Posts Tagged ‘Social Change’
What Future is there for Young Working Class Scotland?
Scottish Review, June 15th 2016
There is something about Scots and class, and in particular about working class identities.
Many Scots define themselves when given a choice as working class, yet in terms of occupations and status, on any definition, a majority would be categorised as middle class. Interestingly, in some surveys, a majority of such middle class people reject this term, and call themselves working class (one survey a decade ago saying that 52% of middle class people identified as working class).
Some of this is history, tradition and culture. It is intertwined with perceptions of where ‘we’ collectively have come from, and where we have ended up – the effect of Thatcherism, huge economic and social changes, and the winners and losers of the last 30 years. Read the rest of this entry »
Whatever happened to the Scottish Tut?
Scottish Review, January 13th 2016
Once upon a time there was a thing called the Scottish Tut.
It defined many of our exchanges, stalked our land and policed the boundaries of permissible behaviour. It gave and took away acceptance; and once it was seemingly everywhere and now seems nowhere. Whatever happened to the once powerful tut, can we live without it, and should we lament its apparent demise?
The Scottish Tut involves many different motivations, styles and gradations. It could be used to indicate someone seen as ‘getting above their station’ or pronouncing a view viewed as gauche or inappropriate. Being judged as high-faluting and having an inappropriate attitude could bring forth the tut. But so could wearing a rather loud shirt or trousers, or trying too obviously to look different or alternative.
The tut embodied a passive aggressiveness: the use of pursed lips, staring, glaring, looking shocked, silence and a whole host of body language signals. This had power in a society that had all kinds of hang-ups, no-go areas and numerous unwritten rules. People often associate this with authority and officialdom – from councillors and faceless bureaucrats to the revenge of the local minister or priest. But it had its roots in a deep well of culture, history and traditions. Read the rest of this entry »
What happens to the Spirit of 2014?
Sunday Mail, December 21st 2014
It has been an action packed 2014.
Scotland’s year has witnessed drama, theatre and spectacle: the Commonwealth Games, First World War anniversaries, the Ryder Cup, and of course, the Big Day in September – the independence referendum.
Scotland voted to stay in the union for now, but changed in the process, became more self-confident and more sure in its capacity to self-govern itself. The UK political classes seemed less sure-footed by the day.
The spirit of 2014 witnessed the greatest democratic expression of Scots ever seen in history. This was bigger, more important and vibrant than anything previously seen in our politics and society.
High politics tried to understand this. There was the last minute panic of ‘the Vow’ which led to the Smith Commission: decent greater devolution, but dull stuff which isn’t about democracy. Then there was Cameron playing with combustible materials: raising the spectre of English Votes for English Laws and reducing Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs to second class representatives. Read the rest of this entry »
Message to the Messengers: What do we do after Yes?
Scottish Left Project, December 5th 2014
It is a frenetic, dynamic time to be living in Scotland – politically, culturally and in many other aspects of public life.
Nearly three months since the momentous indyref Scotland is still gripped by a sense of movement, possibilities and new openings – up to and beyond the 2015 and 2016 elections.
Yet at the same time in parts of the independence movement there are unrealistic expectations of political change, of belief that the union is finished, and that Scotland can embark on its destiny in the next couple of years.
Any radical politics has to have a sense of what is possible, to push it as far as it can, to understand timescales and how these dovetail with strategy. And critically it has to understand the political culture beyond its own boundaries – in the Scotland which voted No.
The independence referendum was a historic moment, an epic time in Scotland’s political evolution, and an awakening of the democratic impulse. Yet, it produced a comfortable victory for No and a defeat for Yes. For all the commentary that Yes won the campaign and that the idea of independence has been normalised, defeat has an upside: an opportunity and release which shouldn’t just be squandered. Read the rest of this entry »
Reflections on Turning Fifty in the Scotland of 2014
Scottish Review, November 26th 2014
I knew from an early age I would turn 50 in 2014.
It was simple maths. At age eight, reading the ‘Tell Me Why’ encyclopedias of facts and figures, I became aware of a sense of time. Apparently the sun would explode in around five billion years wiping out all life on planet earth and any chance I had of immortality. And at around the same time, confronted with this reality, I worked out that I would be 36 in 2000, 50 in 2014 and 86 in 2050. Plenty time I thought for lots of plans and dreams.
Often the concerns of an over-bright boy or girl confronted with the mysteries of life and universe, are about trying to place yourself and idea of self in it. Whereas, in actual fact, these are deep, timeless and philosophical questions which have taken up the time and efforts of some of our greatest thinkers.
I grew up as an only child with a palpable self-consciousness, large amounts of time and space for reflection, and a constant curiosity and hunger to find out more about the world. It was, as a young boy a big positive, not to have siblings. I had no one I had to share a bedroom with, or be bullied by, or look out for and protect from bullying at school or in our neighbourhood. And I had both quiet and room for contemplation and my own private world when I wanted to retreat to it. Read the rest of this entry »