BATTER TOGETHER by Russell Lumb
There are countless dreadful things happening around the world which really deserve our attention, but I feel obliged to take this, possibly final opportunity to comment before the impending Scottish Independence Referendum. I have a tenuous link between this huge public issue and my own relationship with Redbrick, which I hope will get me past the censor; more of that later.
I suspect that not many eligible Scottish voters read this blog, but I have little to say to them which has not already been repeated ad nauseum by the “no” campaign, save to wonder again why the English have been excluded from this process? So long as the probability remains strongly with the continuation of the Union, then we can enjoy the “debate” from outside the tent, and, with respect to the televised Salmond/Darling confrontations, from outside the country, although I hear that we are to be allowed to witness the next instalment. If, however, there is a “yes” majority, then we will have been shafted by the most incompetent governmental bungle of all time. Even with a “no” majority, the Scot’s win-win position will reward their civilised insurrection with greater autonomy.
I have no particular objection to “devo-max”, and one can hardly accuse the Scots of opportunism; they have steadfastly refused to support the Tories and can shortly expect to have three times their number of Conservative MPs in the Panda enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. The Scots know on which side of the border their confectionery is battered, but they also know what their departure would mean for the English regions; without Scottish votes, Westminster could be blue for a long time. It is ironic that the success of the SNP has also weakened the Opposition and strengthened the metropolitan elite. And this is where the problem, and the solution, for Scotland and the regions is to be found, not in distasteful self-interest but in regional solidarity.
The Scots know where they stand, but the shortfall in opposition to unfair, London-centric funding, welfare and education, is in the English Shires, where the Tory government is supported by “aspirational” voters who’s faith is not rewarded regionally. This is not a party-political jibe, but a grade A fact obvious to anyone who visits the capital and marvels at the sheer quality and scale of the infrastructure. OK, Londoners moan about everything, and Japan, Germany and now most of the Far East are showing us how to do things, but it is clear that the English regions are subsidising metropolitan advantage way beyond the justifiable; witness the pathetic programme for HS2 whilst Crossrail is close to delivering another, state-of-the-art transport facility for London. Westminster, of whatever colour, must be made to give appropriate regard to the regions, and not just Scotland, where considerable autonomy already allows for local budgeting and the bones of a fairer society. This can only happen when the regional electorate, including the scots, manipulates the balance of power on a term basis. So my proposal to Scotland is to remain within the Union and, next year, to vote Labour with the English regions on the strength of appropriate manifesto undertakings, until such time as it may be necessary to remind government of these obligations once again.
My roughly parallel experience on loosening my ties with Redbrick has been similarly contentious, although self-rule was not an objective. Nor do I hanker for home rule for Yorkshire, irrespective of our outstanding successes at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, followed by the mad outpouring of regional energy around Le Tour. I imagine a fledgling Yorkshire, led by the usual, attention-seeking comedy rustics , rather than our more introspective intellectuals. Frying pans and fires.With respect to painting, my inclination, confirmed now by experience, is that joint venture is of huge importance, providing the flywheel momentum as the basis for spurts of individual creativity. The trick is to get the balance right.
Last evening, I returned to the life studio and surfed the wave of group concentration. Absence had certainly sharpened my appreciation of the positive ambience and my work has a little more natural flow in place of the recent calculated precision. Looking at the posted gallery, I also see more clearly than ever that, although this session did not produce any outstanding individual piece, the sense of “Fiona” is collectively nailed. Better Together!
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Chris, Dick, Ivan, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Russell.