bemoans the fact that people apparently misquote Burns's line 'To see oursels as ithers see us' when the offending 'ithers' should be 'others'. Gerry is a Burns expert and professor of Scottish literature so writes with authority, but given, as he acknowledges, that the vast majority of editions of Burns's poems, including for example my 1955 copy, edited by James Barke, have 'ithers', who is to blame? Not the readers and quoters, surely.
Gerry suggests that 'ithers' is 'a middle-class affectation, souping up the Scots for spurious socio-linguistic reason' – but offers no evidence to support this claim. 'Ither' is used by Burns elsewhere (unless all such instances have been falsified by a conspiracy of middle-class editors) and there are further citations in the Scottish National Dictionary from the 18th century, so how long does an affectation have to be around before it stops being affected?
I don't know what it is about Gerry Hassan
, but his writing is a red rag to me: an all-too-appropriate metaphor. Let's assume that the advice he gave to Corbyn last week was an expression of his own political ideas, and comment on it. For example:
1. '… about things that really matter and that can transform the lives and futures for all our citizens...' Many thanks, Gerry, but I don't want to have my life and future tansformed (note the implied compulsion) according to socialist (or worse, communist) ideas. I want to be able to make what I can of my life in my own way.
2. '....there has been no level playing-field...' If a level public arena were possible, how would a young person find a model for his aspirations? Only by learning that universities existed, that their work looked interesting, was called 'research', and could be found in books, could this peasant-class elementary schoolboy from the east end of London see that there was a possibly satisfying life role to be aimed at. There's nothing for me in a truly level playing-field, then.
3. '...able to drive through far-reaching change.' 'Fundamentally change this country...' Again the rhetoric of compulsion. The mantra of all revolutions, and a sure forecast of failure and disaster. Which revolution has not resulted in disaster for the masses? Lenin's? Stalin's? Pol Pot's? Mao's? How can it not be obvious that change is not the same as improvement? Why are the lessons of history and of biological evolution not taken? Gradual change based on proven success has some chance of working; revolutionary change leads only to disorganisation and disaster.
4. '...inviting people who are committed reformers.' Oh yes, ignore and then ride roughshod over everyone else, especially those who dislike revolutionary change: mass compulsion again. But we have been here before, haven't we? Responding to another of Gerry's articles in November 2016, I wrote: 'Evidently he does not like the Scottish people as they are, but wants to change them, like it or not.'
Clearly Gerry has not grown in modesty, even if his ambitions for revolutionary leadership are greater than they were. I admit that I am no admirer of Gerry Hassan (or of Corbyn); they are harbingers of sure disaster for Scotland and the UK if they and their ilk should acquire power.