The G7 Summit is Boosting Cornish Nationalism. Here’s Why.

There has been a big clean up operation to get Cornwall looking picture postcard perfect for this week’s G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, near St Ives. From builders to caterers and gardeners, it’s been all hands on deck for the arrival of the global leaders, staffers and media.

For weeks, we’ve seen a vastly increased police presence, with the local plod urging the young county lines lads to leave the town centre, so they’re out of global sight. It’s surprising how eerily quiet the deserted alleys and streets have become without the familiar nightly shouts and brawls.

Cornwall Council – always keen to do Westminster’s bidding – has forcibly removed over 130 homeless people from St Ives B&Bs to make room for visiting G7 guests. And up the road in the seaside resort of Newquay, five vulnerable women were told to leave their emergency accommodation, so that English police officers had somewhere to stay during the summit preparations.

A local woman with schizophrenia was left at the side of the road with her belongings in black bin liners, while another lady in her fifties is sleeping in her car as she refuses to drive the hour and a half across the border to England for the duration of the big event – she said she’s never left Cornwall before.

Infuriatingly, many St Ives and Carbis Bay locals are losing work due to the summit. Mini bus and taxi drivers are finding it impossible to get in and out of town, with many simply resorting to taking an extra week of annual leave for no pay.

The landlords of the Bean Inn, at the top of Carbis Bay, say that they’re usually fully-booked at this time of year. Yet they have just one reservation for this Thursday and Friday, as visitors are avoiding the area because they fear there will be big traffic delays.

And with half of St Ives fenced off from locals, the G7 Summit is serving as a painful visual reminder that the Cornish are often left on the outside, looking in at our wealthier English neighbours.

One in three kids from the town’s harbourfront live in poverty, as the Duchy of Cornwall has a lower GDP per capita than Lithuania and Hungary. And most Cornish teens don’t see our sandy beaches in summer because they’re too busy working in the backs of restaurants for long hours and low wages.

Successive Westminster governments have abandoned coastal towns at the periphery of our supposedly United Kingdom for decades, with visiting city drug dealers investing more cash in local enterprise than the politicians.

Unfortunately, our rural Duchy has been a net loser from globalisation, with traditional industries such as tin and clay mining; fishing and farming declining to the point of near-extinction, but our politicians consistently failing to develop policies and fund infrastructure for innovative replacements.

From a shared Celtic heritage to a seasonal economy, often dominated by low-paid, insecure employment, rural Cornwall has more in common with Scotland and Wales, than with the ruling metropolitan elite. It seems that being on the periphery of the country has placed us on the periphery of the economy, battling to secure a zero hours contract in a service or retail job, with our desires for independence simply a longstanding English joke.

But energised by the strong independence movement in Scotland, long-time Cornish nationalists are encouraging fellow citizens to join the campaign for independence from England. We’ve even revived Kernewek – our Southwestern Brittonic language – to the stage where it’s no longer at risk of extinction.

The G7 Summit has inadvertently highlighted that an English government is never going to create a Cornwall that works for everyone and not just the few. We’ve always been told there’s no money to regenerate the boarded-up town centre shops and create year round employment, so it’s galling that there’s a spare £70 million to cover the policing costs of this event that’s been foisted on us.

Falmouth’s G7 temporary accommodation village is an insult to every Cornwall resident who has suffered due to the area’s housing crisis, where there are up to 70 applications for each rental property. And waiting for global media attention before addressing St Ives’ decades-long heroin and crack problem is offensive to everyone who’s travelled for miles to access our poorly funded drug treatment services.

So it’s unsurprising that Cornwall’s residents are getting together to send a clear message to England’s politicians that we need our independence. Over the next week, there will be huge protests against both the G7 and Westminster’s ongoing desire to treat the Duchy as a playground for the elite, whether it’s global leaders or wealthy second home owners.

The next month is sure to bring a seemingly endless stream of well-known politicians posing for the obligatory photo, whereby they thoughtlessly reduce our culture to a pasty or cream tea. But Cornish nationalists will be carrying banners, flying St Piran’s flags and spreading the word that there’s an alternative to English rule, with a future that doesn’t render us dependent on the scraps from the Westminster table.

Comments (28)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    What news of these rumblings will we see in our “National Broadcaster”? I fear Bella Caledonia is probably the only place the subject will get an airing.

    1. Always good to connect with new freelance journalists and researchers too.

  2. Jon Jaguar says:

    The top irony is the #Brexit vote in Kernow… To leave the EU thus delivering the coup de grâce to the entire community.

  3. Independence Live says:

    Great article

  4. Liz Summerfield says:

    A’Chorn gu brath!

  5. SleepingDog says:

    So, maybe some of this apparently rather dire state of affairs is the Duke’s fault?
    It all sounds a bit pseudo-feudal, with opaque accounts and wealth siphoned into the pockets of the extremely rich and extremely unaccountable? Actually, I am a bit confused about these references to the Duchy of Cornwall in that the Duchy appears not entirely to geographically correspond with Cornwall with large holdings outside. Surely some of these ancient and not-so-ancient practices are somewhat near the heart of the Cornish malaise, rather than Westminster per se? I had not even heard of bona vacantia until very recently. Maybe there is a severe democratic deficit. Maybe there is abuse of legislation and convention to exploit privacy and tax breaks to gain the best of both private and public realms without the customary costs of either?

    1. Susan Macdiarmid says:

      Only 2%, yes, two percent, of the Duchy of Cornwall is in Cornwall. Half is in Devon.
      I don’t think Westminster can shed blame for the social woes of Cornwall onto the Duke. ( Weird mental image of Bloody Stupid Johnson shaking head and shedding dandruff onto Charlie’s shoulders.)

      1. Derek says:

        Thanks for that; I’d forgotten about BSJ!

  6. Robbie says:

    Boris or Charlie ,neither of them gives A monkeys for the peasants “whichever “part of the U K you are from simple as that , CONTROL is all that counts then they continue to serve Themselves.

  7. Tom Ultuous says:

    Welcome to Johnson’s “new golden age for Britain”. Good luck with your campaign. Unfortunately, as Dougie points out above, we’ll probably never hear of it again.

  8. James Mills says:

    It’s small comfort , I know , but at least after today you won’t see or hear from Bojo the Clown down in Cornwall again .
    Mind you , continually voting Conservative and LibDumb down there has not done you any favours .

  9. Chris says:

    The downside of G7 in Cornwall is the constant exposure of Cornwall seen through rose tinted spectacles. This is one of a number factors driving up property prices even further out of range of local people, not to mention the failure of housing policy to build social housing and homes that people can afford. Cornwall is very beautiful and the images from Saturday and today, will only enforce the stereotype. Too many people who now move to Cornwall tend to be really quite wealthy (and probably voted for Brexit along with too many other Cornish people who wanted to blame Brussels for their problems and not Westminster), and less likely to engage and involve themselves in the local communities.
    The other factor is of course tourism; seasonal, low paid, insecure work.
    I am fortunate to live in a lovely Cornish village that is working village, pay social rent to a good housing association ,but there places only a few miles away that are ‘Ghost Villages’ out of season. In the summer months, locals can be treated poorly by some of the wealthier visitors, who treat Cornwall as a playground for a short period of the year. A good article. Thank you Rebecca.

  10. Máire Úna Ní Bheaglaoich says:

    This is very interesting but scary for Cornish people…very like what happens in Davos when the stag party arrives in town.A shameful demonstration of the polarisation of society…these “representatives” have nothing in common with ordinary people and they are Not going to remedy homelessness,low pay,rescue derelict shops..G7 should be banned!

  11. Mick Early says:

    Very well said. The English will give you nothing but insults, if you’re lucky!
    Look at what Johnson is doing to Ireland, he negotiated the NI Protocol and now wants to walk away form it!!

  12. Mick Early says:

    The only thing the English will give anybody is ignorance and insults. Look at the NI Protocol. Johnson negotiated it and now it’s not good enough for him!!

    1. Niemand says:

      Absolutely nasty, bigoted rubbish.

      1. Mick Early says:

        Johnson is a nasty bigot for sure!

  13. Sarah Tresidder says:

    Dear Rebecca Tidy,

    Thank you so much for the first report that I have seen that has treated our situation with just and reason, with respect and real concern. Without mentioning the “County” word or trying to attach us to England.

    We are now recognised as a National Minority and that is so evident as being a fact down here, where we walk like unseen ghosts among people who do not have the wherewithal to even nod acknowledgement of our existence.

    You have brought tears of joy to me, to be able to read such a true and real account of what is happening down here. Thank you again

  14. Winston Elfi Cadwaladr Evans says:

    Aspirational Cornish Nationalism is consistent with the interests of Welsh & Scottish Nationalism. The cultural & linguistic ties w/ Wales (and Brittany) are particularly deep, since we share different dialects of the same mother tongue, viz, Brythonic (AKA Old Welsh).

    Us Celtic Nations – the Breton, Cornish & Welsh – along with Irish Republican Ulster & Scotland, as far as is feasible – should unite in our efforts to fight for independence from England by forging a Pan Celtic alliance of equals, within the greater European – Basque, Catalan, Flemish, etc. (& global) sphere of underprivileged, minority nations.

  15. Viv says:

    Thank you for publishing this article! Just to add to it, I live in Camborne, home of Don Gardner creator of the now world famous food bank where some of the estates house children who have never been to the seaside because its too expensive to get transport, and too far for them to walk – about 3 miles, away.

  16. Laurence Pocock says:

    I can’t say I really appreciate all this anti-English stuff. There may be some valid arguments here,, but as some to the other comments have done it raises a sort of anti-English racism that I find repugnant. So, lets for once accept that England is a great nation that has given massive cultural and artistic achievements to the world. Furthermore developed a system of common law which through Magna Carta set the stage for individual liberty when the rest of Europe still believed in the divine right of monarchy. It wasent for nothing that the Catholic Church tried to suppress that at the time. Sure, there are genuine faults and wrongs to be addressed. But just because England is a big nation it does not deserve this kind of abuse, as if there are no reasons to look in ones own backyard !
    As for the English people who are generally accepted to be liberal, tolerant and self-depreciating I think you should be a bit more tolerant towards and as the recent by-election in Buckinghamshire shows (“you don’t mess with Buckies”) they aren’t all middle England right wingers.

    1. Mick Early says:

      It is true that England has given some great benefits to the world but it was never given magnanimously but only to benefit themselves. They brought so pain, misery and suffering and it’s still going on, look at Boris and ignorance and dishonesty, towards all British people not to mention the entire EU and the world at large.
      Perfidious Albion!

      1. Laurie Pocock says:

        All the nations of the United Kingdom were involved in the empire however not just England which is what I presume you’re talking about,

    2. SleepingDog says:

      @Laurence Pocock, but surely one of the most widely recognized and respected English cultural contributions to the world (the set of Shakespearean plays) mounts a forensic criticism of English systems of hereditary monarchy and customary abuse of power, including divine right and King John? In other words, English culture would be useless to the world where it is simple suck-uppery, and useful when it is trenchant self-reflection.

      1. Laurie Pocock says:

        Being a ex Comprehensive School boy does not equip me to answer all of that, but I would just say that by being able to criticise his own national culture without being imprisoned or worse shows the good side of England.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Laurie Pocock, I remember doing Macbeth in O Grade English class in my Scottish comprehensive.

          Ah, but art was tongue-tied by authority in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical times. Play scripts were pre-censored. In fact, there was draconian censorship at the time, aggressively applied by Crown, local authorities and Church. For example, the Bishop’s Ban of 1599:

          Playwrights risked jail, and copies of banned plays (like The Isle of Dogs) were apparently destroyed. Shakespeare’s contemporary Ben Johnson did spend time in prison.

          No, it was the artful way of exposing and analysing the politics of the time that was the great contribution of Shakespearean plays, although if you were dim enough and unfamiliar with the medium of drama you could even mistake them for ‘Tudor propaganda’, apparently. Elizabeth-1 eventually twigged (“I am that Richard!”).

        2. SleepingDog says:

          Sorry, forgot the punchline (pressure of football). In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, the character of the Duke of Cornwall is unusually, irremediably evil. Yet the hero who rises to oppose him is not another noble or scion, but an unnamed (presumably also Cornish) servant who has served him all his life. Act 3 scene 7:
          First Servant:
          Hold your hand, my lord:
          I have served you ever since I was a child;
          But better service have I never done you
          Than now to bid you hold.

          This is pretty potent stuff, and when processed, a threat to the established order.

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