Showing posts with label english. Show all posts
Showing posts with label english. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

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. #¥esScots

 

 

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

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



Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Politics today is complex


I read that Norway has nine political parties – (re a letter National). This is complex and there are online questionnaires listing say 30 of the main issues that concern people, and after voters rate the issues that matter to them, they can then decide which party to vote for. Coalition government leads to more consensual, co-operative government and NOT “chaos” as put forward by the English Tories.

Back 19th century it used to be the main concern of the English political parties was raising taxes to fight the French, over territory. Or how to get rich quick. (In the alternative reality, where the Jacobites won, Scotland would be looking for treaties and trade links across Europe. And 250 years ago Burns wrote – of the poison of untold wealth, and how we all deserve equal rights and opportunities. Nothing much changes!)

So this binary two-party, confrontational left or right English political parties, offers too simplistic a choice, with its out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system, that encourages this binary choice.

Meanwhile the English Labour party is seriously spilt between those wanting the elitist status quo and those wanting reform, as the party continues to hark back to the past rather than addressing the pressing issues of the present: and the English Tory party has morphed into Ukip!

The English Tories rather than co-operative, modern government, believe they have to Lord it over others! The Tory word is not its bond either: Johnson only signed the Northern Ireland Protocol to "Get Brexit Done" and get himself re-elected. Most insidiously the British propaganda machine implies an open, fair democracy, when its fairly obvious this isn’t the case.

BoJo claims he wants a high pay Britain by stopping immigration (??) – the real way is by closing private schools and greatly improving education and opportunities for all our children. It appears there is a serious lack of education of both History and Geography generally, never mind Business or Science! In English schools they specialize early to two subjects. In the Scottish system its long been considered important to have a broad education to better understand and have a wider outlook, before any later specialization.

Gerry Hassan writes of a ‘Progressive Alliance” that works seriously for reform of the out-dated UK political system, to get rid of first-past-the-post and embrace a PR (proportional representation) voting system. (This is how Tories can be taken out of government, National Oct 6, 2021) Of course in my view, there is too much tension and strain in this broken system of a “united” Kingdom, of enforcement rather than consent. The English Tories are dismantling democracy and devolution in the UK and working towards ever more destructive centralization. As this Westminster Tory government is not voted for by Scots, this is creating an unsustainable situation.

Today’s Politics is far more complex then in the past - with the environmental crisis, free trade deals, equal rights, security and cyber space, energy supplies, monetary and financial markets, trans rights, child protection, health provision, media and press, education systems, connectivity and infrastructure, industry and business, arts and culture, pandemics, welfare, pensions and social security, economy and tax systems, more I’m sure. Scotland’s independence is not about the English people butabout their out-of-touch ignorant elites.

The words of Burn’s song Scots Wa Hae were not merely about Bruce, but about all freedom fighters against oppression. Kevin McKenna (Its past time to open Pandora’s box) writes of the Tories as ‘extremists’ and of their control of the UK media and Press. Without control of news outlets, many will continue to be fooled by England’s Tory misinformation. And when Scotland gains its independence, we must ban foreign political parties. The biggest issue becomes how can we control the message? “Stronger for Scotland” is not good enough – who is stronger? HOW CAN WE BE “A NATION AGAIN”


Monday, 31 May 2021

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB)


 “After the first Anglo-Sikh war in India, one of these days our great Indian empire, will stand up on its own legs and make use of our own rope to scourge us. … what right has England to an Indian empire?

No more than the Duke of Sutherland to his broad estate, wait  a little, we shall see it all arranged, according to a better justice, on the small scale and the large”  

 

Her family made its money on the sugar planation of Jamaica

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning     (1806 –  1861) 

was an English poet of the Victorian era popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime. Born in Count Durham, the eldest of 11 children, Elizabeth Barrett wrote poetry from the age of eleven.  At 15 she became ill, suffering intense head and spinal pain for the rest of her life. 

In the 1840s Elizabeth was introduced to literary society through her cousin, John Kenyon. Her first adult collection of poems was published in 1838 and she wrote prolifically between 1841 and 1844, producing poetry, translation and prose. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery and her work helped influence reform in the child labour legislation. Her prolific output made her a rival to Tennyson as a candidate for poet laureate on the death of Wordsworth. 

She was married to Robert Browning. Elizabeth's work had a major influence on prominent writers of the day, including the American poets Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. She is remembered for such poems as “How Do I Love Thee” (Sonnet 43, 1845) and "Aurora Leigh" (1858). 



Saturday, 29 September 2018

Tom Devine:The English in Scotland talk Edinburgh book festival 2018


Scotland's leading historian looked at the nation's main migrant group, who have outnumbered all other immigrants combined over the last fifty years — the English. 
Devine has co-authored a book on Immigrant communities –  New Scots: Scotland's Immigrant Communities Since 1945. He spoke of one of the most salient issues of our time - English people in Scotland.  
For centuries the Scots have travelled extensively and in France they spoke of “Rats and Scotchmen, you find them everywhere.” There has been Scots mobility into England, America, Caribbean, India, Australasia. There has been a great loss of skills and young for a very long time. A net emigration.  
He commented that the English have contributed a great deal to our universities and that many English people have moved here to avoid the marketization in England. 
At the 2014 Referendum, the English voted 70% no, which compared to the International group, who voted 42% yes. This did not significantly effect the vote he feels, as the English are less then 10% of the population. He says that any abrasiveness between the English and Scottish has more to do with class than ethnicity - or being in bed with an elephant! 
Devine spoke of history education in schools and he recommended to teach Scotland, Britain and world. He was asked about the teaching of history in Scotland. He replied that the history of Scotland has been spotty, pop-up and dysfunctional and not good enough to teach. There has been a revolution in the last ten decades however. 
 Scotland is the earliest state in Europe and went into a partnership with a bigger state. But since 1707 there has been the evolution of a dual identity, both British and Scots since the18thcentury. However there has been integration, but not assimilation. 
Historians use representative evidence, to get to the norm. 
Devine’s new Book in 2018 is on the Clearances - The Scottish Clearnces: A History of the Dispossessed 1600 - 1900: which discusses the clearances of the Cottars in the Scottish lowlands.  (October 2018)

Friday, 15 December 2017

SAVE SCOTLAND BRAND: Does Identity Politics matter?


Do identity politics matter, of course they do! These Brexiteers are so into their “British” or English identity; the French are into their identity; the Japanese are into their identity – so what’s the problem?  The problem is that the separate nations of the UK are a threat to the ever more centralizing Westminster.  Scottish identity or Irish identity are viewed as threats. Some say Identity politics is bad compared to class divides. I believe the opposite: identity matters greatly for Israelis, Jews and Palestinians.  I’m also internationalist too – I enjoy Italian art, Dylan songs - we must be both truly authentic and also outward looking.

Do flags matter?
The British /English Union Jack is not my flag and for me it is a symbol of repression of culture and of repression of the whistles and drums in Ireland. For me Union Jacks are signs of great division and oppression in Northern Ireland. I am ashamed to tick British as my identity and it is not my identity. It’s a bad state of affairs: I have no pride in being British and I don’t consider myself British. The “Brexit” yes/no vote meant a ton of Union Jack waving – well mainly in England. I view ‘Brutishness’ much as a Norwegian may view ‘Scandinavian’, except that Europeans do not deprive me of my Irish or Scottish roots. Union Jacks represent English imperialism,

**“SAVE Scotland brand”
Why is Marks and Spencer’s selling shortbread, a Scottish product, in a tin with scenes of London on it in Scotland? The National newspaper are running a campaign, Save our Scotland Brand,
to try to stop the imposition of a “BRITAIN’ brand on SCOTTISH products, which has become worse since Brexit and promotions of ‘Britishness’
Marks and Spencer’s are one of the worst culprits. There has been many cases of false labelling – “British Haggis”, “British Whisky”, “British Shortbread”, “British beef” stuck on Union Jack labels on Scottish produce. People have found in Scottish stores that there is Welsh, Cornish, Yorkshire, English cheese but no Scottish cheese. In M& S they label “as from the county of Scotland!’ when Scotland is one of the oldest country’s in the world! 

Is Scotland to become like Cornwall or Yorkshire, a mere county? Meanwhile Sainsbury say they use the Union Jack label because people identify it as English! Scotland has set higher standards than England for its food produce by banning GM crops and other pollutants. How can Scotland market its exports if they become part of a ”Britain” brand?

This dogs Brexit is about imposing a ‘British brand’ on Scotland. Scottish Food and drink is a major business and has increased by 34% since 2007. Scotland has a ‘Tartan Week’ over in New York to market Scottish products:  including arts, music, fashion, film, food products. 

There is a strange conflict going on presently it seems between globalization and the media elites and the nation states and of peoples’ local democratic will' to decide for themselves how best to run their own affairs. America has a strong influence over Britai its 51st State. There is also a good side to globalization – better communications, trade, peace, and more. There are also negatives – who wants to visit Paris to find it’s the same as New York? And who really wants a homogeneous world?

I’ve voted SNP for forty years now so no new belief, because de-centralising from Westminster can only be a good thing, and giving the Scottish people back the confidence in themselves that they have lost and “taking back our control” to local level from the south east property elites. The Greek economist and author Yanis Varoufakis stated, “The UK is the most imbalanced geographically lop-sided country of any major county in the world and it harms the economy. Chronic underperformance of the UK business model."  

Why do we have to sacrifice Peace and Prosperity to satisfy right wing Tory nutters? To be honest all this shows that those in England simply don’t care about Scotland and we are merely an ‘after thought’ despite all the Love bombs to us during the independence vote of 2014.
**Here is a letter Burns wrote of his wish to write about Scotland -
 ‘The appellation of a Scottish bard is by far my highest pride; to continue to deserve it  my most exalted ambition; Scottish scenes and Scottish stories are the theme I could wish to sing; I have no dearer aim than to have it in my power, unplagued with the routine of business , for which heaven knows I am unfit enough for; to make leisurely pilgrimage through Caledonia; to sit in the fields of her battles; to wander on the romantic banks of her rivers; or to muse by the stately towers or venerable ruins, once the honoured abodes of her heroes. ‘   R.B.  Letter March 1787 to Ms Dunlop

PS
Michael Portillo on This Week, ‘UK politicians don’t posture – European do posture! We are completely different!’  Who’s not into identity politics then? 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Can a Thousand Scotlands Bloom?

This blossoming of artists, musicians, writers since the Scottish parliament opened 1997 (20 years ago) gave us belief back. I used to hear – ‘oh Scots are a nation of scroungers!’ After the 1979 Devolution Vote farce for a hoped for Scottish Parliament, many left Scotland and we felt demoralized, it was a sad time. For centuries Scottish culture has been suppressed and ignored by those Anglicised Scots – those Scots who view themselves as English first, Scottish second.  

In response to Gillian Bowditch and her Sunday Times article, Narrow cultural focus will tie us all to a tartan straight jacket’ where she writes on the author Muriel Spark - Spark wrote of a decidedly small niche of cloistered girls at Gillespie’s secondary school Edinburgh – how is this so deep or rich, compared to say Burns or Irvine Welsh?

How can a thousand Scotland’s bloom when we were taught nothing of our heritage, and culture in Scottish schools until recently….!
I grew up in Edinburgh and walked her historic streets and I wondered about her stories. Meanwhile I learnt of the Tudors, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wilfred Owen,  and American writer Hemmingway at school.

Plockton cottages

In their time Burns, Scott and James MacPherson were internationally famous.
Burns was greatly influenced by both Scots ballads and English poets and he knew four languages, he was not simply a ploughman poet!

The only place I encountered Burns was at Primary school choirs. Burns wrote of nature, love, radical politics, hypocrisy, those conflicts between morality and our wilder passions.




Burns crossed many borders and was both national and international.

We are strongly linked to England and Ireland, but that doesn’t mean Scotland should be ruled by London. We never gave up our Kirk, which was far more important than the politicians in 1707. Burns also wrote the proud Scots songs Scots Wa Hae, and Parcel of Rogues

Scottish historian Tom Devine, in his lecture on the Scottish Enlightenment, spoke of how Scotland has for centuries been an outward-looking, trading nation – many Scots travelled to Poland, Netherlands, France, In fact more outward-looking than an often more insular England. “Scots suffer from “virtual universal historical illiteracy’, says Devine, “ perhaps that’s why they’ve struggled to engage with Referendum campaign."

It is only when we understand our roots, that we can also look outward. 
Yes the old tartan shortbread, White Heather club idea of ‘Scottishness’ of the 60s was so embarrassingly parochial. Surely we have moved on.  Two major Scottish festivals, Celtic Connections and Edinburgh Festival, both embrace their international element. Each August I attend the Edinburgh International Book festival where I see many inspired young Scottish writers of today. 

Edinburgh art galleries
This is also about whether you view empire building or stories of ancient Rome – where you have one group superior to the rest and an exploited underclass. Or you see a more progressive future for Scotland of a more socially integrated, fairer society that is fundamental to the success of our culture, economy and education. A successful small country in a larger European trading block.

pipers at Edinburgh castle

The Scottish nationalist movement is a broad church and not exclusively about the SNP. It was begun by poets such as Hugh MacDiarmid, back in 1939, and the Scottish renaissance of Montrose. MacDiarmid wrote - 
We are both national and international and to forget our rich heritage is a dark, ignorant thing…

skies across from Appelcross
near Loch Ardinning and the Campsie's

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Shires Oran Mor



The Shires entertained us with big-hearted memorable songs and warm smiles!
I first noticed The Shires single on radio Scotland a few months ago, for its strong melody and vocals and upbeat vibes.
 After only a few shows things have taken off for the pair and they were signed to Decca Records in 2014 and to Universal Music Nashville, The Shires are singer-songwriters Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes.


The audience were all ages here tonight in the busy hot venue. They started their set tonight with the energetic fun of their debut single 'Nashville Grey Skies'. They followed their upbeat opening tunes - Ben took the tempo down on piano with some touching country ballads  - 'Think I'm Falling in love with you', 'Statements' (their next single), 'Let Me Be The One' and Made in England.’.

After which they took the energy up with several country rock pleasers and their single 'Friday Night' had the packed audience singing along. For their last song 'Tonight' – ‘Your mine I'm Yours’, they divided us into two sections to sing the two parts and they were thrilled on their return on stage for their encore to be greeted with the audience singing the song back for them!    


For the encore they sang 'When It's Real Love' the first song Ben played for Crissie and a popular cover of the Bee Gees love song 'Islands in the Stream'. 


Crissie looked the part with her golden locks and she sang with pure country tones and strong harmonies that added that extra sparkle. Ben is a touching, smooth musician and songwriter who made it all feel effortless. This duo has songs people remember. The Shires are the first ever UK country act to be signed to a major Nashville label. Their debut album Brave in 2015 made the UK top ten.   

*This was a two for the price of one event and the show was started by another fun country duo on guitars - two entertaining Americans John and Jacob, who had the crowd cheering and dancing along. They played with pumping guitars, some well chosen covers and their own songs. They are hit-making Nashvillle songwriters and their new singles have attracted Radio 2 airplay. Worth watching out for these guys too!  http://johnandjacob.com

There appears to be a resurgence in interest in country music today. It has shaken off its over-produced days and gone back to basics with more authentic, striped back arrangements. My favourite country musician is Jerry Douglas, who is such an expressive and dynamic player of the resonator guitar and he plays at Celtic Connections here every January.