Language Awareness & Government Funding: Cornish Tories Shameful Behaviour

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The furore over the Government’s announcement of ending funding of Kernewek rumbles on, with tales of at least one of the present Cornish Conservative MPs actively campaigning to get the funding removed in the run up to the announcement.

Added to this is the fact that not one of the Cornish MPs backed an early day motion tabled on 27th April by four SNP/Plaid Cymru MPs stating “That this House supports the indigenous and oldest languages of these islands, the Celtic languages; and therefore calls on the Government to reverse its cuts to the smallest and most vulnerable of these languages, Cornish, and instead calls for the support and appreciation of this historical cultural jewel.” This in itself is a shameful state of affairs. In fact, not one Conservative MP signed the motion, which was signed by, among others, Labour’s Keith Vaz, Green’s Caroline Lucas, the Lib Dems’ Alistair Carmichael plus the SNP’s Mhari Black and Angus Robertson. Whilst the petition launched to demonstrate the public outcry about the government’s decision is continuing to gain signatures (to sign, click here Cornish Language Petition ), it is absolutely staggering that the MPs of a territory with an indigenous language are not backing the continuing financial support for its development.

If this isn’t bad enough, a news story on Cornwall’s Pirate FM this week revealed that Cornwall Council had been led to believe by the Conservative Government that continued funding for Kernewek was originally included in the devolution deal announced last year before ministers removed it at the last minute.

The government has given financial backing to support Kernewek since it was recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2003. These funds have been used to support its development and a range of educational activities.

Pirate FM revealed that Cornwall Council leader John Pollard has written to the government expressing his concerns, and those of Cornish communities and businesses, particularly, the suggestion that this is connected with the Cornwall Devolution Deal. Explaining that funding for the Cornish Language had originally been included in the Devolution Deal before being removed by ministers at the last moment, Pollard told Pirate FM: “At the time I was reassured that this was a technical matter and that another funding route would be identified. I am, therefore, particularly surprised that your letter refers to the Devolution Deal as a reason why funding has been cut.

“Far from being a ‘local’ matter the scope of the Charter for Regional and Minority languages extends its protections to the specified languages at all levels right across the UK. Kernewek is, in historical and cultural terms, a living and fundamental element of British culture, making it a matter of cross-UK importance, not merely a ‘local’ issue”.

Adding that the council was seeking an explanation of why its bid for funding had failed, as well as details of how the government was now planning to fulfil its legal commitments under the Framework Convention for National Minorities and the Charter for Regional and Monitory Languages, Mr Pollard called for the government to meet with the authority to try and construct a new funding package.

Amid this furore has been the very welcome appearance of Kernewek on British Television this week with Kelly’s Ice Cream developing the first ever Cornish language television advertising campaign. The ad has been shown during ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘The Chase’ on ITV this week and has provided a boost in national recognition of the Cornish indigenous language at a time the government still refuses to bring back funding. Kelly’s are also in the process of releasing a Cornish Language Phrase Book. Their support for the native language is to be applauded. Not seen the ad yet? Click here to view it Kelly’s Ice Cream Kernewek Advert Splann!

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