Monday 14 February 2005

Caledonian Culture

There's a very Scottish row going on about comments made by broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove:
A LEADING broadcaster and cultural commentator drew heavy criticism last night after he accused the Scots of being an unimaginative and inward-looking race who like to celebrate failure and poverty.
At the heart of Cosgrove's argument is this:
Referring to films such as Trainspotting and Small Faces, he said: "There is hardly one film made in Scotland by a Scot that is not cast in some dreary, awful, urban, deprived social landscape. I think this is a failure of the imagination. This self-loathing, inward-looking obsession has damaged Scotland. It doesn't capture the joie de vivre or the celebratory attitude of the Scots. It announces to the world that we are a backwater, poor and deprived, when we are not. We are one of the richest nations in the world, yet love to represent ourselves not to be."
Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are up in arms:
However, leading Scots last night rejected this view and said the country was a prosperous place, full of talent, self-confidence, determination and entrepreneurialism.
I'm with Mr Cosgrove on this. He didn't say that Scotland was unsuccessful - his argument is that our intellectuals portray the country in a negative way. They do.

There's more about this over on the Herald (although their link may not work for long). Some of the comments there bear out Cosgrove's own views perfectly:

Kevin Williamson, founder of Rebel Inc, which published self-proclaimed anti-establishment authors such as Irvine Welsh in the 1990s, said: "What happened in Scotland under 18 years of Tory rule was appalling. Working-class people were totally disenfranchised.
Disenfranchised! So Glasgow went Conservative in the 'eighties? I must have missed that.

And what about this from writer A L Kennedy:

Scots are not obsessed with poverty because they want to be. They don't have extraordinary corrupt local government because they want to.
I suppose that Margaret Thatcher imposed all those Labour councillors on us. No. Scots voted for the Town Hall numpties who deride ideas of self-improvement and entrepreneurialism. And I have little doubt that part of the reason is that Scotland's intellectual class worships the concept of the "working class" and thus influences the electorate. Of course, the intelligentsia doesn't mean people who actually work. Most workers in Scotland, like elsewhere in the West, are middle class in so far as they work in offices, own their own homes, holiday abroad and expect - subject to the depredations of Gordon Brown - to enjoy a reasonable retirement. The country would be far more prosperous if Scots intellectuals recognised that the folk to be admired are those who pay their way, not the legions of welfare recipients who are wrongly portrayed as admirable.


David Farrer said...

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24 February 2007, 20:26:33 GMT
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Getting back to the article........ 
I completely agree with Cosgrove, I thought all the people who refuted him in that article could have done with mentioning a few positive cultural things in the same way he pointed out the negative ones. Is that perhaps because they don't exist? 
The love of failure and the romanticisation of poverty makes it a very good place to leave, and people have been doing that for a long time. 
AL Kennedy in particular talks crap, as if the sheep like tendency to always vote Labour had no part in corrupting the nations politics. 
That Kevin Williamson guy clearly understand bugger all about Dickens.

19 February 2005, 21:39:13 GMT
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Neil Craig
Not a bad idea. It has the advantages of a run off system without the risk of Le Pen being in the final 2. One of the weaknesses of normal democracy is that the top 51% get to do anything they want. I can see this as a useful idea in a Presidential election (Northern Ireland or Ukraine's President would somewhat acceptable to both sides). 
I wouldn't like it for most Parliamentary elections since it will tend to produce bland results & a Parliament without divergent views is a waste of space.  
However if you believe in separation of powers it is useful to have more than 1 voting system.

17 February 2005, 19:42:36 GMT
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David B. Wildgoose
First Past The Post is a broken electoral system and has been since the nineteenth century. 
Allow me to suggest that people take a look at Approval Voting as its ideal replacement. 
Instead of only being allowed to vote for one candidate, and thereby being forced to choose the "lesser of several evils", you instead vote for ALL the candidates you approve of - you don't care which amongst these wins. The candidate with the most (widespread) approval wins the seat.

17 February 2005, 15:03:54 GMT
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Neil Craig
FPTP only works well in a 2 party system if you assume that anybody in government is likely, within 1 or 2 terms, to make such a mess that they will lose enough votes to no longer command a majority & the other lot get in. Now this has been a pretty good reflection of reality in Britain for a century. Even here it has the disadvantage (or advantage for statists) that the opposition vote has nowhere to go except to the "other" party. Britain is now in the situation where both parties simultaneously manage to look like idiots. 
2 examples of situations where the leading party has not been able to prove idiotic: 
Scottish Labour were maintaining enough of a vote to dominate Scottish Westminster MPs because, when we had no Holyrood they were able to blame Thatcher for everything bad that happened here - with the coming of Holyrood this facade is clearly cracking. 
Singapore has had over 50% of the vote & 80% of the seats in the government hands since independence - the reason here is that the government has proven to be extremely competent (I would vote for them myself) - however even here it is generally agreed that this makes Singapore a more authoritarian society less open to new ideas than is good for it. 
Basically any system where representation doesn't fairly closely relate to the way the electorate wish to vote is corrupting, undemocratic & bound to bring those in charge into contempt (as per the USSR) & FTPT has the added fact that a small but unpredictable swing can lead to a complete reversal of policy.

16 February 2005, 18:55:46 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Andrew Ian Dodge
IE Stuart: you want the Tory Party to completely ditch its ideals. The so-called Centrists are merely nu-Labour-lite and are the cause of the Tories being out of power for so long. The watered down rhetoric does not inspire either Tory activists (who are leaving in droves) nor the voters. 
One thing is for sure however, the Tories need to decide to their policy and stick with it.

16 February 2005, 12:23:59 GMT
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Stuart Dickson
My, my! 
There have been one or two nasty, ill-informed, even "loony" comments made on this strand. It appears we have a couple of Scotophobes on our hands. 
... But they should be ahead of the Loony Lib Dems for petes sake!!! Does anyone know the reasons why they are ahead? It would be interesting to know. 
I think I can help you Al. In Scotland it is not the LibDems who come across as raving lunatics. It is right-wing Tories like you that gave the Tory party such an appalling reputation. Because you come across as... well... a wee bitty "loony". 
Al, I actually linked to your blog from mine for a while, until I read it in detail. I have to say that by your tone and tactics you are doing your campaign far more harm than good. 
Many people, right throughout politics consider the BBC to be biased, but when we read diatribes like yours our automatic reaction is to look more sympathetically on the BBC and to write off the Tories as extremist nutters. 
The Tories did far better in Scotland when they were paternalistic, "One-nation", centre-right conservatives. If you want to do better you should discourage people from the fringes of the political spectrum from joining your party, and try very hard to recruit more centists.

16 February 2005, 06:34:36 GMT
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Well at least the Conservatives aren't behind the Socialists....... But they should be ahead of the Loony Lib Dems for petes sake!!! Does anyone know the reasons why they are ahead? It would be interesting to know.

15 February 2005, 23:54:43 GMT
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OK,you bloody voted for it, though. "Rub along with the English or be ruled by the Glasgow Labour Party" and you chose the latter! Now, serious matters. What the hell has happened to Scottish football and rugby? There was a century or so of near level-pegging in matches vs England, a decent result in football and near-miraculous in rugby where Scotland had perhaps 10,000 players and England 250,000 (figures a guess, but you take my point). How has any approximation to parity vanished in, what, 10 or 15 years?

15 February 2005, 17:24:29 GMT
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Andrew Duffin
Well not usually, because all the extant systems seem to produce even worse results, but you must admit these figures look pretty dodgy. How can anyone defend this as a fair system? 
FPTP is perfect in a two-party system, but clearly useless when there are four or more - or even three or more. 
Problem is, how to keep the locality issue alive (in other words, who's MY MSP?). I think that's something we should try to preserve. Damned if I see how, though.

15 February 2005, 16:40:12 GMT
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Andrew you are not a fan of PR are you?

15 February 2005, 14:11:22 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Andrew Duffin
Scots voted for all those town hall numpties? Well yes, I suppose they did - it's well known in Ayrshire that the Labour Party could nominate a rusty bicycle and it would duly get elected. In fact come to think of it - er, no, don't go there, libel laws and all that. 
But look at this prediction based on a recent opinion poll(from the Sunday Herald): 
Party % of Vote Predicted Seats* 
Labour 42 43 
SNP 22 6 
LibDems 16 9 
Tories 16 0 
SSP 3 0 
(Apologies in advance if the layout get snafued - no preview available!) 
* These are Westminster seats btw 
Is our electoral system mad or what? 
42% of the vote gets you 74% of the seats? The SNP, with more than half of the votes of Labour, gets only a SEVENTH as many seats? Of two parties with identical vote shares, one gets nine seats and the other NONE?  
What is going on here?  
No wonder we're ruled by Labour rotten boroughs.

15 February 2005, 12:36:46 GMT
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You're correct. Self-depreciation is one of the tenets of Communistic media and literature. Look at the screaming, wailing, whingebags we have in our left-wing press such as John Pilger(Mirror) and Polly Toynbee(Scotsman).  
The sooner the left wake up to the fact that the structure of our society, is not as they say, "totally exploitated by capitalism" and that we are not worse than our enemies, the sooner we will move into an era when of economic vibrancy, patriotism, and social progress.  
There was a day when the working class all worked their socks off(because they had to) and in addition, had moral standards. These standards acted as a tool of social cohesion in impoverished times.  
Nowadays the acceptance of 'victim culture' has rolled the state so far into the lives of these spongers, that it is almost impossible to reverse, without mass protest from menopausal housewife councillors. 
Our political culture panders to the socialist idea that poverty is the cause of all ills. This is a lie. The moral degradation in our society is the cause of poverty. In fact, we are in an era of a new kind of poverty. Since Thatchers government we have gradually become richer and richer. Who would have believed that almost everyone in Britain would have a mobile phone, or that every council estate would be decorated with satellite dishes? The beacon of affluence has never been clearer, even in the most economically defecient areas.  
Lack of responsibility is the underlying problem. People are unwilling to accept responsibility for their own problems. Thus they believe that their troubles are beyond their control, and are in fact in the sphere of government responsibility.  
The problem is, the liberal lunatics who run our Scottish Parliament are not going to be of any help to Scotland.

15 February 2005, 12:28:20 GMT
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David Ellams
Mr Cosgrove is describing the Lenin's view of the arts. He said "Art is a hammer, not a mirror." 
What he meant was that if you want to destroy a free society you make it impossible for people to have any joy in their lives, by constantly hammering into them the idea that they are vile, degraded, depraved. You deny them any sign of individual achievement by taking away all images of human beauty and dignity. 
When you look at an ancient Greek statue it is like looking into a mirror and seeing human greatness. That is precisely what the communists want to abolish, in order to impose their blood thirsty tyranny on us. 
That is the unquestioned, implicit assumption behind all state funded art projects.

14 February 2005, 22:00:30 GMT