The fact is that in a UK context, Scotland, particularly the populous part of it, is too often seen as a rundown place. The people who leave are viewed as the go-getters; descendants of the entrepreneurial sons and daughters of the empire. Those remaining are frequently cast as the low-life rump. Their lot is to be patronised by Scotland's smug political and media class, often more British than Scottish in its orientation, sometimes augmented by southern white settlers who've made a killing on the housing market.
A depressed region of England might just about get away with this sort of treatment. After all, it will have the assumed superiority of its "Englishness" to fall back upon. It's far more damaging for an entire country to be viewed in this way. I'm aware that this is not a comfortable argument to advance, and many Scots who do so are viewed as self-pitying ingrates, but only a myopic idiot could argue that it carries no validity.
It's time we talked about these taboo issues of poverty, social class and national identity. I make absolutely no apology for saying that I don't want the sass and style of urban Scottish culture to be blanded out of existence. But I most certainly do want the soul-destroying litany of stabbings, slashings and slayings to come to an end. I don't like attending the funerals of young people. I really would much rather be going to graduation, award and achievement ceremonies. Perhaps if we had more of these events for disadvantaged young Scots, then we wouldn't be fretting over our embarrassingly high murder rate.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Homeland of Murder
Irvine Welsh, writing about a new report which claims that Scotland has a higher murder rate than that of the U.S.: