|Founded||28 May 1975|
|Split from||Mebyon Kernow|
|Newspaper||The Cornish Banner|
|Colours||Black & White|
The Cornish Nationalist Party (CNP; Cornish: An Parti Kenethlegek Kernow) is a political party, founded by Dr James Whetter, who campaigned for independence for Cornwall. It was formed by people who left Cornwall's main nationalist party Mebyon Kernow on 28 May 1975, but it is no longer for independence.
The split with Mebyon Kernow was based on the same debate that was occurring in most of the other political parties campaigning for autonomy from the United Kingdom at the time (such as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru): whether to be a centre-left party, appealing to the electorate on a social democratic line, or whether to appeal emotionally on a centre-right cultural line. Originally, another subject of the split was whether to embrace devolution as a first step to full independence (or as the sole step if this was what the electorate wished) or for it to be "all or nothing".
The CNP essentially represented a more right-wing outlook from those who disagree that economic arguments were more likely to win votes than cultural. The CNP worked to preserve the Celtic identity of Cornwall and improve its economy, and encouraged links with Cornish people overseas and with other regions with distinct identities. It also gave support to the Cornish language and commemorated Thomas Flamank, a leader of the Cornish Rebellion in 1497, at an annual ceremony at Bodmin on 27 June each year.
The Policy Statement and Programme of the CNP were published in 1975 and included the following points:
While the CNP is not a racist organisation, there was a perceived image problem from the similarly-styled BNP and NF (the nativist British National Party and National Front), and during the 1970s letters were published in the party magazine The Cornish Banner (An Baner Kernewek) sympathetic to the NF and critical of "Zionist" politicians. The CNP also formed a controversial uniformed wing known as the Greenshirts led by the CNP Youth Movement leader and Public Relations Officer, Wallace Simmons who also founded the pro-NF Cornish Front. (Although the CNP and CF were sympathetic to Irish republicanism while the NF was supportive of Ulster loyalism, with the exception of leading NF figures like Patrick Harrington, who refused to condemn the IRA during an interview for the Channel 4 TV documentary Disciples of Chaos).
The CNP polled 227 (0.4) votes in Truro during the 1979 UK General Election, 364 (0.67) in North Cornwall in the 1983 UK General Election, and 1,892 (1.0) at the European Parliament elections in the Cornwall and Plymouth constituency in 1984. The candidate on all three occasions was the founder and first leader of the CNP, Dr James Whetter.
The CNP was for some time seen as more of a pressure group, as it did not put up candidates for any elections, although its visibility and influence within Cornwall is negligible. As of 2012Mebyon Kernow is no longer the only registered political party based in Cornwall. In April 2009, a news story reported that the CNP had re-formed following a conference in Bodmin; however, it did not contest any elections that year., it is now registered on the UK political parties register, and so
Dr Whetter was the founder and editor of the CNP quarterly journal, The Cornish Banner (An Baner Kernewek), within the actions of the Roseland Institute. Since his death in 2018 the CNP has been led by Androw Hawke.
A newspaper article and a revamp of the party website in October 2014 state that the party is now to contest elections once more.
John Le Bretton, vice-chairman of the party, said: "The CNP supports the retention of Cornwall Council as a Cornwall-wide authority running Cornish affairs and we call for the British government in Westminster to devolve powers to the council so that decisions affecting Cornwall can be made in Cornwall".
The party's policies include the following:
The reformed party was registered with the Electoral Commission in 2014, but ceased to be registered in 2017. The CNP now operates as more of a pressure group standing candidates as Independents in local elections in Cornwall.