Our five Most Reads in 2015

Sceptical Scot launched in March this year and has published over 170 pieces in nine months. Our aim has been to help inform Scotland’s debate about itself and its role in the wider world in the same spirit as the Enlightenment. Here we recall the five articles that attracted the most attention on the site and on social media with short extracts from each.

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1. Depression, delusion, disorder

By far the most-read was this excoriating piece of self-analysis from Darren McGarvey aka Loki the Scottish Rapper:

Back then I recycled adversity as renewable creative energy which powered me through a prolific period of artistic output despite being basically homeless and suffering duel addictions.  Emboldened by local fame cum notoriety, that seductive mix of booze and self-exaltation induced powerful narcissistic fantasies.  Truth be told these bled into my sober life too – and still do.

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2. Scottish government’s biggest financial asset is…student loans

The biggest political impact came with Lucy Hunter Blackburn’s revelation that the student loan book is now, at £2.7bn, the SG’s biggest financial asset:

By pouring loan into living cost support and seeing it as interchangeable with grant, the current administration has constructed a student support scheme which uniquely in the UK expects poorer students to borrow more than wealthier ones, perpetuating inequalities in wealth. When this has been pointed out, the government has not been any more receptive than it was to those who pointed out the likely cost of abolishing student loan in 2006-07.

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3. Cawin the feet from the Curriculum for Excellence?

Improving Scottish children’s educational achievements via testing prompted Carol Craig, a renowned SNP opponent, to offer this and more considered – and supportive – criticism:

Interestingly none of the education people I spoke to could understand why the Scottish Government was reintroducing tests. The move is not underpinned by sound educational theory.  They could not think of a single educational theorist who would recommend such a course of action.

I for one believe that Nicola Sturgeon genuinely wants to ensure equality in education and is personally affronted by the yawning, and growing, gap in educational performance between rich and poor.  If she cares about Scotland she has to do something about this.

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4. Double crossings: Queensferry Crossing and the future of Scottish engineering

George Rosie, doyen of Scottish investigative reporters, illustrated graphically the decline of our manufacturing sector with his expose of which firms are building the Second Forth Crossing:

“You Scotch guys are really sucking on hind tit,” he (an American engineer) said. “Every contractor I meet on this job seems to come from someplace in Europe or someplace in the US or someplace down in England. What’s wrong with Scotch people? Don’t you make big stuff any more? If that’s true it’s a real shame. Because it’s gonna be a real fine-looking bridge.”

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5. Culture, class and connections in Scotland

And, not long after this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Loki again generated huge resonance with his savage long read on Kultur:

The GOMA has a specific kind of audience with specific interests. It’s actually quite niche. But the cultural narrative doesn’t really account for this. I pay more attention to the people begging on the steps of the museum than I do to the exhibits inside it. It’s just one small example of how the middle class perspective prevails and becomes the legitimate perspective at which all must eventually arrive if they wish to be considered cultured. But saying you like it is more like a lanyard you wear around your identity as opposed to genuine passion.

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