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									Cornish Nation
No. 49 October 2008 £1.50

Editorial

Cornwall is in recession
It is official. The global credit crunch, caused by irresponsible bank lending and an over-inflated housing market, has led to an economic downturn that has now been classified as a recession. The Bank of England has described the downturn as “possibly the largest financial crisis of its kind in human history.” The value of stocks and shares has plummeted, the pound has hit an alltime low against the Euro and both inflation and unemployment are up. Central government has already had to step in with a package worth over £500 billion to save High Street banks, while millions of pounds of local authority monies are at risk in Icelandic banks. Here in Cornwall, house repossessions are rising, a number of local businesses have failed and hundreds of small businesses are fearful for their futures.
Contents Party Leader’s column An briow pervedh; MK’s core values in Cornish Cornish Fighting Fund for National Minority status News and views from throughout Cornwall Near-miss in by-election Post Office consultation was a total sham Mebyon Kernow opposes SW Regional Spatial Strategy Chris Franks AM reports on Plaid in government Update on Chagos Islanders Book reviews Personal profile of Joanie Willett 3 4 5 6-7 6 6 7 8 9 10 11

David McLean,s the firm leading the redevelopment of St Austell town centre, has gone into administration though the works will continue.

We unreservedly condemn the actions of those politicians and banks who together managed to create this emergency, but we must not allow ourselves to be dragged into a childish round of political point scoring. It is important that we concentrate our efforts on mitigating the full impact of the downturn on ordinary people and their families by finding ways to protect jobs and their future prospects. It is reported that Gordon Brown intends to expand government spending as a way of stimulating the economy to “help people through difficult times.” Increasing government borrowing to fund such works is not an inappropriate course to take in a recession, but it is our very real concern that, as so often in the past, the main investment in public works projects will be in areas other than Cornwall. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has already visited Cornwall and made the public statement that the slump will hit “peripheral” areas like Cornwall the hardest. This is not news to anyone who understands how an over-centralised state, such as the UK, operates or has experienced a past recession in the far west. If Labour is serious about helping our local communities through these difficult times, it needs to guarantee sizeable investment in a large number of projects to deliver real employment-led regeneration where it is needed in Cornwall. They should also work with us to build a strong local economy that is more resilient to global events. But for this, we will need devolution and the ability to make economic decisions for ourselves.
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Cornish Nation 49 Cornish Nation is a quarterly magazine which is distributed free to all members of MK. Membership of MK costs only £12.00 a year (£6.00 unwaged or £15.00 for a family). For further information, contact: Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall Lanhainsworth Fraddon Hill Fraddon St Columb TR9 6PQ 01726 861869 www.mebyonkernow.org

Party Leader’s Column

Democracy in freefall
Cllr Dick Cole looks at how the Liberal Democrats may gain control of the new unitary authority without an election
proposal for significantly increasing (possibly up to doubling) the current number of councillors at county level.” In September, the Boundary Committee for England made the ridiculous announcement that it was happy to accept that the number of councillors should be 123 but “would not be able to complete the work” necessary to agree the boundaries for the elections to take place by May or June 2009. It suggested that the elections for the new authority would need to proceed on the basis of 82 councillors with the same electoral divisions as the current County Council. It was also reported that a second election could be held soon after – for the 82 to be replaced by the 123! As Cornish Nation goes to press, it looks very likely that the elections for the new single tier council for Cornwall will be delayed from May 2009 until late October 2009. This has come about because of the failure to agree the electoral arrangements for the council. In the initial debate around the number of councillors needed for the new body, a broad consensus developed that there should be somewhere in the region of 130 members. But this was undermined by David Whalley, the leader of Cornwall County Council and the Liberal Democrat dominated Implementation Executive (the body set up to oversee the creation of the new unitary council). He, along with a small band of followers, submitted a counter-bid for the authority to have only 90 councillors. Like many other people I was extremely angry that Whalley’s scheme was given any credence whatsoever. It was hypocritical for him to argue for this lower number of councillors, as he had fronted the bid for unitary status with the final proposal document stating that the number of elected representatives would need to be between 100 and 164. Indeed, when the Secretary of State gave the go-ahead to the scheme, she stated that “concerns as to the viability of democratic links between councillors and their electorate appear to have been mitigated with the Council. The County Council was elected in 2005 to only serve until May 2009 and the terms of the county councillors would need to be extended to allow this to happen. It is a disgrace that David Whalley and the existing Liberal Democrat administration at County Hall may be able to take control of the new Council without an election and Cornwall would then be governed for up to six months by unelected representatives with no democratic mandate. As far as I am concerned, the Liberal Democrat county councillors and MPs, the Labour Government and the Boundary Committee for England should all be thoroughly ashamed of the embarrassing mess they have created. What is more, the cost of setting up the new unitary authority appears to be rising every day! The original estimate for the transition was £19.3m, but before long, this had risen to over £30m. Only a few weeks ago it was announced that it would be £44m and yet by October the figure had ballooned to nearly 60 million pounds. The proponents of local government reorganisation are claiming that the set-up costs or, as they now describe them – “additional investment of £59 million” – will lead to increased savings that are “on-going” and “year-on-year.” I am afraid I do not see it like that. David Whalley and his gang are doing great damage to Cornwall and our democracy. And I have absolutely no faith in their handling of Cornish tax-payers’ money.

Liberal Democrat county councillors and MPs, the Labour Government and the Boundary Committee for England should all be thoroughly ashamed of the mess they have created.

MK quite rightly branded the whole episode a farce and called on central government and the Boundary Committee to get their act together. There were also immediate calls for the elections to be delayed until the democratic arrangements were in place. On behalf of MK, I pointed out that a slight delay in the date of the election, perhaps two-three months, would not be unacceptable but only if the existence of both Cornwall County Council and the district councils were extended until polling day. We consider that this would be the only way to ensure that local government in Cornwall retains some democratic legitimacy. Unbelievably though, it seems more likely that all six district councils (elected in 2007 to serve until 2011) will still be abolished on the 31st March, but the unelected Implementation Executive would continue with the County

We would like to thank Chris Bowden, Cllr Dick Cole, Gorseth Kernow, Plaid Cymru and Joanie Willett for photographs used in this magazine. Thanks are also due to Pol Hodge for the Cornish translation on page 4.

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An Taves Kernewek

An briow pervedh
Printed below is the core values statement of Mebyon Kernow in the recently agreed single written form of the Cornish Language
fondys war an briow pervedh a sewenyans rag oll, justis kowethasel ha gwithans omgylghyek. We will play our part in building a confident and outward-looking Cornwall, that has the power to take decisions for itself. To achieve this, our detailed policies are founded on the core values of prosperity for all, social justice and environmental protection. SEWENYANS RAG OLL Mebyon Kernow yw kommyttys dhe gowethas selys war barester gwir a spas, ow kweres pobel dhe gowlwul aga fossybylder leun yn bewnans. Ni a vynn bos Kernow ha’y hemmyniethow sewen, gans oll trigoryon ow kevrenna gans an sewen na dre negysow byw, arveth dhe les ha diogel, gobrow onest, hyns dhe annedhyans prenadow yn hwir ha gonisow poblek a vri da. PROSPERITY FOR ALL Mebyon Kernow is committed to a society based on real equality of opportunity, helping people to achieve their full potential in life. We want Cornwall and its communities to be successful, with all residents sharing equally in that success through thriving businesses, worthwhile and secure employment, decent wages, access to genuinely affordable housing and good quality public services. JUSTIS KOWETHASEL MK yw kommyttys dhe gowethas fer hag ewn. Ni a grys bos res a attamyans poblek effeythus dhe vreselya esow, takla difygyans kowethasel ha bresel rag an dhislesoryon. Ni a wra strivya dhe dhrehevel kemmyniethow krev gans dalgh gans hyns kehaval ha heb kost dhe ardhyskans provys yn ta gans mona, kursawes ha gonisow les, restrys rag an prow a bubhuni. SOCIAL JUSTICE MK is committed to a just and fair society. We believe that effective public intervention is needed to combat poverty, tackle social deprivation and fight for the disadvantaged. We will strive to build strong inclusive communities with free and equal access to well-funded education, healthcare and welfare services, run for the benefit of everyone. GWITHANS AN OMGYLGH Gwitha sallow an omgylgh yw kresek dhe bennrewlys Mebyon Kernow. An bys a eneb lies barras omgylghyek nebes anedha gans res a wrians gwreydhyel yn sel dres an Bys rag avonsya sostenadowder gwir. Ny wra Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall skonya erviransow kales dhe witha ha gwellhe an omgylgh rag henedhow yn termyn a-dheu. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Safeguarding the environment is central to Mebyon Kernow's policies. The World faces severe environmental crises, which require radical action on a worldwide basis to promote real sustainability. Mebyon Kernow the Party for Cornwall will not shirk from difficult decisions to protect and enhance the environment for future generations. Mebyon Kernow yw keswlasek gans y wolok. Agan gwel rag Kernow ha’n Bys yw synsys yn bann gans revrons rag diverster a’n planet, yn y hengovyow gonisogethek denel ha’y omgylgh naturek, an dhew. Ni a grys bos res a genedhlow ha ranndiryow oberi warbarth dhe avonsya pella kovedhes, maga kres ha gweres lehe ankehavalder ollvysel, may hyll poblow oll, teyluyow ha tus yn unnik bewa aga bewnansow rydh dhiworth omdowl, esow, drogusadow hag iselheans. Mebyon Kernow is international in outlook. Our vision for Cornwall and the World is underpinned by respect for the diversity of the planet, both its human cultural traditions and its natural environment. We believe that nations and regions must work together to promote greater understanding, foster peace and help reduce global inequality, so that all peoples, families and individuals can live their lives free from conflict, poverty, exploitation and environmental degradation.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall yw parti politek arnowydh hag a-gammow. Yth yw parti a bennrewl, ow kaskyrghes rag agrians gwell rag Kernow, Bys moy ewnadow. Omma on ni dhe vatalya rag OLL an bobel a Gernow, gans towl politegel a worr Kernow yn kynsa le ha profya an ken dewis dhe’n partiow selys-Loundres. Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall is a modern and progressive political party. It is a party of principle, campaigning for a better deal for Cornwall and a fairer, more equitable World. We exist to fight for ALL the people of Cornwall, with a political programme that puts Cornwall first and offers an alternative to the London-centred parties. Yth yw agan kryjyans bos an genedhel istorek a Gernow, gans honanses diblans hy honan, yeth hag ertach, y’s teves an kethsam gwir dhe omervirans avel Alban ha Kembra. Y tal bos moy nerth dhyn ni rag ordena agan bewnansow hag yma Mebyon Kernow ow ledya an kaskyrgh rag an omwovernans, dre fondyans Kuntelles reythyansek. It is our belief that the historic nation of Cornwall, with its own distinct identity, language and heritage, has the same right to self-determination as Scotland and Wales. We should have more say in how our lives are run and Mebyon Kernow is leading the campaign for the self-government of Cornwall, through the establishment of a legislative Assembly. Ni a wra agan rann rag drehevel Kernow fydhyansek hag ow mires war-ves, y’s teves nerth rag gul erviransow rag hy honan. Dhe wul yndella, agan ambosow manylys yw
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HOW YOU CAN HELP MK
There are many ways you can help Mebyon Kernow win a better deal for Cornwall.

Election appeal
MK needs to raise somewhere in the region of £20,000 for the 2009 elections to Cornwall Council and the General Election in 2010. Donations – small and large – are vital in guaranteeing that we are able to contest these elections effectively. If you are able to support the Party financially, donations should be sent to the MK Election Appeal at Lanhainsworth, Fraddon Hill, Fraddon, St Columb, Cornwall TR9 6PQ. Cheques should be made payable to Mebyon Kernow. Direct debit forms are also available from the above address.

2009 local elections
We do not know exactly when the next set of local elections will take place, but now is the time for members to consider what contribution they will be able to make. Could you be a candidate in 2009? Could you be an election agent? Can you commit to supporting the election of another MK member through leafleting and canvassing? If you want to find out more, contact Cllr Dick Cole on 01726 861869.

Raising MK’s profile
Members can also support the work of MK through letters to the local press promoting our campaigns and the work of our local councillors and activists.

New members
It is also important for MK members to persuade as many friends as possible to join the only political party 100% committed to Cornwall and all its local communities.

A Cornish Fighting Fund has been launched by John Angarrack to raise £100,000 to pursue a legal action against the UK Government’s decision to exclude the Cornish from recognition through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Framework Convention deals with a wide range of minority rights issues ranging from non-discrimination through to education and the promotion of the identity, culture and language of minority groups. The UK Government ratified it in 1998. One weakness of the Convention is that it does not define the term “national minority” and signatory states have some latitude to decide which groups should fall within its scope. Recommendation 1201 [1993] of the Parliamentary Assembly to the Council of Europe does however provide governments with a guiding definition of what represents a “national minority.” This is as follows: A group of persons in a state who (i) reside on the territory of that state and are citizens thereof; (ii) maintain longstanding, firm and lasting ties with that state; (iii) display distinctive ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics; (iv) are sufficiently representative, although smaller in number than the rest of the population of that state or of a region of that state and (v) are motivated by a concern to preserve together that which constitutes their common identity, including their culture, their traditions, their religion or their language. The British Government's first two compliance reports to the Council of Europe declined to recognise the term “national minority” and instead applied the Race Relations Act 1976 to define racial groups.

The Government has accepted that the protection offered within the Convention covers the Scots, Welsh and Irish but have ridiculously and specifically excluded the Cornish. It is remarkable that they refuse to acknowledge such a longstanding group as the Cornish – with their own language which the Government has itself recognised through the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – should be covered by the Council of Europe’s “national minority” status. The legal action will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. At this time, pledges of financial support [not actual donations or money] are being sought. These can be forwarded via the website www.cornishfightingfund.org or by post to 45 Higher Bore Street, Bodmin. If the required sum of £100,000 is reached, a meeting of all donors pledging £500 or more will be called. At this meeting, officers will be elected and the action taken forward. It is intended that the legal challenge will be timed to coincide with the Council of Europe’s timetable for the submission of the British Government’s third Convention compliance report – which is due sometime in early 2009. To demonstrate the benefits of the Convention, campaigners are focussing on the issue of education and how it would result in schools having to develop a locally distinctive curriculum that guarantees the teaching of Cornish history and culture.

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Cornwall today

Cornish news and views
Near-miss in by-election
MK’s Environmental Protection spokesperson Zoe Fox contested a hard-fought by-election campaign for Camborne Town Council (South Ward) in August. A former councillor with a near-100% attendance record at council meetings and a formidable campaigner, she came a commendable second – the Party for Cornwal just 15 votes behind the Tory victor. The Conservative candidate polled 304 votes ahead of MK on 289. The Liberal Democrats, who previously held the seat, managed 263 votes with the Labour Party trailing in last place on 161. Commenting on the result, campaign agent Cllr Stuart Cullimore said it was very disappointing to lose by just a handful of votes, but the result demonstrated that in Camborne Mebyon Kernow could compete with all the London parties. (28th August) “We consider the proposals for the very rural areas to be criminal and likely to rip the heart out of many communities. Many of the places in North Cornwall which will be losing their Post Offices are already identified as areas “most deprived of services” according to Government figures. Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has also called on central government to guarantee the existence of all remaining Post Offices for a very long period of time.

Boscawen by-election
First-time candidate Jon Flower represented Mebyon Kernow in a by-election for a seat on Truro City Council. Jon, who is 27 years old and works in the City in an administrative capacity for the Cornwall Fire Brigade, fought an energetic campaign in what is one of the strongest Liberal Democrat areas in the whole of Cornwall. The Liberal Democrat candidate was successful with over 600 votes and the Tories came second with 312 votes. Jon achieved a very solid third place with 151 votes. The Labour candidate came last with 107.

Well done St Dennis
One thousand people recently crowded into a massive marquee in the village of St Dennis for a County Council-sponsored public meeting to discuss the waste incinerator planned for the area. The county councillors who attended the event were left in no doubt about the views of local people and many from further afield. There was a range of fantastic speeches which, one after another, nailed the lie that Cornwall needs a single mass incinerator to be imposed on the China Clay Area. The list of reasons to refuse the application was endless. The proposal was not in line with up-to-date planning policies, incineration was not an environmental solution for Cornwall’s waste, it would undermine recycling, there were traffic and pollution issues, it would have an unacceptable impact on the communities of St Dennis and Treviscoe. The list just went on and on. MK Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole was present and spoke on behalf of Restormel Borough Council. “I was pleased to be able to present the democratically agreed view of Restormel Borough Council to the meeting as part of a double-act with Deputy Mayor Jenny Mason. It was a privilege to be able to speak up and be part of the fight against this inappropriate proposal.
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“Now must be the time that Cornwall Cornwall Council finally sees sense” he added. At the St Dennis meeting, the applicants SITA admitted that they did not have a Plan B to a single incinerator. Restormel Borough Council has since supported a motion jointly promoted by Cllr Cole to put pressure on the County Council to come up with a more decentralised and sustainable way to deal with Cornwall’s waste. (17th September)

Consultation was a sham
Mebyon Kernow has condemned the announcement from Post Office Ltd that nearly sixty Cornish Post Offices will be closed. . Deputy Leader (Campaigns) Cllr Phil Rendle commented: “The speedy statement from the Post Office confirming all but one of the closures identified in the original consultation list clearly shows that the whole process has been a total sham and little or no thought has been given to the views of local people. “It is little wonder that people are so angry when those in authority ride roughshod over the needs of local communities. “Local campaigners and democraticallyelected councillors fighting to save local Post Offices were denied basic information about the economic viability of the businesses that were proposed for closure. “It remains our view that proper investment could have ensured a prosperous future for the majority of outlets identified for closure in the consultation.

Speaking after the result, Jon said it was important that all members of MK consider putting themselves forward as candidates or to find the time to assist those who do. “Cornwall needs Mebyon Kernow councillors” he said. (28th September)

Child poverty
According to figures released by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, Cornwall has more children living in or on the brink of poverty than anywhere in the South West. In Penzance East, on the Treneere Estate, two-thirds of children live in families on the breadline. Jim McKenzie, manager of Carrick Citizens Advice Bureau, said staff are encountering increasing numbers of people in real financial difficulty. “These figures are no surprise to me. People think that Cornwall is a beautiful holiday area and it is all cream teas, sandy beaches and pretty cottages. At one end of the scale you have places like Rock, where houses are worth millions, but at the other end are some of the most severely deprived communities around Camborne and Redruth. The problem is that the affluence at one end masks serious need and deprivation.” (6th October)

MK Environmental Protection spokesperson Zoe Fox added: “It is a disgrace that the energy companies should be making such massive profits while ordinary families are having difficulties heating their homes. Gordon Brown must use his position to reduce people’s fuel bills through better regulation of energy pricing as a matter of urgency. He must also boost public investment in energy efficiencies and green technologies. “Government needs to do so much more! To take one example, I am really angry about the cuts made to the government grant initiative for householders to install renewables, such as solar panels. This was capped to a 1KW installed generating capacity – apparently because of high demand! How tokenistic!” (10th October 2008)

No to the RSS
Mebyon Kernow has strongly objected to the South West Regional Spatial Strategy which seeks the construction of nearly 70,000 new properties in Cornwall by 2026. Printed below are extracts from the MK representation: “As a matter of principle, MK is opposed to Cornwall’s inclusion within an artificial South West region which stretches from Tresco on the Isles of Scilly to Tewkesbury. Cornwall has shown, time and time again, that it is opposed to regionalisation on a SW model and that local people want issues affecting Cornwall to be dealt with on a Cornwall-wide basis. “The RSS does not treat Cornwall as a distinct unit and it is obvious that the people who have put the document together do not understand Cornwall’s distinctive needs and for this reason it is unsound.

MK blast rebate u-turn
Leading members of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall have reacted angrily to the Government's u-turn over its decision to pay rebates to struggling families needing help with soaring fuel bills. Public Services spokesman Cllr Loic Rich said: “The Government made it very clear they were serious about giving out cash rebates to the less-well-off to help meet spiralling domestic energy costs. They have now gone back on their word and instead are clumsily trying to suggest that ‘taking measures to make homes more energy efficient’ is a ‘more long-term solution to rising prices.’ “Yes – there needs to be massive public investment in green technologies to combat climate change and at the same time reduce fuel bills. But what Cornish families need this winter is an immediate and essential cash boost and to see fuel companies being taken to task by strong political leadership. We do not want to see London politicians bottling it and pandering to the large energy companies.” Recent research commissioned by the Local Government Association shows that the “big six” energy suppliers increased their shareholder dividend payouts by 19% in 2007 – paying out £1.64bn – £257m more than the year before.

“We find it nonsensical that to fit Cornwall into your pattern for the South West based on twenty Strategically Significant Cities and Towns (SSCTs) you have come up the ridiculous notion that there is a SSCT covering Camborne / Pool / Redruth, Falmouth / Penryn and Truro. “We consider it an insult that, what you might call, ‘sub-regional’ arrangements do not even respect the territorial integrity of Cornwall. We see no logic in Cornwall being divided into three Housing Market Areas, for instance, two of which link Cornish districts with those in Devon.” MK has also called on central government to abandon spatial and other strategies which do not acknowledge the historic entity of Cornwall and work with us to build a new constitutional settlement. “We consider that the proposal to construct 68,200 new houses in Cornwall is excessive and unsustainable. We believe that the household projections used by the EIP Panel and the Secretary of State to be extremely flawed and inappropriate for the future development of Cornwall. “It is the equivalent of one new house for every four existing properties in Cornwall. Such a large amount of house-building is clearly not about meeting local needs. It is our view that the implications of such growth have not been thought through and will have an unacceptable impact on our environment, Cornwall’s communities and infrastructure.” (24th October)

Below: Some of the over-priced housing stock that local people cannot afford.

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News from Wales and Scotland

Plaid in Government
Plaid Cymru AM Chris Franks reports on political developments in Wales and the National Assembly of Wales
We have enjoyed a period of huge electoral success. In May 2007 we gained Assembly seats across the Nation. Incredibly we buried our differences with Labour and formed a coalition government. Chris is the Chief Whip of the Plaid Cymru Assembly Group. He was elected in May 2007 as a Regional Assembly Member covering Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taf. He was previously a County Councillor representing Dinas Powys in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Plaid Cymru participates in the administration of eight County Councils.

NEWS FROM SCOTLAND
In September, the SNP’s minority administration in the Scottish Parliament set out its plans for the next year. First Minister Alex Salmond announced 15 pieces of new legislation in a wide range of areas including criminal justice, the environment and public service reform. The Holyrood Government's plans include cutting emissions by 80% by 2050, a presumption against the closure of rural schools and a move to hold Scottish council and parliamentary elections on different dates in the wake of serious difficulties in May 2007. The SNP has also announced moves to scrap the council tax in favour of a local income tax of 3p in the pound, as well as plans to ban under-21s from buying alcohol from off-licences and to restrict the shop display of tobacco. Speaking at the Parliament, Mr Salmond explained that the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives were to build a Scotland that is safer, stronger, greener, healthier, smarter, wealthier and fairer. He told MSPs that it was time to replace the “unfair” council tax with an alternative, based on ability to pay, which he said would lift 85,000 people from poverty and save the average Scottish family between £350 and £535 per year. “I have no doubt Scotland will judge harshly any MSP who votes to keep the council tax in the face of the overwhelming benefit that would flow to millions of ordinary Scots” he said.

It was a massive leap into the dark but despite no government experience Plaid ministers have proved to be of exceptional quality. By the way, we nearly did a deal with the Lib Dems. At the last minute they ran away. In future when the Lib Dems again bleat about this and that Mebyon Kernow might well remind the public how they rejected the opportunities to actually do something positive. What is the point of the Lib Dems in Wales or Cornwall? This year saw our best ever council elections. Plaid Cymru participates in the administration of eight County Councils. In Cardiff we hold two important Cabinet positions. We run one of the largest Valley councils and have become the largest group in Ceredigion where we seek to defeat the sitting Lib Dem MP. However enjoyable it can be to look back on successes we face difficult battles. The 2010 Westminster elections will see Plaid focusing on key seats but the major test is the 2011 Assembly election. We aim to be the largest group in the Assembly. That means over 20 seats at constituency and regional levels. This demands Plaid performs to an even higher professional standard. We need to build up our membership, raise an extra £500,000 for campaigns and embrace the most effective campaigning skills. We have to prepare our candidates, build up our expertise and connect with the public.
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We have moved into modern, spacious offices. Our membership levels are increasing and we are financially solvent. Wales also had a wonderful year culturally. We won the Grand Slam, we achieved our best Olympic results and Only Men Aloud won the BBC's Last Choir Standing competition. The confidence and enthusiasm of the people of Wales is at an all time high. Plaid need to tap into this spirit. Since forming the government with Labour, we have: Stopped the disastrous hospital closure plan. Given nurses their full pay award. Created a £150,000,000 fund to help businesses grow. Given massive support to Welsh agriculture. Scrapped hospital car parking charges. Introduced a cutting edge curriculum for young children. Provided millions for a mortgage rescue plan.

World news

Paradise Lost
Cornish Nation reports on the recent House of Lords judgement which stops the Chagos Islanders returning to their homes
In Cornish Nation no. 34 (Autumn 2004), we ran a feature on the plight of the Chagos Islanders. Events make an update necessary. The Chagos Islands are a group of islands situated in the Indian Ocean. Occupied since the late 18th century, it was home to a thriving community of over 2,000 people with a school, a hospital, churches and a range of small-scale local industries served by docks. This community was forcibly evicted between 1967 and 1973 so that the British Government could lease the largest of their islands, known as Diego Garcia, to the United States for the construction of one of the biggest military bases in the world. There are now more than 2,000 troops on Diego Garcia. It is an anchorage for 30 warships, a nuclear dump, a satellite spy station, and has shopping malls, a golf course and other facilities. It was also from this very island that American B-52 and Stealth aircraft bombed Iraq and Afghanistan. The impact of exile on the islanders was very severe. Many families lost loved ones, with suicides and the death of children particularly common. Their community was also badly hit by unemployment, drugs and prostitution. Most continue to live in terrible poverty in the slums of Mauritius, unseen by Western tourists. Over the last thirty years, the islanders have campaigned hard to regain access to their original homes. Led by Olivier Bancoult and supported by a London lawyer, Richard Gifford, the islanders won a historic victory in the High Court in 2000, which ruled their expulsion illegal. And yet, representatives of the British Government announced that it would not be possible for the Chago Islanders to return to their homes because of a “treaty” with Washington. A feasibility study was then undertaken as to whether it would be possible for some of the other islands to be resettled. The report claimed that the islands were not suitable for habitation, even though there were American servicemen on Diego Garcia – findings described by a leading expert on the area as “an elaborate charade.” in the current state of uncertainty the Government is entitled to take the concerns of its ally into account." The two dissenting judges released their own statement which called on Britain to “put an end to the shameless victimisation of Chagossians and adopt a lawful policy of facilitating their return to their homeland.” The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, had the nerve to welcome the most recent judgement as a vindication of the Government’s decision to appeal. He said: “We do not seek to excuse the conduct of an earlier generation. Our appeal to the House of Lords was not about what happened in the 1960s and 1970s. It was about decisions taken in the international context of 2004. This required us to take into account issues of defence [and] security of the archipelago and the fact that an independent study had come down heavily against the feasibility of lasting resettlement of the outer islands of British Indian Ocean Territory.” The Chagossians’ lawyer Richard Gifford says they will not give up. “It has been the misfortune of the Chagos islanders that their passionate desire to return to their homeland has been caught up in the power politics of foreign policy for the past 40 years. "Sadly, their struggle to regain their paradise lost has been dismissed on legal grounds, but the political possibilities remain open for parliament, the British public and the international community to continue to support.” The way that the islanders have been treated has been a shameful episode in British governance. The British Government has shown complete disregard for the human rights and very existence of this island community. We must leave the last word to Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the islanders. In 2005 he said: “We have always believed that a human being has the right to live in the place of his birth. Everywhere, the British Government paints itself as the champion of human rights - so what about the human rights of the Chagossian people?”
October 2008
CORNISH NATION 9

“What about the human rights of the Chagossian people?”

Tony Blair was in a position to end this injustice, but in June 2004, he invoked an archaic royal prerogative in order to dismiss the 2000 High Court judgment. This prerogative did not need the support of the House of Commons and a decree was then issued which banned the islanders from ever returning home. The islanders refused to give up and went back to the High Court in 2006 and once again won the right to return home. In a damning verdict, the High Court even condemned the actions of the British Government as “repugnant.” In May 2007, the Government lost again at appeal. In November the House of Lords granted the Government leave to appeal. In a three-two majority ruling, condemned by all rightthinking people as “shameful,” the law lords overturned the islanders’ earlier victory. Lord Hoffmann ruled that the Government was entitled to legislate for a colony in the security interests of the United Kingdom. The US state department had argued that the islands might be useful to terrorists and Lord Hoffmann said: “Some of these scenarios might be regarded as fanciful speculations, but

Reviews

New books of interest
Now available in local shops are a new publication on the Cornish Gorseth and the latest book from John Angarrack
To mark the 80th anniversary of the foundation of Gorseth Kernow, a new 60-page book has been published entitled “Gorseth Kernow / The Cornish Gorsedd – what it is and what it does.” Written by Rod Lyon, a Past Grand Bard, the book is lavishly illustrated with many previously unseen photographs. It also contains explanatory notes about Gorsedd regalia and handy lists of Grand Bards, Deputy Grand Bards and Gorsedd sites. As well as charting its origins in early Britain through to the first revived ceremony at Boscawen Un near St Buryan in September 1928 (see photograph right), Rod Lyon also explores the impact of key figures such as Henry Jenner and Robert Morton Nance. He also looks at how the Gorseth has changed over the last eight decades and how it sees its role in 21st century Cornwall and across the Cornish diaspora. The author notes that Gorseth Kernow has been involved in many initiatives to protect and “uphold the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall, defend her integrity and promote her distinctiveness” adding that “the work to safeguard … Cornwall against cultural, political and economic threats continues.” Since its inception, more than 1,150 people have become bards, of which more than half are still alive. They represent a wide crosssection of Cornish society, not all are Cornish and not all are resident in Cornwall. Rod Lyon notes: “There are bards in Australia and North America, invited to become bards because of their work in promoting Cornwall and Cornishness to the emigrant families in those countries. Many of these make the long trip to Cornwall – often more than once – to be initiated into the Gorsedd and attend the Gorsedd ceremonies.” The book is published by Gorseth Kernow at £4.95. To order a copy, send a cheque made payable to Gorseth Kernow for £5.70 (to include UK postage) or a cheque in sterling for overseas postage for £6.45 to David Lindo, Enys, 13b Trevone Crescent, St Austell, PL25 5ED. To buy a copy at the retail price of £4.95, ask at Cornish bookshops.
10 CORNISH NATION October 2008

Following on from “Breaking The Chains” and “Our Future Is History,” John Angarrack has brought out his third book “Scat t'Larrups – Resist and Survive.”

The book covers a wide range of recent and ongoing initiatives including the fight for the recognition of the Cornish through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Commenting on his own book, Angarrack says: "People have the right to know that the Government is reduced to maintaining control over Cornwall by propaganda and deception – and if that doesn't work, by intimidation and corruption. But there is another way. The Cornish can, if they so choose, resist oppression and survive as a viable entity into the future. I know from responses received from readers of my previous books that the content will excite and inflame passions … the hope is that these passions can be harnessed.” The book is certainly provocative and many indivduals and organisations do come in for criticism - including MK. Not everyone will agree with all of the views expressed within the book, but it is a must for the Cornish campaigner’s bookshelf.

Personal profile

Joanie Willett
MK’s Global Issues spokesperson answers questions from Cornish Nation about how she became involved with MK
When and why did you join Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall? Back in 2003, I was doing the dissertation for my social sciences degree. I’d decided to do some research into Cornish identity and was trying to talk to lots of different people to deepen my understanding of the issue. I’d heard of Mebyon Kernow, but had a generally negative perception of what the Party stood for and felt that I needed to better understand their message. So I phoned Dick Cole and was very surprised at how nice he was. He sent me ten back issues of Cornish Nation and I realised that actually, contrary to my expectations, this was the first political party that I’d ever felt represented my views. The rest is history. What do you consider your greatest achievement as an activist? I’ve been involved in lots of global activism, such as the Make Poverty History campaign, and I have participated in various international movements to help make the world a fairer place. In Cornwall, I worked a lot with STIG, the St Dennis anti-incinerator group, trying to get the campaign into the press as much as possible. We were very fortunate that we got good coverage for our photo calls. My favourite was when we did a week’s shopping and took off all the excess packaging. We found that a third of the volume of our weekly shop was packaging! It has been fantastic to see how much support the anti-incinerator campaign has generated. I think people realise that it’s a very bad idea. Who are your political heroes? People and organisations that highlight that activism can bring about change. The Suffragettes are a great example of this. I also admire the Zapatistas, not only because their cause resonates with some of the issues that we have in Cornwall, but also because they have been so innovative in their campaigns. It sounds weird now, but back in the 1990s using the internet as a tool for getting your message out was just so new.

Who are your political villains? Margaret Thatcher! I grew up in Cornwall in the 1980’s, when most people I knew had barely enough to live on, while the rest of the UK was talking about yuppies and the uberwealthy. Thatcher set the ball rolling to justify incredible inequalities of wealth, which unfortunately, Blair and the Labour Party have continued. Apart from MK, what other organisations are you a member of? The Celtic League and several campaign groups such as No to ID Cards, Globalise Resistance, Friends of the Earth and the World Development Movement. I am also a member of some academic associations to do with economic development and nationalism. Do you have a favourite political moment? Lots of moments. I think the best thing is the solidarity that you get with a group of people that believe that change should happen and are doing something to effect that change such as leafleting. On the one hand, it can be boring and tiring, but this is completely outweighed by the camaraderie and friendships that you make and develop.

How do you relax? Spending time with my children (aged 6 and 15). When I get the time, I really enjoy kayaking around the coast and, after years as a surf kayaker, I can now just about ride a board for 30 seconds before falling off. Where is your favourite place in Cornwall? Porthpean Beach. It’s a great, all-round beach and St Austell Bay is stunning. The view all across Cornwall from the top of Trelavour Downs at St Dennis is pretty special too. Can you recommend a book to fellow MK members? The books that have got to be on everyone’s reading list are The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Love on the Dole. Both of these books, written at the turn of the 20th century and in the 1920s respectively, highlight exactly why the post-World War II welfare state is crucial to social justice. And why the current attempts to dismantle them must be resisted totally. How would you describe yourself in 20 words or less? A passionate believer in justice.
October 2008
CORNISH NATION 11

Kenedhel Gernewek


								
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