LESLEY Riddoch (Why is it being left to BBC Alba to shine a light on our cultural heritage? The National, December 29) posits a question I’m sure many of us have thought about since, and possibly before, the independence referendum.
Lesley may well expect BBC Scotland to be showcasing Scotland in all its glory. I however gave up on such a fanciful notion many years ago. It is strange indeed that BBC Scotland is, as Lesley suggests, “lumping responsibility” for difficult minority interests on to Alba.
Or is it? At a time when the impartiality of the BBC is coming under increasing scrutinity, many are facing up to their previously held views of the role and purpose of the Beeb. I don’t think it is being too fanciful to suggest that what we are seeing is the marginalisation of Scots culture by the “mainstream”. Indeed it can be taken one step further – what we are witnessing is the erasure of our distinct culture.
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The last thing the dominant culture wants is to have a light shining on our bright, vibrant and living culture. The most incredible thing is that, on its tight budget, BBC Alba manages to offer such wondrous stories at all.
BY common consent, 2016 has been a challenging year, a year of disasters, what with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US President and a litany of celebrities who have sadly passed away.
It is therefore often difficult to remember that parallel to this we are living through something of an arc of progress.
We are living in a world that is getting richer, with the number of people living in extreme poverty falling below 10 per cent for the first time. Indeed, since 1990 almost 1.1 billion have escaped extreme poverty. World hunger also reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016.
For the first time ever the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries and the world got healthier, with a World Health Organisation report showing that since 2000 global malaria deaths have declined by 60 per cent.
Since their peak a decade ago, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent and infant mortality has halved since 1990.
Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage and Tanzania banned child marriage.
For many, 2016 may have been seen as the worst of times, but let us not forget it has been on the best of times too, so let’s not be too pessimistic as we enter 2017.
SOME of our more active campaigners for Scottish independence were English immigrants and I suggest we stop trying to blame those among us from south of the Border for our defeat in 2014.
If perfectly decent and ordinary people have come with the intention of permanent residence among us we have to persuade them of our case and they are just as receptive as many of our own people to generous contact and sensible argument.
It is claimed that the English among us voted in majority against independence. Perhaps.
A majority of the English among us are those who have chosen to retire here. Can I let everybody here into a secret?
The majority of native-born, retired Scots also voted against independence and I don’t imagine there will have been much difference in the Yes/No percentages of these groups.
Dave McEwan Hill
I FIND myself at odds with both your letters contributors G Ross and James Mackie on the question of who should be entitled to vote in Scottish referenda. In 1979, I was appalled that despite being born, educated and domiciled in Scotland, I was excluded because I was living and working in London. I would have been equally appalled if my English wife, who has been living in Scotland with me in retirement since 2004, had been excluded from voting in 2014. Surely, in each case, both of us were stakeholders.
Hugh Dunnachie Sanquhar TO ethnically bias the franchise to get the result you want will cost its international legitimacy. Besides, letter writers discussing voters born in England need to remember to distinguish that some of them are Scottish. The school bully bigotry of saying that birthplace dictates country, term it “birthplace racism”, is so spiteful it can divide siblings who have identical backgrounds: nobody would dare apply it to the Israel/Palestine situation.
Thursday’s letters, on both sides, illuminate how an unfriendly prejudice to exclude actively produces No votes from the groups it targets.
A number of Scots who either are diaspora born or have friends or family who are, likely voted No in angry shock at not finding parental descent citizenship committed to be unrefusable, as I did.
Scottish nationalism was clearly damaged, made more insular in feeling, by not having a history of diaspora-born leaders as Irish and Welsh nationalisms had. That is the baggage you need to thoroughly break with and remove, before you can present any inclusive Europe-based Yes case.
THE new director of BBC Scotland will have her work cut out to change things at Pacific Quay. The BBC in London and their political bosses in Westminster have for long dictated the BBC’s direction. The idea that one or more regions could be different from South East England is ridiculed and treated with contempt. We saw that during the Scottish independence referendum when they would routinely place a Unionist loud-mouth in an interview against an expert nationalist commentator. The loud-mouth was there to provide the spectacle of entertainment by ridiculing the expert and perpetuate the myth of Scottish incompetence. The culture is so deeply rooted now in the BBC that those who perpetrate it are probably not even aware they do it and would be appalled at the thought of being labelled biased. Like other previously acceptable institutionalised cultures in society (racism, homophobia, misogyny), it will take a generation to change it, because those involved see no reason for change. A new generation will be able to think differently. However this will not be in time for the next referendum and realistically, the only alternative for impartial broadcasting is for Scotland to take charge of a new Scottish Broadcasting Corporation with no ties to Westminster.