The Scotsmans ‘Arts’ Coverage
The 5 Artists in Search of a Country event at the Assembly Rooms was an antidote to the widely recognised absence of focus on the referendum at this years festival. Theories vary about why this might be (this is pre-Mills declaration of fascination with events of 1917). They range from:
1) It’s not very interesting
2) No-one really cares
3) It doesn’t make very good drama
4) No-one’s actually from Scotland at the festival
5) It will all kick-off next year.
Whatever. Who cares? This is about an event that did happen not performances never commissioned.
The event was reported in The Scotsman under the bizarre headline of ‘Scottish independence: ‘About people, not Salmond’ – and the odd observation that “Elaine C Smith moved to distance the campaign for Scottish independence from Alex Salmond” as if that was the thrust of Elaine C Smith’s contribution.
Further revelations by the reporter included the revelation (scoop of the century?) that: “Supporters of a Yes vote also insisted at the event that it was possible to feel British and vote in favour of independence” (surely just a banal fact of reality).
Then the author turned playwright David Greig’s words by saying:
“Mr Greig said he had a “profound distrust” of nationalism, but believed that independence offered a way for the country to shake it off. He added that the decision over the future of Scotland should not be guided by “ethnic identity”.
Both these quotes are true – but the context in which they were made is very different from how it is presented.
Greig is talking about shaking off British nationalism, of the kind we have seen recently with the Olympics and the Jubilee and will have sponsored, endorsed next year as we are forced to ‘commemorate’ a war that killed 37 million people.
When David Greig talks about “ethnic identity” he is talking about the fact that what appeals to him is that the language and focus of the entire independence movement is NOT about ethnic identity.
The way the author presents it it seems to be an obstacle to overcome. This is a deliberate misrepresentation. I wouldn’t have brought his up had the same journalist not phoned me and berated me for an article we wrote which wrongly stated that the Herald reported a story before the Scotsman did. We agreed and quickly changed it. I wonder whether the Scotsman will do the same?
Finally, a ‘Ms Lindsay’ who we’ve not had referenced before says: “A lot of people do shy away from the argument if they are told they are stupid or haven’t thought about it. I really dislike that style of debate” as if this was a precis of her thoughts. The whole report is a very odd piece of propaganda masquerading as arts journalism for the festival. I suggest that events are filmed as often as possible and each time this happens the journalists political agenda and distortion is exposed.
Most of the artists who took part had never met each other before, four of the five talk explicitly of their shift from No to Yes or from No to Don’t Know, or from or from Don’t Know to Yes or from Don’t Know to Don’t Know (!). They represent articulate non-tribal voices exploring meaning and values in their society. Each of them are award-winning in their genres. Why they are so threatening to The Scotsman is a mystery, but what is clear is that we need better standards of journalism in this country.
There is no need for any of this. This is petty and stupid propaganda. Why can’ they just report the event properly?
Here is the event, which was organised by the Scottish Independence Convention – make your own mind up: