Gauleiter: It depends on selective use of dictionary

Share this article
Have your say

ALEX Salmond used First Minister’s Questions yesterday to deny that his use of “Gauleiter” to describe a senior BBC official following a row about his exclusion from the rugby broadcast was a Nazi jibe.

Mr Salmond told MSPs that “the noun Gauleiter is defined in the Chambers 21st-century dictionary as an overbearing wielder of petty authority. It’s been used in public parlance a number of times”.

However, the First Minister appeared to be quoting selectively from the dictionary, after it emerged that both the Chambers and Oxford dictionaries had references to Nazi officials in their definitions of Gauleiter.

The Chambers dictionary said: “Gauleiter n 1. historical under the Nazi regime: a chief official of a district. 2. an overbearing wielder of petty authority.”

There was even a reference to Formula One racing in the Oxford dictionary, which talked about Gauleiters having “problems with some drivers”.

The Oxford edition said: “1. historical a political official governing a district under Nazi rule: he was appointed Gauleiter of Danzig. 2. an overbearing official: as Gauleiter of Formula One, he has problems with some drivers.”

Mr Salmond was heavily criticised by opposition parties, with Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson saying the term Gauleiter was “offensive, regardless of the dictionary definition”.

Ms Ferguson, who is Scottish Labour’s culture spokeswoman, said: “The First Minister shouldn’t need a dictionary to know how offensive the term is. Mr Salmond had an opportunity to apologise yesterday, but failed to do so.

“Broadcasters are there to serve their viewers, not be told what to do by government ministers.

“Alex Salmond’s attempt to bully the BBC won’t work and won’t impress viewers.”

Ms Ferguson added: “But the BBC also has to understand that Alex Salmond does not speak for all of Scotland on separation. There are many views and they all have to be heard properly in the debate on our constitutional future.

“The decisions on how the BBC and STV cover the referendum must be made by the broadcasters, not the SNP.”