The British Nationalists in Wales Watch blog contains a lot of material I agree with, a lot that makes me think. But why does it regard Cornwall as being a separate nation to England? Let's look at the background to this...
Voices are currently being raised in that county that Cornwall IS a separate nation. Despite the fact that many residents were not even born in the county, the "Celtic" word is being shouted. I can't say, from my own personal perspective as a mongrel English/Scots guy (although regarding myself as primarily English), I agree with it. After all, England is, we are told, multicultural. How come these corners of the country are allowed and encouraged to be "Celtic"? It smacks of racism and double standards to me.
When I was in Cornwall last week, just for the day, I saw several Cross of St George flags flying from cars, so obviously not all residents feel "un-English". Cornwall is a highly distinctive area of England, and we refer to its people and products as "Cornish", and it has its own flag. But isn't it possible to be Cornish AND English?
On the British Nationalists In Wales blog there is a map (see above) labelled "our nations", showing Cornwall, or Kernow, as a separate entity to England. Surely, until the notion is put to the vote, this is not so? Surely it is down to the people of Cornwall to decide? After all, if somebody from England designed a map of Wales, split into "culturally English and culturally Welsh areas", the Welsh would be horrified.
Much of this is based on fake and frankly racist notions of "Celtic" blood in these areas that the English have never challenged. The Welsh blogspot organisers obviously feel some fraternal kinship with the Cornish cause. But on what grounds? How many people in Cornwall and Wales are actually Celts? How do they prove it?
What happens in these corners of the country to the screeches of "multicultural/multi-ethnic" heard across England?
And there is no point in pretending that big, bad England suppresses the Cornish - they are free to fly a "Cornish" flag and label their produce "Cornish".
Then there is the issue of "Celtic" blood in England: the Celts who remained after the various new arrivals in England; the Bretons who fought with Willie The Conqueror and were awarded manors in East Anglia; Scots, Welsh and Irish people moving into England.
Aside from all this, some researchers now question whether or not the Celts ever really get to these islands en masse? I recently saw a TV show which suggested this was not so.
Of course, some MPs have leapt on the Cornish bandwagon. It would, after all, aid the abolition of England if Cornwall joined Scotland and Wales as a distinct EU region... er... sorry, nation.If we ever get an English parliament, I hope one of its first acts is to hold a referendum for the people of Cornwall on whether it stays with England or goes it alone.
Until then, Welsh nationalists should not be attempting to brainwash people into thinking Cornwall's separate status is an established, historic reality. If we took it back far enough, Wales, Scotland and England would simply not exist. And then we could all be rival factions, pretending that we are tribes of long ago.
Drew makes some interesting points...
Certainly a referendum is needed to sort out the Cornish question, but I agree with you that it is not up to a Welsh nationalist blogspot to lop off parts of England.
Ask the people of Cornwall, and go on from there.
I'm fascinated by the "Celtic" question and how people perceive their origins. The surname we carry often heavily influences how we view our origins.
My surname is "++++" and although that line of my family have lived in one particular English county as far back as I can trace, I had a fascinating exchange on a BBC Wales discussion board a few years ago. A very charming Welsh gentleman told me that my surname is a "mutation" (lovely) of the Breton name, and I would be linked to the Brythonic Bretons who were, in turn, linked to the Welsh.
What a difference a surname can make! I could then have perceived myself as being rather non-English. But, confusingly, "++++" is actually my maternal grandmother's maiden name - my parents divorced when I was small, and I chose a family name for myself at the age of eighteen. If I had continued to carry my father's surname, Fairman, I could have perceived myself as being pre-Conquest English, very old stock. And the knowlegeable Welsh gentleman on the BBC site would certainly have perceived me as being the same.
I think we're all a bundle of different genes and the Celtic thing reflects more the influence of that culture on the fringes. I have yet to come across a living soul who can prove they are a pure-bred Celt. I would certainly question the ridiculous "fraternal" thing which goes on between Scotland, Wales and, it would seem to a small degree, Cornwall.
If England is multicultural, then so are the other UK nations and Blair should never have started bleating his ridiculous "Scotland is a proud, historic nation" tripe.
But then, it is his homeland.
And another e-mail - this time from "Free Kernow" -
fascist English pig-dog.
Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.
Brian Durrant writes to say:
Well, this is a first. You've opted to address the issue of Cornwall and Celticness and that is a very positive thing.
Of course it is absurd for the British Nationalists in Wales Watch blog to be publishing maps which lop Cornwall off of England. The decision of the English Democrats to contest the Monmouthshire seat has led to howls of protest on that blog at English interference in Wales, and yet they see fit to rewrite the map of England!
It is, of course, up to the people of Cornwall to decide. Nobody else.
The Celtic brethren thing, which certain Welsh people push at Cornwall, is actually partly the fault of the English, who have never questioned it. Indeed the English have actually encouraged the notion of Celtic separateness in the neighbouring countries. How often, even now, do you read on the CEP Blog or elsewhere a blanket reference to Scotland, Wales and Ireland as "the Celts"? It's commonplace. This does not seem to be a cultural reference, but an assertion that the people of these countries are an ancient tribe, different to the people of England.
Anyway, this examination of "the Celtic" thing won't make you popular - believe me I've tried it! You'll find reactions veer from the indifferent (usually on the part of the English) to pronounced dislike of your project (as you've already discovered) from "Celtic" independence people.
But the discussion needs to happen if the UK is to be restructured.
Why all the completely unbalanced pushing of "multicultural" for England by this government, but traditional culture for Scotland and Wales? They look after their homelands these MPs, don't they?
A lot of Cornish nationalists are insular racists. I knew a "Cornish" taxi driver who went on and on about being Cornish, how the Cornish had been here longer than the English, how his family tree had been done - and each line back to the 14th century was composed of Cornish/Celtic names.
I asked him:
1) "Are you sure the Celts ever got here in any great numbers?"
2) "Is it true that under forty per cent of the population of Cornwall was actually born in the county?"
3) "Could I see your family tree? Just how many lines are covered?"
Answer 1 was: "'Course they f***in' did!"
Answer 2: "That's crap!"
Answer 3: "If I can lay hands on it. It's somewhere..." I never saw it.
Of course Cornwall should have the opportunity to devolve, but if its people really believe they are terribly different from the English genealogically or that pasties and male voice choirs make them distinct (any more than the food and customs of any other English county) then they're kidding themselves.
I note that many Cornish sites are really racist, insular, anti-English and frankly poison to most reasonable thinkers in modern day, multi-cultural Britain.
Let the county be a country if it so desires, and let it take care of itself financially. I've had enough of people who fancy themselves "Celtic" slagging off England - the one UK country that cannot answer back, having been submerged in the vaults of Unionism for 299 years.
Must admit, even speaking as a half-Scot, I do think there's something creepy in all this "Celtic fringe" business - a lot of it seems pure, Victorian invention and there is a strong smell of anti-English racism (for want of a better word) in many of the arguments. For instance, I see "English state" where it should say "British state" on a few of these sites, and "English imperialism" is a must-mention! But what about the Scots, Welsh and Irish - also Imperialists - indeed, the Scots were overly-active at the time of Empire?
I think that Cornwall should be given the opportunity to split if it so desires, but this anti-English stuff is offensive, inaccurate, and terribly bigoted.
They only do it because there are no government bodies to reply.
UPDATE 2 - 10/8/2006
Sue Campbell pops in...
Like you, Chris, I'm half-Scot, half-English, but I'm really fed up with the attitude of Cornish nationalists - constantly slagging off England and the English. The English are a docile bunch, under the kosh of the British State and have been for years. Well, Cornwall - I now treat you as I treat Scotland and Wales - no Cornish produce finds its way into my shopping basket!
UPDATE 3 - 11/8/2006
Mrs Hinchliffe writes...
Must admit, I turned my nose up at some Cornish potatoes recently. And Ginster's products are now a no-no in my household. Cornwall does not have the same status as Scotland and Wales, it has long been a county, but if it wants to join that apartheid-practising elite, it can expect no further financial support from me, produce-wise.
If you look at some of these online histories of Cornwall, the whole thing is so warped - ripe with anti-English racism and nonsense.
Perhaps it's a minority giving the majority a bad name, but I am certainly not happy with some of the online stuff about Cornwall - a place which, in the modern day, seems to be building an image and a future for itself, based on a warped view of the past, anti-English bigotry and lies.
Rather like its so-called "Celtic" "kinfolk" in Wales and Scotland.
Greg from Cumbria...
I remember reading on one Cornish site about the Cornish fishermen being "unhappy" with "foreigners" from East Anglia many years ago.
This tale was supposed to back-up the Cornish claim of separateness from England. I laughed like a drain. Such parochialism is well known between different counties, towns and villages in England - and elsewhere - and East Anglia received a large infusion of ... er... for want of a more accurate word because I am uncertain of the realities, "Celtic" blood when the Bretons were awarded manors and lands by William the Conqueror. So the East Anglians in question were actually probably far more closely related to the people the "Cornish" imagine themselves to be!
There's so much tripe in the Cornish thing. A lot of what is written is laughable. And a lot of the motivation is English scapegoating racism. However I have friends who believe themselves to be Cornish AND English, so it's not all bad.
I agree that Cornwall should be granted a referendum on whether it leaves England or not (I favour the complete break up of the UK personally and wouldn't mourn Cornwall if it wanted to go), but in the meantime it should not rely on daft arguments and anti-English racism for its cause.
If Cornwall wants independence, history does not need to be rewritten, the question simply needs to be put to the people.
But the Scottish and Welsh dominated British State won't allow it. Just as they won't allow a vote for the rest of England to decide its future.
Still, take comfort, Cornwall. It's your Keltiq fellows doing the dictating.
4 August 2007
Cornwall has never, ever been a nation. Nor was Wales until devolution. So why is the British Nationalists In Wales map you feature entitled "our nations", and why do so many left-wing bloggers support devolution for Cornwall? Many Cornish nationalists I know are simply racists, who have been fed baloney about the English and hate people of other colours and creeds.
I suppose there is a sense of "restore our nationhood" in the Cornish nationalists' argument - and, of course, that's inaccurate. There is an element of misguidedness and racism too, and you are quite right, Wales was never a nation in the modern sense until the 1990s.
But I cannot negate the Cornish argument or right to independence. Not all nationalists are bigoted racists, and if Cornwall wants to go it alone then it should be allowed to. We should be living in a democracy. The only thing I will never agree with is Cornwall going it alone and having huge subsidies from the rest of England, which is pretty much what is happening with Scotland and, increasingly, with Wales.
The British Nationalists In Wales blog is an interesting one, and I know several left-wing bloggers who regard the notion of "Anglo Saxon" Englishness as racist but are quite happy to see the Scots, Welsh, "Cornish" and Irish as "Celts", which is also a racist notion.
Much needs sorting. But I don't believe that anything will be unless the people speak up, start speaking to each other, and the elements of priggishness, bigotry and double standards are examined and debunked.
This blog is supportive of the aims of the Campaign for an English Parliament, but is in no way connected.