PDF for printing: scottish-miserabilism-in-the-news
‘Scottish Miserabilism?’ Nae wunner. Look at BBC Depressing Scotland
‘It’s SHITE being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We’re ruled by effete arseholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference!’ (Mark ‘Rent-boy’ Renton in Trainspotting)
‘While I’m worth my room on this earth
I will be with you
While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I’ll thank Him for His work
And your birth and my birth.’ (Sunshine on Leith by the Proclaimers)
Trainspotting or Sunshine on Leith, which will you have? How much will your choice be ‘you own?’ I’ll come back to the second question.
There’s a newish literary ‘movement’ (No reference to Renton in the loo above intended) doing the rounds of our media, called Scottish Miserabilism. Have a look at the recent filming of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song and the lives of the characters in it and you’ll get the hang of it (Unfortunate turn of phrase?). There is and has been a lot of it about. I’ll leave you to list the examples you’ve suffered from schooldays until recent BBC adaptions. I haven’t read Sunset Song. Luckily, I got an exemption because we lived in a sunless, north-facing, flat in a dirty tenement block overlooking a canal.
Now, did the literature make us miserable or did our miserableness make the literature so? I’d go for a vicious cycle triggered in the first place by environmental factors such as poverty, rain and Calvinism. As for its maintenance today, I’d lay at least one muddy dod of blame on BBC Scotland for its endless pessimism caused at least in part by its ingrained Unionism. Is there evidence? See this from Huffington Post in February 2015:
‘What’s clear from this research is that more positive news is needed to outweigh the violence and destruction we’re exposed to every day. As psychologist Steven Pinker and international studies professor Andrew Mack write in Slate, the world is not going to hell in a handbasket, despite what the headlines suggest. Violence has actually decreased, and quality of life has improved for millions of people. Journalism should reflect these truths.’
Here’s a wee thought. Could this exposure over time lead to a preference for one word (no) over another (yes) nearly all the time?
It’s been six days now since I started bean-counting again but we had no, none, diddly, good news for the Scottish Government in the first five. Heaven knows I’m miserable now. I know ‘they’ (journos) say ‘good news is no news’ but ‘they’ didn’t get that idea on a tablet from a mount. They could report something good but, unfortunately for them, that would require saying something good about the Scottish Government.
Tuesday 27th on BBC Scotland at 06:26am and repeated every 30 minutes until 9am.
- First delivery to Grangemouth of US gas from fracking. No mention of environmental catastrophes in the US caused by its extraction.
- Oil and gas capital investments falls ‘dramatically’
- Number of jobs in oil and gas still ‘falling’
- Labour conference
- Tourism in Edinburgh continues to grow.
Reports 2 and 3 are obviously bad news for the Scottish Government (SG). Report 1 allowed the Ineos position that the SG moratorium is holding Scotland back to dominate. The Labour Conference story is oxygen for the party in Scotland, regardless of the content. Why wasn’t the tourism story first? Did some viewers go off to stand miserably on the back step before the tourism report?
Running total 21 to 26/9/16 Number of reports
Bad news for SG/SNP 7
Good news for SG/SNP 2
Bad news for Labour 1
Good news for Labour 5
Bad news for CP 0
Good news for CP 0
The trends continue.