Showing posts with label Iain MacWhirter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iain MacWhirter. Show all posts

Friday 30 June 2017

Edinburgh book festival 2017: Brave new words

Journalist Ian Bell

“Brave New Words’
In times of turmoil words are a safety net, help us to shared understandings.

Edinburgh International Book festival 2017, 12th - 28th August -
The festival, begun in 1983 and is one of the world's biggest, will have 1000 authors from 50 countries and will host Illustrators, musicians, scientists, politicians, scientists, children authors and more.

Some famous authors this year will include - Zadie Smith, Judy Murray, Chris Hoy Jeremy Paxman, Patrick Ness, Chinnamanda Ngozi Adiccline.

**MUSIC – this year - Fiddler Aidan O’Rourke; Scott Hutchison, The Frightened Rabbit frontman; composer Sally Beamish. Music previously has included Alfred Brendel, Nile Rogers and more.
Lesley Riddoch

Liz Lochend

Iain MacWhirter
Words and stories are our passports to a better fairer world. Imagination is Free! Whether the words are carried in song, in poetry, in political ideas, in images, fairy tales, history, theories, journalism, truth or in stories.

Recently, In Grenfell Tower block Kensington, we all witnessed the most horrific fire, where probably hundreds must have died! (yet the first reports claimed only 6 – was this all a cover up?)
Ben Okria
Writer Ben Okria visited the site and wrote his poem – Grenfell Tower
How this tall burnt out blackened shell is a metaphor for our failings – our failings to recognise the CLADDING on our very discourse. He says - We need to tear down this cladding and open our eyes to what is around us. 

There are signs of hope – more people are reaching for investigative journalism where they can find it!
The young especially are now disregarding traditional news media and searching for answers elsewhere. Macron started a new political party only one year ago – and won the vote. Things are changing fast in our fast interconnected world. 
Enlightened discourse is always about diversity! And the book festival encourages open questioning and debate. Robert Burns ran his own Debating clubs at Tarbolton.

We must question opposite viewpoints. We live in complex times but there are gate keepers out here. We must question opposite viewpoints. Its worrying Theresa May actively dislikes 'division!' It is our very diversity that makes us stronger.

Words and ideas. TICKETS NOW ON SALE -

**Bohemians and Renaissance
In Edinburgh old town, the grand, the ordinary, the eccentric – all rubbed shoulders. It was this inconvenient bumping against each other that helped to make the Scottish Enlightenment happen.
Another factor that brought in fresh air, was after the union of the crowns, the royal court left for London! Which meant a breath of fresh air – as all he hangers on left too.

Poet Robert Burns experienced the flourishing Edinburgh in its last days (1786 – 1787)

They built the Georgian Edinburgh new town in the 1780s – finishing with the elegant Charlottes Square. The largest and most impressive Georgian development in the world. In Glasgow the marble staircased Town hall is vastly impressive – built over this period, when the tobacco and slave trade brought great benefit. There was also great expectations. 
The well to do no longer mixed …. and the Enlightenment withered.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Iain MacWhirter: Disunited Kingdom talk Edinburgh book festival 2015:

Iain MacWhirter - Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland
Award- winning Scottish journalist and political commentator for the Herald Iain MacWhirter, has written his second book on the Scottish Referendum 'Disunited Kingdom" How Westminster won a Referendum but Lost Scotland".  
He writes that the SNP 167 pages indie light White Paper was pretty much the same as what Regions in other federal states enjoy. We may say that there is a fine line between Indie light and Federal states that pretty much run all their own affairs. He argues that the Union has been presented as a partnership of equals and of two nations joining together – as a moral union in 1707, which has now been broken by the chancellor George Osborne.

MacWhirter takes a broad and informed view as an insider of both Westminster and Holyrood politics. He also reported frequently on the Scottish Referendum, in the Herald and Sunday Herald. His first book was The Road to Referendum. He gave a talk at Edinburgh book festival 2015 about how inspirational the whole Referendum process was and how it engaged so many different voice
In MacWhirter’s view nationalism in Europe has now replaced class warfare. "Decline of industrial class politics and the rise of regionalism in Europe, nationalism is proving to be a new organising principle in democratic engagement."  
He writes that, "Young people see independence as the only viable challenge to globalization and the dominance of neo liberalisation."  Civic nationalism allows for a means of progressing the democratic process.

For him an independent Scotland would be a better society. There is a huge democratic deficit between Scotland and England and are now on very different paths. He argues that baby steps devolution is not workable and it would be better from a position of implicit sovereignty strength through independence to then remake the UK holistically. To then work to establish new ground rules to work alongside the other UK nations. This is pretty much the thinking that I believed with regard to Scotland and that federalism will not be achievable through Westminster.

He has visited many other federal states to gather information on how their Federalism works. The Scottish Parliament is NOT the strongest devolved parliament in the world. Regions like Quebec or Alaska are practically independent as we in the UK would describe it. – they control ALL their taxes, economy, borrowing etc. Only foreign affairs and defence are shared. 

*MacWhirter had three main reasons for his decision to vote for Scottish Independence
The first reason was that England sees little need for Federalism and seems happy with the Westminster system. The second was the SNP White Paper (at 167 pages) of indie light – was in affect so light and safe, how was it independence at all? So much would remain the same.  Real Independence statements are normally short ones......!
I agree - playing it safe may have been the right thing five years ago - but now we need to be more radical!  Otherwise what's the point? 

His third, and most important reason, was Osborne's saying that Scotland could not use its pound, while all those south of Hadrian's Wall could.  Even though the two countries are big trading partners.  In his mind this broke the moral union. 

I agree with many of his arguments with some reservation. MacWhirter doesn’t feel that the UK is a repressive state. In my view unless Labour politicians leave the House of Lords – this is still a country of patronage, elitism and inequality. The UK is a top-down hierarchy. The Land Reform Bill is also crucial too with the gross ownership of Scottish land by only a few. 
Also at the Union of the Parliaments there was a great deal of coercion placed on the Scottish Parliament – historian Tom Devine writes that troops were positioned at the border and in Northern Ireland, England also refused to trade with Scotland (Tom Devine, The Scottish Nation). Most of Scotland at the time was strongly opposed to the Union. Of course there were back then some advantages of the Union, as all the political elite left Edinburgh for London with James VI and his court!  Which meant the great thinkers were free to have their discussions and we had the Scottish Enlightenment.

The English press appeared to believe that the SNP was about right wing thugs and attempted to portray this in the media. Nothing could be further from the truth. The grassroots indie campaign was energetic and inspired and led by articulate artists, journalists, scientists and business people from all walks of life.

*MacWhirter presented Westminster Live for ten years before returning to Scotland in 1999 to present Holyrood Live in 1999. He wrote Road to Referendum.