Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’
Scotland the Bold or Scotland the Timid?
Scottish Review, November 22nd 2016
Is Scotland really special? Are we a land that has bucked the retreat of the centre-left and social democracy, and proven itself immune to the right-wing populism sweeping the West from Brexit to Trump?
Significant parts of Scottish opinion are always looking for any reason to jump on a wha’s like us exceptionalism: one which invokes our morality, values and commitment to social justice, alongside our collective opposition to all things evil from Thatcherism and Blairism to neo-liberalism.
Truth of course is rather different. Scotland is both different and not that different, in comparison to the rest of the UK. Our social democracy isn’t immune from the dynamics that have weakened it elsewhere, and should not be confused with the electoral strength of the SNP – just as before it shouldn’t be equated with the once-dominance of the Scottish Labour Party. Read the rest of this entry »
How Trump Shook America and the World: My Letter from America
Scottish Review, November 10th 2016
America has shaken itself and the world. Something seismic has happened which has compounded experts, the political classes, and observers all round the world. But in this year of revolt and surprises – from Leicester City and the Cubs to more seriously Brexit and Trump – the question is why should we be surprised anymore?
I spent the last three weeks in the States, attending rallies, speaking and listening to people, and trying to understand what was going on. It was clear this was a change election, one where people were losing patience with business as usual politics and Washington, and one where at least two Americas talked and shouted past each other – one conservative and angry, one liberal and conceited, both believing in their own moral superiority. All of this has produced one of the most electrifying electoral shocks in American history: a victory with no real comparison in recent times and remaking the political mood.
Trump ran an unprecedented campaign by any modern standards. It was terrible and offensive, giving voice to a ragged, confused anger and fury at the state of contemporary America and the world. That much was said all the time, but it represented much more in ways which should have been more obvious and discussed. Read the rest of this entry »
Where is the Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party revolution going to end?
Scotttish Review, September 29th 2016
Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have some major positives going for them.
He has been re-elected Labour leader with a huge majority in an election in which over half a million people voted. On the wave of a surge of excitement and engagement, Labour’s membership has risen to 650,000 – over four times that of the Tories, and representing the largest political party in all Europe.
On top of that Jeremy Corbyn is clearly a different kind of politician. He is untainted by the Blair years, numerous wars or parliamentary sleaze. All of this counts for something.
Yet saying all of the above the party faces huge challenges which cannot be wished away. Its electoral prospects are currently dire and going backward, after two election defeats. What it stands for is unclear or vague beyond the most generalist sentiments and platitudes, with no evidence of major economic policies or ideas emerging from the Corbyn leadership in the last year. And the party leadership has no real idea what to do with all the enthusiasm and anticipation it has unleashed.
The recent leadership contest was the perfect anecdote for Corbyn and his allies: it turned Corbyn back into the insurgent who won in 2015, and allowed him to run on an anti-establishment ticket. It brought people flocking in their droves into the party, further galvinised Momentum (the pro-Corbyn grass roots group), but it begs the question – what now? It isn’t easy to turn that energy outwards to the country because everything in argument, message and tone would have to be different. Read the rest of this entry »
Whatever happened to the idealism of Space: The Final Frontier?
Scottish Review, September 21st 2016
All life cannot be about politics. That is a definition of tyranny and dictatorship.
In the last couple of months whilst working on some big projects I have chosen to relax late at night by watching the 1960s original TV series ‘Star Trek’.
I haven’t watched it since I was a kid in Dundee. It has proven to be a real piece of time travel taking me back to when I viewed the world in more simplistic and naïve colours.
Viewing ‘Star Trek’ now by complete accident – as the series celebrated its 50th anniversary a couple of weeks ago (it began on September 8th 1966) – has been utterly compelling and captivating. It more than stands the test of time, while raising all sorts of questions about then and now.
First and foremost, there are the characters. Captain James T. Kirk, Spock and Bones of the Starship Enterprise are almost ageless – held in a kind of limbo which only TV and becoming virtual heroes can bestow; while a great supporting cast of Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov represented a united humanity. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s Time for Dangerous Talk: Jaytalking Scotland
Scottish Review, September 15th 2016
These are strange times. We are told everyday in every way by numerous experts and talking heads that this is an age of unprecedented change, uncertainty and flux. That nothing can be taken for granted.
Yet this is also an age of great conformity and conservatism; not only in mainstream politics but in large acres of what passes for popular culture – from music to novels, theatre, comedy, TV and visual arts.
Scotland fits into this pattern rather well. It has shaken the UK to near breaking point and tells itself continually it is social democratic and egalitarian, while being rather conservative in how it goes about this as well as many other things.
Our country is littered with examples of our collective conformity and lack of interest in substantive change – let alone any real radicalism. And what is telling is our lack of interest or curiosity in these discrepancies – lest they disrupt our telling ourselves how unique we are.
If Scotland were this place of radicalism wouldn’t there be a land filled with lots of examples of radicalism? Of pioneering legislation, examples of social change, and people and communities empowered? Would there not have been a shake up of one of the ultimate closed shops: the Scottish legal establishment? Or the education community? Or even senior health consultants? Public sector reform is a phrase left at the border. Read the rest of this entry »