Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Scotland must move forward with new ideas

 

Scotland must move forward with new ideas from the tired, old arguments of the social left vs extreme right capitalism, all controlled from a centralised power. There must be a new way – more nuanced, inter-changeable, connected, more accountable and inclusive, greener and more local. To be forward thinking, to pursue coalitions and the collaborative. To have ingenuity and renewability. To listen to young voices and believe in the future, rather than clinging to past, out-dated processes.

There are social issues that require policy guidelines and laws. Its urgent with the climate crisis to establish a progressive energy security policy and encourage reform and research and more scientists in politics. I’ve lived abroad and in most other developed nations most states run their own economies, immigration and more. Scotland’s future must lie with an improved way to govern. What is wrong is constantly harking back to live in a past that is gone and being stuck as the Westminster Bubble is. Everything Westminster or the Tory government does feel wrong, undermining democracy and with no moral compass. And encouraging its 2 tier system. 

Why I believe that History matters. I’ve learned from reading history – that the Scots did not invade Ireland under James VI, the plantations of Ireland were begun under Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth; that Scotland boasts three ancient universities; that Scots scholars established American universities Columbia, and Princeton, and were part of the founding fathers (John Witherspoon (1723 – 1794) according to Professor Tom Devine;  and that religion really IS a force for good in the world but that its ambitious and ignorant politicians who thwart and encourage religious divisions for their own gain; That there were 'United Irishmen' late 1700s for reform, that included both Catholic and Presbyterians. Perhaps (?) improved local government and decentralization would assist with northern Ireland issues? Who knows.    

The Scottish enlightenment has been Scotland's biggest contribution to the world and there were two enlightenments, according to Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow university in his book, The Scottish Enlightenment. The first was Post Reformation with Scots scholars studying and teaching in Paris, and being leaders in Europe; This resulted from the collaborations between France and Scotland. Scotland had close trading links to Flanders and the rest of Europe, in those days when we had busy seafaring ports. Scotland before union 1707 was a trading and outward looking nation and a leader in Europe, not isolated or backward at all!

Broadie writes about the first Scottish Post Reformation enlightened scholars and that Enlightened thought began with the collaborations between France and Scots in the 16th century. The professors at Scotland’s ancient universities studied and taught in Paris with famous figures in philosophy, law and theology. The auld alliance between France and Scotland lasted for over 400 years from 1290 to 1707, and continues to this day.

Scotland is very much a European country according to according to Broadie. He writes that Scotland was culturally as much part of Europe as France, with the shipping lanes to Flanders and France and Scots scholars studying in Europe. ‘The three pre-Reformation, Scottish universities – St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow - have always been strongly oriented towards Europe” ..and that the teaching staff were foreign-educated Scots.”

 

Scotland’s European connections are centuries old, dating from 16th centuriy and beyond – and not only about wars but about our scholars, language, ideas and innovations. Many Scots words are from Flanders and France.

 

Its important to understand the significance of the Reformation and of enlightened thought on democracy and education in Scotland and worldwide. According to historian Tom Devine, Scots enlightened thinkers took their philosophy over to America and founded universities there, notably John Witherspoon who founded Princeton– and Scots were some of the America’s founding fathers. Freedom from intellectual servitude is celebrated by Robert Burns in 1796 when he lauds the stance of the man o independent mind, in his poem A Mans a Man for a That.  The man o independent mind is aboon them all.

 

II  History matters and is good for us! Essentially history gives us a moral backbone and human understandings. So there should be an increase in History teaching in schools, right through secondary school. Information and truth is crucial to move forward. To know history as a solid foundation. This teaching should run alongside the teaching of philosophy, which encourages critical thought.

In recent times we have witnessed the breakdown of democratic principles both in Europe and the US. We hoped the internet would open opportunities, but sadly it also provides dark tunnels of entrenched negativity. Our best defence is education, open debate, open minds – the opposite of narrow and limited populism. Crucially this is done through the arts, history and philosophy – and let us look to enlightened thought and freedom of speech as the way forward. 


Scotland's Enlightenment Freedom of Thought & Speech

 

The Scottish enlightenment has been Scotland's biggest contribution to the world and there were two enlightenments, according to Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow university in his book, The Scottish Enlightenment. The first Post Reformation with Scots scholars studying and teaching in Paris, and being leaders in Europe; This resulted from the collaborations between France and Scotland. Scotland had close trading links to Flanders and the rest of Europe, in those days when we had busy sea faring ports. Scotland before union 1707 was a trading and outward looking nation and a leader in Europe, not isolated or backward at all!

Broadie writes about the first Scottish Post Reformation enlightened scholars and that Enlightened thought began with the collaborations between France and Scots in the 16th century.  The professors at Scotland’s ancient universities studied and taught in Paris with famous figures in philosophy, law and theology. The auld alliance between France and Scotland lasted for over 400 years from 1290 to 1707, and continues to this day.

Because how could the enlightenment of the 1700s just happen - “the discoveries of 18th century were only possible because Scotland was already strong in sciences, in mathematics, experimenters and informed observers,” 

Scotland is very much a European country according to according to Broadie. He writes that Scotland was culturally as much a part of Europe as France, with the shipping and Scots scholars studying in Europe. ‘The three pre-Reformation, Scottish universities – St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow - have always been strongly oriented towards Europe” ..and that the teaching staff were foreign educated Scots.”

 

Duna Scotus

James Dalyrumple 


The first Enlightenment was led by the scholars such as Duns Scotus (1265 - 1308), Philosopher and theologian;  John Mair (1467 – 1550). Professor theology Paris, who tutored John Knox; James Dalyrumple (1619 – 1695) Father of Scots Law and leading European. George Buchanan (1506 – 1582) Historian and scholar who taught James VI. Father of democracy; and many others.  **The second Enlightenment was in the mid 1700s, led by famous thinkers such as Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, Theory of Moral Sentiment); David Hume, historian and philosopher; James Hutton  (1726 - 1797) geologist, naturalist and physician: father of Geology. The Scottish enlightenment is bound up with our country’s identity, and reaches back to the Reformation and beyond to the great cultural achievement of medieval Scotland.”

Some writers however claim the enlightenment began in England (and mention John Locke (1632 - 1704) and then spread to France – is this correct? Then again the term ‘England’ to many world wide is interchangeable for the term ‘Britain’ and Scotland is a mere region of England/ Britain much like Yorkshire or Devon. Does this deliberate distortion of history and geography matter? The BBC certainly view Scotland as a region. I believe it does, as Scots have over the centuries given significant achievements to the world, which in the past century have been ignored and downplayed and with Scots generally made to feel second rate. While the BBC broadcaster clearly has “a region for Scotland” agenda, with no mention of Nicola’s US trip all week on BBC radio Scotland – I’d not have known about her important trip to discuss global issues, if it wasn’t for reading the National newspaper.

Enlightened thought is crucial and our best defence against ignorant and often cruel dictatorships. Populism and dictatorships have been spreading around the world in recent times and are a threat to liberal democracies everywhere. The lack of moral leadership in Johnson’s has been causing a crisis of trust here in the UK. We’re now suffering chaos, no foreword energy planning and the central policy of service industries, based on the city of London. There is no real serious leadership at the centre of this floundering disunited kingdom. 

David Hume

Frances Hutcheson

James Hutton

II  Before the Reformation and enlightenment there was “slavery of the mind” and free thinkers were not only imprisoned but burned at the stake for heresy and for daring to think for themselves and not blindly obeying the authority. The enlightened thinkers believe that ‘thinking for ourselves’ is more moral, creative and superior to suppression and control. “an acceptance of authority, constrains and distorts humanity; and that to think and look for ourselves is morally superior; and means to grow intellectually.” Dictators fear the ‘chaos of democracy” and democracy certainly has flaws. However debates and liberty are also democracy’s creative strengths. 

 

To improve ourselves we must use reason and common sense and to learn the lessons history teaches us. David Hume recognised the need to use reason to fight ‘bigotry and superstition.’ Rulers feared freedom would lead to ‘chaos’ – here in Britain too. When the French and American Revolutions took place late 1700s, the church in Britain preached against the ‘French terror’ and reformers for votes for all men were exiled to Botany Bay (such as the martyr Thomas Muir).

 

There were two main principles of enlightenment – 1. Freedom to think for ourselves. Freedom of thought  2.  The social virtue of tolerance. The Scottish Theory of common sense. And the balance between personal responsibility and responsibility for society and a moral compass. Another key aspect of the SE was that is was a highly social activity with many societies, clubs and debating and meeting places. 

 

Enlightenment reasoning means challenging and thinking for oneself, rather than accepting dictates from a religious or political authority or mass media – how is democracy even possible without critical thought? I used to believe democracy was only possible with a free press, decent education, rule of law, balance of power and a certain level of economic growth. Of course all this reasoning and enlightened thought requires effort! Broadie claims the Enlightenment continues to this day.

 

The Scottish enlightenment’s impact on democracy and reform have been greatly ignored. I only first heard of this incredible history in a talk by professor Tom Devine a few years back, even though I studied higher history at school in Edinburgh, it was all English history we were taught. 

 

George Buchanan

III   A few miles north of me, in the historic village of Killearn, there is a tall memorial to the scholar George Buchanan 1506-1582 and I was curious – who was he and why the tall monument? He was tutor to the young Stewart king James VI and put forward the theory that real power resides with the people -  De Jure Regni apud Scotos, published in 1579 - one of the most important books on democracy and an essential text in our understanding of the constitution and the state. Professor Alan Raich writes on Buchanan, 

“His book follows the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) in saying that all political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or all rulers) if  they become tyrants….There were many attempts to suppress his work, particularly by the king he tutored and he foresaw where stupid Stewart vanity would lead. He was a major player in the European cultural context.”

 

The inscription reads – “born Killearn. He was famed in Europe for scholarship and poetry. His witty satire on a corrupt church led to exile and imprisonment in Europe. He travelled widely teaching in France, Portugal and Italy. He returned to Scotland in 1561 to the court of Mary Queen of Scots. He achieved high office as keeper of the privy seal and served as moderator of the church. He taught Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. His advice on the responsibilities of rulers was influential during the 1688 constitutional change and in the formation of the American constitution.” Wisest among the wise.” 

 

That’s the first time I realised Scotland before the union with England, was not a dark, isolated, backward, or ignorant place as often portrayed in both TV and film. The reality actually is that Scotland has given many innovations to the world, not least crucially the theory of democracy and government for the people, by the people


Scotland’s European connections are centuries old, dating from 16th century and beyond – and not only about wars but about our scholars, language, ideas and innovations. Many Scots words are form Flanders and France.. 


Its important to understand the significance of the Reformation and of enlightened thought on democracy and education in Scotland and worldwide. According to Professor Tom Devine, the Scots enlightened thinkers took their philosophy over to America and founded universities there, notably John Witherspoon who founded Princeton– and Scots were some of the America’s founding fathers.  

Freedom from intellectual servitude is celebrated by Robert Burns in 1796 when he lauds the stance of the man o independent mind, in his poem A Mans a Man for a That.  The man o independent mind is aboon them all.


Adam Smith author Wealth of Nations

Emeli Sande Lets Say for Instance



It is good to see Emeli Sande return with a more authentic and true sound on indy label Chrysalis. In particular new single There isn’t Much. She seems in interviews to have found a new contentment and a new sense of self. Her new sound is also more laid back.


In 2012 she had huge commercial success with debut album Our Version of Events, which was the biggest selling album of 2012. Her range includes R&B, pop and gospel, with her inspirations including Nina Simone. Emeli has collaborated with Naughty Boy, Professor Green, Labyrinth.

She had major hits with Read all about it, Next to me, You are Beautiful.

She has performed at the London Olympic games and had major successes in America and has won four Brit awards for her music.

 

In 2012, I was thrilled to take photos at her Albert hall gig London. One of those perfect days and the excitement to be backstage and climb those stairs in front of the stage. 

 

I first heard her perform at the Oran Mor Glasgow, and took photos there that were used in her promotions. back in 2007 when she was a student at Glasgow medical school, when she impressed the packed crowd with her soul and R & B voice. Its been quite a journey and 10 years now since her debut. 

Emeli Sande Albert hall 2012



Emeli Sandé on tour UK with a solo piano show - Emeli Sande: Brighter Days Tour –  Òran Mór's Auditorium ... Date: 26th May 2022 7:00 pm. Venue: The Auditorium.

And at Belldrum festival

 

Lets Say for Instance


https://emelisande.com

Saving the Scots Language

Iona Fyfe


There’s the issues of Russia’s recent imperialism invasion of Ukraine, is this cultural genocide or fear of the economic successes of a more democratic Ukraine, or both? Does Putin want to erase Ukrainian culture, language and arts?


In Ireland one of the biggest issues is the Irish language which - unionists are fiercely against. In Scotland its not so long ago that children were belted in class for speaking in Scots, and teachers here were told they would sound ignorant if they spokein Scots! Its about the imperial domination of one culture over another. This is totally fake as Scotland was and is a world leader. Its a disgrace the way Scotland is usually portrayed in films as an ignorant or backward country, when this is a lie.

Why can’t we have both a common language and also celebrate our differences? In Switzerland they have high German in university lectures but speak Swiss German in their breaks.

 

Billy Kay recently gave an address to the Scottish parliament in Scots. to which there was a backlash by Labour politicians, claiming Scots is not a language. He is the author of the book, The Mother Tongue, published in 2006?

 

After the Brexit failures, it is British or English nationalism that is the problem. Suppressions of your culture has a devastating effect and left Scots feeling second class and inferior. I had hoped the days of imperial vandalism and repression were behind us now. 

 

 




**Scots Language recognised

Scots singer Iona Fyfe campaigned recently to have Scots language added on Spotify.

She had noticed on Spotify that there were all other living languages – Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic, Irish,

But no Scots. She contacted Spotify, asking to have Scots recognised also, but was ignored. 

 Then she met a Spotify executive at a music event in America and told him of her request and within a few days Scots had been added. 

Result. Well done Iona!  I took photos of Iona at Celtic Connections and was impressed with her voice. Check her out here –  https://ionafyfe.com

 

 

**Scottish nationalism - doesn’t want a superior voice just an equal one. Its inclusive or civic and about all who want to make their home in Scotland – its about places, unique Scottish geography surrounded by open seas at the edge of Europe and close to our Nordic cousins. 

 

Shetland is a mere 140 miles from Norway -. Orkney is home to the Brognar of Ness – which was an ancient temple, visited by people from all over Europe. 

And also Scapa Flow Orkney, where the naval fleet was stationed in the war. 

Sadly though the Homecoming Scotland excluded Jamaican Scots 2014, we importantly need to reconsider our vast Scots diaspora. 

 

 By contrast the words ‘all in England’ or the English or viewed as more ethnic and doesn’t include all who live in England. According to leading psychologist Stephen Reicher, at St Andrews university.

Its important indy supporters make it clear Scotland’s independence Is not about ‘ethnicity’ but about all who live Scotland. 



Scottish Art and Anti-Scottish lobby

 

The Scottish Reformation 16th century introduced a democratic structure to run the church and education for all. Scots were the most educated people in Europe. 

However in recent times those recruited to run Scottish arts have been mainly recruited from England, who clearly have no knowledge of Scots heritage, history, language, music or arts. And this is "all designed to imply that Scotland is a dull backwater which has never produced anything of importance.” - writes Paul Henderson Scott in his book Scotland: A Creative Past. This was also a result of the extreme centralising in the UK during the wars of the 20th century.

 

The exception is Celtic Connections, whose artistic director is Donald Shaw from Oban (Capercaillie). In a new improvement in 2022, violinist Nicola Benedetti has become the first Scots (and first woman) director of Edinburgh festival. Nick Barley from Yorkshire, is director of Edinburgh book festival. 

 

- In her article Scotsman Carol Craig writes  of, ‘The Scottish crisis of confidence about Scots feelings of inferiority.”

 

- Crawford Beveridge, first chief executive of Scottish enterprises 1990s, stated that the major problem facing Scotland is “a lack of self-belief.”


 How can this be true in a country that has contributed so much to the world in ideas, inventions, literature and arts? The answer is that education of many Scots has left them in complete ignorance of all of that. London became the main centre of the British empire. Back early 17th century, James Stewart VI of Scotland and England  in a treaty with clan chiefs on Iona, had them agree that their eldest sons would be educated in England.

 

One problem is the number of private schools in Edinburgh (at 25%) and with English students dominating Edinburgh university and St Andrews. 

 

 

BOOK – Scotland: a creative past, an independent future, Paul Henderson Scott-

https://blackwells.co.kshop/product/