JOBS, homes and baby box materials – Gaelic campaigners have today published their 2021 manifesto for the survival of the language.

The 60-page document is, according to its authors Misneachd, a “challenge to Scotland’s political parties” ahead of next year’s vote and amidst what they say is a “crisis” for the leid.

The grassroots lobby group says two decades of Gaelic-language policies have failed, with one recent report claiming that vernacular Gaelic may be extinct within heartland communities in the Western Isles within as little as a decade. Work by the University of the Highlands and Islands found fewer than 4% of youngsters entering nursery in the region are fluent at the time of enrolment and though 20% of teenagers say they are fluent, just 7% speak mainly Gaelic to parents and only 1.3% do so with friends.

Misneachd claims current Gaelic policy in Scotland is “largely based on a fantasy” and does not recognise the issues.

It wants the next government to establish separate funding for Gaelic as a home language that will be “at least equal” to that spent on Gaelic-medium education and new fluency targets for all Western Isles residents, with new socialisation schemes set up for young people in the Gaelic-speaking locations and across Scotland.

The plan also calls for the inclusion of material promoting the home use of Gaelic to be included in baby boxes in the islands.

Moreover, it seeks the establishment of a network of Gaelic community development advisers to help “keep the human capital of young Gaels” in their home areas, as well as new tourism and housing laws to encourage sustainable communities.

The manifesto calls on Scottish leaders to draw on the experiences of Wales and Ireland to strengthen services and seeks the set-up of ten dedicated education and arts centres in “traditional Gaelic areas” and cities during the next parliament.

The document calls on parties to “acknowledge the scale and nature of the crisis honestly and soberly”, adding: “There is an opportunity for everyone, from the grassroots level to the government, to contribute to the struggle to solve the crisis facing Gaelic and the Gaels.

“Future generations will not forgive us if we do not diligently address these current challenges now.”