LETTER FROM DENMARK:THE DINNER PARTY..
Another guest article from Peter Young of Scotnews who resides in Denmark Letter from Denmark: The Dinner Party The conversation turned to politics, as it does among dinner party guests following an election. The consensus among our Danish guests was that PM Mette Frederiksen’s deleted emails and poor memory had affected results in the councilContinue reading "LETTER FROM DENMARK:THE DINNER PARTY.."
Another guest article from Peter Young of Scotnews who resides in Denmark
Letter from Denmark: The Dinner Party
The conversation turned to politics, as it does among dinner party guests following an election. The consensus among our Danish guests was that PM Mette Frederiksen’s deleted emails and poor memory had affected results in the council and regional vote. Cover up and omission are not a good look, and the fiercely independent Danish media focused on this extensively.
‘And what about Scotland?’ they asked. I was too embarrassed to mention in any great detail the farce of the Holyrood investigation into the Salmond affair: the FM’s 50 memory lapses, the lying witnesses including the FM’s own husband and partner in nepotism; the obfuscating civil servants, censored documents, the withheld evidence of conspiracy. And nor least, the resulting political show trials and COPFS persecution of the party leadership’s ‘enemies’.
I answered more generally, and addressed the political climate. In passing, I said that unlike the case of Denmark’s Social Democrats, lots of evidence of a conspiracy to frame Alex Salmond, from within the SNP, had been hidden from public view. I described the lack of media scrutiny, and that a number of those implicated were rewarded with promotions or contract extensions. In other words, the stuff of a national crisis on this side of the North Sea – a crisis and a list of misdemeanours that would bring down any Nordic government. Alas, not the ruling regime in Scotland.
However, I told them straight out that the ‘trans’ issue dominated the ruling party’s politics. At that point there was puzzlement. “What’s that?” one asked. Not one of them had heard about it. “Oh, you mean transvestites?”
Well, sort of.
In the recent national and local elections the issue of trans rights did not feature. Basically, it doesn’t appear as a subject in the political debate. There is a 2% threshold for parties to achieve a mandate. Quite a low bar, that results in broad representation and an electorate that sees how their vote can have influence at all levels. And yet, among the 29 parties standing in the recent local and regional elections not one was a ‘trans party’. ‘Trans rights’ is simply a non-issue.
So we have to ask why Scotland’s ruling party is now swamped with teen TRA activists, many of whom are not ’trans’, and why the First Minister herself appears to believe they are the single-most discriminated-against group in society?
The party that just 7 years ago was a threat to the British state is now focused on a fringe issue that hardly registers in a sister nation just across the North Sea. Moreover, the party is no longer a threat to the British establishment, but it is now most certainly a threat to women and girls.
Looking at the disruption this group has caused within the SNP there is the sense that a certain amount of manipulation is going on. Picking fights with other party members, alienating women, and gerrymandering prominent trans activists into leading positions has a whiff of British state skulduggery about it. Scotland is being targeted at its most vulnerable point – its inclusiveness.
Back at the dinner table, the jury is out on whether or not of PM Frederiksen will survive the deleted email crisis. It’s certainly dented her reputation. Danes are broad-minded and liberal but they like their politicians to be straight with them. They also don’t like people getting ideas ‘above their station’. Presidential-ism is shunned. That’s probably why Covid briefings are conducted by the minister in charge and the relevant experts. In fact, it would take a naive or excessively vain Danish politician to suggest that election victory was secured because the public voted for them, personally.
On this last point, Scotland once again diverges from Denmark. In a recent interview with Laura Kuenssberg the First Minister suggested that the election victory was about her, she herself, personally. “They re-elected me,” she said. Actually, they re-elected the SNP as the vehicle to independence, and the much maligned Alba Party promoted a vote for the SNP in the constituency, on that basis.
Pressed on indyref2, we once again got the promises to begin preparations to begin preparations for a new vote. Sadly, this was more smoke and mirrors. The commitment to begin preparations has been ongoing since 2016. It sounds good in theory but all we have after six mandates is a horse box in a field and an FM who is showing increasing signs of egomania. And people still wonder why a slew of new independence parties have emerged.
Spin doctors agogo, and centralised power are the main achievements of Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure, so far. With The National having morphed into a party fanzine the FM may think she’s secure. But things have a strange way of unravelling.
Campbell Martin recently recounted in an interview with #TweetStreetOcc how, at the very beginnings of the restored parliament, he was in discussion with other SNP MSPs. The topic of MI5 and Special Branch infiltration had came up. The view back then was not so much a question of ‘if’ but of ‘how many’. He went on to say that a number of those in the party the time now hold senior positions in the SNP. Make of that what you will.
Away from Machiavellian politics, language and culture have been the focus of a number of interviews given by Professor Alf Baird. He emphasizes how language and culture are essential to our national identity. And as far as Scotland is concerned, he points out that both Gaelic and the native Scots language have been the targets of cultural and lilnguistic imperialism. So the audio version of Billy Kay’s ‘The Mother Tongue’ with Billy’s wonderful narration is a welcome development. It’s one thing reading Scots but hearing it spoken is whit its a’ aboot.
On the subject of language, I was speaking on the phone to a customer in Sweden the other day. I spoke in Danish, as you do here. We used some similar words, though many were different, but we understood each other perfectly. When we were done she said how lovely it was to hear Danish.
It was a comment that underscored the fact that among the Scandinavian nations and even the Swedish-speaking part of Finland it is possible to get by with one of the Scandinavian languages.
Now here’s a thing: all of these languages have certain shared words and phrases, but no one in Sweden, Norway or Denmark would ever suggest that their language was inferior to the other, or that their language was somehow invalid or not ‘posh’ enough. How sad that our Scots tongue has been diminished by the centuries of linguistic imperialism.
Finally, on the cultural side, one of this year’s Christmas presents in Denmark is a subscription to ‘Dansk Filmskat’ – an online streaming service that gives you access to Danish films all the way back to the 1930s. In common with the other Nordic nations, Denmark had, and has still, a thriving film industry. The fact that they are produced in a minority language is not a problem. The market is there, as is the financial support.
Imagine an online streaming service with hundreds of Scottish feature films dating back to the 1930s. We could hear oor ain mither tongue as it was spoken almost 100 years ago, and view the cultural changes in society over the decades. No wonder Danes call it ‘Danish Film Treasure’. Which begs the question, where is our national ‘Skotsk Filmskat’? It hardly exists.
Our culture has been suppressed and all but eradicated to the point where many think of it as inferior to that of our domineering and aggressive neighbour. So many Scots can only see the themselves through the British prism supplied by London. Westminster has used the concept of Britishness to trick we Scots into thinking we’re all equal in their fake Union while they exploit our resources, suppress our culture and won’t even allow Scottish national broadcasting. More Soviet Union than Precious Union.
Try telling a Swede, a Norwegian or a Dane, that he or she isn’t Swedish, Norwegian or Danish but ‘Scandinavian’. Ethnicity exists and it’s not a taboo word. Scandinavia, like the British Isles, is merely a geographical area which is home to several nations. Yet no Scandinavian country has surrendered its identity to its neighbour the way Scotland has to England.
Have we been oppressed so long, made to feel inferior so often, humiliated by our neighbours so much that we no longer believe we are a sovereign people? If you feel that way, look north and east to our Nordic neighbours. They can teach us a thing or two about self-determination and national self-worth.
By the end of the evening our dinner guests seemed well satisfied. We kept political chit chat to a minimum and had a laugh doing Danishness tests. Hapless immigrants like me have to pass this test as one of several hoops en route to citizenship.
The Vitello Tonnato was followed by salmon from the Faroe Islands, prepared in white wine, served with potatoes baked in a little cream and gorgonzola. My garlic-lemon fish sauce was a small triumph. We all deserve a bit of luck. The Alsace Pinot Gris was gey braw and the American Cabernet was indulged in liberally with the cheese plate.
Outside, the first snow of winter continued to fall. The epitome of ‘Dansk hygge’. The world seemed a better place.
Pete deals with so many issues in this fine article but I find it inspiring that we do not have to look far to find in our Nordic neighbours, countries of similar size, with distinctive cultures and attitudes who faced in their past many of the same problems we face today. They stand today as proud, independent nations. we need to follow their example. Raising our sights and ambition, rediscovering the old Scottish traits of inventiveness, determination and courage is the route to follow. The key ingredients are confidence, an appreciation of self worth, and a willingness to put our best foot forward and keep marching. I thank Peter for pointing the way.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
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