As you may have read this week, Dundonian actor Brian Cox succeeded active blogger and
Firstly, we have audacious attempts to coax illiterate or semi-literate celebrities into the students' midst, who generally shove off, content to regard the office as merely an honorary title.
Since this is a political blog, it is of interest to note how the rectorships have been recognised as a site for – particularly greenie – political achievement. Green MSPs have done well out of it since 2000, university-based student activists making strategic use of popular scholarly emancipation to get their candidates glad-handing the educated youth and participating in one of the powerful institutions of Scots civil society. Robin Harper (who bears a strange resemblance to scarf-man above, the cosiest superhero this side of the
Should the Rector be a political symbol, a material expression of outrage against war and death in a faraway land? Alternatively, should we prefer a public character, a functionally meaningless figure and hence, invest in a soul as jazzy and high-end as we can afford? Alternatively, should they be a representative of the local or should the frontiers of representation stretch into the far distance? Perhaps most fundamentally, is it worth contriving to install a “working rector” who might take a brave stab at representing student interests? On one level, as a mere institutional plebiscite, rectorial elections are of limited wider significance. That said, they can be neat microcosms in which particular themes at work in our wider electoral politics might be located, emphasising just how complicated and several our electoral motives can prove, even in small imagined communities like universities.
Back to Edinburgh, 2006. Mark Ballard (then an MSP) faced off agin arch-English Tory Not-Yet-Mayor, Boris Johnson MP. Representing the tradition of having a local worthy aboard, Magnus Linklater was also nominated, as was John Pilger, a consciously politically expressive choice. Much to choose from here – a psephologist’s idle dream to try to tease out the constitutive reasons which might provoke your average student or staff member to choose one man or another. Given Boris’ razzmatazz and Ballard’s bright but not always charismatic delivery, it is significant that of the some 8,000 votes cast, Boris came a measly third, the final runoff between Ballard and Linklater, with the baldy Greenie emerging triumphant. Ballard’s primary prize was his chairing around
In other matters, I don't intend to keep inhuman silence too much longer on the Nicola Sturgeon situation. My initial sense persists that it is important for people to read Nicola's words for themselves and make up their own mind. Parsing is not an innocent activity, however fairly-intentioned. I must also mention, in case you missed it, Scottish Labour's latest skulduggerous wheeze, which involves gouging at Jeff Breslin for being a septic degenerate (I paraphrase Margie Curran, but only a touch). You'd think she'd have better things to be doing with her Valentine's weekend - but ho hum.