Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Review’
A Different Scotland is Happening
Gerry Hassan and James Mitchell
Scottish Review, November 27th 2013
Many words will be written this week and in the years to come about the independence debate and the publication of the Scottish Government White Paper on independence launched yesterday in Glasgow by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.
All of this has come about after negotiations between the UK and Scottish Governments. They agreed the question to be put to the Scottish people, about who could vote and the rules of the referendum. The two Governments and campaign organisations associated with each side seek to define the terms of the debate: independence vs. separatism; hope vs. fear; change vs. continuity.
There is nothing unusual in this. Elections and referendums in liberal democracies are about giving the public an authoritative voice on pre-determined choices.
As a device for consulting the people, the referendum is now more commonly used in the UK than the past. It has value in ensuring that a decision carries the legitimising power of public support, as happened in the 1997 devolution vote. But referendums have their limitations. They encourage highly adversarial politics and limit choices to what is on offer at the ballot box, even if the public might prefer something else. These features can limit public involvement to being spectators. Read the rest of this entry »
A Memo to James Naughtie on his Return to Scotland
Scottish Review, October 10th 2013
It has come to my attention that you planning to move north to cover the independence referendum, admittedly for only two days a week.
Since you last worked in Scotland in 1977 a lot has altered that you might find at first a bit bewildering. Scotland has changed, not entirely in ways immediately apparent or straightforward. Some institutions which have the same names as 36 years ago have changed, nearly totally out of recognition. New bodies and different ways of things of doing things have emerged.
To save you time and reading, considering that you are only here two days a week, here is a short guide to what’s changed and what’s not changed, and how to make some sense of the public life of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland’s comforting stories and the missing voices of public life
Scottish Review, September 24th 2013
Scotland in its politics, culture and sense of its identity likes to tell itself a comforting story.
There was once a Labour Scotland optimistic story of lifting working people up, and now there is a Nationalist account about the possibilities of independence. There is even a positive pro-union version that has not been fully articulated in public for many years.
All of these are partial accounts, and one of the many challenges they face is the continued existence of negative stories which emphasise that we are too small, too poor, too divided, and above all, just too Scottish, to do anything about changing our country.
One of the positive accounts of modern Scotland which has risen in recent years has been the richness of artistic and cultural Scotland. This was witnessed in the recent Creative Scotland stramash which saw its Chief Executive Andrew Dixon shown the door. An organised group of artists and cultural figures saw themselves as defending the interests of a community and a set of inclusive, enlightened values. Read the rest of this entry »
The Emergence of ‘the Third Scotland’
Scottish Review, September 12th 2013
Two Scottish establishments facing one another – one the old Labour Scotland which has administered and dominated public life for the last 50 years; the other the newcomer on the block: the bright, shiny SNP establishment full of vigour and promise.
This is what lies behind the slugfest of the ‘Yes/No’ debate, its partisan adherents, and the simple, superficial presentation of this in large sections of the mainstream media.
Two weeks ago a piece I wrote for ‘Scottish Review’ outlined the nature of this non-debate and the two establishments Scotland idea. I subsequently began to think whether this was an accurate description of where we are, and whether the British establishment shouldn’t be counted, given they have an interest and voice in the whole thing. Then I came to the realisation that at least within Scotland, there was another emerging force different from the two camps.
This is what I would call ‘the third Scotland’. It is characterised by being mostly non-institutional, not part of ‘official Scotland’ and with a significant presence in social media. It also seems to represent a generational shift, with a whole swathe of politically literate twentysomething Scotland being involved in it. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland’s Big Debate, Mini-Crises and A Tale of Two Establishments
Scottish Review, August 27th 2013
We hear all the time from all quarters and opinions that the independence debate is a historic one and a momentous decision.
Sadly often it doesn’t feel like that at the moment, seeming more like the next installment in the Labour-SNP dirty war or a bitter by-election in a closely fought parliamentary seat.
The key issues, if you go by what has been in the media in the last few weeks, has been who paid for a newspaper article, whether Labour for Independence was a front and deliberate deception, and even, who originated and then stole the phrase, ‘the best of both worlds’ (which apparently ‘Better Together’ allege ‘Yes Scotland’ stole).
The most recent controversy involved several dimensions. There was the hacking scandal which entailed ‘Yes Scotland’s’ computer systems being cyber-attacked; ‘Yes Scotland’ paying for an article in ‘The Herald’ by Dr. Elliot Bulmer; and what looks like an orchestrated attempt to reduce the debate to the most superficial level. Read the rest of this entry »