Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Scottish blogging: Political Innovation event

I missed this event at the weekend, but found some interesting accounts.

This one, which gave me the impression that blogging in Scotland was all about nationalism, and providing an outlet for nationalist views that are not accommodated by the mainstream Scottish media.

And this one, less nationalistic in outlook, but while acknowledging the anti-nationalist bias in the media, maintained a broader outlook. 'It's not the only issue on which the Scottish media gets it wrong', says writer Peter McColl, listing other Scottish issues neglected by Scottish media (a new Forth road bridge being one example). To such issues I would of course add tobacco control and smoking ban-related issues. 'There’s more to politics than the national question, and the case for more powers would be stronger if it were less one dimensionally put by nationalist bloggers.'

I've never been nationalist in outlook and particularly dislike the indignation expressed about unionists who disagree with issues such as minimum pricing. Having a different view about whether a policy will be effective is not the same as wanting to condemn Scotland's poorest to a life of drink. Taking the moral high ground and claiming a monopoly on caring about Scotland's health does not serve the issues but just turns people into political pawns. It will also not help nationalists to be taken more seriously by Scotland's media, if they claim to be the only ones with a passion for their country and people, and surely not what our supposedly non-adversarial politics with a circular chamber was meant to bring to Scotland.

Having said that, the realisation that Scottish nationalists know that there is something deeply disconnected about Scotland's mainstream media should be common ground.

Peter McColl's gripe was with the quality of political discussion over the last two decades and, more recently, with the failure of participants on Saturday to take hope from the size of the student demonstration in London last week. I also enjoyed his conclusion:
While I’d seen the events in London as evidence that young people are anything but apathetic, the conversation worked from an assumed position that young people are more apathetic. For an event that was meant to be about political innovation this was deeply disappointing. If you think innovation in politics is taking a marketing approach, or making it more like “The X-Factor” then we’re faced with a pretty dire future. The poverty of analysis was matched only by the lack of ambition. The problem with politics is precisely that it is bedevilled by a marketing approach and failed attempts to be like “The X-Factor.” The managerial politics of the last 20 years, marked by an ever more presidential style, has gone a long way to killing politics. If you never discuss anything interesting you make politics boring.
The event itself attracted over 80 participants, and is an ongoing project. Here is one of the organisers' accounts, with links to Twitter and Facebook for those who want to follow developments.

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