Just realised another very obvious problem with the BBC Big Read. Same problem as they have with the Nation’s Favourite Poem votes as well for National Poetry Day – it is skewed and biased. How many Scots are represented in the list? Precious few. Why? Because there are more people in England to cast votes, so as with their Poems votes the results do not necessarily reflect the votes cast in different areas.
Now, before you think I’m just doing the whingeing Scot thing, think about it for a moment. This isn’t a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise Scots, but it still has that result. The London centric universe of the BBC and their 1920s Reithian attempt to ‘shape and unite the nation’ manages instead to highlight London’s complete cultural ignorance of Scotland. Cultural imperialism by ignorance or accident is still cultural imperialism and the BBC is paid for by the taxpayer to represent everyone.
It would be nice to see how the Scottish voters differed. I’m sure many titles would be the same as the main list, but there are an awful lot of gaps there too. I’m pretty sure that in Scotland Muriel Spark would feature highly, but do you see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie there? No Ian Rankin novels, no Robin Jenkins novels, nothing by George Mackay Brown, Naomi Mitchison, Iain Banks or Lewis Grassic Gibbon? And most scandalous of all no Lanark by writer and artist Alisdair Gray. Considered by many – including me – to be the finest Scottish novel of the twentieth century and one of the best novels of any nation for that century. If you haven’t read it, you really, really should. At the same time we have the annual BBC Proms concert guide to sell in the bookstore. Published by the BBC yet it only covers the London Promenade concerts and not the ones held in Glasgow or Edinburgh – even although BBC Scotland will cover those. And they wonder why we Scots get pissed off with our culturally ignorant neighbours sometimes… (and on that note our chums in Manchester would be right to feel aggrieved at London – with Tony Blair’s connivance – hijacking their Olympic bid for themselves. Just what we need, more events in London, hundreds of miles away form the rest of the population whose taxes paid for it). Thus endeth the rant for today.