2007 - 2022

Arundhati Roy talks to Nicola Sturgeon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”
― Arundhati Roy, War Talk

Author and activist Arundhati Roy talks to Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh …

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  1. Douglas says:

    More celebrity culture…

    I remember the days when politicians were politicians and only politicians. Now they’re journalists – they write weekly columns in newspapers for example – TV show hosts, game show candidates, media celebs in a word…

    I can’t be the only one absolutely fed up of politicians… the media are meant to be a completely independent estate for democracy to work properly, they’re meant to hold people to account.

    Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland, she is supposed to project some gravitas. Why is she doing this show? And what interesting could possibly come out of a show in which a powerful politician interviews a novelist….????

    Scotland, to my eyes, is really indistinguishable from England in so many ways these days.

    And of course there will be dozens of good Scottish journalists who can’t make ends meet cause the politicians have nabbed their jobs…

  2. Douglas says:

    …otherwise said, while it is true that the public are guilty in our times of abusing of politicians, it seems to be to undeniably true that politicians are also guilty of abusing us, the public, with their ubiquitous presence anywhere and everywhere, presumably due to their labouring under the entirely misguided notion that we need to see or hear from them every day of our lives.. usually in capacities they are not qualified to hold, or doing foolish things in front of TV cameras in zoos or military bases or what have you… they have no shame. They are game for everything.

    These people simply cannot get enough of themselves, they are insatiable megalomaniacs. They and their advisers, PR people, “teams”, whatever they call the creepy hangers-on who always follow on behind them, live in a bubble and presumably only speak to people just like themselves in the same bubble. They foist on us this never ending loop of crap on the media, in which a real question which puts a politician on the spot is a rarity…

    This is Nicola Stuergon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, who proposed back in 2014 with the television celebrity presenter Alex Salmond that Scotland leave a 300 year old Union with England and yet maintain the same currency, the same Head of State, the same language, the same cultural institutions… in fact the same everything except free child care.

    Salmond, Sturgeon, Robertson, Wilson, Hosey,… these people do not have one single,, original idea in their heads. Not one. They have no vision for Scotland. They don’t do “vision” they do media stunts…. they’re more like performers than politicians, actors, acrobats, clowns, that kind of thing…

    1. Douglas says:

      The country of Adam Smith and David Hume…two Scots revered around the world for their great original, game-changing ideas… and the best thing, the very best thing the Scottish National Party, which about half of Scotland is in – hundreds of thousands of members – the best idea they can come up with to sell independence to the country is free child care.. LOL….

      It’s totally unbelievable…. if you stopped ten guys on Sauchiehall street you’d get better ideas than that.

      Nicola Sturgeon should be leading a cross-party group in alliance with Scottish business and other social bodies to implement a fully integrated culture-health-education plan to tackle Scotland’s chronic health issues and in particular the mortality rate of men in Glasgow, with the goal of getting the Glasgow figures up to the Scottish average, and the Scottish average up to the European average withing a ten year period say…. she could be putting this issue on the front pages every single week, and even by raising awareness it would probably have a positive effect…

      She could be proposing to make Glasgow the capital of Scotland – Edinburgh has too much of everything; it’s too crowded, too expensive, it has the Festival, the Parliament, all the National Galleries – and spending some serious money on Glasgow which looks dirty and where you see rats… I saw a rat the last time I was in Glasgow this year, just next to the charred remains of the Art School. Unless, maybe, it’s the same rat we’re all seeing?

      Instead, Nicola is showboating with a celebrity writer… it’s complacency writ large…

      The SNP are part of the problem…. anybody who can’t see that has stopped thinking…

      1. Ray I says:

        I am rather pleased that we have a First Minister who has a life beyond politics and shows an interest in literature. People who have a love of literature are more likely to be aware of the human condition and display empathy than those whose lives are steeped solely in politics.

      2. Alistair Taylor says:

        Ach, away and read some Arundhati Roy, Douglas.
        You obviously got out of the wrong side of the bed today.

        But, in total agreement with you that the standard of living in Glasgow area could be improved, big time.
        A high tide floats all boats.
        Bring on independence.

        1. Douglas says:

          No, gentlemen, I think if you are serious about democracy – which is in bad shape right now – you have to insist that the media and politics are two different and distinct estates and should have an adversarial relationship rather than the cosy one they have today . I would legislate against it, against politicians having their own private space in the media while also serving as MPs.

          Legislate, because while politicians in the past would have baulked at the idea of writing a weekly newspaper column I suspect, or hosting a TV show, these days it’s just considered a perk of the job, they’ve lost any sense of shame or decorum if you prefer. I would legislate against MPs having second jobs in general. If they want to do something else, then they stop being politicians like the rest of us do in our careers… what’s the problem?

          In terms of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership in general, they are not doing their job which is to lead the country toward independence. The Scots are a canny bunch, they’re no daft. If you are to convince them that we should leave a 300 year old Union, with the huge amount of legislation, negotiations and upheaval involved, then you better be proposing something new…. the SNP, over the last 12 years, should have been reconfigurating Scotland, changing some of its fundamental coordinates, breaking out the matrix of Unionist North Britain and implementing policy which inaugurates a new independent European Scotland…we should be half way down the path towards a new country, but instead we are basically where we started in 2007.

          Here’s four things the SNP could have done and could still do, right now:

          1) Devolution for the Highlands and Islands where, for many people, the difference between London rule and Edinburgh rule is indistinguishable. Move some political power to the north, up to Inverness, give people in the H&I a forum and more control over their lives.
          2) Make Glasgow the capital for reasons already stated above.
          3) Set up a National Language Academy for Gaelic and Scots and, in general, align with the rest of Europe on linguistic policy where they take a very dim view of the systematic neglect of government in these isles towards minority languages. They consider the Brits Philistines when it comes to languages and they’re right.
          4) Set the goal of making Scotland the healthiest country in Europe. When you come from the south of Europe back to Scotland, people look much fatter. The Scots don’t know how to eat or how to drink, whereas they do in the south of Europe. Health, education and culture are the three portfolios you need to tackle Scotland’s health crisis, and they’re all devolved powers. Why are we not seeing some action? Where are the big ideas?

          You know, PR work is part of modern politics, but you need to have some ideas. The SNP have no ideas…

          As for “The God of Small Things”, it should never have won the Booker Prize by general consent. The book which should have won it was “Grace Notes” by Bernard MacLaverty who is based in Scotland.

          It is tempting to claim MacLaverty as Scottish given he lives here, but there is no Scottish writer I can think of who has MacLaverty’s poetic gift, the gift of metaphor, the associative gift which is the thing they can’t teach on Creative Writing courses, which is the essence of poetry and literature, and which they say is the gift of the Irish …Bernard MacLaverty is probably the best writer working in English today in my opinion.

          1. Douglas says:

            PS: It’s a good thing YES lost in 2014. If YES had won, Alex Salmond would have erected a monument to himself in St Andrews Square, and nothing else would have changed.

            We have a chance to do things much better the next time around. We – Scottish Civil Society -need to come up with a blueprint for an independent Scotland, because the SNP are incapable of doing anything of the kind. We’re not talking about policy. We’re talking about a general picture… the idea that you mix policy with a national independence referendum demonstrates the SNP are bankrupt when it comes to ideas. And where is the urgency, where is the hunger? They don’t give you the impression they really want independence…their body language, their tone… not all SNP MPs, but too many seem to be doing a job of work more than anything else. We need a bit of vision, we need a bit of fire, we need a bit of inspiration…

      3. David Nicholson says:

        I’m thinking that i query what politicians, media and others say or write as standard procedure and I think that your piece is inaccurate and incorrect.
        Having given the whole union plenty of thought and consideration for the past 59 years ( am not counting the 1st 10 as they are formative years ) I think that for the peoples of Scotland to realise their own identity in terms of nationhood then we need the independent status as enjoyed by 99.9% of the countries in the world.
        I think anyone with an iota of common sense and realism cannot but accept that truth.
        I think that politics in Scotland has been at a divergence with England for years since the 1950’s when the Tories last won an election in Scotland.
        i therefore think your piece is misguided and incorrect.
        That is my thoughts regarding uour comments.

  3. Douglas says:

    Sidney GoodsirSmith:

    “While his contemporary Bozzy (James Boswell) was apologizing for being a Scot, and the Embro gentry were hard at work perfecting their vocabularies, and learning to say “bad weather” instead of “coarse weather” and “no doubt” instead of “no dubiety”, Robert Fergusson was writing in “The Ghaists”:

    “Think na I vent my well-a-day in vain,
    Kent ye the cause, ye sure wad join my mane.
    Black be the day that e’er to England’s ground
    Scotland was eikit by the UNION’S bond;
    For mony a menzie of destructive ills
    The country now maun brook frae mortmain bills,
    That void our test’ments, and can freely gie
    Sic will and scoup to the ordain’d trustee,
    That he may tir our stateliest riggins bare,
    Nor acres, houses, woods, nor fishins spare,
    Till he can lend the stoitering state a lift
    Wi’ gowd in gowpins as a grassum gift;
    In lieu o’ whilk, we maun be weel content
    To tyne the capital at three per cent.
    A doughty sum indeed, whan now-a-days
    They raise provisions as the stents they raise,
    Yoke hard the poor, and the rich chiels be,
    Pamper’d at ease by ither’s industry.”

    1. Douglas says:

      That particle “na” which is so Scottish, which Hugh MacDiarmid obsessed about in Burns, seeing in it a particularly Scottish sounds, as found in Burns’ ‘Mary Morrison’.

      And if there is a better love poem in Scots, which would it be?

      O Mary, at thy window be,
      It is the wish’d, the trysted hour!
      Those smiles and glances let me see,
      That make the miser’s treasure poor.
      How blythely wad I bide the stoure,
      A weary slave frae sun to sun,
      Could I the rich reward secure,
      The lovely Mary Morison

      Yestreen, when to the trembling string
      The dance gaed thro’ the lighted ha’,
      To thee my fancy took its wing,
      I sat, but neither heard nor saw.
      Tho’ this was fair, and that was braw,
      And yon the toast of a’ the town,
      I sigh’d, and said among them a’,
      “Ye are na Mary Morison.”

      Oh, Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,
      Wha for thy sake wad gladly dee?
      Or canst thou break that heart of his,
      Whase only faut is loving thee?
      If love for love thou wilt na gie,
      At least be pity to me shown.
      A thought ungentle canna be
      The thought o’ Mary Morison.”

      How can the SNP just totally ignore the treasure trove which is Scots, the treasure trove which is Scottish Gaelic and leave is stuck in this sterile Unionist cultural paradigm while simultaneously going on about “resisting their vision of history and language and ideology” with Arundhati Roy etc?

      It’s just more hypocritical bullshit from Nicola Sturgeon… she’s a total hypocrite…

  4. SleepingDog says:

    I would agree with Arundhati Roy’s quote from War Talk above. I have not read her works beyond maybe the odd article, and perhaps I should. It was interesting how her architectural studies gave her perspective on how humans are being conditioned by their artificial environments, and informed her perspective of how the Indian caste-based system was structured like a hard grid whose forceful abutments shut some people on the outside of society.

    During the interview and questions (and I had heard about the government communication blackout in Kashmir on BBC Click), there was raised the critically important question of how can we use external (foreign) coverage to let us know what is happening locally (in our own nation). In other words, the reduction in pluralism around the world harms everybody’s ability to use alternate news sources to learn about (and contribute to) understanding of their own situations.

  5. Wul says:

    Like Douglas, I dislike seeing my politicians hosting a media show. It makes me grue. It seems to demean the office they hold.

    It also makes manifest the fact that politics today is a form of entertainment and spectacle; the skills sets interchangeable. There was a horrible podcast on BBC Sounds recently where hard Brexiteers and Remainers were in the sound studio with Laura Kuensberg. The “feel” was informal and off-the-record-ish. It was abundantly clear from the matey chat that this was a group of people very much at home with each other and cut from the same cloth.

    Anyway, rant over. Sorry not to be commenting on the author or her work.

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