononline website there is an undated petition calling for a vote in Cornwall about establishing a Cornish Assembly. At 19 July 2007 it has 931 signatures (890) and a random look in March suggested that about two-fifths of the signatories were not electors in Cornwall.

Keep and restore full facilities at Penzance and Hayle hospitals
This petition, which ends on 19 January 2008, had 213signatures at 15 June 2007 (206).

Allow Cornwall to be known as a duchy not a county of England
This had fifteen signatures on 19 July 2007 (11), and ends on 9 August 2007.

By way of contrast the following crossparty petition signed by more than 38 600 people was presented to the House of Commons on 29 November 2006 by Andrew George, the MP for St Ives:
“The People of West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly declare our support for the cross-party (and non-party political) campaign to oppose any plans to reduce or close hospital services at St Michael’s or Penzance; express our dismay that NHS money is being used to build up and support private hospitals while the Trust is contemplating the closure of the excellent St Michael’s Hospital; object to the waste of money on administrative gimmicks rather than frontline public services; demand an Independent Review of hospital services and for fair funding; support an increase in emergency as well as acute and diagnostic services in the West of Cornwall” (Hansard 29 November 2006 column 1184).

Perhaps we can see in the difference in the number of signatures, making every allowance for the different circumstances of collection, a comment on what the people of Cornwall are really interested in. Perhaps petitions with signatures collected on the street and so forth get a larger number of backers – though a few petitions on the website have thousands of supporters.

Incidentally, a petition to keep Cornwall “as part of England” had at closure on 24 March 2007 forty signatures.
I looked at five of the nationalist petitions which together had 360 signatories at the time. Some people are legitimately signing more than one petition; judging by identicality of names forty seven people have done this, making up between them 113 signings.