Fight goes on for Cornish tick-box in the next census

In the 2011 census, 83,966 people in Britain ticked ‘other’ and physically wrote in ‘Cornish’ as their national identity.

Wednesday 19th December 2018 03:42 GMT

The people of the Duchy deserve the same recognition as other Celtic nations and should have a Cornish tick-box in the next census, county councillors said yesterday.

Following a White Paper published by the Office for National Statistics which states it does not support the provision of a Cornish tick-box in the 2021 census, councillors vowed to keep fighting for the people of Cornwall. 

Having a tick-box on the census would give the Cornish parity with the other Celtic nations - the Scottish, Welsh and Irish - and means that government and public bodies will have better information when making decisions.

Cornwall councillor and chair of the council’s Cornish Minority Status Working Group Jesse Foot expressed disappointment at the White Paper, saying: “Our campaign to have the Cornish tick box on the next census in 2021 has been well supported by councillors, our MPs and, most importantly, the people of Cornwall. 

“The publication of this White Paper is not the end of the story. We will be meeting with our MPs and partners to keep up the pressure and keep campaigning.” 

Thousands flocked to the Cornish Embassy, or Tick Box Bus, this year to celebrate their culture, language and heritage at events such as the Cornish leg of the Man Engine Resurrection Tour and the Royal Cornwall Show.

Jesse added: “The bus was a way for people to think about the elements of our culture which demonstrate the distinctiveness of Cornish people.  It was an important part of our campaign to have the Cornish tick box on the next census as we encouraged people to think about the unique ways in which the Cornish celebrate life and the things that matter.”

St Austell and Newquay MP, Steve Double lent his support to the campaign with a visit to the bus at the Royal Cornwall Show and by securing a debate in Parliament on the inclusion of a tick box on the census. He has also expressed his disappointment at the ONS recommendation and has requested an urgent meeting with the minister responsible to discuss what courses of action may be open. 

In the 2011 census, 83,966 people in Britain ticked ‘other’ and physically wrote in ‘Cornish’ as their national identity. Within Cornwall the total was 73,220. 

Jesse Foot said: “Thousands more would have done so if the option had been as straightforward as it is for the other nationalities. More than 50 per cent of school children identified themselves as Cornish in an education survey conducted last year.

“All this data sends a clear message that the people of Cornwall are willing, and should have the right, to self-identify as Cornish – whether by birth, ancestry, marriage or other means.” 

The council’s New Frontiers plan asks the Government to fulfil its obligations under the Framework Convention for National Minorities and to ‘do the right thing’ by the Cornish, the Cornish language and Cornish culture.

The White Paper does offer some concessions. For the first time, ONS will produce an analytical report on the population who identify as Cornish, and how their health, housing, work and education differs from those who do not identify as Cornish. 

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