27 December 2013

2013: the year in review

I'm not one of those people with a very keen sense of time. Left to my own devices, I trauchle along day by day. But as the shutters come down on 2013, I thought it might be interesting to peer back through the last twelve months' back catalogue of writing on the blog, and revisit the most popular articles of the year.

Here as elsewhere, the independence referendum debate has predominated. You don't need to be the Brahan Seer to see that 2014 is doomed to be cut from the same cloth. But it is heartening to see that the constitutional debate hasn't entirely muscled out every other tale, issue and question.  Without further ado, to the rankings.

There's a distinctly partisan flavour to the top two entrants on our leaderboard.  In at number one, a post from September, taking aim at the metropolitan pundits, seemingly desparate to regard themselves as the tragic victims of the Yes campaign's pernicious brand of ugly, ethnic nationalism.  Lost and confused? Me too.

1.   Victim Fantasies

Coming in second place, another vinegary blog from November, laying into Scottish Labour's epistemic closure and grim psychology of political entitlement.

Another autumnal piece takes the bronze.  At the middle of November, the tealeaves were disturbed by the scandal of an SNP minister, questioning the impartiality of an academic. For Better Together, with represented an outrage and a scandal.  Drawing on my own experiences on Newsnicht last year, I take a potshot or two at the humbug of their selective interest in academic freedom.

In fourth, a more controversial entry, perhaps, from April.  The SNP has put skepticism about the likelihood of further devolution after a No vote at the heart of its pro-independence message.  Vote Yes, or get nowt.  But is all this really convincing? Is there a risk of Nationalists falling prey to our own myths - myths we can't reasonably expect the rest of the country to share?

Another Labour-bashing blog ranks fifth (are you detecting a theme here)? In Scottish politics, perhaps the most significant development of 2013 was Johann's junking of her critique of the consequences universalism during the Dunfermline campaign.  But how well did such a critique sit beside Ed's headline commitment to freeze energy prices? How will shifting the cost of freezing the Duke of Buccleuch's heating bills onto general taxation help frozen grannies? I took a critical look.

At number 6, we are back on the devolutionary theme, this time, with the Tories.  If the Better Together parties are to persuade the public that more devolution is a foregone conclusion with a No vote, their proposals will have to be credible and achieable. For Ruth Davidson, assisted by a single Tory MP at Westminster, this means persuading her English and Welsh colleagues to support the devolution of more powers.  But how well does this sit beside the Scottish Tory leader's efforts to emphasise her distinctiveness?

I'm pleased that at least one more legally-inflected article made the top ten.  This one is a bally scandal.  In 2013, the Court of Criminal Appeal confirmed that it remains the law of Scotland, that raping your partner, wife or girlfriend is less blameworthy than sexually assaulting a stranger, and should attract a softer sentence.  Regrettably, this outrageous proposition was only covered in my blog - and in a piece in the Scotsman.   

The constitution took over at number 8.  The SNP leadership's monarchism is a source of a certain vexation to republican elements of the Yes campaign. In this piece, I commend hard-headed republican scheming over pointless grousing. If we carry the referendum in 2014, the new constitution represents a marvellous opportunity to adopt a republican constitution - albeit a crowned one.  Republicanism ought to be about more than what we call our head of state. 

Bugger all of these Nordic comparisons: shouldn't Scottish nationalists be talking about Ireland more? And but for the odd BBC4 drama, how many folk really know or understand Sweden or Denmark? Aren't our close comrades over in Eire a far more meaningful parallel to draw? The ninth blog in our series makes the case.

And sneaking in last, in tenth place, is perhaps the year's most personal post. While I've supported the equal marriage campaign from the get-go, a couple of experiences this summer emotionally radicalised me for the cause.  It was one of the more emotionally-involved pieces of writing here over the year, but for me, represented one of 2013's most interested changes of heart, if not changes of mind.

And that's us for 2013! It's been an eventful one. Let's hope 2014 keeps to the Chinese curse, and that we continue to live in interesting times


  1. I find Scottish politics extremely boring these days, not even a juicy trial on the horizon. Looking at the Cowdenbeath candidates it does not look any better (the SNP candidates mum comes out with some hard anti Zionist punches on her twitter account.) UKIP Scotland have had a clearout and put an EDL supporter in charge and rigged the ballot for the Scottish EU elections so that a London based Farage loyalist who refuses to come to Scotland tops the list.

  2. You had me at 'trauchle'. Makes me all shoogly inside it does.

    ".........9. Not Scandinavia, but Ireland.........."

    Perhaps the Emerald Isle as simile is ignored because the Scots, not unlike the Canadians, haven't a clue where it is? Or what it is?


    Apologies for the "Google Warning Page" and the subsequent profanity you'll encounter if you have the temerity to 'click through' it.
    Actually, now that I think about it, it probably isn't worth your trouble. Suffice it to say, 8 out of 27 Canadians queried at random did not know Ireland is an island. And only 2 knew that there are actually two Irelands.

    1. I would have added "bally", as per your number 7 - "bally scandal", to my new LPW lexicon, but it appears to be slang. I eschew slang. It's nowt but bollocks if you ask me.
      And I share your contempt for this re-affirmed aspect of Scots Law. Fear not my friend, the Liberal Enlightenment marches inexorably forward. Scotland will somewhat acknowledge the error of its uncivilised ways and slither into the gloam of a new Librul day, albeit girning and reluctantly, but slither it will.