iiiiiiion As the build-up to the election for the new Parliament intensifies, Channel 4's STUART COSGROVE outlines his hopes and fears for the future of the nation.
Words: Stuart Cosgrove
This may strike you as pathetic. Last week l cancelled 21 holiday. Why"? Because I had mistakenly booked a break which overlapped with the elections l‘or the ﬁrst Scottish parliament lot‘ 3()() years. A few days ago the enormity ol' the situation dawned and a sense ol history. democracy and patriotic duty overwhelmed me. So I did the noble thing.
Despite the euphoria ol‘ the rclei'endum. many people seem lukewarm about the new parlia- ment. There is a real likelihood ol' a small and sell-depreciating turnout. and it is dil‘l'icult to lind enthusiasm for debate about constitutional allaii's beyond the political elite. Set against the atrocities in Kosoya. road-surlacing in Renl'i'ewshire seems mundane; and compared with the Lewinsky scandal. it‘s hard to imagine a world gripped by tales of l'ellatio in .'\lex Salmond’s ot‘l'ice.
But the parliament marks a significant moment in our history. One that l ney'er imagined I would witness. In a wry palpable way. it marks the regeneration ol a specil‘ically Scottish democracy-p Alter three cen- turies in the doldrums. the word ‘enlightenment‘ is back in yogue.
The arts hay'e played an important metaphoi'ic role in the rise ol‘ the new Scottish enlightenment. It is ney'er easy to argue that art and politics inlluencc each other in a direct way. but there are many precedents. Republican lii'ancc. i'ey'olutionary Russia and the Poland ol Solidarity all experienced sustained artistic actiyity prior to political change. I haye a romantic hunch the same is true ol Scotland.
l‘tlltll‘c‘ generations ol' eggheads will excayate our liyes trying to tathom out the connections between (‘ominunicado's production (it The (one (i(ll/l('l'(‘l'.\ and the constitutional conyention. or between 'l'i'ui'Iis/mlliiie and the tartan ta.\. Strange as it may seem. we are liying through history: we are shaping change.
But this is Scotland and we neyer appreciate the scale ol' achiey'eincnt. because ol our splintered national anxieties. Scotland is a small country and the parliament will bring a new layer ol inspired pettiness to our liy'es. Democracy has always been a l‘crtilc ground lor bitching and. oy'ei‘ the next lew years. old
Compared with the Lewinsky scandal, it's hard to imagine a world gripped by tales of fellatio in Alex Salmond’s office.
Stuart Cosgrove: having his say in April
scores will be settled and new animosities will be born. The cultural battleground between (ilasgow and lidinburgh is a case in point. How tiresome is the tale of two cities at war over excellence. .»\n enlightened society needs the keen edge ol‘ cultural competition. We need a third cultural city — a thriy'ing Dundee — to
make the challenge even
greater. The internecine wars between (ilasgow and
Edinburgh. and more starkly between Labour and the Nationalists. are sadly the shape or things to come. We were promised a democracy that would be maturer
than Westminster. and a political culture cleansed of
tribal bickering. But politics is too diy'isiy'e to be entirely lrce ol' yenal human traits like ambition. greed and i'eyenge. So the parliament that promised to be bigger than personal ambition won't be.
The only thing that keeps me hall-sane is that somehow telly stayed in the bottle when the genie escaped. llolyrood has no direct power oy'er the most pernicious ol all industries —< teley'ision. Broadcasting lies outside,the regulatory scope ol‘ the new parliament. along with loreign policy. abortion and drugs law; it is reserycd business lor Westminster. So the brand new democracy can manage the complexity ol the health .sery‘ice. but not an episode ol' ('iis‘iia/ly. It can legislate oyer the luture ol the tourist economy. but has no regulatory powers oy er an item on ll'i's/i You Were l/i'i'i’.” It can jail l.ibyan terrorists and parade its legal system to the world. btit it has no power oyci' Kiii'ii/nig/i Q( '.
.r\t least deyolution has got its priorities right.
The Scottish Inquisition
Questions you don’t expect. This
issue: Lindsay Mitchell, Administrator, Glasgay! Gay & Lesbian Arts Festival
Tabloid or Broadsheet? Broadsheet
First arts related job?
I started out as unpaid runner on STV's The Business Game and graduated to
the glamorous position of paid microphone operator on Scottish Voices.
Getting the Glasgay! iob ~ although
ask me the same question a week
before the festival and i may have a
different answer. The award for a Lifetime
contribution to Scottish Culture goes
Annie Lennox for her contribution tO popular mUSic. And Muriel Gray Just
for being Muriel Gray
Name a work of art that you cannot
live without . . .
Manet’s Olympia, Mozart’s Requiem
and Radiohead's The Bends
You're about to be exiled — where
would you spend your last night?
Sushi With a loved one at FtiSion — then on to The 13th Note With my best pals
for one of our crazy nights out. Glasgow: City of Architecture 8i Design: which building should be destroyed?
The ominous, foreboding and aesthetically tinpleasing Clyde Port Authority building
What motion would you make as an
Recognition of same sex partnerships
as legal — a movement towards
equality of rights and responsibilities akin to marriage for permanent same
What should be in the Millennium
l’d lock everyone in there who thought btiilding it would be a good idea, and then see how long it takes for them to
change their minds,
How do you see Scotland’s future? to the words of Voltaire: ‘If we do not
find anything pleasant, at least we shall find something new.’
(Compiled by Rob Fraser)
H 2‘) Apr 1999 THE ll3T17