Kernow Branch Secretary, Mike Chappell, reported to members last week that he had been inundated with requests for interviews from the media regarding the `Cornish options’ in the 2011 Census.
The Census form had to be completed last Sunday (27th March 2011) by all households in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the aim of gathering information about various topics and is undertaken every 10 years. This year there were a number of modifications to the forms in favour of
the Celtic peoples, which included a separate tick box on the form for Welsh people and the opportunity to fill the form out in some of Celtic languages online, including in Scottish.
Of particular interest in Cornwall have been three questions on the form that relate to Cornish identity and culture. Unlike in Wales and despite protests, the Cornish did not succeed in obtaining their own separate tick box, but what was afforded to them was the option of ticking the `other’ box and writing in `Cornish’ for the national identity question, `Cornish’ for the ethnicity question and `Cornish’ for the language question. If responders recorded their responses in such a way, then their responses would be officially included.
For the first time in Cornwall, funding was provided to promote these options among the Cornish people and posters and billboards have appeared throughout Cornwall in the run up to the 27th March in public places like bus stops, informing people of the option. In the space of a couple of days last week, Mr Chappell had five BBC live interviews including an extended one with BBC Radio Five live and was quoted in a number of different newspapers discussing the issue.
Mr Chappell reported to the branch that he pointed out to the media that Cornishness is an inclusive identity and that many people resident in Cornwall whose roots are originally elsewhere are choosing to self identify as Cornish. He spoke to one interviewer in the Cornish language, which amazed the interviewer who was unaware that the Cornish language existed.
Mr Chappell said:
“Cornwall Council should be commended for its efforts, with posters appearing at bus stops and in shops across Cornwall.
“In 2001 we had just over 37,000 people saying they were Cornish in the census, but the data we have from schools shows that more and more children, and of course their parents, are putting down ‘Cornish’. It is an encouraging sign.”
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information