Blocking out different views…

A belated Happy New Year, dear readers! And thank you for remaining true to this blog. I must apologise for not having written much lately. So we missed the Christmas season in Scotland and Hogmanay which doubtlessly is the world’s biggest open air party. If you don’t know it, you are very welcome to look forward to the end of this year as I promise to explain more then. 🙂

But for the time being, let’s have a look at the current mood in Scotland. I’ll be over again next week, so I can confirm or deny what I’m reading and hearing about it currently. But all told, there are three parts:
1. the eternal Yessers who talk about a “next” referendum and what they “will” change in Scotland afterwards
2. unionists who stress their “victory” and how incorrigible/unreasonable/undemocratic Yessers are
3. people who are increasingly annoyed by the first two and want to go on

The first two have in common that they tend to talk about “we/us/our” versus”they/their/them” as if two different kinds of Scottish people existed: the ones who share their opinion and the ones who don’t. And both behave exactly like this and judge everyone who questions their views. I’m speaking from my own Twitter experience, sadly. Around Christmas, I asked a unionist lady why she was campaigning to stay strong against “them” now that “we won” and reminded her of the fact that the campaign she was supporting (apart from the fact that the referendum and its campaigns are past and gone…) was named Better Together and why she didn’t show a bit more effort to stay better together with people of different views. The answer didn’t contain any explanations, but she called me a “nationalist from Germany”. Which is quite an insult for every person with a certain historical sensitivity.

Likewisely I’ve got a kind of prejudiced label by a guy who’s rather a Yesser and stuck up for the poor and the weak. I noticed a really nice pic of a street in Glasgow with a festive illumination and asked why a city or a country which is said to have poverty problems and a rising number of food banks can afford the electricity costs for such an opulent lighting and why people don’t rail against that kind of waste. The answer was a pissed “fuck off”. Well. Not an affront of the “nationalist” kind at least.

Surprisingly I didn’t get blocked by none of these two. Blocking people namely is le dernier cri in Scotland when talking of social communities and especially Twitter. And it’s more than just a trend, it becomes an odd kind of competition more and more. I must admit that I don’t really care who blocks me as I consider it behaviour of a child in the terrible twos; I only block people who have commercial profiles and annoy me with non-stop-advertisement. But unionists are kind of proud when they get blocked by separatist figureheads like FM Nicola Sturgeon or several SNP-MPs, while Yessers consider it a walkover when they get blocked by No-activists. I get the impression that Yessers block more than unionists though, but I haven’t found any statistics.

What’s left? The third part, all annoyed persons who certainly have their own opinion but don’t grimly fight for what they consider their right. Most of these people don’t say anything at all to avoid getting unjustifiedly labelled; where’s the free speech going to…? And two sides which increasingly block out different views and concentrate on what they think. But, and that’s the crucial questions, how can they know they are right if they don’t consider possible alternatives? Not the best attitude when it comes to leading a country to a better future with more fairness and togetherness. Think about the last word in particular: togetherness…

©Maria Pakura


Disillusionment is spreading

When friends suddenly become enemies, there are two likely reasons. Either you have balled up massively. Or conditions are extremely adverse and provide an irritated mood which tends to explode at the slightest little thing. In Scotland, the second seems to be the case, in the first place. I’ve been asked why I’m currently blogging so rarely. One answer is that everyone has a lot to do before Christmas; bills are piling up, aiming to be paid ultimately. But the other answer is, that for me – and not just for me – a certain disillusionment is spreading.

These days, I experience many Yes-supporters as being narrow-minded, stubborn and unyielding. On the one hand, they have every right to perseveringly insist in an actual implementation of changes that had been promised to all Scottish people pre-referendum and especially in the last days before September 18th by Darling, Cameron, Brown and Co. On the other hand, haste makes waste; in my honest opinion, the best example is the indyref outcome itself which could have been different if there had been less unanswered questions. Perhaps it would be more effective and above all: more constructive if concrete solutions for the problems which are most important for the Scots were developed rather than continually complaining about how bad everything is and what is not done. On top, it would be eligible if Yessers accepted for the time being that a referendum is a democratic decision and that the majority has voted for No. Technically, there are no Yessers or Noers left, just Scottish people and their future. Frittering away time, energy and financial resources in order to exact a new referendum makes little sense, if any at all. Actually, this wrangling over further referendi could make observers wonder whether this concern can be serious, to vote again and again until a result is achieved which is deemed to be the “right” one by a specific group. That’s hardly democracy, sorry.

The other half of the Scots, who have voted No for one reason or the other, show quite insufferable traits similarly. Some of them consider themselves – arrogant and smart-aleckly – to be the source of every truth and wisdom (on the “winner” side, of course), and they teach everyone and everything about what disasters would have happened if the result would have been different. Although no one really knows what would have happened, neither in the positive nor in the negative. And then they wrinkle their noses because their fellow citizens dare to make demands, put deficits in question instead of accepting them. Frankly, a Scotland with more fairness and less social inequalities which would be the fulfilled dream of many Yessers would be generally a good thing. But there might be or grow problems indeed, if requirements would front a lack of concepts and there would be room for the risk of punishing hard workers of every kind for their efforts instead of motivating all (!) to develop ambitions for better education and more proactivity.

Furthermore, some are so convinced that they have done the right thing by voting No that they close their ears, eyes and hearts for anything that might put their beliefs into question. More understanding from both sides for each other would be in duty. The picking on each other must end, it would be the right time for successive compromises on both sides and an active attempt to find solutions. Above all, everyone should begin to listen to others. Maybe indy-supporters would notice logical gaps in their considerations and learn about ways to fill them. And maybe indy-detractors would empathise about the reasons for dissatisfaction of their fellows which can serve as an approach for meaningful changes.

But all this does not happen and if so, only in miniature, in silence, in secret. Because on the wide public stage, one side leads a reproachful crusade for lofty goals that seem to be the only tangible argument, while the other side loses sympathies by shaking their heads and incapacitating their own neighbours and friends by calling them radical nationalists with a risky attitude.

And finally, there’s the media. According to my observations they are not conductive to deoxidise the situation. Bad news are best sellers, and so headings string big names’ accusations of big names together. What does that say about the fears and hopes of normal people and the development as such? Not much. It just continuely heats the mood. Until it explodes. And again. And again. And Scotland splits more and more.

And this is sobering, disillusioning. This makes the good image of a politically active and democratic Scotland which was left after the huge indyref turnout increasingly fade and fall apart. Bummer!

©Maria Pakura

A new paper for more neutrality?

Tomorrow morning, a new newspaper will wait in the display cases for buyers. It’s named The National and launched by the Herald & Times Group obviously, the Herald writes on it here. The National is supposed to be a pro-independence paper which is a bit strange considering the fact that Scotland said No to independence on the past September 18th. But, and that’s not new to my readers, the Yes-movement has survived the No and seems to be growing; it’s quite loud anyway, I cannot tell whether or not the total number is increasing in fact; polls say so, anyway.

And since then, the Yes-movement insists that biased media coverage – the accusations were directed particularly against the BBC, let’s remember the protests in front of the headquarters – of the previously available papers and broadcasters essentially led to fact that the No could prevail at all. This is not quite as far-fetched as it does seem at first glance. For, as I repeatedly wrote myself on, fear played a major role in the decision. Fear of financial ruin primarily. However, it is important to keep in mind that this fear was fueled not only by information that spoke for a No and were supposedly communicated on media with a particular emphasis, but also by the Yes-camp that didn’t deliver satisfying responses in controversial discussions. Let’s think of Alex Salmond whose only answer to the question after a plan B for a possible fail of a currency union between iScotland and rest of UK was that a currency union would be the only logical solution. So, in my honest opinion, it’s not right to blame the media and the No camp only.

Anyway. Tomorrow, a new paper will be born. And bought, I bet. Being a journalist, I observe that with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. New papers with unusual perspectives – if they have and not only promise them, of course – are an asset of the press segment. They mean competition, and competition is good for the standards of quality and breadth of topics. And if this newspaper should prevail – initially it has five days to prove itself and it’s profitability on the market, if I’ve understood correctly – then it means hopefully new jobs for well-trained journalists. This is good, no question.

But the neutrality that would be healthy for Scotland which, from my view, already is torn between “the dream will never die” and “finally accept the democratic outcome and let us build a better Britain rather than promoting nationalism ” is at least debatable when The Nationalist is created with a pro-independence twist from the outset. It’s not a good development that the press market now seemingly carries on the rupture that already happens in neighbourhoods and circle of friends and divides Scotland into a blind Yes and a blind No without openness for the other side’s views and arguments. And honestly, I do not believe in altruistic reasons for this newspaper. Someone has recognized that the enthusiasm of the Yes-movement can potentially be a source of money.

How good or bad the quality and the neutrality of the newspaper will ultimately be, can not be judged until the first few editions were published and a certain routine was set. Should The Nationalist turn out to be the voice of the Yes-movement, publishing unfiltered views, I would be quite critical of it. Journalists should it be there to ask questions, ask for clear answers and put all information into question again. From both sides and all possible alternatives, without giving preference to one side. Also not to nationalism. That’s what I wish for Scotland’s sake.

©Maria Pakura