28 April 2014

Desired by some, perhaps many, the decision to put the Cornish in the Council of Europe national minority scheme is nevertheless at this time largely a party political gimmick. It owes much to Liberal Democrat election anxieties. In practice nothing significant will change.

Those who confidently see themselves as Cornish will rightly continue confidently to do so and cheerfully celebrate their identity. They have known all along they are Cornish. Those who think that unconvincing will still think it. The reconstructed Cornish language will continue to be admired but spoken fluently by next to nobody. The distinctive Cornish culture will continue to be happily celebrated and claims for uniqueness will continue to bewilder those who see distinctive cultures everywhere in England and wince at Darkie Day while they celebrate well dressing and the Lambton Worm and street dancing. Cornish place names will continue to be celebrated and in the rest of England so will every thorp and by and thwaite and law. The claims for a distinct ethnic/racial group will continue to struggle with our commonality, the knowledge that we are all migrants from Africa, and qualms about making racial markers. In short, we shall all continue to rub along with one another.

The people of Cornwall, however they see their identity, still won’t vote nationalist in any numbers. The arguments against a nationalist and separatist assembly still remain.

There are assurances – from politicians – that there will be no additional money involved. However, it will be interesting to see whether there are over time calls upon British taxpayers for funds for promoting a thousand and one things that will no doubt be called identity heritage.

What matters most in Cornwall
Cornwall is still a county of England. The everyday issues that affect the lives, happiness, and prosperity of people are still here. The framework convention for the protection of national minorities will not grow the Cornwall economy; will not build more much needed affordable housing for locals and provide all-year-round jobs with decent pay; will not make up for the cuts in council tax support and housing benefit; will not lessen deprivation or erase the need for food banks. It is on these we who are here, Cornish and English and British and whatever, should focus relentlessly.