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23.12.08

Cornish tickbox for 2011 UK census campaign update

It seems that there are no plans to include a Cornish tick box option on the 2011 UK census; Mebyon Kernow provide full details here


There will be tick boxes for English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British. Those wishing to record themselves as Cornish will need to tick the ‘Other’ box and write in Cornish. This comes after the previous census were around 37,000 people wrote in Cornish after being first forced to deny their Britishness.


The Celtic League suggests that to boycott the census would be the most appropriate response and, whilst I can understand their anger, is this the most effective way forward?

If mass civil disobedience was on the cards with thousands across the Duchy refusing to fill out the census then perhaps, but is this going to happen? A small group of determined but ultimately ignorable individuals refusing the census will serve no purpose whatsoever.

I stand to be corrected and I'm open to other points of view on this.

Some other ideas passed to me by colleagues are as follows.


The first thing is to ascertain that the Cornish code remains on the data base so that those who identify as Cornish will be recorded as such.

The second is to ask what significant concerns there were in Wales about the lack of recognition of 'Welsh' as a separate ethnic group that differed from those raised in Cornwall, and whether it is simply a matter of numbers. What qualifying criteria merit giving the Welsh a tick-box that does not apply to the Cornish.

The third is to seek the support of the Welsh Government for the Cornish case.

The fourth is to enlist the active support of the Cornish MPs to engage with ONS to press for a review of the White Paper position - this should include a meeting with the Home Secretary.

It is folly to refuse to complete the census - firstly, because nobody will take any notice; secondly, it will reduce the number of Cornish responders; thirdly, it is too early in the game to be taking such an entrenched and defeated position. What matters is the Parliamentary Order, not the White Paper. This is the moment to exert positive, constructive pressure via MPs and the Unitary Authority.

In the end, the real criteria for determining the value of census data is whether there is a demand for the data once it is collected. Therefore, looking at page 49 of the White Paper, paragraph 3.53 lists a number of benefits of ethnic data. A polite, constructive and engaging question to all public service providers in Cornwall should ascertain the extent to which they place value upon understanding the needs of those people who describe themselves as 'Cornish' and to follow this up with a request for them to indicate to the ONS that they will find Cornish data useful, and will purchase it.

We could also press the new Unitary Authority to undertake to market the method for ticking OTHER and writing in Cornish, as ONS did in Wales in 2001 - which only produced a similar result to that achieved in Cornwall. One key point to put to the ONS is that their method (tick OTHER etc) produces a return which errs by a factor of 1:5 - this happened in both Cornwall and Wales in 2001). It is surely important for the credibility of the census that returns accurately reflect the real position; otherwise this may raise questions about the accuracy of other parts of the Census.

A constructive suggestion could be that the Welsh version of the form could be circulated in Cornwall with an alteration to the tick-box descriptor - perhaps Cornwall council might be prevailed upon to support the cost of this very minor change at the printers!



Additionally this has been passed to me:



Census outputs online consultation and blog - the next phase

The online Census Output consultation is back with a second phase based around a new website. The pilot website supported an online survey for which we received completed responses from over 500 people or organizations. We will soon be publishing the full results from the survey on the new website in stages.

Using the blog on the new website we aim to

- publish results and analysis of the online survey
- provide commentary and Census views on the findings
- allow you provide specific user feedback to Census views
- allow you to suggest topics that are new and related that you want to see discussed
- continue further detailed discussions raised in the associated forum section

As well as the blog and forum, we also hope users will edit and contribute new content as part of the Census Output wiki section. This allows both the Census Offices and Census users to contribute in a collaborative approach to developing a store of metadata and information about the Census and the output from it. Specific areas can be developed over time, including but not limited to, an initial glossary style definitions section.

How to view and join the site

The new website can be found using the same web address:
http://www.ukcensusoutputs.net/

If you have bookmarks which linked to deep subsections of the old website these are no longer valid. Similarly if you were registered with the old site, and wish to log in to the new one, you will need to re-register.

Anyone can view most areas of this site, but joining and logging in lets you contribute, either by adding comments to specific pages, replying to or starting forum threads, editing existing page content, or authoring new pages. Joining also provides benefits such as regular email alerts with news about significant site additions and updates.

You can find out how to join here:
http://www.ukcensusoutputs.net/system:join

We hope users will find this continued online approach to consultation useful and appropriate, and encourage users to join and contribute freely to all areas of the site. Continued and engaged use and contributions from users will help to inform us in making decisions about continuing the online approach in the future, and all feedback from users and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

22.12.08

Cornish Research Network

Just like to plug a new venture coming from the Institute of Cornish Studies called the Cornish Research Network (CRN). The network was created to encourage research on contemporary Cornwall and to bridge the gap between academic and policy communities in Cornwall.

They organise seminars on the second Thursday of every other month. Forthcoming seminars include;

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 - Aaron Cooper (Huddersfield University)
Cornwall, Identity and Sustainability

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 - Julie Tamblin, Transition in Cornwall

Thursday July 9th, 2009 - Harriet Hawkins, David Harvey and Nicola Thomas (University of Exeter) The Politics of Identity in the Cultural Industries in the Southwest.

Some past works include Cornish Nationalism by Jade Farrington and Perceptions of Cornwall and economic impacts by Joanie Willett.

Good to see academics trying to engaging with policy makers. With this in mind I'd just like to highlight some possibilities for Cornish input that the CRN, or any of our other Cornish organisations, might be interested in.

First there is the European Citizens' Consultation. The European Citizens’ Consultations 2009 (ECC 2009) will bring together citizens from all 27 EU Member States to discuss - with each other and then with policy-makers - some of the key challenges facing the EU. ECC 2009 will focus on the issues which are currently of greatest concern to EU citizens in the run-up to the 2009 European elections. In doing so, ECC 2009 is seeking to answer the question: “What can the EU do to shape our economic and social future in a globalised world?”

Next the left of centre think tank Compass is inviting policy proposals to be submitted and debated on the site How to Live in the 21st Century and at meetings around the country. The proposals will then be voted on by the Compass membership - forming the policy priorities for the organisation to campaign on.

If anyone is interested in fighting the Cornish corner and making the case for devolution, equality or any other issue then there are two opportunities.

Finally as an after thought, and for those working in the Social sector in the Duchy, there is the Social Platform an alliance of representative European federations and networks of non-governmental organisations. The Social Platform and its members are committed to the advancement of the principles of equality, solidarity, non discrimination and the promotion and respect of fundamental rights for all within Europe and in particular the European Union. The Social Platform promotes social justice and participatory democracy by voicing the concerns of its member organisations.

19.12.08

Celtic World

Pan-Celtic projects spring into existence in regions of Celtic immigration around the world, but for all their good intentions they often seem to be rather ephemeral, and leave me thinking that there is much potential going untapped.

Some recent examples I can think of include: the Assemblée Celtique in Brittany, the Celtic Alliance of America and the United Celtic Brotherhood of Australia. I'm sure there are many other examples both past and present.

Do the Celtic League and Celtic Congress have strong and active branches in these places that could welcome the people involved in the above and give them more constructive and permanent channels for their valuable efforts? Perhaps what we need to see is the effort that has gone into these projects going into running active League and Congress branches instead.

When the Cornish Fighting Fund kicked off would it not have been great to see established and well organised Australian, US, South African and Canadian branches of the League acting as the focal point for the mobilisation of support in each of these places?

The news that the League is looking into acquiring NGO status with the UN is great but is it doing enough to attract and organise the Celts and their sympathisers from the new world? As always it comes down to a question of manpower and time I suppose. I note also that the Cornish branch of the Celtic Congress is calling for people to help and looking especially to attract younger generations.

Volunteers needed!

18.12.08

Devolution Question should be discussed UK-wide, not just by Scottish elites

An article here from Unlock Democracy which I think is spot on.



“Like the Calman Commission, we strongly believe that Scottish devolution has been a great success. The rest of the UK would benefit from greater devolution and decentralisation as well.

“However, the implications of furthering Scottish devolution affect the whole of the UK, not just Scotland. There is a real danger that if it looks at Scottish devolution in isolation of the wider constitutional settlement, the conclusions of the Calman Commission could prove to be even more divisive than the status quo.

“Sadly the First Report suggests this may well happen. For example, it warns against greater financial autonomy on the grounds that it would lead to less ’shared social citizenship.’ That may be true in Scotland but the experience suggests that, if anything, the lack of financial autonomy is causing resentment in England and goes to the heart of Tam Dalyell’s West Lothian Question. Fundamentally, we believe this to be a false dichotomy; a fairer and more transparent financial settlement will be good for Anglo-Scottish relations on both sides of the border.

“Finally, the competition between the Calman Commission and the Scottish Government’s own National Conversation is divisive and will potentially lead to a stalemate. Neither review has shown much interest in engaging the public beyond the usual suspects. Unlock Democracy continues to call for a Scottish-wide Convention lead by citizens, not the great and the good, feeding into a wider process involving people from across the UK.”

So when do the Cornish get the chance to debate their constitutional arrangements? Was the petition of 50,000 signatures not enough to spark the process. Did we ever really have a choice about Unitary status? Is it right that the Duchy, which can still meddle in Cornish politics, exists beyond the law? The Scottish get two constitutional commissions in what can only be described as a political competition yet the Cornish along with the people of England get nothing except ignored.

13.12.08

Awen and Cornish National Cinema.

the cultivation of a sustainable independent media industry in Cornwall and to support the community in which we live and work...

.......is one of the great aims of the social enterprise media production company based in West Cornwall called Awen. If no one is going to do it for the Cornish, if no one is going to give us recognition then it's up to us to take what we need and organise ourselves.

You can find out much more about the Cornish film industry at the website for the Cornwall Film Festival.

Below is a short youtube documentary about the the Cornish National Cinema.

The Cornish question in debate on BBC Radio Cornwall

This in from the people behind the -This is NOT England- website.



If you missed the live debate on the Laurence Reed show Radio Cornwall you can listen to it here: Cornish Nationalism debate on BBC Radio Cornwall

The two hour debate included guests John Angarrack, Historian, author and Director of Cornwall 2000; Dick Cole leader of Mebyon Kernow and Phillip Payton from the Institute of Cornish studies.

Many Cornish issues were covered including The Duchy, The Cornish Fighting Fund, Cornish recognition, getting Cornish History and language into schools and the Cornish Assembly question.

The radio Cornwall team had been out on the streets of Cornwall asking the public about Cornish identity and whether Cornish history and language should be taught in Cornish schools - the results were very positive.

Callers were then invited to phone in. Nigel Hicks called and spoke on behalf of the
Cornish Stannary Parliament, Graham Hart urged people to pledge to the CFF and talked about how he first found out that he was Cornish not English. Other callers included Mike Paynter the deputy Grand Bard of the Gorseth.



I particularly liked the metaphor used by one caller of a large extended family to describe national affinities. For example you can be born into a family (nation) but equally you can be adopted. Equally the debate between Philip Payton and Dick Cole concerning the Unitary Authority was an interesting start but really needs to be thrashed out. Is the Unitary a solid basis on which to build an assembly or is it a step in the other direction?

9.12.08

Taking Liberties / Cornish Independence at the British Library







How to vote for greater Cornish self rule with the new British Library -Taking Liberties - interactive website.

The homepage for the site is here: Taking Liberties :: home

To vote however you must visit the interactive section here: British Library - Taking Liberties Wait for the flashy introduction to pass and then click on the 'UNITED KINGDOM?' option at the top of the page. You will then be given the option of 'CORNISH INDEPENDENCE' amongst others. Click on this and you will have some presentations as well as some opinions to vote on.

The English devolution option is also worth a look as are many other issues in other sections.

It's not the best presentation of the Cornish question I've seen and, suprise suprise, the word 'duchy' isn't used once, but it's better than nothing.

8.12.08

A Europe of Regions

A quick note to bring to your attention the Committee of the Regions (CoR) a political assembly that provides local and regional authorities with a voice at the heart of the European Union.



"A new sustainable governance model to build "Europe in Partnership" can only be achieved with the active involvement and institutional recognition of Europe’s regions. Thus, once the Lisbon Treaty is in force, the devolution of legislative powers within Member States to sub-national levels must be taken into account at European level. Multi-level governance has to become the foundation of Europe's good governance,"

Centralisation cannot be the basis for an effective Europe - Europe needs a new Masterplan; read more here.

The Welsh language has also made its debut within the European Union at the CoR. Perhaps it’s to be followed by the other UK regional languages including Cornish?



Despite English becoming ever more present in the working and personal life of millions of EU citizens, the United Kingdom is rich in regional languages, from Cornwall to Shetland. It is therefore appropriate that in 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue; the CoR will recognise this and grant special status to the UK regional languages.

At the initiative of the UK government, the CoR Bureau on 25 November took a decision that will allow languages that are officially recognised in the UK to be spoken in CoR meetings. Just as with Basque and Catalan, the cost of interpretation, and translation of documents on request, will be borne by the UK Government.

The first beneficiary is expected to be Welsh. Welsh and English have the same status in Wales, where about one-in-five of the population speak it. At present there is just one Welsh speaker in the Committee of the Regions, alternate member Nerys Evans (Plaid Cymru), who is a member of the National Assembly for Wales. Local councils and the Welsh Assembly issue their literature and publicity in Welsh versions, and most road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh.


Original article here.

6.12.08

Cape of Strangers indeed!

Cornwallia: Penisula of Foreigners.
The Atlas of True Names has us down as the Cape of Strangers. After having grown up in Glasney I can confirm the appropriateness of this designation.

30.11.08

No Modern European Democracy without Gender Equality

A very worthwhile campaign and one that should be fully supported by the Cornish movement.


Do you think that women and men should be equally represented in all European Union institutions? Join the 50/50 Campaign! SIGN NOW and TAKE ACTION!

In 2009, Europeans will elect a new European Parliament and a new European Commission will be appointed. These elected and nominated persons are going to shape our future in Europe, and the “50/50 Campaign for Democracy” aims to ensure that women and men are equally represented among them. Many prominent persons from across Europe have already given their wholehearted support to the EWL 50/50 Campaign.

20.11.08

Peter Tatchell on the Cornish question

As is to be expected the moment the Cornish question gets a fair crack at the whip on the -comment is free- blogs section of the Guardian website I loose all internet connection.....

Anyway here is a summary of the action.

Peter Tatchell kicked off the fun with his fantastic article- Self-rule for Cornwall. Once again a hundred thanks Peter for helping to raise awareness of the Cornish question. We can expect more from this direction soon...

This was responded to with a terribly sensible piece from Cornish MP Mathew Taylor- Cornwall needs a revolution, not a divorce. Undoubtedly we need a revolution in our governmental arrangements but why ignore the national minority status issue Mr. Taylor? Do the Cornish not have a right to recognition? A revolution yes but are our Liberal Democrat MPs and LD controlled local government actually doing ANYTHING to bring this about? Last time I looked they had reneged on their promise to campaign for a Cornish assembly and where trying to push an unwanted Unitary authority on to Cornwall. On the same track Dick Coles response on his blog is very illuminating.

Finally a synthesis of the above two articles appeared on the Our Kingdom blog under the title - The Case for Cornwall. Only really interesting for the comments it attracted from English nationalists and regionalists.

Cornish Culture & Cornish Environment; same combat?

As a follow up to the original article (see below) here is a relevent Celtic League press release.

CELTIC LEAGUE - PRESS INFORMATION

LEAGUE GS MEETS UN CLIMSAT DIRECTOR

The Director of the new United Nations CLIMSAT centre in Brest, Breizh (Brittany) said on the weekend that the future of the Breton environment lay in the autonomy of Brittany.

Alain Retière, who heads up the CLIMSAT centre, was speaking at l'Union Démocratique Bretonne/ Unvaniezh Demokratel Breizh (UDB) annual conference on Sunday (9th November 2008). Mr Retière said that Breizh was one of the areas of the world that was potentially at risk from the affects of global warming and that efforts needed to be undertaken in order to pre-empt and reduce the risk of damage as a result of global warming.

The new centre will seek to help regions better understand and anticipate the effects of climate change on their territories through the use of satellite images. In his address Mr Retière also spoke about the "First World Summit of Regions, Climate Change: Regions in Action" that took place in Saint Malo, Breizh between 29-30 October 2008. At the summit, 600 participants representing governments, regions and other local authorities gathered to discuss the central role of regional governments in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation and aimed to provide a platform for an exchange of experiences and good practices. The summit also saw 20 regional authorities and six associations of Regional Governments adopting what has been called the Saint Malo Declaration.

The Declaration, which was also signed by the Welsh Government, aims to fulfil a range of different initiatives, including calling upon States and the UN to recognize and support the role of regional governments in the promotion of sustainable development and the efficient response to climate change.

Speaking to the League's General Secretary (GS) after the talk, Mr Retière explained that the Welsh Government were very interested in the work of CLIMSAT and were eager to become more involved.

CLIMSAT is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiative set up through its Energy and Environment Group (EEG). It is supported by the Breton regional authorities and in collaboration with the Conseil régional de Bretagne.

Original article below:

A report here from UNESCO -Links Between Biological and Cultural Diversity- that should be of interest to all those who consider protecting Cornish culture along with its beautiful and fragile environment as part of the same combat. A question already posed by some in the Duchy is do we need to consider cultural and environmental protection as inextricably linked issues? Ought we try and instill in our children a respect for our cultural heritage hand in hand with a love for its environment?

I have reproduced the foreword from the document below:

Diversity—the rich tapestry of Life’s intricately interlaced phenomena, processes, and relationships—is being degraded by modern reductionist forces of homogenization. The fabric of interdependent and mutually reinforcing strands of biological, cultural, linguistic, and institutional diversities has frayed, as the world has become increasingly brittle and less resilient.

At a time when the environmental and social consequences of human-induced changes have become increasingly severe, there is a growing recognition that humankind, as Albert Einstein observed, “cannot solve problems in the same way of thinking that led to their creation.” A new way of thinking, a paradigm shift, is required to sufficiently improve the nature of our relationship with the world.

Recent years have seen the emergence of integrative fields of inquiry (resilience thinking, ecosystem health, ethnoecology, deep ecology, etc.) that have sought to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between culture and nature, to incorporate insights from both the biological and the social sciences, and to integrate traditional and local knowledge systems and worldviews with conventional scientific approaches.

Over the last decade, the Biocultural Diversity paradigm has emerged as a unifying platform rooted in life-sustaining interdependencies and coevolution of various forms of diversity. Academic ethnobiology has legitimized the vital link between culture and nature and highlighted the need to save the wealth of biodiversity-related traditional knowledge, wisdom, and practices that for millennia have been maintained by indigenous peoples.

The recent advances in the field of biocultural research and practice—grounded in the variety of knowledge systems, values, beliefs, and know-how that have persisted among diverse human societies—have important implications for the practice of biodiversity and cultural conservation. This increase in practical expertise in the development and application of biocultural approaches raises the need to address key theoretical and practical challenges in applying Biocultural Diversity paradigm.

Exploring the links between biological and cultural diversity, the current UNESCO report is an important step in that direction. The report frames the issues for future research and decision-making agendas, critical for the success of global eff orts to reverse global trends of loss in diversity and resilience.

Gleb Raygorodetsky
Program Officer,
Global Biocultural Wisdom & Practice

9.11.08

The exclusion of Cornwall from the Marine Stewardship project and the Marine Communities Fund of the Crown Estate

An interesting question has been raised by the Stannary Parliament here. If the Crown Estate, as ultimate owner, is responsible for the foreshore and natural coastline of England then who currently takes responsibilty for the protection of the Cornish foreshore considering that the Duchy of Cornwall is the ultimate owner of said foreshore? The Duchy certainly doesn't seem to!

Article in this weeks St. Ives Times and Echo:

Although most of the foreshore around the UK is crown property this is not the case in Cornwall where the rights have been ceded to The Duchy of Cornwall: "The Crown Estate has no holdings within the boundaries of Cornwall. Foreshore and other properties that would, in most Counties, be the property of the Crown Estate are, in Cornwall, not owned by the Crown Estate," confirmed Tim Riley, the Crown Estate Librarian, in January 2005.

Under the Articles of Agreement between the Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall, made law by the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1958, the mineral rights beneath the foreshore were assigned to the Duke of Cornwall. The legal position was confirmed: "The Duchy of Cornwallis vested in the Prince of Wales (who is) entitled to the annual income," by the Prime Minister and recorded in Hansard (27 March 1996).

In its complaint to GOSW the Stannary Parliament claims that "The Duke of Cornwall does not offer a Marine Stewardship Project or a Marine Communities Fund as might be reasonably be expected of the owner of the foreshore of Cornwall in light of the Crown Estates example."

"Recent meetings of the "Save our Sand Hayle" and the "Hayle Towans Partnership"
have expressed serious concern at the accelerating depletion of sand caused by commercial exploitation, yet have not contacted the Crown Estate or the Duchy of Cornwall as a landowner," writes E.R. Nute, keeper of the Stannary Parliament's seal.

In it's lengthy letter, which quotes many legal extracts drawing attention to the Duchy's ownership of Cornwall's foreshore, the Parliament complains that: "Clear administrative responsibilities are, however, not immediately apparent," and adds that Cornwall County Council is expected, "Not to take away any of the rights, powers, privelidges or authority of the Duchy of Cornwall, under section 50 of the Cornwall County Council Act 1981."

As a consequence the Stannary Parliament is asking GOSW: "Who is legally responsible for ensuring the protection and survival of the foreshore and natural coastline of Cornwall in compliance with European Union Decisions and Directives....?"




We can only welcome and applaud the recent call from Peter Tatchell for a full and public investigation into the nature of the Duchy of Cornwall.

8.11.08

Indigenous peoples and the left

Many are those from the far left that attack progressive nationalist movements Western Europe. Next time you meet one of them why not throw this back at them?

"The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation.... The proletariat demands a democracy that rules out the forcible retention of any one of the nations within the bounds of the state."

Lenin, National Liberation

The following is taken from the Socialist Unity blog


Interview with veteran Peruvian Marxist Hugo Blanco, conducted by Yásser Gómez for Mariátegui magazine, September 9, 2008. Translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

“The Self-organised Legislative Coup of the FTA [Free Trade Agreement], Indigenous Peoples and Social Movements” was the name of the national gathering of originario [indigenous] peoples, peasant communities and social movements that took place in Lima. There Mariátegui magazine interviewed Hugo Blanco, who in the 1970s led land takeovers in La Convención, Cusco, before the agrarian reform of Juan Velasco Alvarado was implemented. Today he continues in political combat from the trenches together with the peasantry, and as director of the newspaper Lucha Indigena (Indigenous Struggle).

What is your analysis of the Peruvian indigenous movement?

Hugo Blanco: I believe that it is on the rise, as it is in Bolivia and Mexico. Although I should admit that in Peru, we are a bit behind, but it isn’t because we are cowards, or clumsy. It’s just that here we have suffered twenty years of internal war, where close to 70,000 people have been killed, the greater part of them indigenous, including many of their leaders. That is why we are behind, but we are – let’s say — catching up and this isn’t accidental. Because it’s due to the fact that two fundamental pillars of our culture that have been attacked over 500 years, have never suffered with such intensity as they are suffering now. These are solidarity and collectivism. Now that they trying to destroy the communities, praising neoliberal individualism. That’s why, we feel more attacked than ever. And on the other hand there is also the assault on nature, because across the whole continent our indigenous culture is respectful of Mother Earth, for example Mapuche means Child of the Earth. That’s why, the indigenous movement reacts, moreover, in rejection of the latest legislative decrees that destroy the community, with which [the government] wants to hand over the lands to multinational companies, so, it is natural that the indigenous movement responds to that.

Do you think [Bolivian President] Evo Morales is taking the correct road in his conciliatory attitude with the separatist oligarchy of the “half moon’’ [provinces in eastern Bolivia] or do you think he should be more tough with them?

I believe that he cedes a lot, he says that he wants to avoid bloodshed and that’s why he tries to reconcile with the oligarchy, but they don’t want to reconcile at all. Then, each act of his, more or less conciliatory, is taken as a triumph by his enemies and in this way they advance further. This has been seen in many cases, for example having the Constituent Assembly have to get two thirds [majority to approve the draft constitution].After that, until now, Morales hasn’t convoked the referendum for the Constituent Assembly, when there was the abuse of the indigenous people in Sucre and as a response the indigenous proposed the takeover of highways, and Evo said don’t do that. When he called on the people to go to Santa Cruz and impede the referendum, the people were ready and later he said perhaps it’s better not to go. So, the whole thing of saying something and then easing off afterwards frustrates the people and these frustrated people are dangerous. We have seen that despite this, and the existence of some ultraleft sectors that have called for a vote to remove Evo, such as Pukara magazine and the leadership of the COB [Bolivian Workers Central], Evo Morales obtained more votes than the 53% he won in the presidential elections of 2005. We have to condemn those ultraleft sectors that stupidly called for a vote to remove Evo. Because if Evo leaves, who will come in? It wasn’t the COB that was going to enter into government, or the editors of Pukara, or El Mallku [Felipe Quispe], it was going to be the Santa Cruz oligarchy that would have got in and done the same thing that Pinochet did in Chile.

Do you think the thoughts of
José Carlos Mariátegui continue to be valid for the struggle of the originario peoples in Latin America?

In Peru all the left self-defines itself as Mariateguist, but it seems that none of these Mariateguists have read The Seven Interpretive Essays of the Peruvian Reality, Mariátegui’s fundamental work, in which two of his essays are dedicated to the indigenous issue: “
The Indian Problem” and “The Problem of Land”. And they completely ignore the indigenous problem, that’s why, together with some comrades, we have started to publish the newspaper Lucha Indigena. And with these latest legislative decrees proposed by the APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana — American Revolutionary Popular Alliance) government, once again we are seeing what Maríategui said, that the problem of the Indian is the problem of land.

How involved are the police authorities with the drug trafficking in the coca-growing zone of La Convención in Cusco?

I have denounced in the pages of Lucha Indigena and on the radio, that in La Convención [the coca-growing zone of Cusco] they are manufacturing cocaine and the producers are the police chiefs of the zone and directors of ENACO (National Coca Company). I said that if that was a slander, that they prosecute me for that reason. And nobody said anything.I have gone to coca-growing zones like Valle del Río Apurímac y del Ene or Putina Punko (Sandia - Puno) and nobody has bothered me, but in (San Luis) La Convención when one travels by public transport and takes a few coca leaves to chew, they take it from you. In this area there are 18 soaking pools in order to produce cocaine. Nobody from the disinformation media dared to denounce it. Given I worked with the comrades from that district, who are growers of Huyro tea, they informed me about this.I went to confirm it, but the police didn’t let me enter that zone. I said to them: “I just came to see the soaking pools”. They replied to me: “The general has prohibited people from seeing those pools.” And those from ENACO, together with the police, are the ones that take coca leaves just metres from those pools.Once again, I want to denounce, through Maríategui magazine, that the heads of ENACO and of the police are the cocaine producers. Moreover, ENACO is a monopoly, the Political Constitution of Peru, in article 61, prohibits monopolies, it doesn’t specify any exception, such as if they are state or private. So it’s an unconstitutional organisation that buys coca leaves at a low price and sells them for four times as much. When the Andean parliament member and coca-grower leader Elsa Malpartida visited Putina Punko in 2007, the coca growers from the zone asked her for a tractor from the mayor, to destroy a landing strip that was used by drug traffickers. Who had constructed that air field? DEVIDA, the state organisation that supposedly fights against the illegal trafficking of drugs.

What is your analysis of the anti-drugs policy of the Alan García government?

This policy of APRA serves North American interests, who with the justification of fighting the production of cocaine, puts its army in our territory. Because they are interested in political and military control over that big source of hydrocarbons that is the Peruvian Amazon, the biodiversity and above all the water of the Amazon. Just as the pretext in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction, here the pretext is drug trafficking. Although they say that it is a humanitarian plan, that’s why they redeployed the US 4th Fleet that patrols the waters of the Caribbean.

Does Marxism have relevance as a tool for the struggles of the Peruvian people?

The fundamental thing that I learned from Marx is dialectical materialism. And I continue to use dialectical materialism, although there are many things with which I disagree with Marx. Because for Marx no human being is perfect, for Marx there were no bibles, reality is worth more than a thousand books, all of this is why I’m a Marxist. Besides, given that I’m a dialectical materialist, I understand that people suffer from the pressures of their environment and their time. That’s why I understand that he also suffered from Eurocentric pressures. For example he said that the conquest of India by the English had been a progressive act and that it brought them closer to capitalism. I don’t agree with that. I don’t like to define myself as Marxist, because it isn’t a religion. But I have a lot to be grateful for to Marx, because he taught me dialectical materialism. And by being dialectical I know that the American reality is different to Europe. That’s why I try to interpret American reality as an American. Therefore, for me, there isn’t any contradiction between my indigenous struggle and dialectical materialism.

7.11.08

Power and Participation in Cornwall


Just to bring to your attention this exellent report produced by the Democratic Audit in Febuary of this year:- Power and Participation in Modern BritianReproduced below are their comments and conclusions on local/regional democracy.



Comments on local democracy


As we have shown above (see Part 2), ‘local governance’ is scarcely local at all. In the first instance, local authorities are too large to be close to their local populations.

Secondly, they are over-dependent on central government financing which is available subject to central government policy prescriptions and strict financial controls.

Thirdly, powerful quangos at national and regional level determine major policies along with larger local authorities in remote high-level ‘partnerships’ above the heads of smaller authorities; and quangos at all levels determine huge swathes of local priorities and distribute resources accordingly. .

Gordon Brown has committed himself to ‘change’ in Britain’s constitutional arrangements. Nowhere in the state is ‘change’ more essential than at local and regional level. To make a reality of greater participation, especially over major decisions as promised in the governance green paper, we recommend a fundamental reversal of existing policies towards local government and the quango state so that local authorities can be made considerably more autonomous in terms of their policies, revenues and expenditure and protected against constant central government intervention. Otherwise, the government’s proposals will raise people’s expectations too high for existing local authorities to respond to their wishes, except on the margins.

Take participatory budgeting. Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State, has suggested that minor local decisions – for parks, play areas, ASBO policies and the like – would be open to participatory budgeting. Her proposals throw into relief a striking contrast between Britain’s weak and remote local authorities and Porto Alegre, the Brazilian city that pioneered participatory budgeting.

A World Bank Social Development Note states that municipalities in Brazil like Porto Alegre have ‘considerable autonomy over their revenues (raised from local taxes, tariffs and federal transfers) and expenditures’ (1) – and it is this autonomy that makes participatory budgeting there meaningful. The World Bank note and other sources describe a sophisticated annual budgeting cycle with three distinct levels of citizen engagement through popular assemblies at regional and neighbourhood area, regional budget forums and the municipal budget council. Every citizen has the right to be directly involved through electing a representative to the neighbourhood assembly.

Decisions are usually based on needs criteria and direct negotiations between neighbourhood forums that go on to monitor implementation. The budgeting process decided major regional decisions on transportation; education, leisure and culture; health and social welfare; economic development and taxation; and city organisation, as well as neighbourhood decisions. (2)

The proposal for a concordat between central government and the Local Government Association seems to recognise the need for government to give authorities more autonomy. However, the way in which it is framed in the green paper places far more responsibility upon local authorities to satisfy central government than for central government to give formal recognition to local autonomy.

We recommend that as part of its moves towards a written constitution the government hold a public debate about giving local government constitutional protection on the European model and create strong and self confident local authorities according to the criteria of the European Charter for Local Self Government.

We have already emphasised the basic principle that consultative and participatory processes should take place within the structures of representative democracy. Direct democracy ought to be complementary to representative democracy and should not be allowed to replace it.


1 Social Development Notes, Case Study 2 – PortoAlegre, Brazail: Participatory Approaches in Budgeting and Public Expenditure Management, siteresources.worldbank.ng/INTPCENG/1143372-1116506093229/20511036/sdn71.pdf


2 World Bank Social Development Note, opcit; .Chavez Minos, D., ‘Porto Alegre, Brazil: A new sustainable and replicable model of participatoryand democratic governance?, www.tni.org/archives/chavez/portoalegre.pdf ; Smith, G., Democratic Innovations: A Report for POWER, February 2005, www.powerinquiry.org

2.11.08

The New Economics Foundation

Following the previous post here's introducing a think tank recently discovered called the New Economics Foundation. Interesting stuff for the Cornish movement no doubt.



UK needs ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle ‘triple crunch’ of credit, oil price and climate crises; for the article click here. The below is taken from the nef triple crunch blog.



Local resilience is the key to well-being

29 October, 2008 in
thriving communities, by Josh Ryan-Collins

In the name of “modernisation”, the government has insisted on competitive commissioning, a narrow focus on financial efficiency savings, and investment through the private finance initiative (PFI) that builds up long-term debts. It has shown a strong preference for large, aggregated contracts. In other words, public services have been subject to the same blind faith in market forces as the rest of the economy.

The failure of unregulated markets will take a double toll on public services. A recession means fewer taxes to pay the bills. And the market “rules” that have been reshaping the public sector now threaten their long-term viability.

But crisis brings opportunity. Public services will have to find new ways to create real value. One way is to develop service models that deliver multiple benefits in the short term, and build future resilience. There are plenty of examples that show how this could be done…
Continue reading…

Or take a look at
Time Banking, Transition Towns or Co-production nef’s manifesto for growing the core economy.

Josh Ryan-Collins works on sustainable procurement and commissioning at nef.

26.10.08

Cornwall and the Credit Crunch

The Party for Cornwall 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.

From Mebyon Kernows' core values.


I can remember poorly defending the economic policies of Mebyon Kernow on Cornwall 24 against various conservatives and born again Nu Labour neo-liberals, but has the credit crunch and subsequent flurry of state interventionism vindicated MKs stance? Common were the mocking attacks on MKs 'outdated socialist policies', but don't these criticisms just seem a little hollow now? Perhaps they were nothing more than the wrong headed protestations of the last of Thatcher’s’ followers.

With governments around the globe stepping in to nationalize banks in order to prevent total economic meltdown and plans afoot to re-found capitalism, Keynesian economics seems to be back with avengeance. Certainly the Nobel Peace Prize for Economics going to Paul Krugman is a strong statement in favor of limited government intervention in the economy.

Perhaps we cannot find fault with Priminister Browns handling of the current crisis but we can certinaly criticise New Labours’ and the Conservatives’, up until recently that is, fixation with total economic liberalism and the financial industry.

Labour crowing that the crisis is a strong argument against Scottish Independence also rings of desperate opportunism considering it is partly due to their policies, and not those of Plaid, the SNP or MK, that have dropped us all in the shite.

18.10.08

Isles of Scilly Link Project

Please find below a copy of a question received from Neil Plummer to be answered at County Council on 7 October 2008 by Matt McTaggart, Strategic Planning and Transport Portfolio-Holder:-

I realise that links between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland are an important economic and strategic service to maintain, however, in many ways the Islanders still live in a feudal society – many tenants will never have the same rights as those on the mainland.

The Scillies are owned entirely by the Duke of Cornwall and sub let by the Duchy of Cornwall and it is often alleged that this estate is a private business.

This being said, I believe that the people of Cornwall and the taxpayers are being asked to fund the Isles of Scilly Link Project i.e. public money is being spent on subsidising the private business of the Duchy of Cornwall at a disproportionate level, especially when the Duchy of Cornwall is recording high levels of income.

Will you identify how much the Duchy of Cornwall will fund the Isles of Scilly Link Scheme, including the percentage of the total to be spent and why this total is justifiably so low when the Duchy of Cornwall is a private business earning very high levels of income?

I have heard that the grant from state tax payers is £23.84 million but would be interested to know how much the Cornwall County Council taxpayers will be contributing.

I am not criticising the need for the Link Scheme but only that the Duchy of Cornwall being the main beneficiary to their business should pay more towards the scheme, especially when they make so much profit each year.

Reply: David Whalley (in the absence of Matt McTaggart)

The Isles of Scilly inhabitants do not live in a feudal society. The Duchy of Cornwall is regulated in law by Acts of Parliament and the Duchy tenants have the same rights as those on the mainland. The only exception relates to some of the off islands and ‘The Garrison’ on St.Mary’s where the Government decided for heritage purposes to retain the land in a single ownership.

Of the 1150 residential properties on the Isles of Scilly only 350 are owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the 70% majority is in freehold ownership.

The £23.84m proposed funding for the harbour works at Penzance and St.Mary’s has been conditionally approved by the Department for Transport. This is a central government investment to sustain the community and economy of the Isles of Scilly and West Penwith.

If the Duchy of Cornwall was to contribute capital to the project for St.Mary’s quay improvements its only source is the Treasury. The Treasury would seek a return on that investment requiring increased harbour dues and costs to Duchy tenants. This would be contrary to the fundamental reasons for the project.

The Duchy of Cornwall operates the St.Mary’s harbour at a loss. It subsidises the harbour from its revenue accounts for the benefit of all islanders not just the 30% who are Duchy tenants.

The current development stage of the project is estimated to cost £1.5m. Of that the Department for Transport will (on Full Approval) reimburse up to £0.75m, Duchy have committed £0.5m and Penwith District Council £0.1m. The County Council has committed £0.15m and at the Executive on 5 March 2008 approved Prudential borrowing to fund the DfT contribution until it is reimbursed. The Duchy of Cornwall is therefore the second largest funder, after DfT, contributing 33% of the development cost.

The County Council Executive has approved no funding towards the harbour works which is why the design team is working hard to ensure the cost of the works is within the DfT budget. The County Council has approved the principle of Prudential borrowing towards the capital cost of the new vessel for which the interest and capital payments will be recovered through the charter of the vessel to an operator, secured through competitive tender.

14.10.08

FUEN and YEN participating in the conference on the occasion of the 10 years anniversary of the Framework Convention in Strasbourg

On the occasion of the 10 years anniversary of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities on 9-10 October 2008 a conference took place at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg under the theme "Enhancing the impact of the Framework Convention: Past Experience, Present Achievements and Future Challenges", in which representatives of FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities and YEN (Youth of European Nationalities) as well as of their member organisations were participating. Read more here.

Preparatory meeting of the European Dialogue Forum

Prior to the conference the representatives of the autochthonous, national minorities had a meeting of the autochthonous, national minorities in the European Dialogue Forum in Strasbourg/Kehl. The European Dialogue Forum is the contact body of the European minorities at the European Parliament. The first constitutive session of the European Dialogue Forum with the members of the European Parliament was prepared. This meeting will take place in December 2008 in Brussels. Read more here.

12.10.08

Sustainable Communities Act update

TAKE ACTION - WRITE TO YOUR COUNCILLORS TODAY!



We need people to write to their councillors today to put pressure on them to opt-in to the act. Over on the Unlock Democracy website you will find all the information you need, including information about the Act itself, reasons why councils should "opt-in" and a sample letter (although we encourage you to write to them in your own words as it will be more effective). It should only take you a few minutes to write to them and if enough people do it, they will make a huge different.

The Sustainable Communities Act came about because of a five year campaign built by ordinary people. As it happens, it could not have come at a more crucial time. If you want a say in how your local community should adapt to the changing economic circumstances caused by the global financial meltdown, make sure you write to your councillors today.


Historic coalition launches call for councils to seize opportunity to demand new powers


Credit crunch makes "opting in" to Sustainable Communities Act crucial, says Unlock Democracy

Today (14 October), Hazel Blears will invite councils to ‘opt in’ to the Sustainable Communities Act. 57 of the UK's leading voluntary and representative organisations, from the Association of Chief Police Officers to the Campaign for Real Ale, have written to the leaders and chief executives of every council in England today, asking them to seize this opportunity. Their letter will be unveiled today by Unlock Democracy Campaigns Director at a special conference about the Act being held by the Local Government Association in Westminster.

The Act enables councils and their communities working co-operatively to get government help to assist them in reversing the decline of local services, dealing with fuel poverty, protecting the environment and obtaining greater involvement in civic activity. As part of the process they will also be able to formally request specific powers, currently held by national government, to be devolved to them. Government then has a legal duty to reach agreement with councils and the Local Government Association on how it will help them.

Welcoming Hazel Blears' invitation to councils, Unlock Democracy's Campaigns Director Ron Bailey said:

"The Sustainable Communities Act could not have come at a more crucial time. The global economic downturn will have a huge impact on our local communities. The government's own advisers predict that recession will lead to a rise in criminal activity. Local high streets are likely to be decimated as stores are forced to close.

"If local communities are to weather this storm, they will need far more autonomy than they currently have. Local people are the experts on the problems of their areas and the solutions to them. Yet currently they are at the complete mercy of the global stock exchange. The Sustainable Communities Act will give real power to local people to protect and revive their areas."

Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey added:

"The Sustainable Communities Act is a unique piece of legislation. It became law as a result of an unprecedented bottom up campaign and creates an unprecedented bottom up way of redressing the creeping centralisation of successive governments. People have never felt more alienated from those who make decisions that affect their daily lives. Councils must opt into the Act to begin the fight back."

Originally a Private Members Bill introduced by Nick Hurd MP, the Sustainable Communities Act became law last November with full support from the Government and the Conservative and Liberal Democrat front benches. Then local government minister Phil Woolas described it as one of the most significant Private Members Bills of the past 40 years and said it could change the face of British politics.

The full text of the letter sent to local authority leaders and chief executives, including the list of signatories, can be found at the end of this news release.

ENDS

Notes:

Unlock Democracy (incorporating Charter 88) is the UK's leading campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. Local Works, the campaign which coordinated support for the Sustainable Communities Bill, is now a part of Unlock Democracy. http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/?page_id=537.
More details about the LGA Conference Selecting sustainability: the launch of the Sustainable Communities Act can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/4eqv9h
PHIL WOOLAS QUOTE

Summing up in the debate during the third reading of the Sustainable Communities Act on 15 June 2007, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said:

"In the past 40 years, three Members have passed private Members' Bills of significant substance through this House. The first was Sidney Silverman, whose Bill led to the abolition of capital punishment in this country, and the second was the right hon. David Steel, whose Bill led to this country's abortion laws. Many other Members have got private Members' Bills through—indeed, I got one through in 1997. It took me about 10 minutes because it was a handout Bill and nobody noticed it. The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood has had to spend months getting his Bill through.

"I genuinely believe that the Bill will change the relationships in British politics. I do not think that it will achieve everything that the promoter and sponsors claim for it, but it will change the relationships. Although it will not grab the headlines as much as Sidney Silverman's Bill or David Steel's, it will contribute enormously to British politics, and I am proud to be the Minister who helped it through Parliament."

Source:
http://tinyurl.com/3w9yz6
TEXT OF LETTER TO LOCAL AUTHORITY LEADERS AND CHIEF EXECUTIVES

As organisations that supported the campaign for the Sustainable Communities Act we write to ask you to please ‘opt in’ to the new process in the Act when invited to by central government this October.

The Act deals with a major problem – the ongoing decline of local shops, services, jobs, economic activity and communities. Important as this is, there is no concerted action by central government to assist councils in stopping Ghost Town Britain (as it has been called) and promote the opposite – communities and high streets that are vibrant and sustainable. The Sustainable Communities Act fills this vacuum – and even more importantly, in such a way that allows councils themselves to drive the ways in which government can help to reverse the decline, because the Act gives government a duty to assist councils (i.e. not the usual top down imposition of yet more duties on you!).

In short,

The Act enables you to put forward proposals to government on how it can help you promote ‘local sustainability’.*
All councils’ ideas will then be collated and prioritised by the Local Government Association (i.e. by your representative body, not by ‘Whitehall’).
The government is then under a duty to ‘reach agreement’ with the Local Government Association on the implementation of your suggestions. This is not just another consultation exercise: it is the very first attempt at ‘bottom-up’ government.
Additionally, the Act requires the government, for the first time, to publish a local breakdown of all public spending. You will then have the power to request and argue for centrally controlled public spending, and its related function, to be transferred to local control.

So, as we are sure you will agree, this Act presents new and exciting opportunities for you. Enclosed is a briefing giving more detail on how the Act works, the benefits and further reasons why you should choose to use it and also a draft motion for you to put before the council.

We, and our members who live in your communities, are very keen to be part of the new process in the Sustainable Communities Act. This is an opportunity to engage citizens in governance. We hope you choose to use it.

Yours sincerely,

James Lowman, Chief Executive, ACS – Association of Convenience Stores
Mike Benner, Chief Executive, CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale
Michael Lake, Director General, Help the Aged
Mike Jeram, National Secretary, UNISON
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union
Naresh Purohit, National President, National Federation of Retail Newsagents
George Thomson, General Secretary, National Federation of SubPostmasters
Fay Mansell, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Gordon Lishman, Director General, Age Concern
Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, NCVO – National Council of Voluntary Organisations
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, Communication Workers Union
Peter Marks, Chief Executive, Co-operative Group
Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace
John Wright, Chairman, FSB – Federation of Small Businesses
Andy Sawford, Chief Executive, Local Government Information Unit
Peter Facey, Director, Unlock Democracy
Ken Jones, President, Association of Chief Police Officers
Paul McKeever, Chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales
Ian Johnston, President, Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales
John Findlay, Chief Executive, National Association of Local Councils
Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive, Royal National Institute for the Blind
Adam Sampson, Chief Executive, Shelter
Michael Gelling, Chair, TAROE – Tenants and Residents Organisations of England
James Cathcart, Chief Executive, British Youth Council
Andrew Warren, Director, ACE – Association for the Conservation of Energy
Judy Lin-Wong, Director, Black Environment Network
David Harker, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice
Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, President, Country Land and Business Association
Simon Hart, Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance
Jheni Williams, Executive Director, Federation of Black Housing Organisations
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Great Britain
Andrew Pakes, Co-Chair, SERA – Socialist Environment and Resources Association
Nick Wood-Dow, Chair, Tory Green Initiative
Adam Carew, Chair, Green Lib Dems
Richard Mallender, Chair, Green Party
Frank Cooper, President, National Pensioners’ Convention
Sam Clarke, Network for Social Change
Patrick Holden, Director, Soil Association
Sue Holden, Chief Executive, Woodland Trust
Myles Bremner, Chief Executive, Garden Organic
Sylvia Brown, Chief Executive, ACRE – Action with Communities in Rural England
Ben Hughes, Chief Executive, British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres
Stephen Joseph, Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport
Paul Bodenham, Chair, Christian Ecology Link
David Tyler, Chief Executive, Community Matters – National Federation of Community Organisations
Dave Sowden, Chief Executive, Micropower Council
Stewart Wallis, Executive Director, New Economics Foundation
Tanya Kenny, Co-ordinator, Food Justice
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Living Streets
Kenneth Parsons, Chief Executive, Rural Shops Alliance
Julian Grocock, Chief Executive, SIBA – The Society of Independent Brewers
Ron Bailey, Partnership Organiser, Sustainable Energy Partnership
Phil Morgan, Chief Executive, TPAS – Tenant Participation Advisory Service
Eileen Devaney, National Co-ordinator, UK Coalition Against Poverty
Jenny Saunders, Chief Executive, National Energy Action
Jessica Mitchell, Director, Food Commission
Pat Thomas, Editor, The Ecologist

* Defined in the Act as ‘the improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of the authority’s area’ whereby ‘“social well-being” includes participation in civic and political activity’.

5.10.08

Support the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

In the latest news bulletin to be received from the European Network Against Racism I found the invitation below to NGOs involved in minority rights to voice their support for the Council of Europes Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities


I'm sure there are a few Cornish organisations that would be happy to voice support for the FCPNM and who knows, if all goes well, we could soon have a very direct interest in it. Sign the NGO Declaration on the Impact of the FCPNM

The Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. On this occasion, a conference is organised aimed at assessing the impact of this premier legal instrument for the protection of minority rights in Europe. The conference 'Assessing the Impact of the Framework Convention: Past Experience, Present Achievements and Future Challenges' will be held in Strasbourg from 9-10 October 2008.

An important component of this conference is the participation of NGOs who over the past decade have carried out work on the promotion and strengthening of the implementation of the Framework Convention.

Some 32 minority rights NGOs from the Council of Europe area have worked together and drafted a Declaration on the impact of the Framework Convention. The document will be presented at the Conference. The purpose of the Declaration is to provide a strong NGO perspective on the FCPNM's impact to date, how implementation can be strengthened, ratification expanded and greater impact secured in the future. The Declaration contains specific recommendations for a variety of stakeholders involved with the Framework Convention such as the Advisory Committee, the Council of Ministers, CoE Member States, as well as civil society organizations.

Please find the NGO Declaration in the attachment*

In order to make this document as strong as possible, we hope that other minority rights NGOs, beyond the original group which prepared the text, will join this initiative. If you support the Declaration and would like your organisation to be among its signatories, please send an email by 7 October to FCNM.conference@mrgmail.org

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

With best regards,


Human Rights Law Officer (Europe)
Minority Rights Group International
54 Commercial Street
London E1 6LT
United Kingdom
Tel. +44 (0)20 7422 4217
Fax. +44 (0)20 7422 4201

http://www.minorityrights.org/

Please note the attachment mentioned above can be found at the bottom of this web page :Click Here

4.10.08

After Greatness, everybody is small:- an essay by Tom Nairn

An essay from Tom Nairn. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see some of our Cornish academics producing similar literary dynamite? More of his work can be found here on the Open Democracy website.

In Nations and Nationalism Ernest Gellner compiled a celebrated and very influential story based on his own family and personal experiences: the supposedly typical transition from ‘Megalomania’ to assorted ‘Ruritanias’ (like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia, etc.). In other areas, Catalonia, Scotland, East Timor, Quebec, Ireland, and so on, have joined (or are still joining) during what he baptised as the age of nationalism.[1] He argued that this transition was neither willful nor avoidable, under the general circumstances of industrialization, increasingly global commerce, and market-formation. ‘Ruritanians’ (in effect, most populations around the globe enjoying what he called the ‘characteristic anthropological equipment’) found themselves driven towards statehood by the tensions of general development, which could not help being ‘unequal’ — that is, led by privileged zones and followed (either eagerly or resentfully) by the less well-placed, smaller or (for a time) ‘assimilable’ ethnies. Human cultural diversity (also a given) was far too great for any other solution to work in the longer term, as distinct from transient empires like the French, British, Austro-Hungarian, Great-German, Russian/Soviet, American or Chinese — the ‘Megalomanias’ of early-modern history, each one driven by over-reaching delusions and (usually) military ambitions inseparable from violent conflict, defeat and downfall. [2]

Though the number of new-national states was far less than that of background ethnies, it was sufficient to constitute the modern state-system of international relations, currently around two hundred (with quite a number still in formation). Gellner liked to underline how few nation-states had taken advantage of nationalism, compared to the thousands of ‘potential nations’ prior species-evolution had set going. However, he overdid the irony: not only are there plenty still being created, the process has also generated a number of ‘misfits’.

And globalization has thus far been cramped and distorted by such left-overs. That is, the residual areas and populations of ex-Megalomanes forced to abandon Bigger-is-Better, but without (so far) discovering any coherent alternative. Ex-heartlands like ‘Spain’ (Castile-Aragon), ‘England’ (United Kingdom minus its archipelago peripheries), hexagonal ‘France’ as distinct from the Bretons, Occitans and Savoiards, peninsular ‘Italy’ (famously distinct from actual ‘Italians’), Federal-Russians deprived of some of their ‘other Russias’, and Americans less concerned with leading and inspiring Mankind (along the lines favoured by Presidential candidate Obama).

Over-addicted to Greatness, such light-house populations (and above all their intellectual elites) find (e.g.) ‘little Spain’, ‘little England’, ‘isolationist’ USA etc. uninspiring. They can’t be, or seriously imitate, Ruritanias (formerly despised and mocked); Big-Lad scale-domination is no longer possible; so what version of self-government will make sense for them? The candidate that imposes itself is something like “Hanging On”, or the upkeep of appearances and discernible status, as far as possible: willful eternalization of the (relatively) recent past, when We counted for Something. What exactly? Well, if uncertainty threatens on this front, history can always be re-invented to suit (as Ruritanian intellos showed, in their day). Premier Gordon Brown has made such new-old thought a speciality, and strives to put it into practice. Umberto Eco has provided other amusing illustrations in his Putting the Clock Back. Being practical is what matters: the stable continuity of realistic scale and presence, not letting things get ‘out of hand’.[3] Security-Council rules, all the time, albeit with a safely economic bias demonstrating consciousness of ‘The Poor’ (for whom so much remains to be done).

Naturally, Globalization has been interpreted and where possible exploited by these hanging-on theatres . Suitable emphasis has to be placed on the ideology of national interest, standing, ‘achievements’ etc., ideally assisted by safe warfare, permitting emotional mobilization without too much risk of calamity, or enduring commitment: ‘surges’ are good, colonial-seeming permanence is bad. Ordinariness, smallness, non-significance, being ‘just another’ country like the so-and-so’s: that’s the destiny to be avoided at all costs. The formation of ‘Europe’ via first the Maastricht and now the Lisbon Treaties has been that of a ‘shadow’ stuffed-shirt or left-over-land, safely dominated by former big lads, either defeated or of pensionable age, and now sadly unable to keep it up on their own. This is what the Irish voters (like French and Dutch ones earlier) are against: of course they do not trust ‘Them’. They want a democratic confederation, not an old boy’s pseudo-federal club — we don’t yet know which side Gellner’s Czech Republic will come down on.

The United Kingdom under Thatcher and then Blair/Brown (1979-2010) is illustrative of the mainstream trend. The debate about ‘English nationalism’ has shown how it works in practice: preservation of the system behind a smoke-screen of think-tank-British ‘civic’ this and that.[4] Fred Halliday’s ‘sequestration’ thesis depicts how the ex-great manoeuvre to maintain possession and status, as responsible pillars of an ‘international community’ whose tenure must not be farther disturbed or upset: early-modern democracy where possible, authoritarianism where not (and in fact, the former tends to need ever-larger doses of the latter, as Bush, Zapatero, Sarkozy and Blair-Brown have all acknowledged). It is stuffed-shirt rule that remains sacred, often reinforced by be-medalled-tunic rule. The resultant international climate has proved favorable to rule by Generals, from Turkey to Taiwan, Burma and Zimbabwe — often with Generals ostensibly, if slowly, ‘moving towards’ representative government (though the latter may become dispensable as Chinese and New-Russian influences increase).

What megalomane populations need is a much stronger dose of their own medicine: the ‘democracy’ once deemed implicit in the History that refused to end in 1990. Before that, metropolitan intellectuals were always keen to persuade ethnic and other dissenters they should be practical. Wouldn’t you ordinary ‘little guys’ be better off in a larger unit than in a romantic dreamland (etc.)? Well, surely it’s time to turn such pragmatism on themselves. The ex-megalomanes will sooner or later have to think of their own smaller futures, as English, little-Russian, North Italians, or whatever. In relation to globality, everybody is rather small, even the Chinese. It can no longer be perceived as something following capitalist evolution, or naturally ‘building itself up’ via a more prosperous and self-conscious bourgeoisie. Authoritarian capitalism seems quite capable of fostering a middle class aspiring to lead and rule simultaneously, by self-reproduction of authority (whether via a Party, or other institutional vehicles). Nations no longer need an inherited rabble, ‘mobilized’ by ethnic (or would-be ethnic, or pseudo-ethnic) solidarity: that corresponded to Gellner’s conception of forced scale, the accompaniment of first-round industrialization. Second-round (post-Cold War, ‘globalized’) industrialization and re-industrialization needs no such demographic phenomenon.

Gellner’s first-round theory showed how a specific scale was imposed by initial industrialization: what counted was the formation of markets, and the internal cohesion and communicative culture these demanded. That scale was below that of older dynastic imperia, but far above that of inherited ethno-linguistic groups and city-states. The resultant crystallization of new units (‘nation-states’) was ‘suitable for the conditions now prevailing’, and of course made use of ‘inheritances from the pre-nationalist world’ to determine the new norm for ‘the legitimacy of political units in the modern world’. [5] However, those conditions no longer prevail in quite the same way: this is a good deal of what ‘globalization’ means. The ‘accepted standard’ never entirely prevailed, and today does so less and less. The relatively bigger scale governing formation of both markets and cultures is ceding ground both to global homogeneities and to smaller units of identification and action. This was what Jerry Muller suggested in a recent Foreign Affairs article, ‘
Us and Them’ (March-April 2008). By July-August the US homogeneity-gang was forced to answer with a justification of bigness-is-better. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to the rescue with ‘Rethinking the National Interest’, backed up by some academic pundits of exceptionalism. And Muller has replied, claiming that ‘recognizing the enduring power of ethnic nationalism...offers a more realistic appreciation of the dilemmas that will continue to arise in the 21st century’.

As for the rabbles, they can be left to their own devices, as recommended in a new policy tract from Policy Exchange, a UK conservative think tank.[6] Forget about the post-industrial wasteland populations, is the new message. If they can’t get their own act together and claim independence, well, let them migrate. Non-organized immigrant labour forces are more malleable, and canalizable through discipline and function alone. They will fit far better into a globe where the majority is already urbanized. Gellner saw self-organization and mobilization as the answer: the national-identity, new-state riposte. Today’s alternative is to join the migrants, and head for what one might call cell-phone multiculturalism. Once one is better-off in practical terms, roots can be nostalgically cultivated: watered but not politically mobilized. The world is becoming ‘Roseland’ writ large. Whose metropolis it is now matters less: does it really matter if it’s England’s, or Britain’s, or Europe’s Londinium? Give me your mobile number when you decide; I’ll call back and leave my mobile number on yours.

Notes

1 The most recent edition of Nations and Nationalism is from Blackwell Publishing (2006), with an introduction by John Breuilly. See especially ‘A Note on the Weakness of Nationalism’ and ‘Wild and Garden Cultures’, pp. 42-51.

2 On possible origins of human societal diversity, the most interesting recent work has been done by Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd: see ‘Built for Speed, Not For Comfort: Darwinian Theory and Human Culture’, in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 23 (2001); and also their book The Origin and Evolution of Cultures (O.U.P. 2005). Another essay on ‘The Pleistocene and the Origins of Human Culture’ relates the theory interestingly to the current theme of climate change — albeit to global Ice Age cooling, rather than to the present warming.

4 See for example David Goodhart’s
Progressive Nationalism: Citizenship and the Left (Demos, May 2006).

5 Nations and Nationalism (Blackwell edition, 2006) ‘The Transition to an Age of Nationalism’, p.48.

6
Cities Unlimited: Making Urban Regeneration Work, by Tim Leunig and James Swaffield (Aug. 2008). Though previously described as David Cameron’s favored think-tank, to his credit the Conservative Leader described this particular report as ‘insane’.