The Cornish Stannary Parliament - a 'sign' of the times ?
A few years ago in Cornwall, members of the self appointed Cornish Stannary Parliament, decided to take matters into their own hands and to cut down a few English Heritage Signs as a protest against that quango managing sites which far predated the arrival of the English in the British Isles.
Fair point, one must admit. As the Stannary Parliament said, why should 'newcomers' administer sites of British Heritage with strong Celtic connections when perhaps a local body might be better qualified to look after them. Members of the Stannary organisation quite rightly announced that Prince Charles with a plethora of titles, amongst them, Duke of Cornwall, had engaged in more than a few shady dealings in connection with the assortment of castles and historic sites during his plunder of Cornwall in order to secure his substantial private income.
So it was that back in 2000, members of the strangely entitled organisation, armed with much historical precedent as well as a few cutting tools, publically removed 18 English Heritage signs in full view of onlookers and were subsequently arrested for the act of criminal damage.
Well, lawyers everywhere rubbed their chubby hands together in delight at the prospect of earning large amounts of cash and subsequently, the matter ended up at Truro Crown Court for a trial which became more complicated than the Stannary Parliament's own website (take a look and you'll see what I mean: http://www.cornishstannaryparliament.co.uk/ !)
After much behind the door discussion (called in legal parlance - 'in camera') and the application of a state protection device called a 'Public Interest Certificate' which forbids airing of certain issues, the Stannary men (always men, come on ladies !) accepted a bindover to be of good behaviour. This is a kind of archaic, peculiarly English legal thing, not a conviction, just a kind of sworn promise to be a good boy in future.
Quite what had been achieved, no one could tell. Certainly lawyers made lots of dosh but then, don't they always ? The Stannary had had their day, but there again, had they ?
Since then, these rather annoying activists (annoying to everyone except the lawyers, of course) have been battling the monolithic English system, taking cases to courts here and there and as far as Europe in their calls for recognition of the Cornish people. Lots of funds were raised to help them and supporters generously gave of their hard earned money to help - all gratefully received by cash hungry legal people but nothing really achieved.
And so the Stannary Parliament met in smokey rooms and planned and plotted, talked and smoked, planned and plotted a bit more until at last, a new course of action was determined. Guess what, yes, a little birdie tells me (a Chough of course - that being the national bird of Cornwall!) that during their latest meeting, ironically on the evening of St. George's Day, several members are proposing a re run of the great English heritage sign grab!
I publish this only in order that English Heritage can have a few spare signs ready and lawyers ready with trousers with larger pockets ready for this sequel !
Quite why these people don't invest their money in campaigning for votes eludes me. It would probably be a far cheaper alternative than greasing the grubby palms of the English legal system and it might also succeed. I am told that the majority of the Stannary parliament are disaffected members of the Cornish Nationalist Party and the recognised and influential political party Mebyon Kernow (literally 'Sons of Cornwall' in the resurgent Cornish Language) who peacefully and legally stand for election, pull a few Liberal Democrat strings and have enjoyed notable successes in Cornwall, including the political control of many areas, under the leadership of archeologist Dick Cole, a pleasant and well liked councillor. Old memberships should be renewed, perhaps !