The Spirit of Bannockburn & The Scottish

The Spirit of Bannockburn
The Scottish Independence
Referendum of 2014
This presentation will primarily be a discussion of the views expressed in Unstated:
Writers on Scottish Independence (Word Power Books, 2012), which is a collection
of essays by 27 poets, novelists and playwrights where, as one of the contributors,
Kathleen Jamie, puts it: “All have stated their case, vented their spleen, imagined
what kind of Scotland they want and don’t want, decried the Scotland we already
have.” (New Statesman, 7th February 2013) Jamie also notes: “It is a truth sometimes
missed south of the border that many Scots distrust the Scottish National Party,
including plenty who voted for it last time, and many of Scotland’s writers and
artists. We know this because they say so openly.” There will be time for questions
and comments from the floor.
“I was born in Glasgow in 1962. My ancestors are all Scottish bar one
Huguenot on the run. I grew up in Scotland, breathed in its air, walked
on its hills, swam in its chilly lochs, stared fascinated at the huge FREE
SCOTLANDs painted on cliffs and city walls alike. I am Scottish.
But I am classified as an Anglo-Scot because I received an English-style
education in Scotland. I was surrounded by English accents while I
grew up, and I normally speak English with an English accent. This
means that when I meet Scots, they might say something like: “You’re
English, aren’t you?” To which I reply: “No, actually, I’m Scottish!”
Which annoys them. Because, while the majority of Scots can accept
that the English speak English with an English accent, there are few
Scots who can accept that a Scot speaks it with an English accent.”
Duncan Gillies MacLaurin, An Anglo-Scot in Denmark”, The Chimaera, October 2007
[email protected]
The title of the presentation and the photo below are taken from the article
by Kathleen Jamie in The New Statesman, 7th February 2013
A statue of the victor of Bannockburn
outside Stirling Castle.
Photograph: Jeremy Sutton Hibbert
Kathleen Jamie, “The Disunited Kingdom”,
New York Times, 23rd February 2014
Writers on Scottish Independence
(Word Power Books, 2012)
Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence
edited by Scott Hames (Paperback) (ISBN: 9780956628398)
Over the past three decades, it is commonly argued, Scotland achieved 'a
form of cultural autonomy in the absence of its political equivalent' (Murray
Pittock) – a transformation led by its novelists, poets and dramatists. Why,
then, is the debate over Scottish independence so much less passionate and
imaginative than these writers or their politics?
We are deluged by facile arguments and factoids designed to 'manage' the
Scottish question, or to rig the terrain on which it is contested. Before we get
used to the parameters of a bogus debate, there must be room for more
honest and nuanced thinking about what 'independence' means in and for
Scottish culture. This book sets the question of independence within the
more radical horizons which inform the work of 27 writers and activists based
in Scotland. Standing adjacent to the official debate, it explores questions
tactfully shirked or sub-ducted within the media narrative of the Yes/No
campaigns, and opens a space in which the most difficult, most exciting
prospects of statehood can be freely stated.
John Aberdein, Allan Armstrong, Alan Bissett, Jenni Calder, Bob Cant, Jo
Clifford, Meaghan Delahunt, Douglas Dunn, Margaret Elphinstone, Leigh
French and Gordon Asher, Janice Galloway, Magi Gibson, Alasdair Gray,
Kirsty Gunn, Kathleen Jamie, James Kelman, Tom Leonard, Ken MacLeod,
Aonghas MacNeacail, Kevin MacNeil, Denise Mina, Don Paterson, James
Robertson, Suhayl Saadi, Mike Small, Gerda Stevenson, Christopher Whyte
Informal opinion pieces with no footnotes.
The notable exceptions to this norm are the pieces by Douglas
Dunn, Leigh French and Gordon Asher, Tom Leonard, and
Kevin MacNeil.
The general slant
If Scotland is to be independent, it should mark a completely
fresh start. Very little pro-British sentiment is expressed. And
yet, as Scott Hames confirms in the “Introduction” (p.6):
“A qualified distrust of the SNP remains strong among the
writers I’ve contacted in the course of assembling this book.”
With an Introduction by Scott Hames
A critical, academic essay with 38 footnotes that explains why
the title of the book is so apt
Two different meanings of the title, “Unstated”:
1) in the normal sense, i.e. “not voiced”.
2) in an ambiguous sense, i.e. “not belonging to a
state” or “no longer belonging to a state”. Note
the implicit neologism of a verb, “to state”,
meaning “to make part of a state”. Note too that
“state” can both mean “country” or “situation”.
Five different interpretations of the title:
1) (things that are) not voiced (in the public debate about independence).
2) (people that are) not belonging to a state (as in “a country”), i.e. “writers unable to
align their nationality with an existing state – the un-stated…” (p.15)
3) (people that are) not belonging to a state (as in “a situation”), i.e. people who
claim “independence from the independence debate” (p.11). Since William
McIlvanney’s notorious SNP ‘conversion’, which he himself stated was wildly
exaggerated, “later writers have steered clear of party-political entanglement”. (p12)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4) (people that are) no longer belonging to a state (as in “a country”), i.e. a possible
future epithet inasmuch as the referendum will decide whether Scots lose their
British nationality
5) (people that are) no longer belonging to a state (as in “a situation”), i.e. a possible
future epithet inasmuch as the independence debate will perhaps be over one day
“In the years following the 1979 debacle, it is commonly argued,
Scotland achieved ‘a form of cultural autonomy in the absence
of its political equivalent’, led above all by novelists, poets and
dramatists.” (p.1)
(Murray Pittock, The Road to Independence, London Reaktion, 2008, p.114)
“In 1988 Christopher Whyte argued that ‘in the absence of
elected political authority, the task of (p.2) representing the
nation has been repeatedly devolved to its writers’.”
(“Masculinities in Contemporary Scottish Fiction”, Forum for Modern Language
Studies 34.2, 1998, p.284)
He quotes and agrees with Pat Kane, who wrote: “Cultural
autonomy has been a crucial substratum for political
autonomy.” (p.5)
(“Artistic Rage That Cultivates the Scottish Consensus”, Guardian, 6th February 1992)
“The one writer who is making an impact on the current debate is doing
so via his estate, rather than his art. On his death in 2010 Edwin Morgan
bequested (sic) nearly a million pounds to the SNP, which the party ringfenced for a referendum campaign following its victory in the 2011
Holyrood elections. This direct alignment between literature and
nationalism makes it all the more important to attend to the ambivalence
of what Morgan actually wrote. In 1991 he penned ‘A Warning’ to jubilant
ex-citizens of the Soviet Union, fearing that liberation might amount to
no more than a retro-fitting of what came before, and the resurrection of
forces ‘that never will grow freedom’.” (p.8)
“There is an unembarrassed bias towards people actively engaged in the
politics of Scottish culture.” (p.12)
John Aberdein
His essay begins:
“I have contracted an aversion to hype.”
And (almost) ends:
“I will vote to be in a better position
afterwards to fight to keep the single greatest
bedrock achievement of socialism and
human decency we have: The National
Health Service.”
Scott Minto, “Why Only Independence Can Save the NHS”, 2nd December 2012
Allan Armstrong
A Republican and a Socialist who calls the proposed style of independence
“Independence-Lite” (p.26)
The first of many to suggest that the British monarchy should have no part
in an independent Scotland
“Just as the old Home-Rulers accepted the wider British Empire, so the
present SNP leaders are keen to uphold the current global imperial order.”
“Failure to confront the SNP government will only ensure that, in the
unlikely event of a referendum Yes vote being achieved by its chosen
methods, power will be entrenched with a new Scottish ruling class.” (p.30)
Alan Bissett
His essay begins:
“If there’s a single image that describes the transformation
Scotland went through during my childhood it is this: the
fences all got bigger.” (p.32)
And ends:
“In a recent interview, Shirley Manson, the Scottish lead
singer of the band Garbage, said she was ‘vehemently
against independence’ because ‘we should be tearing fences
down, not building them’. Unconsciously, she’s on the right
lines. She’s just misread the situation. The fences went up in
the Eighties. Tearing them down is exactly what Scotland is
trying to do.” (p.38)
Interesting ironic rant on his website, 13th January 2012:
Jenni Calder
She starts by suggesting we turn the map of Europe upside
down. “Scotland upside down shifts attention to her
Scandinavian neighbours.” (p.39)
And ends by saying: “Scotland small? Hugh MacDiarmid
convincingly said no, but nevertheless there is a bigger picture.
That bigger picture could be a federalist Britain, acknowledging
regional identities and ensuring functional representation –
bearing in mind that much of the north of England would be
effectively disenfranchised by Scottish independence.” (p.44)
Bob Cant
Early on he identifies himself as “queer”. He doesn’t like the
term LGBT. He prefers the term “queer folk”. (p.47)
He rejects austerity measures, calling for a New Deal instead.
“If a New Deal is introduced in Scotland, it will represent an
opportunity rather than an entitlement. It will be an
opportunity for Scots to work together to bring hope back into
the everyday lives of the citizenry. For queer people, it
represents an opportunity to participate openly in their own
society; it also represents an opportunity for them to generate a
profound cultural shift that does not tolerate prejudice. They
can help to make anti-homophobic behaviour first of all cool
and then normal.” (p.51)
Jo Clifford
She tells us she’s transsexual.
“Creativity is a powerful force for the oppressed.” (p.54)
“In my own work I consistently try to be unfashionably hopeful.” (p.55)
“The truth is obvious: we are part of a disunited kingdom whose other
title really should be Insignificant Britain. Mediocre Britain. Living
delusionally in the past Britain. Suffering false memory syndrome
Britain. Britain stranded in the geriatric ward of history. A terminal
case.” (p.55)
“How contemptible that no-one seems to be capable of coming up with
a single positive reason to remain in the Union. The only arguments its
supporters seem able to muster are fear. … Fear of change.” (p.56)
“Can we really not find just a tiny bit of courage?” (p.56)
Her online diary - 18th February 2014:
”The Pink Scotland List: the pride of the nation”, Scotland on Sunday, 16th February 2014 :
Meaghan Delahunt
She reveals that she is an immigrant from Australia.
“I understood /the Scots/ as a form of ‘cultural cringe’, something oddly familiar
from the Australia of my childhood.” (p.57)
“Generations of artists and writers before me had grown up with a sense of Australia
not being important. They’d imbibed a colonial inferiority complex.” (p.57)
“The ‘cultural cringe’ of a nation always stems from a sense of powerlessness, a lack
of self-determination, a lack of true freedom. I see (p.58) this in Scotland, but I also
see that it is changing.”
She thinks Scotland can learn from recent Australian history.
“Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy are fundamentally incompatible. The
monarchy ties us to a class-riven, sectarian past and ensures that our relations with
other countries (including Australia) are mired in that past.” (p.61)
English. A Scottish Essay
by Douglas Dunn
The Community Charge was a poll tax to fund local government in the United
Kingdom, instituted in 1989 by the government of Margaret Thatcher. It
replaced the rates that were based on the notional rental value of a house. The
cost of collecting the tax rose steeply while the returns from it fell. Enforcement
measures became increasingly draconian, and unrest grew and culminated in a
number of Poll Tax Riots. The most serious was in a protest at Trafalgar Square,
London, on 31 March 1990, of more than 200,000 protesters. A Labour MP, Terry
Fields, was jailed for 60 days for refusing to pay his poll tax.
This unrest was instrumental in toppling Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Her
replacement, John Major, replaced the Community Charge with the Council Tax,
similar to the rating system that preceded the Poll Tax. The main differences
were that it was levied on capital value rather than notional rental value of a
property, and that it had a 25% discount for single-occupancy dwellings.
(NB Wikipedia doesn’t mention that the tax was especially unpopular in
Scotland, where the tax was first introduced.)
Douglas Dunn, Poll Tax : The Fiscal Fake, (Chatto & Windus, London, 1990)
Form: 46 sestets in iambic pentameter rhyming ABABCC
The poem begins:
I didn’t choose you, nor did you choose me.
I was born into a version called Accent.
I haven’t lost it, nor could it lose me –
I own it; it owns me, with my consent.
Two deviations:
a) One line (mysteriously) short in the 25th sestet (l.5 is an extra B rhyme)
b) No final couplet. Instead, an extra couplet after the 37th sestet:
In our new Parliament, our accents mix
With confidence – get that into our lyrics!
No one’s branded by a vocal stigma,
By mystical public schools or Oxbridge,
By England’s creepy, sad, vocal enigma,
That patronising sound of patronage.
Now I hear children speak in a natural voice,
Accented zest and cadence. If it’s choice
It’s also nature. True to their time and place,
They show their mums and dads up, oldster frauds
Who buckled when their teachers set the pace
On how to speak (‘properly!’), bawling the odds
Because we spoke the parish dialect,
Not junior BBC in our voice-wrecked
Pronunciation (so our teachers said).
From the “Introduction” by Scott Hames:
“Douglas Dunn’s poem appeared previously in New Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,
ed. Robert Crawford (Polygon, 2009).”
NB The title of Burns’ first collection in 1786 was Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,
and 2009 was the 250th anniversary of Burns’ birth.
The headline of a review by Robert Nye in The Scotsman, 22nd January 2009,
of New Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, ed. Robert Crawford (Polygon, 2009) is:
“An anthology of modern verse inspired by Robert Burns heads Robert Nye's pick of
new Scottish poetry collections”
“Douglas Dunn's long ‘English. A Scottish Essay’, a rhymed rumination on the
advantages and disadvantages of growing up ‘to speak two ways, and write/ In more
than one, plural, and impolite’, is without doubt the stand-out piece in the book.”
Elsewhere in the collection, Douglas Dunn’s ‘English. A Scottish Essay’ examines the language
question explicitly and at length, but makes plain that the English language belongs to Scottish
poets just as much as to those from south of the Border. Dunn rejects the kind of cultural ‘Chief
Constables’ who hype ‘a long-deceased / National Bard as the forevermore / "Authentic"
measure of the way to write’ – in other words, ‘the Robert Burns / Syndrome’, arguing firmly that
his own Muse is ‘not a politician’. Later in the poem, Dunn celebrates the sounds of Scots,
issuing from the lips of children growing up under a new Scottish Parliament with no sense of
their natural, accented voices being somehow inferior, but his strategy is to evoke the oral
language rather than to represent it on the page. Among the ironies addressed in Dunn’s
thoughtful verse essay is that the use of the Scottish language, which Burns had used so skilfully
to challenge received ideas, is in danger of becoming a new kind of imposition, forced on
modern poets by prevailing cultural politics. Burns’s colloquialisms and local idiom had
brought down barriers and invited connections, but in the hands of patriotic modern poets,
Scots can be a means to self-definition and therefore, exclusion. While many of the poets in
Crawford’s anthology demonstrate the rich artistic possibilities of the Scottish language, the
celebratory volume also carries its own internal warning signals and shows that the challenges
posed by non-standard language, though different in kind, are just as complicated in the
twenty-first century as they were in the eighteenth.
Fiona Stafford, “Lice, Mice, Bumclocks, Grubs: The Challenge of Regional Language and the Legacy of Robert Burns”,
International Journal of Scottish Literature, #6, Spring/Summer 2010
In ‘English. A Scottish Essay’, Douglas Dunn asks 'Who were these purer folk /
Whose tongues absolved them from an "English" stain?'. For Dunn, Burns is the
main symbol of Scottish literature’s parochialism and hypocrisy. He scorns what he
calls 'The Robert Burns syndrome – just write, like him, and you’ll be true / To
Scotland, when its good self returns'.
Drawing attention to Burns’ cultural hybridity can act as a powerful panacea to such
a syndrome. Above all it enables us to explode the nationalist myths that have
confined both him and his antecedents. Doing so allows contemporary poets to
escape the anxiety of Burns’ influence and enables writing from Scotland to evade
the shadow of English literature, locating it /in/ a transnational and translingual
context quite different from a national tradition. As Dunn observes, ‘we’ve got three
sound tongues / In which to utter poetry’. Burns’ work can contribute towards
Dunn’s attempts to ‘to triplicate our nationality’ by reclaiming English as ‘[a] site of
rebel mimicry’ and forging a polyglot tradition.
Alex Watson, “Thirteen Ways of Glossing 'To a Haggis': Disputing the Borders of Robert Burns' Paratexts,
International Journal of Scottish Literature, #6, Spring/Summer 2010
Unfortunately no credit is given to the poem’s first appearance, in:
Archipelago: Issue Two, Spring 2008
Poetry Prize
We are pleased to report that Douglas
Dunn was awarded the first Clutag
Press / Archipelago £1000 Award for
Poetry on the evening of 8th
November 2012, at All Souls College
in Oxford. The judges: Alan Jenkins of
the TLS; David Norbrook, Merton
University; Katherine Rundell, Fellow
of All Souls; Fiona Stafford, Fellow of
Somerville College, Oxford; James
literary agent; and Andrew McNeillie.
Dear Duncan
We awarded Douglas our £1000.00 one-off prize, as you see on the website. We had
accumulated a surplus and I wanted to acknowledge Douglas who for me should
really have succeeded Edwin Morgan as laureate. Indeed he should have preceded
him. So I wanted especially to mark his achievement. When and if we ever have a
similar surplus we'll look to another recipient. We are proud to be independent of
all subsidy, especially from State sources. But it means we have to be prudent. I'm
afraid I have not yet caught up with Robert's anthology and I don't know Unstated. I
will get them both. Why Archipelago is acknowledged in neither as the first place of
publication of 'English: A Scottish Essay', I don't know. I suppose Douglas forgot to
say, or they ignored it if he did. These things happen. I suppose it serves to
emphasise the marginality of our venture, which is not entirely a bad thing.
Douglas deserves far more attention than he currently enjoys. I don't know why he
doesn't get it. Perhaps others are pushier. None in Scotland is currently his better,
not remotely.
Andrew McNeillie
Margaret Elphinstone
“We’re not the only country in Europe to have lost political and economic autonomy
for long periods. The consequence (p.73) seems to be a nostalgic longing for an
imagined, long-lost community, internally unified and hermetically sealed from the
outside world. Although such nostalgia is a recurring feature of national narratives,
a truly homogenous society untouched by external influences would be a disastrous
cultural predicament. It’s no accident that our greatest poets, writers, artists and
musicians have operated in international forums, and derive their creative charge
from internal contradictions.”
“The institutions of declining capitalism and vanished empire are the last places to
look for radical alternatives with which to face the unimaginable future.” (p.74)
“It is through art that we can question our story.” (p.75)
“Words like ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’ signify nothing if we don’t know what we
need them for.” (p.76)
She thinks independence will work only if “we create visions of what we could be
and how we could get there.” (p.76)
Leigh French and Gordon Asher
This is the only essay apart from the “Introduction” to have footnotes (and there are nine
of these). Under these it says: “A longer version of their text is available at”
That version has 28 footnotes.
As anarcho-communists, they have a huge distrust of the SNP agenda:
“We argue that political, economic and social transformation (p.81) has to be
communicated, contested, struggled for – transformation is not inherent to
‘independence’, and will certainly not be achieved simply by campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote.”
“The appeal to nationalism involved in the construction of a nostalgic and mythical,
homogenous ‘Britishness’… is replaced by a terribly similar ‘Scottishness’. As such, it’s a
sterile nationalism, remaining firmly within the dialectic of coloniser-colonised,
portrayed as a wish ‘to throw off imperialist rule in order to assert already established
national identity, whose only flaw is to have been contaminated and repressed by the
presence of the colonialists’.6 It hardly needs spelling out that this mirage denies both
local and global realities.” (p.81) (In Terry Eagleton’s words, according to note 6.)
They tend to agree with Allan Armstrong. Not least when they say:
“Having the political class closer to home doesn’t necessarily make replacing
them any easier, never mind challenging the idea of a political class per se. 8”
Note 8 is a link to “Independent and free? A Glasgow anarchist’s take on Scottish
Other links from the book:
Janice Galloway
Echoing the Jantelov, she begins: “Who do you think you are? The phrase
that clanged like an iron bar through my childhood is still waking me up
at night, wondering if it’s overstepping the mark to conjecture seriously
who I think should run the country I live and work in. … The word chippy
springs to mind: me, Andy Murray the whole bloody lot of us may well be
too chippy to be trusted with David Hume-style rationalism.” (p.88)
“Most of us are confused by the separate responses of heart, head, gut and
memory on the subject of secession.” (p.88)
Basically, she points out that Scotland and England are very different, and
that the parting of ways is inevitable.
On page 94 she recommends Joyce MacMillan’s “skewering of Creative
Scotland” in The Scotsman, 25th May 2012:
Magi Gibson
She sees Scotland as the woman in an unhappy marriage with her husband, England, and
references Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “classic feminist short story”, “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
“So why doesn’t she leave?
FEAR.” (p.96)
“In ‘Harlot Red’, a short story I wrote at the time of devolution, the woman tells her partner she’s
being stifled by their relationship, she needs to leave. As she stands in the doorway with her
packed suitcases, he says:
‘You can’t be serious. You’ll be back in a fortnight. You’ll not be happy on your own. Who’s going
to look after the bills? Who’s going to fix the heating if it breaks down? Who’s going to get up in
the middle of the night if you hear a strange noise? You’re fooling yourself. You need me.’
Does he really believe she needs him? Or is he psychologically manipulating her so that she is
too scared to go it alone? How many women have had these words said to them over the years?”
“Her husband, meanwhile, has been set free to forge a new and different sense of self too.”
Alasdair Gray
“Immigrants into Scotland, as into
other lands, are settlers or colonists.”
Caused a storm in the media for being
anti-English, but it was equally antiAmerican and anti-Creative Scotland.
As Kevin McKenna wrote in The Observer on 23rd December 2012:
Indeed, there is very little in it that could even be construed as criticism of English "colonists" in
the arts, the sector of which Gray has most experience. Instead, he reserves most of his disgust for
those Scottish local politicians and municipal chief executives who have deemed no Scots to be
capable of administering our most significant arts institutions. If WB Yeats and Lady Gregory had
displayed such a high-handed dismissal of native talent when they established Dublin's Abbey
theatre in 1904, argues Gray, it is doubtful if Irish art and culture would be anywhere near as
vibrant as it is today.
Perhaps the fiercest criticism of Gray has arisen from his decision to cite Vicky Featherstone, the
outgoing director of the National Theatre of Scotland, as a salient example of an English "colonist".
Featherstone has been a splendid chief of this body during her six-year tenure, in which she has
been responsible for staging work that has resonated globally. Yet her post makes her a high-profile
figure and she is simply being naive if, as she revealed in an interview last week, she felt "embattled
and defensive" at previously aired criticism of her perceived lack of enthusiasm for Scottish work.
She is an admirable and gifted woman who will get over it.
Gray is not suggesting that all of Scotland's top administrative posts must be filled by Scots.
Indeed, a senior appointee who has not emerged from the turbid waters of Scotland's cultural
expanse will thus arrive bearing no malice nor be compromised by tribal loyalties. He is simply
asking why so few Scots have occupied the plum positions and expressing a preference for English
candidates who want to stay for the long haul.
Kirsty Gunn
She insists that individuals can be independent, but
countries cannot. She avoids the issue really, but then she
does live in both London and Scotland.
“It’s how we imagine ourselves and the country around us
that makes us who we are, independent in a way that’s true
and strong and real. Never the other thing. That other gets
turned into a different slogan, is bought and sold every
day and, unless we willingly choose, it could never lay
claim to those lonely, lovely hills that speak to me of
somewhere that’s both separate and connected, a place
where I might live, where I might belong.” (p.114)
Kathleen Jamie
She harks back to the 90’s: “Time has passed and I’m middle aged now but I’m
sure there was a natural energy and a civic and artistic energy 20 years ago
which has dissipated, and a Scottish collectivism I don’t sense much any more.”
“It seems to me that today’s Independence ‘debate’ is being handed down to us
by career politicians so it immediately feels inauthentic. Full of inorganic
political and economic impurities, you might say. There is no fun around it,
that’s for sure. No pawky self-examination, no roaring dissatisfaction. Because
we, the people, sense its falsity, we are not thinking and dreaming. Instead of
dreaming a nation, we’re reduced to fretting about ‘the economy’. We’re in
danger of believing that if we just stick the weary word ‘Scottish’ in front of the
same old thought-patterns, the same institutions, we will have achieved
‘independence’.” (p.116)
James Kelman
“In an American journal I read a prominent English writer was described as ‘very
British’. What can it mean to be ‘very British’? … The controlling interest in
‘Britishness’ is ‘Englishness’.”
“To be properly ‘British’ is to submit to English hierarchy and to recognize, affirm
and assert the glory of its value system. … Those who oppose this supremacist
ideology are criticized for not being properly British, condemned as unpatriotic.
Those Scottish, Welsh or Irish people who oppose this supremacist ideology are
condemned as anti-English.” (p.118)
Like so many others, pro-Independence, but anti-monarchy and anti-SNP.
“A people cannot be asked to settle in advance of independence how they shall act
in hypothetical situations. We are being asked to provide a priori evidence of our
fitness to determine our own existence before the freedom to do so is allowed.”
He says he will be voting ‘yes’ to independence despite the repugnance he feels to
the SNP for being pro-monarchy. However…
“Towards Scottish Self-Determination” by James Kelman, Word Power Books,
11th February 2014:
“I have not voted through the ballot box or taken part in any sort of electoral
process for years. My politics belong in an alternative tradition. I stand with
the anti-parliamentarian left. It is a solid part of the wider socialist
movement. A great many share this position throughout the world. In Britain
people are less aware of this alternative tradition. State propaganda pushes
the anti-parliamentarian left somewhere to the outer limits. We are asked to
believe that all shades of opinion are included in its own political process.
What a lie! It is so brazen. It says we can all be accomodated (sic) within a
political framework that is in essence hierarchical, so much as so that it
includes an extrenmely (sic) large extended family each of whose members we
must address as ‘your majesty’, pay to them huge sums of dough and grant
them lands and general riches. …”
Tom Leonard
tune: The Caledonian Auntie
my innermost ground
is a musical base
its grounding in silence
its measure in space
the word for the image
an infinite trace
its sound of its silence
my innermost place
(plus an alternative version where ‘ground’
and ‘my’ are replaced by ‘grunn’ and ‘ma’)
The local is the international.
The national is the parochial.
This Is Just to Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
William Carlos Williams (1962)
Jist ti Let Yi No
(from the American of Carlos Williams)
ahv drank
thi speshlz
that wurrin
the frij
n thit
yiwurr probbli
hodn back
furthi parti
they wur great
thaht stroang
thaht cawld
Tom Leonard
from Intimate Voices: Poems 1965-1983 (Etruscan Books, 1984)
Ken MacLeod
Someone who might be voting No!
“The paradox is that … all the … artistic flourishing of /the last four/
decades has happened within the union – often in tension with it, or in
opposition to it, but within it nevertheless.” (p.128)
“Independence would mean, in the first instance, a loss. Having hitherto
enjoyed certain inalienable rights as British citizens, we would overnight
find ourselves citizens of a new state. One without so much as a
constitution, let alone a tradition of legal respect for individual rights.”
“The left-wing hankering, whether tactical or sincere, for a Scottish
capitalist state strikes me as a consequence of defeat and a guarantee of
future defeats.” (p.131)
“Being British as well as Scottish may put some of us in a divided mind, but
it can’t prevent us from putting our minds to any use we like. We should
take a jealous care not to mistake the nation’s independence for our own.”
Aonghas MacNeacail
“What seems impossible to answer coherently is ‘why not?’ (p.133)
He looks at Ireland and sees a growing self-confidence there: “As
indicator of national confidence, the symbolism of the Queen’s visit to
the Republic cannot be underestimated.” (p.134)
“Throughout the twentieth century and before, leading Scottish writers
have tended to show left-wing and/or nationalist leanings (there are, of
course, exceptions).” (p.134)
He sees the clan structure as being left-wing too.
“Scotland has demonstrated a gift for assimilating citizens from
elsewhere. … And it shouldn’t surprise us that more recent migrants
make active contributions, as Scots, frequently as left-wing Scots, to the
political life of this nation. We are who we are, and are happy to say:
welcome aboard.” (p.139)
Scottish Independence: Four Responses
by Kevin
I The Storyteller – slightly humorous Zen priest story
II Allan Ginsberg in Scotland – mish-mash of cultural baggage
III The Artist – two strange pieces, the first poetry, the second prose
IV The Edicts of Jock Tamson – tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-religious
moral codex to be recited for and by future Scottish politicians
Question everything.
– Why?
– I will question everything.
Denise Mina
She bemoans our superficial age.
“We have lost the language of questioning.” (p.149)
“Political discussions have all become adversarial engagements.” (p.150)
“It is now a sign of weakness to admit that you are undecided or to wonder
about things.” (p.151)
“Far better to get a celebrity to make a provocative statement than someone
who knows the subject.” (p.155)
“Most independence debates start with the participants telling the
audience what their conclusions are and then trying to get them over to
their side. This is not a discussion. This is a membership drive. And the
true religious are personally offended if their position is questioned or
undermined. The true religious know they are right despite evidence, not
because of evidence. They cannot be dissuaded by evidence.” (p.155)
She is so wary of the SNP that she will be voting No.
Don Paterson
He has nothing but contempt for both the epithet “Creative Scotland” and its (under-)performance.
“For years arts funding has been disbursed in a way that hasn’t just rewarded the quality of the work,
but the kind of administrative skill valorized by the people doing the disbursing.”(p.158)
“But what scholars are good at is research. What artists are good at is art. An administrator’s job is to
let them get on with it. It is currently the very last thing they are inclined to do.” (p.159)
He outlines the case of Rachel Boast, “a young author, English but resident in Scotland”. She needed
a grant to be able to stay. “The gatekeepers in this case were unqualified to judge.” Lesser artists were
rewarded instead. He had written “a careful reference extolling the virtues of this individual. I know
very little, but have enough evidence to suggest I may be a reasonable judge of poetry. I decided to
publish the author myself.” Rachel Boast’s first collection was a huge success. (p.161)
“But I won’t write another reference to that body again; my carefully phrased opinion was entirely
disregarded in the sole area where I have any proven expertise. I am certainly not arrogant enough to
insist that it should have counted! But it should have been disregarded by a peer, not a minor
apparatchik brought up to think that all opinions in the arts are of equal value. And while it may
have been a tiny amount of money, this one bad decision meant we lost a great potential Scot.
Academies enshrine a basic principle, without which all other realms of human knowledge would
fail: peer review.” (p.162)
Open Letter to Creative Scotland Signed by 100 Artists
9th October 2012
Dear Sir Sandy,
We write to express our dismay at the ongoing crisis in Creative Scotland. A series of high-profile stories in various
media are only one sign of a deepening malaise within the organisation, the fall-out from which confronts those of
us who work in the arts in Scotland every day.
Routinely, we see ill-conceived decision-making; unclear language, lack of empathy and regard for Scottish culture.
We observe an organisation with a confused and intrusive management style married to a corporate ethos that
seems designed to set artist against artist and company against company in the search for resources.
This letter is not about money. This letter is about management. The arts are one of Scotland’s proudest assets and
most successful exports. We believe existing resources are best managed in an atmosphere of trust between those
who make art and those who fund it. At present, this trust is low and receding daily.
In his address to Holyrood, Mr Dixon asked why more artists do not address their concerns to him directly: the
answer is straightforward; they have. Letters of concern have been sent by representative groups from theatre,
dance, the games industry, visual arts and literature. Individual voices have also been raised from many quarters
both privately and in public. These concerns have gone unanswered or been met with defensiveness, outright
denial, or been ascribed to problems with “communication”.
It is time for a fresh start. We ask that the board of Creative Scotland considers the following
requests with the utmost urgency. We ask that you:
1. genuinely acknowledge the scale of the problem;
2. affirm the value of stable two to three year funding for small arts organisations;
3. end the use of business-speak and obfuscating jargon in official communication;
4. revisit CS policies with an eye to social and cultural as well as commercial values;
5. collaborate with artists to re-design over-complicated funding forms and processes;
6. ensure that funding decisions are taken by people with artform expertise;
7. establish an effective system of dealing with complaints as swiftly as possible.
We do not sign this letter lightly but we feel we are in an unprecedented situation. We call on
you to act swiftly to make what changes are necessary to the organisation to repair trust and
restore communication before any further damage is done to Scotland’s cultural landscape and
international reputation.
Yours sincerely,
Sam Ainsley, Davey Anderson, Peter Arnott, Clare Barclay, Anne Bevan, Karla Black, Martin Boyce,
Katrina Brown (Dr), Tam Dean Burn, Roddy Buchanan, John Byrne, Lorne Campbell, Richard
Campbell, Jo Clifford, Nathan Coley, Deborah Crewe, Jeannie Davies, Peter Maxwell Davies (Sir),
Chloe Dear, Finn den Hertog, Ella Hickson, Roanne Dods, Jude Doherty, Jaqueline Donachie, Joe
Douglas, Rob Drummond, Oliver Emmanuel, Catrin Evans, Rob Evans, Graham Fagen, Andy Field,
Pat Fisher, Luke Fowler, Fiona Fraser, Vivian French, Janice Galloway, Andrea Gibb, Suzy Glass,
Douglas Gordon (Prof), Mickey Graham, Alasdair Gray, Stephen Greenhorn, David Greig, Kris
Haddow, David Harding OBE, John Harris, Zinnie Harris, Ben Harrison, David Harrower, Lewis
Hetherington, Corrina Hewat, Mark Hope, Philip Howard, Kieran Hurley, Chris Hunn, Callum
Innes, Kathleen Jamie, David Paul Jones, James Kelman, AL Kennedy, Laura Cameron Lewis, Liz
Lochhead, Ali Maclaurin, Linda Maclean, James Macmillan, Caoihin MacNeill, Aonghas MacNicol,
Willy Maley (Prof), Andy Manley, Michael John McCarthy, Nicola McCartney, Francis McKee,
Bernard McLaverty, Alan McKendrick, Linda Mclaughlin, Becky Minto, Alexander Moffat OBE,
Gerry Mulgrew, Rona Munro, Andrew O’Hagan, Janice Parker, Don Paterson, Toby Paterson, Mary
Paulson Ellis, Aonghas Phadraig Caimpbeul, Philip Pinsky, Karine Polwart, Lynda Radley, Ian
Rankin, Robin Robertson, Fiona Robson, Muriel Romanes, Lesley Anne Rose, Lisa Sangster, David
Shrigley, Ross Sinclair, Gerda Stevenson, Pete Stollery (Prof), Richard Wright
James Robertson
He calls for “informed imagination”. (p.166)
“Here we are, two years out from the first occasion we’ve had to vote for or against
independence without the complication of having to elect a government in either London
or Edinburgh at the same time, and the word from the leaders of the political party whose
raison d’être is independence is that, actually, it won’t make a lot of difference. Eighty years
it has taken …. And what is it saying? Don’t worry, life will carry on pretty much as it is.
We’ll keep the monarchy. We won’t even discuss how keeping the monarchy might set us
off on the wrong foot. … We’ll stick with the pound and let the Bank of England set our
interest rates and borrowing levels. Honestly, you’ll hardly feel a thing. Oh, and we’ll
somehow persuade NATO to remove its nuclear arsenal from our lochs and glens, but we’ll
still be in NATO. You can sleep soundly at night.” (p.168)
“Where is the vision, the purpose, the meaning of it all? Where is the imagination?”
“‘The enemies of Scottish nationalism are not the English,’ declared Robert Bontine
Cunninghame Graham in an address at Bannockburn in 1930, ‘for they were ever a great and
generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born
without imagination.’”
Suhayl Saadi
He begins: “If there is to be independence, then in my view it ought to be
profound and radical. To refer to the heraldry of our ‘Pàrlamaid na h-Alba’, I
wish to see a brain, not a crown, above the Saltire.” (p.172)
“Social class is the grouse in the sitting-room.” (p.173)
“In contemporary Britain… the real border runs not between the Solway and
the Tweed, but through the Antonine Wall of Drumchapel/Bearsden.”
“It requires constant mental adroitness to combat the appropriation of the
collective imagination; it now is deemed abnormal to refuse to be
brainwashed.” (p.175)
“Opium is the religion of the people.” (p.176)
“In order to stand on the shoulders of giants, one first must clamber up their
gnarled bodies and drink their sweat and piss.” (p.176)
Mike Small
“For the Yes campaign, Britain’s shuddering malfunction may (p.180) force
them to outline details of alternatives, something everyone has been
reluctant to do. If the banks are run by crooks – what does this mean? If
Britain has no constitution that can protect you, what can be done about
that? How do you write a bill of rights? What does decentralized public
control look like?”
“It’s not a gigantic leap to suggest that not only the political classes need
disbanded, but the British State itself. The death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009,
the growth of surveillance culture, the collapse of credibility of the
Metropolitan Police – all these should be a focus of analysis. All that would be
required would be a sense of what might be better.” (p.181)
“Whilst the will may be there for a positive case for the union, it remains
elusive. It oscillates from the banal to the ridiculous. If you want to paint your
face with a Union Jack, listen to the Archers and genuflect at the Queen, be
my guest. None of that is threatened by your parliament being able to make
decisions.” (p.183)
Gerda Stevenson
The Reformation brought a “Presbyterian anti-art agenda. This form of Protestant religion had, I
believe, a spiritually crippling impact on Scottish culture, a legacy still apparent, particularly in the
West Highlands and Islands. Presbyterianism is burned into our nation’s collective subconscious.”
“There’s evidence that Scots are predisposed to communality.” (p.187)
“Gaelic has no verb ‘to own’.” (p.188)
“It’s sickeningly ironic that under the prevailing business culture, bureaucratic organisations don’t
trust artists – a bit rich when we consider the recent disaster in the global financial sector, where
business plans are supposed to have been the safety net.” (p.191)
“You can’t assess a nation’s spiritual wealth in terms of profit.” (p.191)
“Sometimes I think about Shakespeare’s line in Macbeth, when Ross, referring to Scotland, says:
‘Alas, poor country, almost afraid to know itself’. I’d say there’s a collective psychological truth in that
“Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengali poet wrote in 1940, and I agree with him: ‘Love is kindred to
art – it is inexplicable. There are other factors of life, which are visitors that come and go. Art is the
guest that comes and remains. The others may be important, but art is inevitable.” (p.192)
Christopher Whyte
“I have never had any waverings about support for Scottish independence. … What matters is,
not complaining about what was done to us, but working out what it is up to us to do. I am
convinced that writers, as well as intellectuals and creative people generally, invariably have
their work mapped out for them. The welfare of the society where they belong is determined, at
least in part, by how far they succeed in identifying that work, and carrying it out.” (p.193)
“My feeling is that Scotland’s is a powerfully shame-based culture. Shaming is pervasive. It is
something Scottish people do to one another, so that nobody will step out of line, so as to
preserve a reassuring lowest common denominator, an unhelpful, destructive and illusory
sameness, which is one meaning of ‘identity’. Precisely because shame is so hard to talk about,
bringing the shaming into consciousness is highly problematic.” (p.194)
“I am tempted to assert that, at some point in the past, Scottish people were robbed of their
sexuality. Fear, even terror, of sexuality and everything connected with it is rife and, again, very
difficult to bring into the light.” (p.194)
“It is perhaps inevitable that the arts administrator will be on a far higher salary than any of
those involved in making art. But nobody should pretend that he, or she, knows better than the
actual artist.” (p.197)
Any proceeds due to the editor will be donated
to the Scottish Refugee Council.
The publisher acknowledges support from Creative Scotland
towards the publication of this title.
An alternative review of Unstated:
Irvine Welsh on “Scottish Independence and British Unity”
“Better together? Yes, certainly, but better independent and free together.”
Noel Gallagher was born in Longsight,
Manchester, to Irish parents Peggy and
Thomas Gallagher. He was the couple's
second child, after the birth of Paul Anthony
Gallagher. Soon after the birth of younger
brother Liam in 1972, the Gallaghers
moved to Ashburn Avenue in the
Manchester suburb of Burnage.[4]Gallagher
had an unhappy childhood. He and his
brothers were often beaten by his father,
who was an alcoholic,[5] and he was often
reclusive—Liam described him as "the
weirdo in the family". Due to their unease
around their father, he and Paul both
developed stammers.[4] As the eldest child,
Paul was given a room to himself, and
Gallagher was forced to share with Liam.[5]

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