Already Scotland is becoming more equal because it is objectively and because it feels it is

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The more equal a society is the more it feels equal. The actuality and the feeling both make people happier and healthier. More equal societies have, amongst other things, lower levels of crime, less political corruption, lower levels of mental health problems, fairer employment practice and more charitable behaviour. All of these behaviour patterns make the country feel more equal and that feeling of equality makes these patterns of behaviour more likely. We know all of this is empirically true from the Spirit Level book.

That was my last reference. I’m going to write this like an opinion piece because referencing every claim would fragment the narrative. Everything I claim here is true. If you don’t believe me, search this blog, lazy sod!

Now, I know that there is still much to be anxious about. Scotland has far too much relative poverty, child poverty, drug abuse and homelessness. Even recognising the limits imposed by Westminster upon Scotland, there is more we can do. However, despite that, there is much to welcome in Scotland’s progress over the last ten years or so.

The Scottish Government is, in most ways, quite unlike that in Westminster. Sitting well to its left politically, it is by far the most trusted government in the history of Scotland or for that matter, of the UK. It has introduced universal benefits which mean that the sick need not fear the costs of medication, that the less well-off elderly need not fear isolation because of unaffordable public transport and that the young need not fear the astronomic costs of higher education faced in England. Economic poverty is lower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. Investment in staffing and intelligent management of our NHS means that, despite soaring demand, the infirm can expect treatment more quickly than those living elsewhere in the UK. Similar investment in staffing and intelligent management of policing has helped in the reduction of crime and the consequent reduction in the fear of crime. It has campaigned in Westminster for the rights of migrants, of women and of the disabled. These and other actions have made people feel their government, unlike that in Westminster, is caring and inclusive. This has happened despite the relentless campaign of lies, designed to deny these changes, from the dominant media in Scotland.

The dramatic fall in crime in Scotland over the last ten years is the single most powerful piece of evidence that Scotland is becoming more equal. Like most social phenomena, crime levels are affected by many factors, from improved policing policies to home entertainment trends, car ownership or even levels of lead in the environment but we know, absolutely, that more equal societies have less crime and, crucially, that less crime makes life for everyone more equally safe and that that in turn further reduces crime.

Sometimes encouraged by Scottish Government initiatives, but not always, we see evidence that Scotland has more employers paying the living wage, that it has more organ donors and that it has more community ownership of businesses or energy-producers. The providers and the receivers in this process all feel better, more engaged, included. All are then less likely to become addicted, to become anxious or depressed or to engage in crime.

All of these, policies and behaviour patterns, combine and recombine to create actual improvements in terms of equality of experience and, crucially, to create a collective sense of feeling more equal. Tragic reports of division, of violence and of other horros emanating from England, via the ‘national news’ and thus bypassing Scottish media’s filtering out of UK context and its focus on murder, abuse and football, helps those living in Scotland to recognise and to value that which they have.

I’ve rambled but the subject matter is complex and sometimes contradictory, so I excuse myself.

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Already Scotland is becoming more equal because it is objectively and because it feels it is

  1. William Henderson February 28, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    Well said, John. A welcome and cheering article – much appreciated.

    It’s so easy to be negative these days, so please do keep on Talking-Up Scotland.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Alasdair Macdonald. February 28, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    My tendency towards confirmation bias means I agree unreservedly with your argument!

    Personally, I think a majority will agree pretty closely with your views. However, we have a media substantially controlled by a few wealthy groups who are instinctively anticommunitarian, because it challenges their power. So, they continually disparage the concept with terminology like ‘levelling down’, ‘stifling creativity/enterprise/ambition’, ‘ promoting mediocrity’, ‘all shall have prizes’, ‘one-size fits all schools’, etc etc.

    Having these repeated continually and having them presented as unchallenged axioms, with rent a quote pundits who will simply repeat the message, by having vox pops, especially in working class Scottish voices, decrying such equality, the hegemony is embedded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Toni Young February 28, 2019 / 8:27 pm

      I’m a member of an Indy group who take our wee stall and leaflets/info cards out to the streets of Edinburgh and surrounding towns. We meet a mixed medly of folks, most of whom are approachable, even when they don’t agree with our message. BUT, there are those who have taken on board the message from the media and can’t hear anything else. A woman in Edinburgh, on Tuesday, actually admitted to suffering from the Cringe and being embarrassed to be Scottish, because of Independence campaigners, “people like you” , as she said to us. I’m ashamed to say, when she said she was “going to live in Europe” to get away from Scotland, I laughed. We still have a big job ahead, the message is not getting through to many.

      Like

  3. Contrary February 28, 2019 / 9:56 pm

    Haha! The rambling is catching!

    Yes it makes sense, a perceived more equal society can help reduce crime and improve mental health – I would maybe add that a fairer society improves feelings of hope – another vague one! – hope for the future. Even if your life is shit, if you know your children are going to get a fair chance at life, you can have hope (etc). I’ve just read a historical novel set in the peasant rebellion of 1548, in Norwich (I’m sure you all know it well). Then, it was believed that the societal structure was as God wanted it – or rather the church (going through many rapid transitions at the time, post-Henry VIII) had sold that one for centuries – so the commons had their place, the gentlemen theirs (and all the levels of gentlemen) and never could you, or your children, ever escape from that place. Ah the feudal life, how romantic (obviously, women were closer to a family pet than a person). I propose that it is the 1500s the Tories would like to return us to, not just Victorian times. Desperate times when it was decided sheep were more valuable than common men, but you were not allowed to ever change your station above peasant (or I think feodary was the top level you could reach). I need to read some Scottish history to see how society here differed at that time, I think we were going down the feudal path then too.

    I just spotted the new Scottish social services dept has Twitter, and was struck by their name (just a wee bit different from Department of Work and Pensions, 1984 style), so your article has complemented my ‘more equal’ contemplations, it’s good to see what they are doing:

    Communities, social security and equalities (CSSE) Twitter
    https://mobile.twitter.com/ScotGovFairer

    I noticed that Clive Ponting was to be giving a talk or debate at an SNP group,,, sometime! I lost the reference to it as I got distracted by watching his no to yes phantom power video:

    Clive Ponting journey to yes

    It was way back in 1982-84 (about then) that Ponting decided he’d had enough of the lies and machinations of Whitehall and revealed the truth about what ministers knew about the Belgrano being illegally blown up at the Falklands. Because I’ve been watching discussions about the security and intelligence services from the late 80s, it was interesting hearing his case only mentioned a few times, but I guess it was still too fresh (though he’d been acquitted – of the made-up allegations – by then). Jock Kane’s shocking revelations about gchq being riddled with corruption and leaky and open to blackmail, ignored by successive governments (of ‘either’ side) not wanting to reform it – why wouldn’t you want to reform your intelligence services?? The amount of information that there is in the public domain, like the McCrone report, like the integrity initiative leaked documents – there is so much non-secret information that is out there, bypassed by the media, but so few know about it. It’s weird how we rely so much on media outlets.

    I know you get fed up of my secret services chat, it’s not that I think the whole thing in the uk is wholly corrupt, and all of them are going to act viciously against any ‘threat’ to the union, there are factions and just as many corrupt actors as there is in public life – but I believe there are also plenty of people working in the secret services that have integrity and really do believe in the cause of protecting the uk – but if the people at the top don’t have integrity,,, . Anyway, a future independent Scotland is going to have to have security services and intelligence services – how should they be structured to ensure the core principles remain the priority, how do we stop rogue illegal corrupt practices from becoming the norm? I think the answer is similar to the new CSSE – one of the tweets or videos mentioned they had to start building the service up from scratch, because none of the practices used by the DWP could be used or copied (it’s that bad!) – I think it’ll be the same for the intelligence etc services, we’ll need things to be brand new, built from the ground up. And I find myself being far more trusting of the SNP being the driving force behind that than I would any of the other political parties. We need some brand new political parties too maybe.

    I found this article quite good, the producer and director of a documentary, looking at one incident during the Troubles, were arrested and questioned for possession of secret document – the main question is, why is so much still being covered up? (Archived by Nana over on Wings)

    Truth of the Troubles still suppressed
    http://archive.is/ExyxZ

    Like

  4. Contrary February 28, 2019 / 9:59 pm

    Haha! The rambling is catching!

    Yes it makes sense, a perceived more equal society can help reduce crime and improve mental health – I would maybe add that a fairer society improves feelings of hope – another vague one! – hope for the future. Even if your life is shit, if you know your children are going to get a fair chance at life, you can have hope (etc). I’ve just read a historical novel set in the peasant rebellion of 1548, in Norwich (I’m sure you all know it well). Then, it was believed that the societal structure was as God wanted it – or rather the church (going through many rapid transitions at the time, post-Henry VIII) had sold that one for centuries – so the commons had their place, the gentlemen theirs (and all the levels of gentlemen) and never could you, or your children, ever escape from that place. Ah the feudal life, how romantic (obviously, women were closer to a family pet than a person). I propose that it is the 1500s the Tories would like to return us to, not just Victorian times. Desperate times when it was decided sheep were more valuable than common men, but you were not allowed to ever change your station above peasant (or I think feodary was the top level you could reach). I need to read some Scottish history to see how society here differed at that time, I think we were going down the feudal path then too.

    I just spotted the new Scottish social services dept has Twitter, and was struck by their name (just a wee bit different from Department of Work and Pensions, 1984 style), so your article has complemented my ‘more equal’ contemplations, it’s good to see what they are doing:

    Communities, social security and equalities (CSSE) Twitter
    https://mobile.twitter.com/ScotGovFairer

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Contrary February 28, 2019 / 10:08 pm

    I noticed that Clive Ponting was to be giving a talk or debate at an SNP group,,, sometime! I lost the reference to it as I got distracted by watching his no to yes phantom power video:

    Clive Ponting journey to yes
    https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-whistleblower/

    It was way back in 1982-84 (about then) that Ponting decided he’d had enough of the lies and machinations of Whitehall and revealed the truth about what ministers knew about the Belgrano being illegally blown up at the Falklands. Because I’ve been watching discussions about the security and intelligence services from the late 80s, it was interesting hearing his case only mentioned a few times, but I guess it was still too fresh (though he’d been acquitted – of the made-up allegations – by then). Jock Kane’s shocking revelations about gchq being riddled with corruption and leaky and open to blackmail, ignored by successive governments (of ‘either’ side) not wanting to reform it – why wouldn’t you want to reform your intelligence services?? The amount of information that there is in the public domain, like the McCrone report, like the integrity initiative leaked documents – there is so much non-secret information that is out there, bypassed by the media, but so few know about it. It’s weird how we rely so much on media outlets.

    I know you get fed up of my secret services chat, it’s not that I think the whole thing in the uk is wholly corrupt, and all of them are going to act viciously against any ‘threat’ to the union, there are factions and just as many corrupt actors as there is in public life – but I believe there are also plenty of people working in the secret services that have integrity and really do believe in the cause of protecting the uk – but if the people at the top don’t have integrity,,, . Anyway, a future independent Scotland is going to have to have security services and intelligence services – how should they be structured to ensure the core principles remain the priority, how do we stop rogue illegal corrupt practices from becoming the norm? I think the answer is similar to the new CSSE – one of the tweets or videos mentioned they had to start building the service up from scratch, because none of the practices used by the DWP could be used or copied (it’s that bad!) – I think it’ll be the same for the intelligence etc services, we’ll need things to be brand new, built from the ground up. And I find myself being far more trusting of the SNP being the driving force behind that than I would any of the other political parties. We need some brand new political parties too maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Contrary February 28, 2019 / 10:10 pm

    I found this article quite good, the producer and director of a documentary, that was looking at one incident during the Troubles, were arrested and questioned for possession of secret document – the main question is, why is so much still being covered up? (Archived by Nana over on Wings)

    Truth of the Troubles still suppressed
    http://archive.is/ExyxZ

    [my original comment disappeared into moderation land, so I am experimenting to find the cause, sorry if it’s all just a big repeat]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David Connelly March 1, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    Do you see the parallel with the USA & Canada here. Large population & crime. Smaller population and lower crime rates closer to the government.

    Like

    • Contrary March 1, 2019 / 9:49 pm

      Yes I believe the link is there, but I think it has more to do with the distribution of power – they are large countries yes, but they are made up of federal states that each have their own government and laws, I don’t know the populations of each of the states right enough. Germany we think of as one country, but many of their federal states each hold much of the power. I think it has more to do with gun laws, and terrible health services (if you are mentally ill, and can’t pay for treatment,,, ) and the lack of welfare state, when you look at USA and Canada. Canada was still lobotomising single mothers deemed mentally ill, as a treatment, right up to the 70s I believe (was really shocked to find that out, I have Canadian relatives and thought Canada a fairly benign society).

      Like

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