Hundreds of people flocked to celebrate their identity with a Cornish passport at the Royal Cornwall Show as they loudly and proudly declared their Cornishness.
Supported by Cornwall Council, Golden Tree Productions’ Cornish Embassy and Tick Box Bus saw over 1000 people queue to get a passport. An overwhelming 96% of visitors passing through the bus over three days at the Show supported the inclusion of a tick box on the Census, sending a clear message to the Office for National Statistics that there is strong support.
“What does Cornishness mean to you?” asked Will Coleman, Director of Golden Tree, “In 2014 HM government recognised the Cornish as a ‘national minority’, but what zackly does that mean? So we’ve nabbed a double decker bus, kitted her out with a beer-tasting pub downstairs and a Cornish embassy upstairs. The Tick Box Bus is a space for open discussion and friendly exploration of Cornish identity – One and All are welcome to join us.”
Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double lent his support to the campaign with a visit to the bus and secured a debate in Parliament on the inclusion of a tick box on the Census, which was heard earlier this week.
“This issue is not just about the current generation—it is about our future and the protection and nurturing of our unique Cornish identity, culture and heritage. As I highlighted, over 73,000 people registered as Cornish in 2011,” he said in Parliament.
“Thousands more would have done so if the option had been as straightforward as it is for the other nationalities. What is so telling is that among the young people of Cornwall—our schoolchildren—a clear and rapidly growing number now identify themselves as Cornish.
“Any argument that there is no demand to identify as Cornish, or that it is a fad of a bygone era, is erroneous. Our young people are proud to be Cornish and deserve the right to be able to say so in future. In fact, there is a growing movement within Cornwall to celebrate our unique identity and culture that is the strongest it has been for many, many years.”
Cornwall Councillor and Chair of the Council’s Cornish Minority Status Working Group, Jesse Foot said the campaign for the inclusion of a tick box would continue: “While we welcome the ONS’ commitment to improving data collection and working with us, this still falls short of recognising the minority status afforded to the Cornish people by the Framework Convention in 2014.
“Cornwall Council will not stop pushing for a box which says ‘Cornish’ to be added. Whether one identifies as Cornish by birth, marriage, ancestry or some other route one has the right to be recognised, for services to be planned, and for funding to be sought on this basis. This is one of the reasons we put this proposition forward in our recent submission to Government – to build on our existing devolution deal, New Frontiers.”
In the last census in 2011, a total of 83,966 people in Britain ticked ‘other’ and physically wrote in ‘Cornish’ as their national identity. Within Cornwall the total was 73,220.