How could these stories not leave the listener affected? At every stop on our way around the tunnels and underground platforms Paul informed us not only of the stories of the places and the events, but of the people – the ordinary working people of Glasgow, the ordinary working people of the Highlands who came, cleared from their homes, to work in the city, and the ordinary people of Scotland and elsewhere who passed through the station.
Effective social and political campaigns, then, must be, by necessity, single-issue campaigns – or as near to single-issue campaigns as they can practicably be. This does not mean, as someone once suggested, that other important political causes are to be “sent to the back of the bus.” No one is saying other issues – like gender equality and the campaign to save the bees – are not important. Naturally, they are important – some crucially so. But the fact remains, that a campaign fighting every campaign is limited by finances, resources, and manpower (or people-power).
In spite of his obvious intelligence, his quick-wittedness, and his natural ingenuity, ‘the Scot’ is slavishly obedient to the point of servility. In fact, this is made quite explicit in a scene – after the first attempt on the Home Secretary’s life (played by Keeley Hawes); after saving her life almost at the cost of his own a uniformed officer points him to the service entrance of the hotel where she is staying. Take the backdoor Jock! As always, ‘the Scot’ gets ahead in the world by being perfectly obedient to his betters. He cannot be the hero of the story unless he knows his place.
This “common man” was never in the original chronicles of the Scottish Wars of Independence. History was written by the elite for the benefit of the elite, it never had the common man and woman in mind – they were always unimportant. The medieval chroniclers went into lurid detail when describing the deaths of knights on the battlefield, they seldom mentioned the village women who were raped and murdered or the peasant farmers conscripted as archer fodder.
We can’t defend the indefensible. The Church in Ireland and all around the world failed children and vulnerable people. There was – and to a great extent remains – a culture of abuse within the structures of the Church. The sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of children in the care of Church authorities was a terrible wrong, but the scandal was far worse; it was the abuse of power on the part of an ecclesiastical hierarchy that protected abusers and covered up their abuse – often shielding them, by the use of canon law among other things, from civil justice.
As Britain hastily cobbles together a black history of Britain the coming of the Windrush generation is being framed as an invitation. It was nothing of the sort. The British Empire was imploding. In order to offer a lifeline to its predominantly white imperial ruling caste in the colonies it granted citizenship to former subjects, not thinking that the native populations and the decedents of former African slaves would take up the freedom this citizenship offered with such relish.
After April 1998, with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and at the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour experiment, a window of opportunity opened for the old imperial flag. With “peace” in Ireland and a refreshing post-Conservative era flourishing over Blair’s New Britain, it was felt that the union jack too could be rebranded and sold at home and abroad as the hallmark of brand UK – a neoliberal whitewashed advertising strategy that has been developed through a number of more recent permutations including “Team GB” and “UK OK.”
Tartan Day, much like Paddy’s Day in the States, isn’t about Scotland. It is a saccharine projection of dim-witted American expectations of Scotland and half remembered traditions of the old country. More, than this: It is about whipping up sales in the international centre of the religion of capitalism. Tartan – or “plaid” as our Merican cousins prefer to call it – is about money; it’s about playing on the emotions of American’s who have been convinced their great granny came over from Brigadoon or, more likely, Balamory. Tartan Day is about giving them what they want.