14 January 2008

The steam has gone out of the online Cornish nationalist and nationalist-leaning petitions. They are receiving little support from the 420 000 adults of Cornwall.

On the website the one urging the prime minister to “recognise the Cornish genocide of 1549” has only fifty six signatures and ends next month. Is that a measure of how many think it was genocide and relevant in any way to life today?

One calls for an investigation into Cornwall’s “unique” constitutional status which, it claims, is an argument for the county to have more devolution. I am unsure what an “investigation” is supposed to do. Anyway, it has thirty four signatures. There is a woolliness about the petition’s desire for “a greater degree of devolution,” which means whatever you want it to.

The only one to attract more than a thousand names is that calling for a holiday on St Piran’s day. It closes this month. This marries genuine political conviction with a day off work with pay and a celebratory public holiday, formidably attractive. Even so well less than half of one percent of Cornwall’s adult population have signed up.

Over at the pledgebank site the tick box pledge looking for one thousand signatures – no Cornish tick box on the 2011 census, no completed census form – has 460 signatures and new signatures have been running at less than five a week since the autumn judging by the graph on the site. At this rate it will not meet its thousand by 2011 the site says.

The one on the petitionsonline website for a referendum on a Cornish regional assembly has 966 signatures. That’s an increase of about one a week since I last looked in July last year. Two thirds of the latest tranche of names seem from outside Cornwall.

Look at it this way. One percent, merely one percent, of Cornwall’s adult population is about 4000. None of the nationalist petitions have come anywhere near that. Online petitioning is an exhausted approach which is making Cornish nationalism look silly and is certainly revealing its lack of appeal.


The Tailors of Tooley Street
In the early nineteenth century three tailors from Tooley Street in Southwark, London began their petition to Parliament with the words We the people of England.