Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Ghost of Too Wee, Too Poor, Too Stupid

“Too wee, too poor, too stupid”. This was the former staple diet of unionist propaganda in the old days, when the independence debate was composed of much simpler fare. Then there was no need for the scare story. We were simply subsidised Scotland, surviving off scraps from the ruins of our former industrial decline. “What would we do without the generous largesse of the UK state?” was enough to confirm our diminished status and spike any ambition to run our own affairs.

“Too wee, poor and stupid (too wp&s)” was the orthodoxy until it became apparent we contributed more to the UK state than we received. “Scotching the myth”, well, scotched it, and now only the Westminster Tories and sections of the metropolitan press still ramble on about a subsidised Scotland

No unionist involved in the referendum debate would now say directly that we are “too wp&s”. Even they know that to insult the very people they’re trying to recruit is simply not good campaigning tactics. So now “too wp&s” is simply hinted at. It’s disguised in all the uncertainty they’re trying to present in their doom-laden version of an independent Scotland. “Yes” they say, “Scotland could be a successful independent nation,” then in the next breath we get the multitude of reasons why the Scots, uniquely, wouldn’t make a success of independence.

Even our inbuilt advantages have to be a negative. We are, in fact “burdened” with our oil resource and when it runs out, the ghost of “too wp&s” returns to suggest we aren’t creative enough to prepare for this and ensure our future prosperity.

The narrative of a “separate” Scotland is the theme that is being compiled and a lot of thinking is invested in delivering this crushing vision. They have to convince the Scottish people that we will be bereft of, and incapable of creating, the infrastructure of state. Currency, partnerships, defence and even culture are all under threat. This vision of the “separate” Scotland is being carefully constructed and the impression they are trying to create is one word – unviable.

“Too wp&s”, therefore, underpins this “separation” and “unviability”. Of course we’re not “too wee”, but according to Michael Moore, we would be in a diminished state and a “bit player” in the world. We’re not “too poor”, but even with our fantastic oil resource we’re still going to be impoverished without the UK to manage our affairs. We’re not “too stupid”, but uniquely we don’t have the wit to effectively defend ourselves and make a success of our independence.

We cannot let the unionists suggest that we could not be a success as an independent Scotland. It is independence that believes in Scotland, and the people who live and work here. It is the unionists who continue to imply that we’re still too wee, too poor and too stupid with every bit of their narrative of a “separate” Scotland.

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This is an article Pete wrote for the Scots Independent Newspaper

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Why There Is No Going Back For Creative Scotland

I don’t think anyone believed that when Creative Scotland was established it was going to be an easy ride. Almost tortuous in its creation it has had, what could only be described as a tumultuous couple of years before culminating this week in the resignation of CEO, Andrew Dixon.

One thing is certain though, and that is there is no going back. There is simply no case to return to an age when arts bodies were little more than a source of money distribution. The world has moved on and Scotland has to keep up. We now live in a competitive, international market place for culture, knowledge and ideas which is constantly changing and which does not stand still for a minute.

I accept that many of our artists don’t like Creative Scotland. There was great unhappiness about lottery money replacing core funding and there was frustration about managerialism, access and intriguingly the language used in conversations with artists.  All of these may be correct and genuinely felt but we have to be careful that we don’t take several steps back in the context of what we need to do to move forward.

Creative Scotland was a bold idea. For the first time it brought artistic disciplines together with economic development. Yes, of course art has to be at arm’s length and simply for art’s sake, but what if the gallery is being closed down, the record can’t be brought out for lack of funding or the orchestra is abandoned due to lack of sponsorship?

The idea of anything being even described as  “creative industries” has also received a fair share of opprobrium and, for some, uttered between the most gritted of teeth. Well, let’s look at what these creative industries contribute. Creative industries contribute some £2.4 billion Gross Value Added to the Scottish economy employing some 60 000 people across some 8 000 businesses. Our creative industries are one of the major drivers of our economy and they have to be looked after, supported and nurtured.

It is just something we do spectacularly well. In music, film, design, publishing, computer gaming and so many other creative and artistic endeavours we are in the top league with a massive reputation for excellence. Scotland, for a small nation, also has a great international cultural footprint and we are fortunate that we have a high recognition factor throughout the world.

That is why we do need strategies to compete and develop our own distinct product. It’s why we need a body that can bring together our cultural businesses with economic development and international promotion.

Then there is the internet. The migration of cultural content online goes on unabated. Just ask music, film and increasingly publishing. Culture is simply created, consumed and shared in an altogether different environment. The battle over IP rights, monetisation of the net and the tension between content creators and distributors is what consumes the creative hub of London. Scotland has to get engaged in this debate and we must stake our place in the ever shifting sands of this new environment.

We have to be careful therefore about our next step with our national arts body. That is because the comfortable world of old where arts consumption, creation and distribution were almost passive activities is not there to go back to. Creative Scotland is by no means a perfect body but it is a body created to be equipped for the new world in which we now find ourselves.