Mebyon Kernow and Cornish Nationalism

Mebyon Kernow and Cornish Nationalism

Mebyon Kernow and Cornish Nationalism

Mebyon Kernow and Cornish Nationalism

Synopsis

Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall, campaign for a powerful Cornish Assembly that will protect and promote the Cornish identity and its Celtic language and culture. This is the first book to fully address the issue of Cornish Nationalism and the history of the political movement that has set the political agenda in Cornwall for 50 years. Mebyon Kernow has elected representatives on four of Cornwall's six district councils and on numerous town and parish councils. It has played a prominent role in the campaign to protect the territorial integrity of Cornwall. It also played a leading role in the fight to have Cornwall classified as a European region so that it could qualify for increased European funding, including Objective One.

Excerpt

The sea change in governance in the United Kingdom of the last half decade or so, ranging from the fruits of the ‘peace process’ in Northern Ireland to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and Assemblies in Wales and London, has mirrored changes in the way in which the academic community has reflected upon the history and politics of the British State. As recently as the 1970s (when I studied politics at Bristol), the United Kingdom was presented as an almost classic example of the homogenous ‘civic culture’ that supposedly characterised modern, mature Western states, while so-called ‘British history’ was essentially English history – or at any rate an anglocentric history which made little more than a passing nod in the general direction of what folk liked then to call ‘the Celtic periphery’.

But even as political scientists were elucidating their ‘civic culture’, so forces and events on the ground – in Northern Ireland, in Scotland, in Wales as well as in the territorial components of other Western states such as Spain, Canada, Belgium and Italy – were pointing not to homogeneity but to diversity, the upsurge in nationalist, regionalist and antimetropolitan sentiment challenging the conventional wisdoms that had emerged since the Second World War. In the United Kingdom, as elsewhere, political scientists had to return to the drawing board, redefining the UK as a ‘multinational state’ and recognising the significance of ethnoterritorial issues in British politics. At the same time, historians began to look again at the history of these islands, progressively distancing themselves from the hitherto dominant anglocentric historiography and engaging instead in a new project designed to create an ‘archipelagic’ history which admitted the significant and distinctive roles of each of the territorial components of the ‘Atlantic Archipelago’ (the British Isles) in our collective experience.

In the United Kingdom, these shifts in the academic focus have launched a raft of new studies and publications, many charting the fortunes of the several nationalist, regionalist and anti-metropolitan parties and pressure groups that have in part been responsible for the re-fashioning of the twenty-first century British State. But there is one component of the UK that is routinely overlooked or misunderstood in this new rush of activity, and that is Cornwall. Although Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish national movement, has never achieved the successes achieved of Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party, it has influenced the conduct of . . .

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