About Kenneth Roy's article 'Free the Scottish Six' – a nice title but I feel that, unusually for him, he's missed the point. That point being: why does the SNP want to interfere with what we watch on television? To me, the answer is clear: they want us to be thinking more about Scotland, and correspondingly less about the rest of the UK and the rest of the world.
Why is it any of their business what goes on in our minds? The only time it's their business is in the approach to an election or a referendum – and even then, only those parts of our minds that decide who we're going to vote for.
He argues that a Scottish Six might not be as bad as we think, and he could be right. Of course Scots broadcasters could produce a decent news programme if they had to. But that is not the issue – the issue is why the SNP want this, and he must know the answer as well as I do. And I submit, once again: broadcasting and the media are none of any political party's business. To me, it looks like one of many strands of the SNP's agenda of interfering in our personal lives, influencing our attitudes; and it reminds me all too clearly of the totalitarian regimes of the world whose masters take an unhealthy interest in the lives of others. It looks like a plank in their project – necessarily long-term in view of recent events – to prepare us for another vote on independence, this time (they hope) with a result more to their liking.
Would Kenneth Roy want the SNP to be telling him next what to put in the Scottish Review? Please, independent media, resist the SNP's meddling and refuse to be bullied.
I was surprised that Andrew Hook did not, in his review of 'Scotland and the Easter Rising', engage more fully with the issue of memory. Major upheavals like the Easter Rising disrupt pre-existing institutional, cultural and personal relationships and the memories of such disruptions are often fiercely contested.
When Sean O'Casey put on his production of 'The Plough and the Stars' in Dublin in 1926, there were strong protests about the fact that he had given as much space to the voices of the non-combatant residents of the city slums as those of the manifesto-writing activists; he had breached the unspoken rules of the official memory of the Rising and thus devalued the sacrifices of the dead. Scottish institutions and families were, unsurprisingly, disrupted by the transformation of the boundaries and the self-image of the United Kingdom following the Rising but insofar as there has been any official history in Scotland of that process, it has tended to be no history at all.
Scotland largely went into silent mode as far as the 1916 Rising was concerned. Far from putting together what Hook, rather pejoratively, calls a 'ragbag', Kirsty Lusk and Willy Maley have begun something like an archaeological dig of the fragments of memories of Scottish-Irish relations that are available to them. Their questions about class, about gender, about ideas, about migration have the potential not just to give us insight into the events of one hundred years ago but also to inform debates on similar terrain today. There will be many more books and artefacts for Andrew Hook and other writers to review in the coming years. 'Scotland and the Easter Rising' is just a beginning.
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