AGENDA ._ _-

I _



‘I want to be a rootin‘-tootin‘. all-action, big-leather-chaps. horse-riding. whisky-drinking. bad-arse. beery. Western-bastard. high-plains drifter.’

Comedian Craig Ferguson aspires to being more than a mere Channel 4 music show presenter.

‘There’s a studied boredom in a lot of records I hear. Particularly the Mancunians. but they‘re a dull

bunch anyway. I mean. they don’t even have a good football team.‘ Elvis Costello masters the art of regional diplomacy.

‘A Cut And A Keeker!‘

The Daily Record ’s headline reveals the extent of Prince William '5 injuries, while a nation holds its breath.

‘It‘s a great compliment to me that people think I’m dead ordinary. I work awfully hard at making it that way.‘

C illa Black discovers that

. maintaining a TVimage is a lorra,

; lorra work.

‘America endures because it dares to

defend the most enobling virtues of


President George Bush begins a

weekend of celebrations over military 3 victory in the Gulf.

‘Most of my mates at work live way out in Essex or with their parents. I live in one of the best parts of London. minutes from the centre. and pay no rent.”

‘Tom '. a 20-year-old broker in the

i C ity, extols the virtues of squatting in ' a four-storeyed terraced house.

4ith List l4 ~ 27lunc 1991

Agenda for Scots parliament

With a general election looming, the question of a Scottish Parliament has again appeared on the political agenda. Alan Morrison looks at recent support for devolution and examines the effects it might have on the Scottish arts scene.

ince the arrival ofJohn Major in Downing Street last November. newspaper polls have shown a slight drop in the support of the Scottish people for a separate Scottish Assembly. The death of the Poll Tax and the removal ofthe anti—Thatcher factor seems to have cooled the renewed interest in devolution that came about with the formation ofthe Scottish Constitutional Convention in March 1989. But although support for a Scottish Parliament with its own tax-raising powers has dropped from 50 per cent in July 1989 to 33 per cent last month (Scotsman/[CM figures), the majority ofthe population some 70 per cent are dissatisfied with the way that their country is currently run.

The Constitutional Convention. led by Labour and Liberal Democrats. favoured a directly elected Scottish Assembly within a UK Parliament which would continue to deal with UK-wide matters such as defence, foreign affairs and central economics. The Scottish Parliament would. however. have responsibility for policies relating to particularly Scottish industries including fishing. agriculture. gas and. ofcourse. oil. It would also have stronger links with the European Community. with a representative office in Brussels. and would more than likely be the product of a reformed electoral system closer to proportional representation.

Despite receiving a fair amount of criticism for avoiding certain central issues. the Convention achieved its aim of bringing devolution back onto the political agenda. The Labour Party has made a firm commitment to legislate for a Scottish Parliament within a year ofelection. although this would be the precursor of similar assemblies in Wales. Northern Ireland and the English regions. Last weekend the SNP‘s national executive committee endorsed its general election campaign policy with emphasis again on independence within Europe. And despite Scottish Secretary Ian Lang's insistence that devolution is a ‘dead issue'. a group of right-wing Conservatives has submitted a plan for a tax-raising assembly. albeit one with no law-making powers.

‘Britain is the most centralised ofthe major European countries.‘ says Alistair Darling. Labour MP for Edinburgh Central and a member of the Commons electoral reform working party. ‘Ifwe don‘t change. we will simply fall further and further behind everyone else. By using the

development powers the Scottish Parliament would have. we can decide where we wanted to invest for example. better transport links with the Continent. Ninety-nine per cent of day-to-day matters will be decided here in Scotland and that can only be good.‘

At the moment. the closest body to a separate Scottish Assembly is the Scottish Grand Committee. made up of all 72 Scots MPs. which holds about ten debates. often outside Westminster. each parliamentary session. Recently, however. central government blocked a Committee debate on constitutional reform. causing Alistair Darling to describe the whole process as ‘a complete and utter waste of time. There‘s only about two or three Tories turn up and there are no votes allowed. They didn‘t want a debate on constitutional reform in Scotland because they‘re afraid of it.‘

Meanwhile on home territory. the STUC has also followed the Convention's lead with the publication of ‘A Power For Change‘ a consultative document containing priority areas for discussion. including the Scottish economy. transport. education. health and the country‘s cultural identity. Christine Hamilton is the STUC officer who drew up proposals for the latter.

‘A lot of the issues involved with a cultural agenda for Scotland are structural.‘ she explains. ‘What is the role ofthe Scottish Parliament and the local authorities? What would be the relationship between it and the Scottish Arts Council and other funding organisations‘.’ It‘s about raising these issues rather than answering them.‘

The funding ofthe arts in Scotland does show certain anomalies. with some bodies ~ such as the SAC— being funded from London while others receive money directly from the Scottish Office. A Scottish Parliament could certainly play a role in co-ordinating funding within a set cultural policy. making the existing bodies more accountable. It could also instigate links between the income-generating commercial sector <- film. television and broadcasting —— and locally subsidised community arts as part ofan economic development package. A good model for this is Scottish Screen Location. set up with money from local authorities and the Scottish Development Agency in order to encourage foreign filmmakers to Scotland.

‘We should be looking at similar models to sell and distribute Scottish films and to raise money for Scottish film-making by using public investment to release funds from other sources.‘ argues l Iamilton. ‘That‘s not a role for the Scottish Film Council on its own. but a role for it working in conjunction with development agencies. local authorities and the Scottish Parliament.

‘lfwe want to spend more money on the arts. I would rather the decisions were made in Scotland. A lot of people do feel that it would be better to fight it out on a Scottish. rather than UK. agendaf