An empty victory

I was rather pleasantly surprised to see that Vaughan Roderick has picked up on the same thing that I wrote about in October last year in this post.

The Big Lottery Fund had refused to give a small grant to one of the Papurau Bro—Y Gloran in the Rhondda—on the grounds that the paper is in Welsh only, saying that:

"The terms and conditions of every grant that we give out ask for [the applicants] to make provision for their projects to be in Welsh and English.

"So if they have things like websites or send things out to people, we ask for them to be bilingual; and this is part of the terms and conditions of their grants."

The new Welsh Language Commissioner had argued that it was acceptable to give money to bodies that provided a service only in Welsh if it was to promote or facilitate the use of Welsh. I said that this was the wrong way to look at things, and that it would be much better to get the Big Lottery Fund to stick to its stated policy ... for if the BLF made an exception in favour of Welsh in this case, it would give them carte blanche to carry on giving far more money to projects in Wales that were delivered only in English. In total, some £75m of lottery money is given out in Wales each year by the BLF and other distributors.


Thanks to Vaughan's link, we can see that the Big Lottery Fund changed their mind and did make a grant to Y Gloran. Some people might consider this to be a victory, but it is a very hollow one.

As I pointed out before, Crest Cooperative in Llandudno Junction, who were given a quarter of a million pounds of lottery money in 2010, don't have a word of Welsh on their website. And as Vaughan has now pointed out, Tenovus in Cardiff have received just short of a million pounds of lottery money, but the only page in Welsh on their website contains an apology for not having a bilingual website. I'm sure there are many, many more examples.


We are our own worst enemies if we are content to let the Welsh Language Commissioner beg for an exception to bilingualism in order to get a few crumbs of grant aid for one local paper delivering a service in Welsh only, but for her not to stand up and challenge bodies like the Big Lottery Fund for the far greater amount of money they give to charities and organizations in Wales that deliver projects only in English.

She should not be begging for exceptions, but taking the Big Lottery Fund to court for breaching its own terms and conditions by making such grants. And if Meri Huws is so compromised that she feels she can't now do it, then charities and organizations in Wales that are committed to work bilingually should be taking the Big Lottery Fund to court, because every pound of lottery money that has been given to monolingual projects in Wales could and should have been given to bilingual projects instead.

Charities and organizations in Wales should be completely free to operate monolingually if they wish; it's just that they should not expect to receive money from the Big Lottery Fund if they do. Those are their rules.


Vaughan ended his post by quoting from Julius Caesar, but a better quote from the same play might be:

The fault, dear Welsh, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Welsh and English: what should be in that "English"?
Why should that tongue be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a tongue;
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Welsh will start a spirit as soon as English.

Julius Caesar: Act 1, Scene 2 ... ish

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