Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Culture’
Games with Shadows: Living in Thatcher’s Scotland
Open Democracy, April 10th 2013
We live in Thatcher’s Britain, yet that statement is obvious, contentious and deeply divisive. And this is all the more true of Thatcher north of the border.
Thatcher is simultaneously both history and present day. You can hear this in the differing accounts on TV and radio; with conservative figures claiming she remade the modern world from knocking down the Berlin Wall and freeing Eastern Europe, to preventing a future ‘socialist Britain’; while elements of the left wail in pain and agony at how events have turned out and their inability to come to terms with the country and politics she created.
We live in an age as much shaped by Thatcher as the previous political era: the so-called ‘post-war consensus’, a phrase seldom used in that era, and only invoked at its fag end. The date of Thatcher entering office, 1979, is exactly halfway between 1945 and today. Therefore, we are 34 years from Thatcher’s first victory; and 34 years from then to Clement Attlee’s historic mandate. And given that there are detailed studies of ‘the post-war consensus’, we should be able to begin to do the same with Thatcherism, but instead we are still arguing over what it means. Read the rest of this entry »
Creating a Space for a Different Scottish Future
National Collective, March 7th 2013
Thinking, imagining and attempting to create the future, and embracing and encouraging change, comes naturally to human beings.
We do these things everyday in numerous ways throughout our lives, subconsciously and unconsciously, usually without reflection or realisation. Recognising that we do is one of the first steps in demystifying these terms, democratising them, and taking them back from the consultancy class and from managerial jargon.
When I first saw Say So Scotland’s initiative to develop a Citizens’ Assembly I was initially wary, thinking it was ‘civic Scotland’ out on maneouvres. This looked like a kite flying exercise, post-SCVO’s ‘The Future of Scotland’ – something which has up until now been of limited impact. This perception was strengthened by the fact that the event would take place at SCVO’s ‘The Gathering’, the umbrella for lots of voluntary organisations showcasing themselves each year.
It turned out to be exactly the opposite. It was a self-organised, people-created and run initiative, borne and situated in ‘unofficial Scotland’ and organised by a group of motivated individuals. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland as an Idea and Place of Substance
The Scotsman, December 29th 2012
It has been a tumultuous year, across Europe, the world, and in its own way for Scotland.
It was the year that the independence referendum was agreed, of the collapse and rebirth of Rangers FC, and the continued decline of the British establishment and public trust in it.
At the year’s end, the Radical Independence Conference brought together a new generation of twentysomething activists, Creative Scotland parted company with much of the arts world (and lost as a result two of its senior figures), and Alasdair Gray started a controversy about ‘colonisers’ and ‘settlers’.
Two observations stem from the above. The first is that the public life of Scotland does not in many places do, or feel comfortable with, seriousness and substance. The second is, as Bill Jamieson eloquently wrote last week, the importance of the notion that Scotland ‘is more an idea than a place’, and the tensions inherent in these differing interpretations of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Forbes, Donald Trump and the Unpredictable Scotland Emerging
The Scotsman, December 1st 2012
The Scots have a strange and often perplexing relationship with those in authority and power.
Sometimes we damn them and at other times we choose to believe their official story. More often than we show a lack of curiosity in scrutinising and challenging authority. Instead, there is a deafening silence of the Scots across large acres of public life, in conferences, gatherings and fora which represent ‘civic Scotland’.
Michael Forbes has been a huge exception to this general rule. The Aberdeenshire farmer who stood up to Donald Trump and his Menie estate golf course development, along with a host of other local residents, on Thursday night won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland ‘Top Scot’ award voted for by the public.
Michael and others stood up not just against Donald Trump, but the whole mass of the Scottish political and business establishment. The SNP, Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems, Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell, CBI, Robert Gordon University and many more, all weighed in with their ‘Scotland open for business’ collective mantra as they palled up to Trump and his development. Read the rest of this entry »
A Different Creative Culture after Managerialism and Paternalism
The Scotsman, November 10th 2012
The last few months have seen a gathering storm about Creative Scotland, the leading arts and culture organisation in the country.
A letter signed by more than one hundred of our leading artists and cultural practitioners, signalled their concerns and called out for a change of direction. The breadth of opposition, ranging across generations, political views and art forms, uniting independence supporting James Kelman with pro-union advocates such as James MacMillan, cannot be easily ignored.
But what is left unsaid is the wider context, of how this came about, what it means, how we support culture or fail to, and how we might in the future.
Creative Scotland did not come from nowhere. It arose from the honeymoon period of New Labour, of seeing culture and creativity as forces for rebranding, modernisation and economic development, and as a means of shifting Britain from ‘a conservative nation’ to ‘a young country’ filled with talent and diversity. Read the rest of this entry »