Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’
BBC and STV are Falling Short in Scotland’s Great Debate
Scottish Review, March 5th 2014
The BBC and STV are failing the people of Scotland in their coverage of the independence referendum, despite the best attempts of some of the many talented journalists still in these organisations. The reasons for this are deep-seated: historic, structural, and about the failure of management to lead, be bold and creative.
The independence debate could not have come at a worse time for the BBC and STV. It caught both bodies ill-prepared, under-resourced, and basically, not taking Scotland or Scottish politics that seriously.
It never used to be like this. Turn back to the end of the 1980s and early 1990s and both BBC and STV had a reputation for doing news and current affairs well. The early evening news programmes, ‘Reporting Scotland’ and ‘Scotland Today’ (the precursor to ‘STV News at Six’), were seen across the UK as serious, authoritative and popular. Read the rest of this entry »
The Birth Pains of Scottish Democracy and the Anguish of ‘Posh Scotland’
Scottish Review, February 26th 2014
Many strange things will be written about Scotland this year. Some will be uncomprehending, some inappropriate or wrong, with others likely to be malevolent and wishing to sew seeds of confusion or distrust.
One existing strand is the pain expressed by some English media voices. There is the liberal ‘Guardian’ reading classes, some of whom have just bothered in the last few weeks to look north from their cosmopolitan concerns and to plea, ‘don’t leave us alone with the wicked Tories’. Then there is the ‘Daily Telegraph’/’Daily Mail’ land of ill-concealed anger about ‘separatism’, derogatory comments about Alex Salmond, and a confusion over whether they really want Scotland to stay or go.
Sometimes interventions cannot be easily categorisable, or while coming from one particular perspective, give voice to a viewpoint which hasn’t been expressed or articulated in public. This was the case with Hugo Rifkind’s recent piece on ‘posh Scotland’ (his words and sentiment) in ‘The Spectator’ and its clarion call to awaken and ride to the defence of the union in crisis.
Rifkind’s ‘posh Scotland’ wasn’t a place for anyone with decent prospects; this wasn’t, as he made clear, anything to do with Ed Miliband’s struggling middle classes, or by implication, ‘the middlin’ folk’ of Scotland. Instead, this was about privilege, wealth and power: the people who run things, own large tracts of Scotland, are privately educated, and believe that the state, if it has to do anything, is there for poor people (and keeping those people a safe distance from them). Read the rest of this entry »
The Battle for Britain and Why Alex Salmond and Independence Has Already Won
Open Democracy, February 7th 2014
This year is witnessing several battles for Britain – of numerous anniversaries of past military triumphs, of the Scottish independence referendum, and the rising tide of the Tory Party’s continued obsession with Europe.
All of these are inter-related in the long-term, almost existential, crisis of what Britain is, what is it for, what kind of society and values it represents, and what kind of future it offers its people. This tumultuous moment we now find ourselves in is one with many layers: economic, social, democratic, and even geo-political (in where Britain aspires to ally itself internationally).
The Scottish independence referendum is fascinating and not a narrow or arid constitutional debate, but influenced by these wider concerns. Revealingly, to most of the London political classes it is seen as marginal, disconnected from their concerns, of episodic interest, and discounted (as they already assess they have won), as noted by Alex Massie in his front cover piece in this week’s ‘Spectator’ (1). Read the rest of this entry »
Radical Nostalgia Scotland and Why We Can’t Go Back to the 1970s
Scottish Review, February 5th 2014
Scotland’s current debate on independence comprises many conversations. They centre on what we were, are and could be, and who did what to whom in the past, and what it means about where we are now, and what we could become in the future.
Many of these aspects were to the fore last week at a Jim Sillars-Alex Neil event to launch Jim’s new book, ‘In Place of Fear II’, under the auspices of ‘Yes Airdrie’. On a cold Thursday night, nearly 300 people attended, a five man only panel (with David Hayman, Pat Kane and the chair), and for two hours of discussion in which every question from the floor was asked by a man. Pat understandably baulked at this, apologised and after his contribution, gave his place to a woman in the audience (who got to make a one minute intervention over the course of the whole evening).
Sillars book is fascinating. It is a real curate’s egg, buzzing with ideas, eclectism and frustration (both about Scotland and personally). Many of the suggestions are a bit dotty (the Robert Burns hospital ship), but many are interesting, and some even heretical (such as self-governing state schools). It is in a deeper sense, a sign of the Scottish times: of a culture which has awoken to the power of the pamphleteer, both old and new, and the floating of numerous vessels and platforms. Read the rest of this entry »
The Empathy Gap: Divided Scotland and the Problem of Fantasyland Britain
Scottish Review, January 29th 2014
It has become part of the commonsense account of the independence campaign that there is a problem with some of the more vociferous, partisan supporters.
In one perspective, frequently spun in the mainstream media, this problem is predominantly, if not exclusively, about the ‘cybernat’ phenomenon. Numerous examples are brought out, from comedian Susan Calman facing invective for comments on independence, to incidents with Chris Hoy and Susan Boyle being verbally abused online.
Yet to pose the ‘cybernats’ as the sole problem, as Labour bigwigs such as George Robertson and George Foulkes do, is fundamentally disingenuous. Another serious issue is the way that mostly Labour figures describe independence and the SNP. Alistair Darling talked of independence as a ‘road to serfdom’, Gordon Brown of it leading to Scotland becoming the equivalent of a ‘British colony’, while Ian Davidson stated with confidence that the vote had already been won and all that was left was the simple act of ‘bayoneting the wounded’.
We can argue, as I would, that there is an imbalance in this. The ‘cybernats’ are mostly if not exclusively lone operatives typing away furiously into the night in their bedsits, whereas Darling, Brown and Davidson are elected public figures with the first two having global stature. They should know better, yet their comments above represent how a whole host of Labour politicians describe the independence cause, which tells something about their Manchean and deeply insecure view of the world. Read the rest of this entry »