Monday, 23 May 2016

The Cornish language: Kellys of Cornwall and a lack of support from the Tories

My article in this week's Cornish Guardian looks again at the cuts to Cornish language, focussing on recent comments by certain Tories and the Early Day Motion. It will be as follows:

The decision of “Kellys of Cornwall” to put a Cornish language tv advert at the very heart of their new marketing campaign has provided a massive boost for everyone working to promote the language.

The advert will be broadcast across the whole of the United Kingdom over the next six weeks, but has already generated significant publicity for the ice cream producer – and Cornish itself.

In celebrating our culture and heritage, Kellys see the commercial and economic value in using our distinct language to promote Cornwall and build its positive brand message, also raising awareness of the wonderful goods produced locally.

Kellys should be applauded for taking this initiative. It stands out in stark contrast to the shameful attitude of the UK Government, which recently cut the £150,000 per annum funding to enhance and promote Cornwall’s national tongue.

I have to say I am particularly disappointed by the inaction of Cornwall’s six Tory MPs on this matter, with them saying that Cornwall Council could “make it a priority to fund” the language if they wished, while implying that the so-called “devolution deal” had made more money available – which it hasn’t!

In reality, it is the UK Government which signed up to both the Charter for Regional & Minority Languages and the Framework for the Protection of National Minorities. They have an obligation to support and fund Cornwall’s distinct identity and culture, including the language.

Indeed, a five year programme of funding was actually in the “devolution deal” until removed by central government just before the document was finalised. The leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard, has confirmed that he had been “reassured” by the Department of Communities and Local Government that the removal of funding from the document “was a technical matter” and “that another funding route would be identified.”

Put simply, the Conservatives have broken their promises on this funding, and it is disingenuous in the extreme to use the “devolution deal” as a reason for the cut.

I am proud that Mebyon Kernow’s sister parties in the Westminster Parliament have put forward an Early Day motion (EDM) which has called for the funding cuts to be reversed.

Tabled by Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party, the motion has been signed by 42 MPs including 29 members of the SNP and all three members of Plaid Cymru, the single Green MP and a member of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party. In terms of the establishment parties, the EDM has only been supported by five Labour MPs (out of a total of 232) and three Lib Dem MPs (out of eight). Not one of the UK’s 330 Conservative MPs has backed the language, which is frankly appalling.

At the time of writing, an online petition against the cuts has secured nearly 8,000 signatures. It you haven’t signed it yet, please do so. It can be located at:

1 comment:

craig weatherhill said...

I think I may be right in saying that the Kelly's advert will be the first nationally screened TV advert to prominently feature one of the island's truly indigenous languages - and Cornish beat the bigger boys to it!

Already, a UKIP Cornwall Councillor (Elliott) has been sending out sneering, bigotted e-mails about the advert. Utterly predictable, I suppose, given UKIP's disgraceful response to Cornish inclusion onthe FCPNM in 2014. They said that was: "laughable, should not be embraced or celebrated".

The EDM calling for the restoration of government funding for the Cornish language was tabled by SNP at the behest of Cornish bard Dr John King, "Yowann Byghan", who is resident in Scotland.