A pure waste of time

Why is the Scottish Executive spending so much trying to change our lifestyles? Words: Allan Radcliffe

hese days. imaginative television adverts are as likely to inspire heated bus stop conversations as the programmes themselves. My favourite is the one in which a community of household rubbish raps about the virtues of recycling. A bundle of carrier bags bernoans the fact that they could be busy canying messages if they weren't consigned to the cupboard under the sink. Some of the contents of a waste paper basket express their yearning to be turned into newspaper pages. and a disgruntled plastic bottle reminds us that it can be refilled as well as discarded. ‘Waste. That‘s a pure waste.’ they concur in a chorus of disapproval. With its catchy signature tune and goofy puppet characters. the scenario could have sprung from the studios of the Jim Henson Creature Shop and not from a Scottish Executive public advertising initiative. The problem with this. admittedly well—intentioned. campaign is that there is no evidence to suggest that the array of government advertisements aimed at changing our wicked. wicked ways are having any effect on people‘s habits. And yet. in the last year alone. the government spent nearly £2()()m on advertising. with the Scottish Executive ploughing around £5m into public health campaigns. In an evening’s worth of commercial breaks. you can see adverts telling us to eat less fat. drink less booze. eat live portions of fruit and vegetables per day and take more exercise wagging their forelingers self-righteoust from our screens. Little wonder that. along with cardio-vascular disease. rnost Scots are now suffering from ‘campaign-itis.‘ But what really sticks in my craw like a deep-fried king size Mars-bar supper is the fact that. as well as being ineffectual. government advertising exposes Government

the hypocrisy of those in power. The - - patronising ‘()ne Scotland. Many Cultures~ advertls'ng anti-racisrn slogan is particularly difficult to eXPoseS swallow. given the disgustingly white hue of h ' f the Scottish parliamentary benches and ypocrlsy o reactionary home secretary David Blunkett‘s those In

recent ‘suggestion' that immigrant families power

speak English in the home.

And let's take the recycling issue as the bee currently buzzing angrily in the Executive‘s bonnet. Jack McConnell talks the talk on the environment as his well-received speech at this summer‘s earth summit demonstrated. but can his government deliver"? As well as lecturing us on the importance of saving our bottles. cans. plastic and paper. then Itrgging them down to recycling bins. which are few and far between. what exactly is the Executive doing to facilitate regular recycling? Is it putting duty on carrier bags as has been done in Ireland. or spending money installing collection bins to allow us to separate household rubbish as has been carried out successfully in Germany. Holland. France and other countries for many years'.’

Er. no. but it has set up a working group and is considering commissioning pilot schemes. Ultimately what these Executive campaigns highlight is a decided lack of ideas and real action from the government. (‘an l have my money back. please?

Disagree? react@list.co.uk

The Front

1 Bowling For Columbine Film Arch-polemicist and denigrator of corporate America. Michael Moore. gets his teeth into the USA's gun laws. Funny but disturbing. See feature. page 12. Selected release.

2 Badly Drawn Boy

Music More than just a dosser‘s doppelganger or a poor man’s Springsteen, Damon Gough returns with another unpredictable evening of ramshackle rock delights. See feature. page 18. Barrow/and, Glasgow.

3 Bugged Out!

Clubs Manchester's superclub heads north to provide us with a welcome underground dance vibe. aided by the likes of Green Velvet (pictured). Fred Deakin and Rob Bright. See feature, page 16. Liquid Room, Edinburgh.

4 Bill Hicks

Comedy Two new CDs which celebrate the genius that was Bill Hicks. His early 90$ assaults on a corrupt and hypocritical world remain depressingly relevant. See review, page 101. Rykodisc.

5 Martin Boyce

Art The Hamilton-born artists gives us his first solo Scottish show for three years with Our Love is Like the Flowers, the Rain. the Sea and the Hours. See feature. page 10. Tramway. Glasgow.

6 Dolly Parton

Music Running theme parks and charming Graham Norton are just not enough for Dolly so she goes back to her roots. parading a clutch of winsome bluegrass and country classics. See the Big Picture, page 8. Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow.

7 Glasgow Fabulous

Comics In 2007: A Jakey Odyssey our favourite clubbing comic strip scribes take sardonic swipes at everyone from Glasgow entertainment entrepreneurs to 80 Solid Crew. See review. page 106. Unb/okt'd Press.

8 Paco Pena

Dance Paco Pena and Jude Kelly join forces to concoct a visceral. erotic, and experimental flamenco show. See preview, page 62. Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.

9 Timesplitters 2

Games Constantly changing environments. postmodern winking and sensational sound quality makes this PS2 game a revelation. Just make sure you've got a really big telly. See review. page 109. Eidos.

1 0 Rock Mess Monsters Records Twenty-one of our brightest hopes for indie-rock world domination are collected together in one behemoth of a compilation. See review, page 108. Adorno.

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