While I was away there was a county by-election on the Lizard and belatedly I look at it now.

The result was a decisive win for the Conservatives. The other parties fighting were Liberal Democrats and Labour. Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish nationalist party which calls itself the party for Cornwall, did not contest the election though it initially had a candidate who withdrew for family reasons.

Since the establishment of the unitary council in 2009 there have been five by-elections. Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and Labour have contested all of them; MK two. The first two parties polled very much the highest proportion of total votes cast: Liberal Democrats about 39 percent, Conservatives 35, Labour 9, MK 8, all others 8. Of course, to a degree the party votes reflect not only how many seats were contested but also the nature of the places where the by-elections fall; a party’s support is not spread evenly through the county; and five is too small to be a pointer to the whole up for election next year.

Nevertheless, how did MK, the Cornish nationalist party, do?

As I have said, it fought only two of the five elections; Labour, not a popular contender party in Cornwall, fought all five seats. A party’s ability to actually field candidates and contest elections is perhaps an indication of its internal strength and reach. MK gained an average of 8 percent of all the votes cast in the five elections; that is, only about 2 percent of electors in those five seats backed the party. MK results in Camborne and Wendron are vastly different so I am not sure that averaging them is convincing. With that reservation, in the two seats it contested MK got the support of about 6 percent of electors.

Despite the capital Wendron result, overall there is no endorsement of Cornish political nationalism or MK by the people of Cornwall. There is no countywide upsurge of enthusiasm for MK and the party is not so far advancing on its overall 2009 result; where it stood, only six in a hundred people entitled to vote turned out to vote for it for the council that runs Cornwall. Cornish political nationalism is not supported by most people in Cornwall. Noise is not numbers.


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One month to go and apparently £63 000 short of the target. It’s been an up-and-down journey and a gallant effort, but they’re not going to make it without an unforeseen magic millionaire. I think that the Cornish Fighting Fund (CFF) is facing formal failure to meet its target of £100 000 by December 31.

My advice – oh, come on, fas est et ab hoste doceri – is to avoid the slough of despond of wailing and recriminations by having a Plan B ready for launch on January 1.

On the CFF website there are still no numbers of individual pledgers and individual amounts, no names of individuals or organisations, only the total amount pledged. Why this unnecessary coyness?

There are 288 signatories to the recognition petition at present. I’ve said before that such petitions fail to win much support and make political Cornish nationalism look even more peripheral than it is. The CFF should say how many individuals have pledged money and that would be a more convincing – and, I reckon, larger – indication of support for FCPNM recognition.
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Fas est et ab hoste doceri (It’s right to learn even from your enemy): Ovid Metamorphoses 4.428

The slough of despond: John BUNYAN Pilgrim’s progress 1.12

FCPNM: Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (also FCNM)

Previous posts are:

Cornish fighting fund way off target

Cornish minority recognition challenge: update

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 petitions.pm 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.

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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.


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 number of signatures in 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 not 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).

1549
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.

Assembly
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 had 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 213 signatures 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.

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).

1549
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.

Assembly
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.