Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cornish national identity statistics in the 2011 census

Just had a quick look at the newly released census statistics from last year, as many people know Cornish as a national identity was an option although a write in one rather than a tick box.

Headline figures for Cornwall and those identifying as Cornish are:
52,793 people identified as Cornish only.
5,185 Cornish and British.
15,242 Cornish and another identity e.g. English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish (with or without British).
(total 73,220)
459,053 No Cornish identity.

The total for England, Wales and Cornwall was:
59,456 Cornish only.
6,261 Cornish and British.
17,782 Cornish and another identity.
(total 83,499)

It's hard to know what to make of these statistics, Cornish identity still lacks a tickbox and studies and research show that without a tickbox and having to write in (if respondents are aware they can). Results are always lower. Take Wales and the Welsh for example and the huge leap from the numbers identifying as Welsh in the 2001 census and the numbers now. 14% in 2001, around two thirds in total gave Welsh or Welsh and another option last year. Time for the tickbox next time for the Cornish people, so we can actually have accurate figures to look over.

That aside its interesting to note that the total Cornish identity respondents in 2001 was 37,500 there are now 83,499 people responding as having Cornish identity. Both conducted of course without a tickbox option. Is that a change in attitudes? Has the trend in increasing statistical visibility of the Cornish e.g. PLASC translated in the census? or has the Cornish population more than doubled in the last ten years, lots of things to puzzle over...

Link National identity local authorities


  1. I haven't thought deeply on this, but two points come immediately to mind...

    1) With 37,500 people identifying themselves as Cornish in 2001, compared to around 73,000 now (in Cornwall), there's clearly a massive issue with the validity of the data. When there's a tick box, the numbers may well increase significantly again. Let's hope the lack of a tick box this time was to soften public opinion prior to its inclusion on 2021. This is up to us though, to both maintain and build further the Cornish national agenda.
    2) We know there are, at a minimum, just under 60,000 people in Britain identifying themselves as Cornish only. Even with the dodgy statistics and engineered attempts at masking the true numbers, we know there are, at least, 10% of the people in Cornwall who state they are Cornish only - rising to 14% when they state dual identities. This, within Cornwall, is a significant ethnic minority whose needs and protection drastically need addressing.

    It will be interesting to see what happens now. The cynic in me expects a media blackout on the issue (including from BBC Radio Cornwall, fulfilling their role of Anglo-led union propaganda merchants) and a flurry of Devonwall articles.

    p.s. I loved the fudge on the ONS report where they counted the percentage of Cornish out of the whole of England and Wales and remarked how low it was. Not the most relevant of statistics to make as the first sentence on the issue!

    1. I think you were right on the media black not much about it all. I would have thought the changing views of a significant number of people in terms of identity would be significant alas no. I agree with your point about the significance the whole point of the census is to inform and push policy makers into adapting to changes in society. There is a strong argument for change to be made from this.

  2. Anonymous 10:33

    Lovely post...from a Scot living in Wales, with Irish ancestry.

    I found the questions in the census rather restricting and not at all relevant to my situation.

    They need far more boxes to tick.

    Good luck to Kernow.

  3. 69.5% of residents in Cornwall have stated an English national identity, and 24.5% British national identity.

    This will be depressing reading for Cornish nationalists for whom England and the English are the enemy. Maybe Cornish nats should stop vilifying English identity and accept that a dual English-Cornish identity is possible and indeed desirable.

    1. I disagree I think its hard to extrapolate any arguments from the data due to the validity of the questioning. As I wrote above 14% self identified as Welsh in 2001 without a tickbox far far more with a tickbox in 2011. The same may well prove true of Cornish identity. Compare to the PLASC school surveys fro example where 41% of school children record a Cornish identity unless these children are all offspring of the 14% then there are major questions as to the accuracy.

      As to your point about vilifying the English people and English identity I don't feel I should answer that as its not a view of mine or of anyone I know. As far as I am aware Cornish nationalists have a problem with the state and the government not with the people.

      I have no problem with an Cornish- English identity if people are of mixed parentage then they should have the right to demonstrate this and I agree that is desirable. In much the same way as Cornish-Welsh, Cornish-Pakistani etc etc is desirable.

  4. Not depressing at all as, once again, the form did not make it at all obvious that Cornish was an option. Less clear, in fact, than the 2001 census form. A big local publicity push, with posters at bus-stops etc., helped matters enormously. Nevertheless, the number will be significantly less than the true number. Our troll, of course, feels it necessary to say that we "vilify English identity". No, we don't. An English person has every right to be English, just as the Cornish have every right to be Cornish. Sadly, some people have a deep problem with the latter. So much so that we still remain the ONLY UK ethnic group that the London governent refuses to sign onto the European Framework Convention for National and Ethnic Minorities.

  5. I'd say those stats compare pretty favourably with the 14.1% in the 2001 census in Wales. The added publicity is obviously a large part of the rise and a tick-box option would see another.