The day Big Bad Alistair let the music die

I’ve got no idea what possessed Alistair Darling to attempt to scaremonger on the issue of culture but he has ended up quite rightly a laughing stock. Last night he said that “British music will no longer be our music” as legions of Scottish music fans turned to their music collection and bidded a long adieu to what will now apparently be “their” music, whoever “they” are. 

When I recorded my nine albums with Runrig the last thing that was on my mind was borders and frontiers. Runrig currently have a Canadian singer, the keyboard player I replaced was English – even as one of the most quintessential of Scottish of bands we had an international dimension to our membership and quite rightly so. Music is universal, absolutely collaborative and the closest thing we have to an international language. This attempt to create borders around something so wonderfully free spirited is as clumsy as it is absolute nonsense. To even attempt to suggest that a nation has “possession” of music or even of a culture in a globalised, cross culturally connected world is almost absurd.

This is of course part of the general unionist campaign to scare the Scottish people out of voting for independence. To achieve this they must portray an independent Scotland as a totally “separate” country bereft of currency, EU membership, monarch and now apparently shared culture. In this latest instalment of scaremongering we are now to be stripped of our shared British identity as we are set off to drift in the North Atlantic.

They want to suggest that our shared history as part of being British is extinguished with independence and will be stripped from our collective consciousness. They then portray a future that has neighbors and friends as “foreigners” as they negotiate the newly installed “frontiers” assuming ownership of our shared culture.

British culture is in fact as much mine as the most battle hardened unionist from the southern shires. It is the sum of what we have shared together on these islands. It is everything from the industrial revolution, to standing together in the world wars, to the welfare state, and yes, to our fantastic rock and pop bands. 

With independence it goes absolutely nowhere. In fact these connections and cultural ties may even be improved because we can put a new energy into building them from a position of equality and mutual respect.

Even though all of this latest scaremongering will backfire, and will be to our advantage, I hope we don’t see too much of it. It is cringeworthy and embarrassing and debases an important debate. I am also becoming just a bit alarmed by the language of “foreigners”, “colonialism” etc, and hope that the unionists will at least be careful in how they phrase this part of their “separatist” narrative.

But, ultimately, If this is the territory upon which the unionists want to fight the campaign, then I’m afraid, they’ll be fighting with themselves.

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22 thoughts on “The day Big Bad Alistair let the music die

  1. Domhnall dods

    Oh dear, my old runrig albums pre pete wishart are british, and maybe the new ones are Canadian, maybe I should vote no? Aye right. Mr Darling is clearly bereft of anything positive to say in support of his case.

    Reply
  2. frankie

    Spot on Pete Wishart. It seems with every passing day Mr Darling and his motely crew spout out ever increasingly, desperate nonesense. Negatives, negatives, then more negatives. When are they actually going to give us a POSITIVE reason to stay in this broken union.

    Reply
  3. Stevie

    Good analysis — my favourite band is The Beatles — they were four lads from Liverpool whose deep musical influences were American rock and roll, as well as pipe and drum bands around Liverpool as well, who knows what?

    They were Liverpudlians first and foremost: McCartney and (O’) Lennon are Irish born names, Harrison a Scottish name and Starr an ancient English name. This music is no more British than Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse rock’. Scottish popular music basically was the only thing worth listening to during the 1980s with some noble exceptions such as U2 but to call this music British is to entirely demonstrate a nerd like incomprehension of what popular music is. Popular music has its own local character of course but to call it Britsh, Scottish, or English is absurd.

    Popular music is largely an American format in which bands in Britain and Australia and Ireland did/do very well — people suggest the linguistics of the English language help pop songwriters compose more easily, that is but a theory of course. The immense talent of groups like The Police (with an American drummer and manager) etc. is nothing whatsoever to do with being ‘British’. The success of these groups is entirely to do with dissatisfaction of ‘Great Britain’ and all the heinous class snobbery that continued post WWII which most definitely required social revolution. This occured politically with the 1945 Labour government introducing the NHS (soon to be dismantled in England) and social change with the swinging sixties etc. .

    Alistair Darling’s ignorance of pop music being n international phenomenon is no doubt matched by his complete ignorance of actual ‘British’ music being folk music. Even then the ‘British’ aspect is geographical since folk bands most often treat their local communities as their subject matter. At most, folk bands can generally be described as either, Scottish, Welsh, English, Irish etc (with the odd exception of course) — the actual character of these bands is thus national in character rather than British.

    Mr Darling’s ignorance is frankly inexplicable and suggests that he remain better tucked away in an economics text book somewhere in the hope that he might learn something useful about economics rather than bore people with his cultural inspiration.

    Reply
    1. John Mepham

      To claim the Beatles aren’t British is ridiculous. Why just the other day as i watched the Olympics DVD I saw a thrilled Union flag waving Paul McCartney, the man you say has an “irish” name.
      Of course Alistair Darling was right. I’ve spent much of my life in the Far East. They’ve heard of British music, but Scottish – what’s that?

      Reply
  4. LisaR

    Darling’s attempt at hoping to scaremonger the 16/17 year olds who he insults if he thinks that their brains are just limited to just music. I think even the No voters will shake their heads up at this anal comment of Darling’s!

    Reply
  5. Pingback: The day Big Bad Alistair let the music die | Scottish Independence and a better future! | Scoop.it

  6. Pingback: The day Big Bad Alistair let the music die | Scottish Independence | Scoop.it

  7. auldacquaintance

    The only thing I would disagree with you on here, Pete…Is that I do not think that such a thing as British Culture exists. There are a number of Cultures and Sub Cultures on these Islands, but not one which is identifiably British.
    Shared History certainly, but not a singular shared culture. Our Cultures and subcultures contribute to the Union, but they are not subsumed into Britishness. They are distinct and identifiable, where if such a thing as Britishness exists, it tends rather to be an extension of English culture, and the two tend to be interchangeable.
    Otherwise, I certainly agree with you…and it was a nonsense of Alistair Darling to suggest we would be denied sharing with our friends and neighbours, that which we have always shared. Much like it was also ludicrous and alarmist to suggest that our own families elsewhere in these Islands would suddenly become foreigners. The Republic of Ireland is not seen as foreign by the British Government, as witnessed by their legislation dating back to 1949…So why should we be regarded any differently upon Independence, is well beyond me!

    Reply
    1. John Mepham

      Of course the Republic of Ireland is foreign just as a separated Scotland would be. They may not as “as foreign” as say the French or Chinese, but foreign they ultimately are. You are deluded by the freedom the people of the Irish Republic have to live and work in the U.K.

      Reply
      1. auldacquaintance

        You are absolutely sure that I am deluded about this Mr Mepham? Positive, Really Positive..No doubts whatsoever that The Republic of Ireland Is not regarded as being foreign by the British Government?
        Really, Really, Really Sure??

      2. John Mepham

        In reply to auldacquaintance – Yes of course I am sure, just as i am sure that it’s right to believe in the Union and in the United Kingdom, as of course do most Scots.

  8. Pingback: The day Big Bad Alistair let the music die | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

  9. Juteman

    Darlings comments are hilarious. My Clash collection will seemingly be burnt after 2014, even though one of my favourites is ‘London Calling’.
    At least he helped the Yes campaign with one of his other statements. Seemingly we can rejoin the UK if independence doesn’t work out. That should give the undecideds confidence to take the step to Yes.
    How much did you pay Darling to make this speech Pete? :-)

    Reply
  10. Janet

    Well said, Pete. The union has taken more than its share of Scotland’s sea, oil, fish, taxes, license moneys and of our armed forces lives. Now our independence is touted as an opportunity to take everything else. After 300 years, surely Mr Darling might come up with one positive reason to keep the union, one which is true, material and not plain daft.

    Reply
    1. John

      “The union has taken more than its share of Scotland’s sea, oil, fish, taxes, license moneys ”

      Really ? Is that so? You have some figures to prove that?

      Reply
  11. John Mepham

    Every time a Unionist talks about what the Scots will lose, (including their Britishness), what independence will cost, and how Scotland’s world status will plummet, should separation happen, you call it scaremongering. It isn’t that. It’s raising very legitimate questions about what a divorce will mean. By calling it scaremongering you suggest it’s not debatable. It is. Long live the United Kingdom.

    Reply
  12. Jim Webster

    If you go anywhere in the world those peoples hate England, not usually the English, on those grounds they will be the foreigners and we the peoples of the world.

    Reply
    1. John Mepham

      Sorry Mr. Webster. You are wrong and peddling hate yourself. I have lived overseas for 25 years in many countries and I can tell you that England is much respected by non political folk everywhere. And they know of the United Kingdom, but Scotland – what’s that ? Those are the facts. Just another reason why we are Better Together and why you should treasure your British identity – you keep up your status instead of watching it fall should you separate.

      Reply
  13. John Mepham

    Every time a Unionist talks about what the Scots will lose, (including their Britishness), what independence will cost, and how Scotland’s world status will plummet, should separation happen, you call it scaremongering. It isn’t that. It’s raising very legitimate questions about what a divorce will mean. By calling it scaremongering you suggest it’s not debatable. It is. Long live the United Kingdom.Every time a Unionist talks about what the Scots will lose, (including their Britishness), what independence will cost, and how Scotland’s world status will plummet, should separation happen, you call it scaremongering. It isn’t that. It’s raising very legitimate questions about what a divorce will mean. By calling it scaremongering you suggest it’s not debatable. It is. Long live the United Kingdom.

    Reply
  14. James Robb

    The Scots and English are sopisticated enough to agree on a mutually benficial future without fighting a war. Sharing, trade and friendship will still be possible.
    There will be some squealing from the usual vested interests.

    Reply

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