Multiple media outlets are reporting on the jaw dropping pettiness of London’s cut in funding for Scots Gaelic broadcasting. The British Government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Right Honourable George Osborne, will eliminate 100% of the current funding for Gaelic language television. In the scheme of things the elimination of the £1 million in funding is not catastrophic. The monies previously allocated by the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport represents only about 5% of the budget for BBC Alba, the BBC Scots Gaelic channel. But to put it in perspective , this £1 Million cut is out of a total UK budget for 2015-2016 of £742 billion.
It is mind numbing to attempt an insight into why Gaelic Broadcasting was singled out for punishment. The only thing that begins to make sense to me is some sort of retaliation against Scotland, and in this case specifically Scotland’s Gaelic speaking community, for the surge of the Scottish National Party.
The web page “Herald Scotland” sums it up quite nicely in its editorial comment under the title “Unwise Cuts to Gaelic Funding”: “Back in late 2013, with less than a year to go until the referendum, Tory Culture Secretary Maria Miller had nothing but praise for Gaelic and its contribution. The language, said Ms Miller at the time, was “an integral part of our incredibly diverse culture”. So, what has changed? Is it now somehow less integral to Scottish or British culture? Those of a cynical disposition may suppose that the No vote in the referendum may have played a part in this decision – perhaps there is now less need to keep Scottish voters “on side”…let's be honest - a million pounds is a drop in the ocean. This silly political decision on the part of the Conservatives simply bolsters existing SNP accusations that Scotland does not get value for money when it comes to public service broadcasting. Was it really worth it, Mr. Osborne? “
It is interesting to note that the The Right Honourable George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is also heir to the Osborne Baronetcy of Ballentaylor and Balleylemon in the counties of Waterford and Tipperary in Ireland. The Baronetcy dates from 1629, just around the time the Anglo-Irish aristocracy were facilitating the ascendancy of the English language over the Celtic tongue of Ireland. It may seem to some that the Osborne Baronets have been about this sort of business for quite a while now. Is this observation inappropriate or, said another way, a wee bit over the top? Maybe so, but no more over the top then the mean small minded pettiness of this budget cut.