The Sons of Cornwall Are on the March, and This Time It's Away from London
Burrell, Ian, The Independent (London, England)
Half a millennium ago, 15,000 Cornish rebels marched on London. Now thousands of Cornish people are planning to do it again in the form of a commemorative march calling for greater investment in the region and the cutting of ties to England.
A resurgence in Celtic language and music together with chronic unemployment and perceived "racism" by the English have built up the concept of a Cornish identity to a level unprecedented in modern times.
A record number of Cornish Nationalist candidates will stand in the general election, on a platform which demands Cornish language lessons in schools and a Cornish assembly. Nationalist politicans will be seeking to capitalise on the 500th anniversary of the An Gof rebellion next year, when 15,000 Cornish marched on London and fought the English army at Blackheath, south of the capital. The 1497 rebellion, a protest at an English tax levied to raise money for a war in Scotland, led to the drawing and quartering of the two leaders, Michael Joseph An Gof and Thomas Flamank, and the death in battle of 2,000 rebels. In May, the march will be re-enacted peacefully, culminating in a mass celebration of the Cornish identity in London, with trade shows and cultural performances including a service in the Tower of London and a concert by the Cornwall Youth Orchestra in the Barbican. Although the celebrations are ostensibly non-political, and will include those who do not advocate separatism, they represent a great opportunity for the nationalists. Dick Cole, spokesman for the Mebyon Kernow (Sons of Cornwall) Party, said: "This is a very important year for us. We have got to go for it." Mebyon Kernow's candidate for South East Cornwall is Paul Dunbar, 49, a vineyard-owner from Liskeard. Already canvassing for votes, he is angry at the drain of local workers across the River Tamar to "England". "What we need in South East Cornwall is the emphasis on indigenous enterprise and reducing the necessity for people to commute to Plymouth. It's over the border, it's big enough already and it doesn't do us any good," he said. Alan M Kent, who is among a new breed of young Cornish novelists and poets, said: "The new literature is looking at the real Cornwall not the Cornwall of Ross Poldark and historical romance or the Cornwall of Arthurian legend. It's a rebirth after 100 years of stagnation. A century ago, the bottom fell out of the mining industry and Cornwall collapsed. It has taken 100 years for it to reclaim its identity. "Cornish nationalism has become more sophisticated and organised, looking to promote the Cornish as an indigenous British ethnic group who should have the same status afforded to the Welsh and Scots." Rob Burton, a lecturer at the University of Exeter, has carried out research comparing the Cornish situation with the national identities which have emerged in the former Yugoslavia. He said: "What has been interesting is the resurgence of Cornish identity among young people. …