Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’
The Fall of BBC’s ‘Sportscene’ and Why It Matters
Scottish Review, April 18th 2013
Scottish football matters to lots of us. Its images and halcyon images define many of our lives – the Lisbon Lions in 67, Rangers in Barcelona in 72, Aberdeen in Gothenburg in 83, the Jim Baxter keepie-up and the Archie Gemmell run.
When you think of English football one of the many images that might spring to mind is ‘Match of the Day’ and this may include its current opening credits. You would not say the same of the current BBC Scotland version of ‘Sportscene’.
Once upon a time ‘Sportscene’ and STV’s ‘Scotsport’ were part of our national fabric. There was Archie Macpherson anchoring one and Arthur Montford the other. They became national icons, figures of respect, learnedness and even in some strange way, of a Scottish sense of male style. Read the rest of this entry »
On Living in an Old Country: The Power of the Past after Thatcher
The Scotsman, April 15th 2013
The last week has effectively been an elegy on Britain’s recent past and present rolled into one.
This is not just about Thatcher, but the numerous references to the Churchill and Attlee funerals and how we marked these past titans. Is this who we really were, we ask with curiosity? Are we still that same people who dreamed dreams, stood alone against the Nazis, and built a welfare state, we ask, with a hint of anxiety?
Britain seems increasingly a place shaped by the allure of living in the past, by the power of previous generations and the combined cacophonous voices of the dead.
This is not just about the Thatcher moment. In recent years the British state has increasingly marked its numerous military and imperial triumphs and engagements. We have honoured Admiral Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Britain; next year there is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Western Europe and the bizarre celebration of the 100th anniversary of the onset of the First World War. Read the rest of this entry »
What do we do when we talk (and don’t talk) about Power?
Scottish Review, April 9th 2013
The story of modern Scotland is an obvious one: we are a nation and a community, increasingly defined by these two terms and from this comes our sense of difference and identity.
Beyond that it begins to get complicated and contested; our prevailing account of ourselves is that we are centre-left, egalitarian, inclusive and radical, and the missing word in front of each of these is more; meaning more than England, which for many is the crucial ingredient.
All of the above contain elements of truth but they are also our modern myths, the stories we tell ourselves to understand who we are, which are part-fact, part-fiction, but which make us who we are. And to fully comprehend this we need to try and have some honest, reflective conversations about this, the nature of our public life, and the challenge of power, namely, who has it and who doesn’t, and how we understand it.
Let’s start with power. It is one of the central ingredients that makes the world go round. There are at least three versions of it in modern Scotland: hard power, intermediate power, and soft power. And for some reason we don’t want to talk too much about these in modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »
We may be anti-Tory but the ideas of conservatism are everywhere
The Scotsman, April 6th 2013
Two laments have been constant in Scotland in the last decade. One is that our politics are not what they used to be; while another is that our media isn’t up to the task it once was (along with that our football is going down the pan!).
This yearning for the past and an unspecified ‘golden era’ in public life which never was has become a sort of national pastime. It is wrong, dangerous and debilitating, and the reasons for so many of us thinking this way need to be put in historical context.
The characteristics of public life go back at least to the Acts of Union agreed between a pre-democratic Scotland and England which defined and protected an autonomous Scots civil society. This centred Scots identity in the union around ‘the holy trinity’ of education, law and the kirk, prioritising institutional dominance of public life and institutional identities as our main mark of difference. 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 »