Welcome to the blog. All the opinion on this blog is my own or as attributed. Thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Anyone but England ...

I will be enjoying the (probably brief) exploits of the English football team in the Euro championships over the next few weeks. I will be cheering them on against France on Monday and wondering whether this time we can go all the way. In short, over the coming days I will be a proud England fan.

When I was a young boy I remember being disappointed when England failed to make the '74 World Cup finals. I also remember the heroics of the Scottish team in those finals as I transferred my loyalties to another team from the British Isles.

As I grew up I couldn't understand why Scottish fans and Welsh fans didn't seem to want to support England when England got through. Indeed the apparently bigotted attitude of Scottish and Welsh fans meant that I became equally bigotted and, rather than supporting Scotland and Wales, I used to want them to lose - whoever they were playing.

Over the past four years I have come to realise why many non-English Britons want 'anyone but England' to win. Living in Cornwall has made me realise that the English mindset is one of arrogance, international snobbery and disregard for other cultures.

The thing is that English people aren't really like that. We have been brought up in schools which teach us about the achievements of the British Empire. We learn how England (all too often conflated with Britain) brought civilsation to the world. We have the mother of parliaments and the oldest democracy. At the same time we like to play by the rules and are inclusive and tolerant.

We have been taught to believe in ourselves and that our way is the right way. This is why we suffer from cognitive dissonance when other nations don't seem to agree with how we see the world. We don't realise that the truth of the British Empire is opression, the theft of other's resources and violent suppression and anhilation of other cultures. While the rest of the world see the truth we are shielded by our ruling classes and our education system teaches us that we are jolly good eggs.

I am in an extremely privileged position I can see how others view us English and I can understand and empathise with the reasons. At the same time I know that the average person on the Clapham omnibus is not a bad person. I am very proud of English people and their belief system - we do believe in the triumph of right over wrong, we support the underdog and we want world peace.

It is the English establishment that, even now, seeks to protect its wealth and privilege. It is the Westminster Unionists that thrive on petty differences and which seek to promote separatism and then blame it on nationalist ideals. The English establishment wants people in Cornwall, Wales and Scotland to support anyone but England because then it's continued existence is justified.

Kernow Calling - more Gloriana questions than answers

I have recently blogged about the Royal barge Gloriana and how she flew the national flag of Cornwall alongside the other national flags of the UK. The point to my blog was that we shouldn't get carried away with the meaning behind this occurrence until someone in authority, re the river pageant, had confirmed it.

A newly formed, enterprising group 'Kernow Calling' called the Radio Cornwall newsdesk to see if they had discovered anything.
Transcript of phone call to BBC Radio Cornwall's news desk.
Friday 8th June 2.00pm.
The lady we spoke to on the news desk did not give her name.

K.C: "Hi I'm ringing from KernowCalling about the flying of the flag of St Piran on the Gloriana during the river boat pageant last Sunday."

News Desk: " Gloriana ? "

K.C: " The Royal barge Gloriana on Sunday flew the St Pirans along with the flags of the other home nations that make up the UK, seeing as this is the first time the St Piran has been given equal status we wondered what coverage you are giving it ?"

N.D: " Okay I'll just ask."

N.D: ( After a few minutes). "I've just spoken to my colleague and he said that this was covered on the breakfast show this morning,they had an expert on who explained the reason they had flown the St Piran was due to one of the boat builders having come from Cornwall, there was no special significance to it."

K.C: " What...? That makes no sense this is a vessel of state it flew the flags of Scotland,Wales,Northern Ireland,Cornwall and England the nations that make the UK and as a courtesy the flag of the City of London as the square mile has a degree of autonomy and the royal barge was on their part of the Thames.
Also it flew the flag of Motability, as they had selected the oar crew and the Queen is the charity's patron.
So your saying the Queen had decided as one was of the boat builders was Cornish the St Pirans would be flown for that reason only... well that's just really confusing, wouldn't the St Piran have been flown lower than the national flags if that was the case..Could you just double check that is the reason ? "

We could hear her relaying what had just been said to a male colleague .We heard him reply.

Man:" That doesn't matter we've had it confirmed and that's what were sticking with."

N.D: " I've spoken to my colleague and he says our position is that we have had it confirmed why the St Piran was flown and that's what were going to stay with."

K.C: " So the story needs no more investigating ?"

N.D:" No."

K.C: " Okay and are you happy for us to publish a transcript of this conversation on our web page?"

N.D: " What...Why?"

K.C: " Just so we can let people know what we are doing."

N.D: " Well...okay if you want to."

K.C: " Thanks very much for your time."
This raises more questions but doesn't provide any answers.

From the transcript it is clear that Radio Cornwall is more than happy to find some banal answer to the question as to why Cornwall's flag was flown alongside those of England, Wales and Scotland. Why is this if they are supposed to represent Cornwall?

If the answer that Radio Cornwall have received is correct then surely there should have been a lot more flags flown on the Gloriana. If everyone who contributed anything to it being there was represented by a flag then there were probably a few people a tad unhappy that their contribution hadn't been recognised?

Thursday 7 June 2012

Red (White and Blue) Ed

In an attempt to improve his standing on the back of the Summer of feelgood British events, Ed Milliband has put forward strong arguments for a Federal Britain during his speech at the Royal Festival Hall. 

Unfortunately his strictly Unionist viewpoint has led him to conclude that you can't be British and English without a constraining United Kingdom. Surely it is obvious to anyone that it is quite possible to be British as well as any other nationality within the British Isles even if the United Kingdom did not exist.

In fact, a Britain, where the parties to such a partnership were sitting at the table on equal terms, would surely be a stronger proposition than it is now - fatally weakened by the Unionist disposition that only a United Kingdom dominated by Westminster is worthy of being called Britain.

It is typical of the Unionist mindset to accuse nationalist politicians of being narrow-minded and separatist. The truth is that Westminster Unionists are insular, bigoted and blinkered. They spend so much effort on control freakery within these shores that they are unable to see the potential that exists beyond them. The nations of Britain need to be empowered to fly themselves rather than be fed worms by London.

A federal Britain would be greater than its constituent parts. It would be more outward looking. A federal Britain would know the strengths and weaknesses of its individual elements and would be able to take greater advantage of the opportunities that exist in Europe and the wider global economy.

Coornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP - Slow out of the blocks

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership became a reality some 18 months ago.

In that time just one job seems to have been created - the £20,000 pa part time position of chairman Chris Pomfret. This despite a "small" Secretariat budget of some £250,000 being allocated to the LEP during the year.

The long awaited LEP masterplan which was promised for last month is now being promised for the end of June.

Draft LEP target:

By 2020, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s GDP per head will be above the 75% average for the
European Union. By 2020 we will have exceeded the expected growth of the overall Cornwall and
Isles of Scilly economy by an additional £380 million or 4.5%.

I sincerely hope that this target is achieved - but 8 years is a long time off. Who will remember this target in 8 years time? Will the LEP still exist?

I'm all for long term planning but a long term plan needs a series of shorter term, measurable steps to show that the overall plan is on course. How can anyone objectively evaluate how well the LEP is doing unless we have a series of 'SMART' markers that it is prepared to set down for itself.

Given the record of just one job in eighteen months, you will have to forgive me if my breath is not bated while I wait for more concrete results.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Glorious Gloriana?

Empty gesture or constitutional statement?
A seemingly small detail amongst the whole Jubilee river pageant thing was the Royal barge Gloriana proudly displaying the national flags of the home countries of the UK. Amongst the many grand and populist gestures made on that day the significance of this outwardly tiny detail seems to have escaped the mainstream press to date.

For the few who are reading this blog that don't have a clue what I am on about, the apparently unthinkable has happened. Proudly displayed, on a par with the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish flag was the national flag of Cornwall. Surely a signal that the monarchy finally recognises the Conish nation as a nation in its own right - what other explanation could there be? After all there was no flag for Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Devon (nor any other county of England) or even the Duchy of Lancaster.

I think that some caution is needed here before we all get too carried away. I would like to see some sort of official statement which backs up what Cornish nationalists everywhere hope that the flag gesture portends.

For me this incident raises many questions.

Was the gesture simply that - an empty gesture with no substance?

If the monarchy does indeed recognise the Cornish nation then how does this fit with the Duke's 'private estate' theory?

Why does the government consistently refuse to recognise (and indeed put obstacles in the way of) the Cornish claim to recognition under the FCPNM?

Until there is an official statement as to the significance of the Gloriana my bottle of cheap fizz is strictly on ice.

In the meantime Mebyon Kernow has a long standing policy of demanding that a full and independent official inquiry is made into the true constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall - perhaps, with recent events, now is the time to press even more for this inquiry.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Jubilee - Have a good one if that's what floats your boat

Why is it that, if the Jubilee celebrations leave you cold, you are marked out as a party pooper?

I have nothing against the Royal Family personally. I have only ever met the Duke of Cornwall and the only thing that sticks in my memory of that meeting is that he has a severe case of dandruff. However, I don't see why I should celebrate being ruled by a family that has enjoyed centuries of privilege, hereditary wealth and influence. It's not the people that I object to but the system. I don't want to be a subject I want to be a citizen and I don't want to celebrate being ruled by a person I have never had a chance to vote for.

Does this make me a party pooper? Well it shouldn't should it? I accept that a lot of people want to celebrate the Jubilee - good luck to you all, I sincerely hope you have a great time and remember it for years to come. We should encourage community interaction and break down barriers between people.

Nevertheless, if we are living under the rule of a democratic monarchy, shouldn't I be allowed to just let the whole occasion pass me by if I'm not interested. I don't want to join in with the celebrations and I don't want to poop on any parties either.

This is the principle that is is really making me angry at the moment. It seems that being a republican is tantamount to social heresy. Fair enough, we are told that the monarchy has a 80% approval rating. Does this justify a fierce subliminal campaign that aims to have those opposed to the establishment view labelled at best as 'party poopers' and, more worryingly, as extremists or anarchists.

Surely the BBC is supposed to be impartial. Yet we are bombarded every evening with fawning coverage - not just of factual events but with opinion as to "how hard the Queen works", "what a great institution the monarchy is" or "how the world is looking on with envy".

Take this typical BBC 'news' report.

At first read it seems fairly balanced - hell, they even mention that Republicans are holding a protest. It must be reasonably balanced - right?

Yet it isn't. The BBC manages to report as fact what is opinion when it supports the pro-monarchy stance and as opinion what is fact when it doesn't.

For example:

"Prime Minister David Cameron, who will attend a Jubilee party in Downing Street, paid tribute to the 86-year-old Queen during an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr programme, saying: "Her insight and her sharpness is extraordinary and I don't see any sign of her working less hard."

This extract shows how great importance is given to the the opinion that the Queen is hard working and has excellent judgement. It is an opinion held by our elected Prime Minister so it must be factually correct.

On the other jand we are told:

"The anti-monarchy group, Republic, has said it will hold a demonstration against what they call an unelected, unaccountable monarch."

So the indisputable facts that the monarchy is unelected and unaccountable are brushed under the carpet as being a mere opinion.

This type of subliminal bias is wrong and is the anathema of truly independent and factual reporting.

Is it any wonder that that with type of relentless, dip-feed propaganda, the monarchy has such a high approval rating. I wonder what would happen if there were more reporting of Royal scandals and abuses. The thing is, this isn't likely to happen and even now I can hear the sound of me being labelled as an extremist and a trouble maker - or, perhaps, just a party pooper.