Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’
History in the Making: The Battle for Scotland’s Future
National Collective, November 20th 2013
The campaign on Scottish independence has reached new levels – a battle of competing specialist documents – firstly, there has been an Institute for Fiscal Studies report, matched by a Scottish Government paper on the economic independence, and next week the much anticipated White Paper on Scottish independence.
The latter is a milestone in the pro-independence debate. Whatever its content, style and persuasiveness things will never quite be the same again. A devolved administration in part of the UK lays out the case for independence and for formally ending the 300 year old union which has bound Scotland and England together.
Yet beneath these is a contest between two competing technocratic versions of the world, shaped by faith in conventional economic growth models which are globally growing more threadbare and discredited by the day. This is the rationalist mindset, illustrating by the actions of both campaigns the limits of such an approach and politics.
Then there is the mainstream media. The IFS report was greeted by what can only be called near-hysteria by some of the pro-union newspapers. The Scottish edition of ‘the Daily Mail’ shouted ‘BLACK HOLE: Report exposes SNP economic gap: They’ll have to raise income tax or slash spending’ on its front page; the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that ‘Separation would deal £6bn blow, impartial study finds’. We have had two and a half years of this one-sided Pathe News style propaganda and clearly it is only going in one direction: towards a date with Armageddon on September 18th 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
The continuing relevance of solidarity and class
The Scotsman, November 16th 2013
Scotland has been informed by the experiences and memories of working class life and culture since the time of the industrial revolution.
A majority of Scots see themselves as working class and more people do now than over a generation ago in 1979.
In a strange turn of affairs, being working class post-crash is all the rage nowadays. It might not be the sixties when being working class was associated with the age of meritocracy and tearing down the old elites, but change is in the air.
The mantras of the long British bubble now seem from another age: the prospect of ‘a classless society’ invoked by John Major and Tony Blair’s delusion that ‘we are all middle class now’ look even more preposterous. Even Major has woken up to the new realities of class and privilege. Read the rest of this entry »
Time to Be Bold in Making a New Scottish Democracy!
The Scotsman, October 19th 2013
We hear all the time that a ‘historic decision’ awaits Scots next year but so far this has seemed like a typical Scots campaign as nervous forces of change face a techy displaced establishment and a media unsure of its role.
All this in the context of traditional institutions declining, new ways of organising and social media emerging, and a country dramatically changed in the last three decades, which ‘official Scotland’ finds difficult to fully grasp.
Our traditional politics struggle with this. The SNP may exude confidence as they meet this weekend in Perth but their Fabian style nationalism – hesitant, incremental and conservative with a small ‘c’ – has so far made the party political weather but not yet convinced on independence.
The pro-union campaign has been aggressive, evasive and harking back to a past Scotland which doubted itself. Last weekend a ‘Better Together’ spokesperson even called pupils in schools singing Scots songs ‘propaganda’. 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 »