The Scots Language Centre – a wee bittie oot o’control?

Oh dear, a bit of a flurry on social media in the last 24 hours about the Scots Language Centre charity (SLC) whose first objective, according to its entry on the Scottish Charity Regulator web site, is

to promote, support and assist the interests of the Scots language.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that of course.

The problem seems to be the nature of some of the material they publish or promote. You can see the full current stooshie (Scots – row or fracas) if you search ‘Scots Language Centre’ on Twitter but it can be summarised in this tweet from Ruth Davidson (I know, I know, wicked Tory and all that):

slc1

and the fact that some photos of pro-Yes and pro-SNP images (in Scots of course) have been removed from their former prominence on their web site or Flickr feed. The SLC is also closely involved with the Scottish Government’s promotion of the Scots language. This post is being written in haste to catch the moment so I won’t waste time on following up these issues but trust me you can find all the relevant material on or through Twitter.

This is more about who’s involved with the SLC and their political views.

According to their web site SLC have a council of seven people and a staff of six. The rest of this post looks at the publicly available and known links they have to either the SNP or the (former) Yes campaign. If no comment is made about anyone there is no easily-available information about their political views, if any, and I make no assumption about them.

Council

Information online reveals a political affiliation for two of the seven SLC council members.

James Forbes, a secondary school teacher of modern languages is, or was in 2012, ‘a member of the Scottish National Party’ according to the Edinburgh News (their article, not relevant to the SLC, is about a General Teaching Council Scotland disciplinary hearing).

Kate Howie is an SNP councillor in Perth and Kinross . She is the only politician on the SLC council.

Staff

The political views of SLC director Michael Hance have already received some publicity on social media. His Twitter and Facebook pages confirm them.

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Katrina MacLeod is the SLC’s education liaison and audio-visual development officer. Her Facebook page sports a Yes sticker and includes this exchange (note the comment by Michael Hance)
slc5Steve Byrne’s job title is not stated on the SLC web site but it is clearly to do with music given his background. Recent tweets on his Twitter timeline make clear his political inclinations and include approving retweets of tweets by SNP politicians Mhairi Black, Marco Biagi, Angus MacNeil and Tommy Shepherd.

Poet Sally Evans’ job title is also unstated on the web site but I assume it is to do with her involvement in poetry and the written word. In 2013 she had an article on the National Collective web site that said, amongst much else

A poet’s job is to serve their country and the world with words … Scottish culture is subservient to English culture in the London publishing model.

Well, she’s a poet and she should know it. But I thought poetry was much more about holding up a light to the human condition than serving a country.

More to the point of this post, her Facebook page is headed

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and includes this recent item

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So that’s two out of seven council members who are also SNP members and four out of six staff who express clear nationalist/pro-independence and in two cases anti-Labour views. Of course everyone is entitled to express their political views and all these people do so outwith the confines of the SLC web site. I don’t know how those proportions compare with charities generally but they are clearly higher than the population overall. And charities don’t generally promote the material mentioned at the beginning of this post, which has led to the suspicion that this particular one may be going beyond its charitable purpose.

Perhaps we need some clarity from the SLC themselves to decide whether they are indeed a wee bittie oot o’control.

Footnote – This post was prepared using publicly-available information on the web. I’m happy to correct any factual errors if alerted to them, or to add additional information if available. 

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6 Responses to The Scots Language Centre – a wee bittie oot o’control?

  1. Would that Linda Duncan had stuck to the courage of her initial response!

    Re: Sally Evans’ priorities, particularly her first allegiance: to a country …

    “Patriotic duty, and the disease of nationalism, lure us to deny our common humanity”
    (Chris Hedges, “The World As It Is”)

    No doubt a pronounced patriotic/nationalist tendency has more to recommend it when in defence of an embattled or tyrannised country – from an ethical (if not necessarily aesthetic) point of view.

    However, one must also ask about the validity of the claimed embattlement and/or tyranny in each case: and whether there may in any case be evidence of a differently motivated grievance or grudge, not to say a projected embitterment of particular individuals on to a “national cause”.

    I notice (though the sites promoting her don’t seem keen to mention this) Sally was born in London, brought up in N England, and moved to Scotland when 37 years old.

    Is it possible there is yet more evidence here of the dreaded “zeal of the convert”?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wujeanty says:

    This particular article (now deleted, but fished out of the ether by the mighty Neil Lovatt) – http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:a0aS6xtlxkMJ:www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4153+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk – had me with steam coming out of my ears. So much so that I emailed that Hance guy earlier telling him he should be ashamed of himself, and have emailed my non-SNP MSPs asking them to try to have the SLC defunded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roger White says:

      Wasn’t aware of that but couldn’t agree with you more. Absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of the charity. Doesn’t even make a passing reference to the Scots language. Looks as if he’s using the SLC as a personal plaything to punt his political beliefs.

      Like

  3. a insworth says:

    The idea that Scots was once upon a time a language in its own right distinct from English is an historical fiction first claimed only in around 1805, before then being picked up as political propaganda by the early SNP in the late 1920s. See James Murray’s Dialects of Lowland Scotland.

    Like

    • Alan Edgey says:

      The historical fiction also became UK Government raison d’être in 2001 when it recognised Scots under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

      Like

  4. Thanks for this Roger, depressing stuff. I love Soutar, and as it happens, Britten
    ‘S setting are very fine, as is yoon MacMillan’s setting of Soutar’s eerie night visitor poem, The Tryst. But all that is culture not trench politics, no interest to the dim Gauleiters of Scottish nationalism.

    Liked by 1 person

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