Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Men’
The Power of Black and White Scotland
The Scotsman, November 5th 2011
Scottish political debate is characterised and marred by a host of difficult divides and fractures.
There is anti-Nationalist Labour hatred; the rage of the so-called ‘cybernats’; and a widespread, almost national sport of anti-Toryism. All of these are part of a Scottish problem which we see not only in our politics, but also across society, culture and football.
Why do large parts of the Labour Party so virulently hate the SNP? And why do part of the Nationalist community, ‘the cybernats’ think it appropriate to conduct themselves the way they do? The former have used a politics of fear and negativity for years against the Nationalists, while the latter believe they are taking a stand against an omnipotent unionist establishment which is biased against them.
We can look for answers in each tradition. Labour until this year saw one of their main tasks as defending the self-preservation society they had built. In Scottish nationalism there is commonly a sense of self-righteousness and belief in one ‘true’ way. Read the rest of this entry »
Ian Davidson, the Labour-SNP Divide and the Language of Violence
Bella Caledonia, October 28th 2011
Does the recent Ian Davidson-Eilidh Whiteford controversy matter? Is it a storm in a political teacup? Or does it reflect something wider and more sinister in our culture?
First, there are the alleged words of Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Glasgow South West, about giving a woman, Eilidh Whiteford, SNP Banff and Buchan MP, ‘a doing’, meaning threatening actual physical violence and abuse. This does sound like the sort of thing that Davidson could say; he has form with using aggressive, hard, boiling over the top language; twice in the summer he called the Nationalists ‘neo-fascists’ and did not offer any apology.
Second, you could still agree that this doesn’t matter that much; that it was a misunderstanding or a casual use of language and doesn’t really amount to anything important in a world awash with serious issues and crises. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the Problem with Scottish Men?
The Scotsman, June 11th 2011
The story of Scottish men is a familiar one as well known as that of Scotland itself.
There is the story of local heroes, Bravehearts, conquerors and warriors, along with a few explorers and inventors through our history. In the present day this panoply of possibilities has reduced to one about confusion, negativity and about men who have mostly lost their way.
Men dominate most of the public life of Scotland: politics, business, media, the public conversations and public spaces. However, there is a deep paradox here in that men are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Men are silent as men and don’t generally talk about the issues they face as men.
That was one of the reasons I made ‘The Story of Scottish Men’ for BBC Radio Scotland – as a small contribution to trying to kick start a long overdue debate. Read the rest of this entry »
The Story of Becoming a Modern Scottish Man: Part Two
Scottish Review, June 9th 2011
First, my father took voluntary redundancy from NCR in 1978. He was for a period of six months unemployed and went on a government-training centre course. This involved him fine-tuning his arithmetic and maths skills to a level I was well past, so I was able to assist my dad’s tutoring.
I felt ashamed that my dad was unemployed. We lived in a working class neighbourhood filled with bank managers, teachers, and people running small firms. I had only known one unemployed person – a friend’s dad – who had to get a job as a bin man. I distinctly remember to my shame that I and some of my pals made fun of our friend and his dad.
I didn’t tell a single person about my dad’s unemployment. It was the first time I ever noticed my parents consciously being careful about money. When I talked to my careers adviser about my O Grades I recall him saying, ‘if you study hard you can do as well as your dad and get a job like he has building computers’. I stood there at the time thinking that it wasn’t a great job in the first place, and now he doesn’t even have that!
After just six months – a very long six months – my dad got another job working with Tayside Police as a traffic warden. This was a momentous change, because my father hated everything about the job. The public persona; working with the police with their overtime scams. This was a bit far removed from ‘workers of the world unite’. His only enjoyment was letting off students and people who looked poor, and on one occasion booking the Chief Executives of Dundee and Tayside councils at the same time. This was how he continued the class war. Read the rest of this entry »
The Story of Becoming a Modern Scottish Man: Part One
Scottish Review, June 8th 2011
I am a Scottish man and I think we have a problem. There is the familiar story of Scots men behaving badly – drinking, being violent, committing crime, harming others and themselves. We have the worst health and life expectancy for men in Western Europe, and shameful suicide rates for men.
Then there is the stereotyping of Scottish men – with clichés about ‘the West of Scotland man’ and the caricaturing of some of our poorest communities by middle class professionals talking about ‘Shettleston man’.
Even more serious than this is the fact that Scottish men don’t write or think about themselves as men. This is one of the central paradoxes of modern Scotland. Scottish men are everywhere – in public, in life – making noise, dominating people and places – and yet are silent about what it means to be a man.
How we encourage men to begin a national debate – requires starting with basics and a different route. It requires public personal reflection. Why then am I the kind of man who thinks Scottish men have problems and need to address them as men? Read the rest of this entry »