Friday, 15 December 2017

On the Daily Politics


Today, I did an interview on the Daily Politics show in which I made the case for a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 census. This follows the meeting with the ONS that I attended in Westminster on behalf of Cornwall Council on Wednesday.

If you didn’t get the chance to see the piece, it can be viewed at:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09jgrly/daily-politics-15122017

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Back in Cornwall … report on ONS meeting to follow


Pleased to be back in Cornwall after today’s Office of National Statistics meeting in Westminster’s Queen Elizabeth II Centre (above) at which I represented Cornwall Council and made the case for a Cornish tickbox.

The visit to London has been covered by the Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/13/cornwall-launches-campaign-for-census-tickbox-cornish?CMP=share_btn_tw

In the next few days, I will be producing a report for the unitary authority, and I will also post a summary of the nature of today’s discussions on this blog in a few days.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The 50,000 declarations - 16 years on!

Sixteen years ago today (12th December 2001) I was part of a delegation which presented 50,000 declarations demanding a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street.

I am extremely proud to have authored the actual declaration, which had been launched by Mebyon Kernow on St Piran’s Day in 2000.

The declaration was clear and forthright.

It stated that: “Cornwall is a nation with its own identity, culture, traditions and history” while noting that it suffers “severe and unique economic problems.”

In addition, the declaration stated that “important decisions about our future are increasingly taken outside of Cornwall” and concluded that “the people of Cornwall must have a greater say in how we are governed … we need a Cornish Assembly that can set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall and provide a stronger voice for our communities in Britain, in Europe and throughout the wider World.”

In a period of less than twenty months, teams of volunteers under the inspirational leadership of Paddy McDonough visited town after town, setting up street stalls and getting the individual declarations signed.

It remains a truly amazing achievement that over 50,000 people – more than 10% of the adult population of Cornwall – signed the declaration in such a short period of time, and it is my view that these declarations continue to represent a great statement of intent from the ordinary people of Cornwall. And we must continue to campaign hard to secure meaningful devolution for Cornwall.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Singing in Cornish - a celebration


Having seen Gwenno in concert at the weekend, my column in this week's Cornish Guardian celebrates those who sing in the Cornish language. It will be as follows:

There are many truly wonderful aspects to Cornwall’s identity and culture, and I consider the most important factor in our distinctiveness to be the Cornish language.

This is because, to me, the continued existence of our own Celtic language, emphasises that we have a national identity, rather than simply a regional or county character.

For many decades, there have been a large number of people who have worked so incredibly hard to promote and celebrate Cornish, and it is right that we pay a heartfelt tribute to them all.

If we look back to the 1970s, at the forefront of the promotion of the language – through song – there was the much-loved and internationally respected folk singer Brenda Wootton.

She performed and recorded many Cornish language songs which included the 1973 LP Crowdy Crawn, produced in partnership with Richard Gendall. Richard, who passed away in September at the age of 92, wrote over 450 songs for Brenda, of which about a third were in Cornish.

The Davey family meanwhile formed a group called Bucca and released an LP in 1980 titled “An Tol an Pedn an Telynor” (The Hole in the Harper's Head), which included Cornish songs and was distributed in 13 countries across the world.

As a consequence of the foresight of Richard, Brenda, Bucca and many others, the Cornish language is now a natural and an increasingly prominent part of modern life in the Duchy.

At last year’s spectacle surrounding the “Man Engine,” which was a positive, inclusive and unashamed celebration of Cornwall, the language was ever-present, showing it to be a vital and living part of our present and future.

Like Brenda Wootton, many modern-day performers, with well-deserved high profiles, have regularly sung and recorded in Cornish.

These include the traditional music specialists Dalla and The Changing Room, who saw their video for a track off their latest album, “Gwrello Glaw” (Let It Rain), viewed by over 500,000 people online.

And this weekend, I was privileged to be able to attend a joyous concert at Falmouth’s The Poly by well-known Welsh singer Gwenno and her support act, Hanterhir, who both sang in Cornish and were both fantastic.

Gwenno was brought up in Cardiff speaking both Welsh and Cornish – her father is a Cornish poet – and it was indeed inspiring to see her showcase her new album (due out in March). It is entirely in Cornish and is already receiving significant coverage throughout the music world, positively promoting Cornwall’s national language to a much wider audience.

There is so much to be positive about and I would heartily recommend the music of Gwenno and groups such as The Changing Room, Dalla and Hanterhir, who really appreciate the importance of Cornish. Why not check them out?

Friday, 1 December 2017

Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill - an end to Devonwall in sight?

I am pleased that the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill has today passed its latest hurdle in the House of Commons, when it was read for a second time.

It seeks to amend the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 “to make provision about the number and size of parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.”

In particular, it specifies that the number of UK constituencies should 650 and that “the electorate of any constituency in Great Britain shall be (a) no less than 92.5% of the Great Britain electoral quota, and (b) no more than 107.5% of that quota.

If this Bill makes it into legislation it will end the present Boundary Review that is seeking to reduce the number of MPs to 600 and would create an unpopular cross-Tamar parliamentary constituency.

Today’s division was 229 votes in favour of the Bill and 44 against.

Three Conservatives voted with the opposition and in favour of the Bill. Only one of Cornwall’s six Tory MPs took part in the vote, with George Eustice voting against the Bill.

It is very disappointing that he and his colleagues did not use the opportunity to vote against Devonwall.