Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Political Innovation

I attended this event on Saturday in the freezing town of my birth. Lovely to meet for the first time bloggers whose writing I was familiar with - gentlemen such as David Farrer from Freedom and Whisky, Martin Kelly, Duncan Stephen aka Doctor Vee, and our gracious host, the Slugger himself - as well as one or two who had previously been unknown to me, from Better Nation, Bright Green, and journalist slash blogger, Joan MacAlpine.

I left this event feeling like I usually do on occasions like this; slightly exhausted by the effort it takes to avoid making a complete tit of myself. Self-assessment is pointless so I won't speculate as to whether I achieved even this rather lowly goal. A couple of impressions: the event was dominated by nationalists - and everyone seemed to agree that the nationalist line isn't given an airing in the MSM.

I would agree with this, but only up to a point. It is true that the case for outright independence isn't taken seriously in the Scottish press - but it does not follow that the position being taken here is 'deeply unionist', as our friends over at Bright Green would have us believe. Rather, the Scottish media has been pedaling nationalism with a small 'n' for as long as I can remember - along with the Scottish Labour party, when it thought it suited their interests - which is, I would argue, one of the reasons why we are where we are politically in Scotland today.

Furthermore, while it is indeed true that the case for full independence isn't given a fair hearing in the Scottish press, nationalists should be at least partly grateful that this so because otherwise people might be able to examine the wreckage that is the SNP's economic argument for independence.

Uncritical support for the preponderance of the financial sector in the Scottish economy, along with advocating membership of the Euro and the adoption of beggar-thy-neighbour cuts in corporation tax: Salmond billed this as a distinctively Scottish policy and it is only because the Scottish press are completely uninterested in the economics of independence that he has, astonishingly, got away with promoting the very policies that have brought Ireland to its knees.

I'd be interested to have a conversation with any nationalist who has a reasonable answer to these points - which brings me to another point that stood out for me at Saturday's event: how to avoid bloggers simply having conversations with people who agree with them? All the evidence would suggest that comments threads are not the forum on which to have rational discussion. Could I suggest that a possible solution would be an aggregated blog that is based on region, rather than ideology, might be the way forward? This is how newsprint journalism - in contrast to the more ideological stratification of papers in England - has traditionally been done up here.

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