…Those damned invisible nationalists

There is a Cornwall Council by-election on 6 November 2014. There are candidates standing from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, and UKIP.

Do you notice the black hole, the empty place, the vacant chair?

Mebyon Kernow (MK) has not put up a candidate. The Cornish Nationalist Party (CNP) has not put up a candidate. Two nationalist parties, no candidate, a double failure. The CNP can reasonably say it is a new political party, still finding its feet, still organising itself. But MK has been around for decades.

All that flag waving, all that scribbling, all those policies, all those petitions – and no candidate. All that chatter of a Cornish assembly – and no candidate.

Listen, listen to rally cry of MK, the self-described party for Cornwall, to its foot soldiers: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for sleep.

‘We seek him here…’ ORCZY Emma The scarlet pimpernel Chapter 12

‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government’  STEEL David, speech to 1981 Liberal Party conference


6 October 2014

Nationalist competition
Remember Monty Python’s Life of Brian with its plethora of Judean People’s Front, People’s Front of Judea, Judean Popular People’s Front, and Popular Front. Well, the Judean scenario of competing obscurities has come to Cornwall.

Nationalists in Cornwall now have two parties to choose from as the Cornish Nationalist Party has been resurrected as a political party. The CNP website is here and there’s an article in the West Briton.

As you know, there already is a small nationalist party, Mebyon Kernow (MK), which contests some elections in Cornwall. I don’t know whether we shall see both MK and CNP contesting the same election.

CNP – the other party for Cornwall
The CNP has only just got political so it is unreasonable to expect too much by way of worked out policies yet. After all, MK has had decades and still has an emmental-and-grikes manifesto. However, CNP will have quickly to get much more detailed if it wishes to be taken seriously as a party.

Anyway, I had a look at the policies of the CNP – the other party for Cornwall – on their website. They range from public lavatories to Cornwall Council getting more powers and responsibilities. Does that mean upgraded in effect into the government of Cornwall? I think MK has been outflanked on the lavatories as I don’t recall an MK policy on them.

As far as I can see there is a complete absence on the website of any CNP policy on paying for nationalist Cornwall. That’s disappointing. Oh well, I hope it won’t turn out to be the usual nationalist model: we’re not part of England but Cornwall can’t pay for itself so we want UK taxes (okay, in effect England taxes from London and the southeast) and recycled EU funds to subsidise us.

Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Cornwall
CNP writes of Cornwall as “a Celtic Nation” and of “our Cornish and Celtic identity”. MK talks of the “historic Nation of Cornwall” and “Cornish culture”. Those phrases, meant as describing the present not merely the past, reveal a grave difficulty that Cornish nationalism has.

In the 2011 census 59 percent of people in Cornwall said their national identity was solely English, 10 percent solely Cornish. Most people in Cornwall seem to identify themselves as English not Cornish so the use of “Cornish” carries ambiguities. How does Celtic-nation nationalism see the role of the self-identifying English people in the current “historic Cornish nation”? Well, as far as I can see neither nationalist party has a multi-ethnic-cultural policy that addresses the question of English people in Cornwall. They talk – in English – of Cornish culture and heritage but those seem to exclude English culture and heritage here. What is their official view of English people here celebrating their identity and their culture and heritage and of local councils joining in the celebrations?What is their view of English people here flying their English flag? Honouring their heroes? Learning their history? How far does the nationalist use of “Cornish” include people who see themselves as English not Cornish? What does nationalism say about those who see Cornwall not as a nation, historic or whatever, but as a county of England?

Forms from Cornwall Council include a Cornish ethnic option but not an English one, despite the English majority. What does nationalism think of that?