Monday, 25 April 2016

My Cornish Guardian article on cuts to the Cornish language

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on the appalling news that the Conservative Government have axed funding for the Cornish language. It will be as follows:

It is almost exactly two years since central government recognised the Cornish as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The official government press release, at that time, made it clear that all the Celtic peoples of these Islands – the Cornish, Irish, Scottish and Welsh – would now be afforded equal protection under this Convention.

I remember it being a time of great celebration and the Cornish Guardian certainly covered the announcement in great detail, welcoming the pledge that the Cornish could “stand equally beside all other groups in British society – an impressive achievement and a landmark change in Cornwall’s proud heritage.”

The Prime Minister himself recognised that central government had given a powerful commitment to support Cornish identity, culture and language; and he declared that: “There is a distinctive history, culture and language in Cornwall which we should celebrate and make sure is properly looked after and protected.”

The Cornish language had previously been recognised by the UK Government through the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and the Department of Communities and Local Government had been providing a modest amount of funding for the language. This was consistent with the approach of the Westminster parliament (and devolved legislatures) in providing monies for indigenous languages in all other Celtic parts of the UK as well.

I was therefore really shocked and appalled when, last week, the Government announced it would not be providing any further funding to support the language.

I find myself in full agreement with the Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow, Merv Davey, who has rightly pointed out that a “promise was made to the people of Cornwall and that promise has been broken.”

How can central government sign up to agreements, such as the Framework Convention, and then refuse to act on the articles contained in them?

And why is it that certain local MPs, who were so keen to be seen taking their parliamentary oath in Cornish, have failed to stand up and fight for the language?

Indeed, it is a sign of great disrespect towards this especially important aspect of Cornish identity that, while we have lost all funding from Westminster, governmental monies are still being made available for Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Ulster Scots and Welsh.

It also means that this will be yet another £150,000 a year that will not be spent in Cornwall, strengthening our identity and boosting the local economy, but will instead disappear back into Westminster to be spent elsewhere!

An online petition has been launched by Dr Jon Mills on the Parliament website, which calls on central government to continue to provide financial support for Cornish. It can be located at:

Please support this important petition and please also lobby your local MP on this issue.

1 comment:

craig weatherhill said...

I am given to understand that Sheryll Murray MP lobbied the Minister directly for the cancellation of funding for the Cornish language.