Showing posts with label freedoms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freedoms. Show all posts

Thursday 31 December 2020

The Losses of Brexit

“That us one reason why Brexit seems such a sadness for Scotland both in a economic and cultural sense, because it loosens our ties with one of the most ancient relationships to the European continent. “ Professor Tom Devine Scotlands top historian

MANY Scots will be filled with a great sadness, sense of loss, regret and will be grieving our enforced departure form the EU.. I grew up in Edinburgh and it always seemed a great centre of international culture, connections and travel. After five years I still have no idea what the benefits of all this Brexit chaos really are – except for the tax-avoiding off shore trust funds and saving the Tory party.

It’s a day I hoped would never arrive, but here it sadly is. Scotland voted to stay in Europe and our ancient history and ties to Europe run very deep: we have long been an outward looking nation on the edge and entrance to Europe. In fact our ties to Europe are much deeper and longer than Scotland’s attachment to Britain. I recently travelled to Scotland’s islands  - Orkney, Lewis, Harris, Barra, Uist, Mull, Iona - and I more clearly understood our links to the seas and travels and our strategic importance.

I have no trust or confidence in Boris’s Tory team or how well they are prepared for extra red tape, customs checks, hold ups and other issues. Their goal is for de-regulated freeports of reckless, exploitative capitalism. This is not the future I imagine for Scotland. For Scotland I hope for a very different future with improved social protection, greener policies, land reform, close private schools, equal and democratic opportunities for all its citizens (not subjects)

Back in the 70s when we first voted  to be in the EU, there may have been some questions over the EU. But over this time more and more it became evident all the obvious advantages both for Britain and Scotland gained from EU membership. 

We gained from regional investment, immigration, cultural exchange, freedoms of movement and more importantly peace in Europe. We have enjoyed the benefits of EU membership for 47 years – increased prosperity, immigration, regional development, environmental protections. Now we loose passports, Erasmus, no customs paperwork, free movement, just in time trade, and more… for what exactly?

This English Brexit – for that is assuredly what it is, is an insular, backward-looking, regressive and harmful thing. I’ve struggled to understand. And I wondered why the bigot and opportunist Farage was so often on BBCs Question Time, plying his false, extreme lies. I highly recommend Irish times writer Fintan OToole, Heroic Failure, an excellent interpretation of this English existential crisis and act of self harm.


AS I watch Boris gloat as he waves his 2,000 page Brexit deal, I feel sick with foreboding. What other country would vote to leave a successful trading block and how much is it all costing? Of course Cameron’s remain fear strategy would never work on the English – they were, ‘how dare anyone tell us we can’t.’ Wheras with the Scots, fear has worked over the centuries and the fear no campaign of 2014 meant many Scots were, ‘oh perhaps we really can’t. 

It’s the End of an Auld Sang

We left the EU 1st January – parcels to Europe will require customs checks; loss of fast movement of good across borders; slowdown at ports; increase paperwork; health certificates required; raw materials and Rules of Origins; EU safety requirements; barriers to professions working in Europe; Financial services more difficult and complex, still to be negotiated; tourism, data flows also affected. 

The big issues in 2021 will be Scottish independence with the May Scottish Parliament elections. I now see the future as Scotland’s place in Europe – much as other nimble, small nations are flourishing in this successful trading block which has been brought us peace and prosperity in Europe.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader in the house of Commons – “ Now we have an isolated UK amid a global pandemic – its economic vandalism, bad for fishing….. Worst of all worlds for Scotland.”

John le Carre, one of England’s greatest writers and the master of the spy thrillerwho died recently in a cottage near lands end so he could be miles away from London, and all that had gone wrong with a once great capital city.” His books about espionage were “compelling and a metaphor for the decline of Britain, Le Carre was fascinated by the end of empire, by the emotional debris it left behind and by the folly of the misplaced superiority complex that still festers in the minds of many today. He despised Brexit and loathed the people who had been the architects of its deceitful promise.”


“Brexit is the great catastrophe and the greatest idiocy that Britain has perpetuated… I’m not just a remainers. I’m a European, through and through, and the rats have taken over the ship. My England would be one that recognises it place in the EU. The jingoistic England that is trying to march us out of the EU. That is an England I do not want to know.”


Tom Devine writes Sunday National 27th Dec 2020, “Due largely to extensive migrations at every level of society – clerics, farmers, mercenaries, “ The bonds between Scotland and Europe between the 12 and the 17 century were much stronger than they were between England and Europe. Essentially I see Scotland as a global nation fashioned by generations of emigration and external connections. Tom Devine examines Scotland’s global identity and experience in his book – ‘To the Ends of the Earth : Scotland’s Global diaspora 1750 – 2010.’ Scots migration routes were not only to empire but to all corners of the world.  

Friday 24 August 2018

Art Freedom without Borders

This years theme at the Edinburgh International book festival 2018 is "freedoms". It is important we are free to have our VOICE. Its important for culture, sense of identity, artistic creativity, truth, heritage, communicating, collaborating and so much more. 
At a talk on the highly respected Scottish singer songwriter Michael Marra, a Canadian asked - 'why did we not hear of Marra on the Scottish radio or tv, and how can we have a Voice here in Scotland, if we have no way of expressing it freely and widely? ..The answer is that Marra went to London for a while, but the London music industry wanted to change him and take away the essence of what makes him a great artist. ........ And I wonder often why Scotland is not free, and unlike other nations has no media of its own....

An artist must be true to their art...
Creatives not only require freedom of expression, it’s the life blood they draw on for their creativity. Any artist who tries to stick inside boxes is stifled. I remember a Russian art exhibition at the Tate modern – all were identical, raising arms to the heavens.  

JD Fergusson
The Scottish painters JD Fergusson on modern Scottish painting is his plea for artistic freedom. "Scotland should have an independent art," Artists must challenge assumptions and take a sledgehammer to totems. 
Artist Alexander Moffat and poet Alan Riach , in a new edition of Scottish artist JD Fergusson Modern Scottish Painting, in which he questions the need of artists to conform to market forces. If arts motivation is economic it is not usually successful. Then as now, there was what Moffat and Riach call "the tyranny of academic authority in taste, practice and artistic social priorities". Oddly there have been significant problems with Creative Scotland’s large umbrella organization (which includes film, Games, music, literature, arts) being controlled by the accounts men.  There was the need for artists to conform if they wanted to be embraced by the kind of organisations and institutions who view art as the conduit to boosting the economy and encouraging an ever-growing influx of tourists. 

The need to conform to be embraced by established art institutions. Fergusson's approach to art was embedded in political philosophy and he was convinced of the need for independence. He questioned why "the Glasgow School" faded out. "Was it Scotland's feeling of inferiority? Was it the lack of sympathy or financial support?" 

Nick Barley
**Edinburgh book festival director Nick Barley claims culture and the arts is being adversely affected by the hostile attitude at the UK home office.  
“We’re putting culture at risk, ironically the theme of this years EIBF this year is freedom!  
The UK Home office refusals from Syria are up from 18% to 68% in 2017.  -"Our relationship with authors is being damaged because the system is completely unfit for purpose. They’ve jumped through hoops – to have their applications refused.”  The UK Home Office has refused visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival. Festival director Nick Barley says ‘humiliating’ application process will deter writers and damage cultural life in UK. A dozen writers, from African and Middle East countries have had their visa applications refused, amid a process that requires 3 years of bank statements. 

Michale Marra, Arrest this Moment
JD Fergusson was drawn like so many other Scottish artists of the day, to Paris. (Samuel Peploe, Francis Campbell and Boileau Cadell). He writes of the impact that the French capital had-. “Paris was a place of light, freedom, intellectual challenge, learning and research. It allowed me to be Scots as I understand it, and has made me so Scots that I am leaving it and coming home." 

Fergusson’s book is a cri de coeur for artistic freedom and he is always passionate..
Some of the greatest art happen when we challenge the boxes – as when French impressionisms challenged the Paris Salon.

Modern Scottish Painting, by J D Fergusson, published Luath Press,