Calling Cornish 'inbred' not 'racist' **WARNING: Contains Cornish joke

From the Telegraph:

The Kernow branch of the Celtic League complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) about the use of the term and other mockery of the people of Cornwall in the media.

But the commission said it was powerless to prosecute anyone because under the Race Relations Act, the Cornish did not exist as a separate nationality from the English.

In this reply to the Celtic League, Qaiser Razzak, the South West regional manager of the EHRC, said that in order for any remedy to be available in domestic (UK) legal proceedings, the Cornish would need to be defined as a “racial group” under the Race Relations Act, which had not yet been done.

“To date, case law has not established the Cornish as a ‘racial group’, for the purposes of the Race Relations Act, so currently, it is not clear whether any claim of racial discrimination against Cornish people would be successful.”

I think the ERHC have got a point here. “Cornish” is not normally regarded as an ethnic group. It means, presumably, that you were born and/or “bred” in Cornwall. Then again, there are quite a few communities across the world that could perhaps describe themselves as Cornish. For example, in Latin America as a result of the emigration of mining experts (and let’s not forget those of us who ended up exiled in deepest Berkshire). And there are many people in Cornwall who were born there, and perhaps whose parents and grandparents were born there, but whose ethnic origins are from elsewhere. Indeed, even stalwart members of Mebyon Kernow have been known not to have actual Cornish roots. Daphne Du Maurier was a Mebyon Kernow member but was born in Hampstead and had pretty obvious French roots.

DNA research at the University of Exeter has established fairly firm Celtic origins widespread amongst Cornish people – but also those in Devon – particularly North Devon. And of course, Celtic roots are shared by many, and the Celts originally came from mainland Europe.

So, it’s all a bit of a mish mash.  I did what amounts to quite an extensive search for this list of “racial groups” in the Race Relations Act, referred to by the EHRC. I couldn’t find it, even on their web site. But I did find quite a few lists for the purposes of ethnic monitoring like this one here, which I presume flows from the Act. It has “British” on it and also “Irish”. But not even Welsh.

So Anne Robinson was in the clear when she had a go at the Welsh on Room 101.

And let’s not even get started on Ian Gibson’s remarks about Norfolk people.

But, here’s a thought, if someone (presumably) insults you for being British, it is racist. There’s a thought.

I think the Celtic League would be best advised to leave this one alone. The more people see you getting uptight about being mocked for being Cornish, the more likely it is to, in their eyes, prove their point. Let’s show a little sense of humour here, shall we? I mean, Cornish jokes are not exactly rife are they? (except when told by Cornish people such as Jethro). It’s the poor old Irish you need to have some sympathy for….

So let’s loosen up a bit. Here’s a Cornish joke:

Yma an dyskar ow leverall then dyskybyll,
— An peswara deth y thew hethow pan res thys gortas wos an scoll. Pandra es thys the leverall.
Y ma an dyskybyll ow korryby,
— Y thew per tha genaf the wothfas avorow the vos de Sadarn.

It’s a killer isn’t it? Vos de Sadarn! Hilarious!

It "may well be curtains" for the prospect of Iain Dale MP

A little while ago, Mark Valladares speculated that Suffolk Coastal might be a good chance for Iain Dale to become a Tory candidate at the next election. Sadly, Iain was not selected for the shortlist. Commiserations to Iain. He writes:

  • Yesterday, Suffolk Coastal Conservatives met at CCHQ to draw up their shortlist to succeed John Gummer. The hoped for phone call telling me I had made it never came, so when I saw the actual shortlist on ConHome today it didn’t come as a surprise. That may well be curtains for me. It was the last seat operating by the old rules. All other seats are now being selected by the new system in which Eric Pickles nominates a shortlist of at least three. It has already been made clear that the same names will not keep cropping up in this process (and rightly so) so if I get one chance, I’d better make sure I take it.
  • Margaret Thatcher – egg fueled PM

    Margaret Thatcher’s files from her early days in power, have been released. They are very absorbing. I have already learnt that MT (as they refer to her) received, on her appointment as Prime Minister, congratulatory telegrams from Lulu, Peter Sellers and Eric Morecambe (previously assumed to be a Labour supporter). And Denis Thatcher was most distraught because he had to attend a state banquet and miss the Middlesex RFU centenary dinner.

    Early notes also show that Margaret Thatcher already had strained relations with Oxford University:

    MT already had troubled relations with Oxford. Her old college, Somerville, was holding a reunion (‘Gaudy’) to mark its centenary. MT heard about it but did not receive an invitation so – evidently hurt –asked a fellow Somerville graduate to find out quietly whether they wanted her to come. The college said the letter had gone astray and she attended. A few months later the college Principal wrote her sharply attacking the government’s increase in fees to overseas students.

    The files reveal that Jim Callaghan had terrible trouble with his Rovers (official cars) and eventually, after a window fell out on his lap, banished them all to the back garage. Thatcher’s officials considered a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow as her transport, but eventually plumped for Daimlers.

     Thatcher was very keen on her eggs. At one point she was eating 28 eggs per week. I hope someone opened the windows.

    'Cynical and unforgivable' media coverage of MMR

    It’s worth reading every word of the article entitled MMR scare doctor conducted invasive, unnecessary tests on children says GMC in today’s Guardian (it has a different title online).

    The whole MMR scare is utterly mind-blowing, particularly now that the full story is coming out. But as Ben Goldacre points out, not for the first time, it’s no good entirely blaming Dr Wakefield and his colleagues: The media are equally guilty:

    Wakefield was at the centre of a media storm about the MMR vaccine and is now being blamed by journalists as if he were the only one at fault. In reality, the media are equally guilty.

    Even if it had been immaculately well conducted – and it certainly wasn’t – Wakefield’s “case series report” of 12 children’s clinical anecdotes would never have justified the conclusion that MMR causes autism, despite what journalists claimed: it simply didn’t have big enough numbers to do so.

    But the media repeatedly reported the concerns of this one man, generally without giving methodological details of the research, either because they found it too complicated, inexplicably, or because to do so would have undermined their story.

    As the years passed by, media coverage deteriorated further. Claims by researchers who never published scientific papers to back up their claims were reported in the newspapers as important new scientific breakthroughs while, at the same time, evidence showing no link between MMR and autism, fully published in peer reviewed academic journals, was simply ignored. This was cynical and unforgivable.

    Should bishops sit in the House of Lords?

    That is the subject of a discussion being held, with remarakbly good timing, tonight in the Houses of Parliament by permission of the Lords’ Speaker, Baroness Hayman. Polly Toynbee and Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia will be pressing the case for the prosecution, as it were. The Bishop of Leicester and Baroness Butler-Schloss will give the defence and it is chaired by David Aaronovitch.

    On Monday I saw, for the first time, the Bishops in action in the House of Lords. I had the vague impression that they were, unknowingly, sort of measuring themselves up for their own parliamentary coffin. They were behaving a bit like bovver boys.  The whole debate was a farce.

    But what’s come out of this for the good (bearing in mind that the “truth” of the matter has not yet come out, in my opinion, and I am still listening and reading to search for it) is that I have discovered the wonderful Guardian Cif Belief site, Ekklesia and Thinking Anglicans.

    What should be stated loud and clear is that many people in the churches do not agree with the stance of the bishops on the Equality Bill.

    On a separate element on Thinking Anglicans, Simon Sarmiento is absolutely brilliant in succinctly stating the legal truths of these matters. There’s a post of his here on Thinking Anglicans with an excellent comments thread. Simon makes this comment:

    …the law is entirely clear with respect to bookkeepers. The law is entirely clear with respect to the clergy. Where the law is less clear is for posts that are in the middle ground, of which the “youth worker who teaches bible classes” is a favourite example.

    And there you have it. The entire nub of the matter in a nutshell – despite all the whipping up of a massive “Church v State” battle by certain very small factions in the churches. Yes, the law already exists to allow churches to discriminate for (1) priests on various grounds. The law already exists  for (2) bookkeepers not to be discriminated against upon selection for employment (and thereafter). What Monday’s debate was about – or more correctly should have been about – is where you precisely draw the line between those two categories. On the more nebulous example of the youth worker who teaches bible classes, the government was quite clear that it if the youth worker mainly took bible classes and led prayers and preached, then they would fall into the (1) priests category. If they mainly organise entertainment then they would fall into category 2 – the bookeeper category. Simples. And by the way, it is even more simple that that. I’ll stick my neck out here and say that I am pretty sure that there abolutely zero youth workers in any church who mainly organise entertainment. They all lead praise, preaching, prayer or bible reading in some shape or form, normally as the largest part of their work.

    Finally, let us read a quote from that beacon of legal sanity, Lord Lester, which he uttered immediately after the division on Monday:

    I cannot resist making the observation that, in the Division, the Lords Spiritual managed to vote as turkeys for Christmas – if noble Lords will forgive me for saying so – by removing the new and magnanimous protection that they were given. Proportionality was taken out of the Bill, probably encouraging the European Commission to suggest that our statutory powers will infringe its own and lead to further trouble.

    Equality Bill Lords debate on Hansard and 'They work for you'

    Hansard now have the transcript of yesterday’s Lords debate on some Equality Bill amendments (Schedule 9). It is here in PDF format – the relevant debate starts on Page 15, which is enumerated as “1211” at the top left hand side of the page.

     They work for you have it in a format which is easier to read (no clicking “next page” necessary).

    The BBC have the first two hours of the House of Lords session on iPlayer, but unfortunately it cuts out before this vital debate. I’ll keep an eye on it, and if they correct that problem, I’ll post the link here.

    Two bits caught my attention when I was listening to the debate.

    First there was this passage where Lord Lester said he was “appalled” at the “prelates'” apparent desire to remove the principle of “proportionality” from the wording of the bill. It was said very strongly:

    The Strasbourg court has made it clear that the controlling doctrine is that of proportionality. A classic example was the case about the bar on homosexuals in the Armed Forces. Religious and other beliefs, and convictions, are part of the humanity of every individual, including atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned. It is only the manifestation of religion or belief that may be subject to prescribed limits. That reflects the fact that the way that beliefs are expressed in practice is what can impact on others.

    Despite the protestations made by senior clerics, including those on the Benches here, I believe that the measures in the Bill accommodate the reasonable needs of the churches and other religious organisations to manifest their beliefs and to practice their faith in accordance with their beliefs, subject to the overriding requirement of proportionality. I find it astonishing and deeply depressing that the right reverend Prelates should find the principle of proportionality-a principle which is deep in Christian ethics-to be a principle to be removed from this Bill. I am, frankly, appalled that that should be the position.

    Secondly there is this passage where the Bishop opf Winchester is interrupted by the former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries with an excellent point:

    Bishop of Winchester: Churches, religious organisations and charities have senior lay staff, one element of whose responsibility is to represent the convictions, character and vision of their organisations. I was glad that the noble Baroness mentioned some of those. It is a matter of great importance to us. The same is true of the senior staff of the Evangelical Alliance. An English diocese in the Church of England has a diocesan secretary-the head of its diocesan administration-who is almost always lay. It would be impossible for us to work with that woman or man, representing us widely in a whole series of contexts-

    Lord Harries of Pentregarth: I am sorry to interrupt the right reverend Prelate, but the whole tenor of his speech seems to be in support of the Government’s amendment. I cannot at the moment distinguish his position from what has already been made clear by the Government about the kind of categories that will be included-the very categories that he is mentioning.

    "Duplicitous betrayal" – Evan Harris on goverment and the Equality Bill

    Thinking Anglicans have the voting numbers on the four amendments to the Equality Bill yesterday.

    The Guardian reports on some strange goings-on between the government and the EU commission on the subject of this bill, involving a “secret” “reasoned opinion” document :

    The text of the document, which has not been made public until now, has led to criticisms that the government has told parliament and religious organisations that the law will remain the same, while assuring the EU the law would be strengthened. “This is a duplicitous betrayal of the rights of gay and lesbian church workers,” said Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat equality spokesman, who received a leaked copy of the legal document. “The government have been keeping secret this letter in order to hide from parliament … they appear to have told the EU that they will narrow the law in the equality bill in order to comply with the directive, while telling parliament and the public that there is no narrowing.”