Tuesday 26 November 2013

A Song for Scotland?

Today the Scottish Government launched its blueprint for independence. The document, titled "Scotland's Future: Your guide to an independent Scotland" outlines the justification for independence and sets out a series of policy pledges which the Scottish National Party would pursue in the event of a yes vote. The white paper is substantial and covers diverse topics including defence, environmental issues, economics and indeed culture. On page 532 of the report, under the section titled “Culture, Communications and Digital” the document categorically states that Scotland would seek to enter the Eurovision Song Contest.  
“The Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) would seek membership of the EBU. We would envisage the SBS engaging with some of the EBU competitions, including Scottish entries in the Eurovision Song Contest” – Scottish Government 2013.
To critics of the independence movement this might seem unimportant, even stupid. However there’s a serious point here, regardless of one’s views on whether or not Scotland should be independent. Countries use Eurovision as platform for promoting their very existence which is exemplified in the rush of post-communist states which joined the ESC in the 1990s and it seems in the Scottish case, the same is true. Whilst the context is very different, Bosnia Herzegovina’s participation in the contest during the war demonstrated the significance that popular culture events have for newly sovereign nations. In 1992 Estonia participated in the Barcelona Olympics as an independent country, something which was hugely important for the state as it sought global recognition and increasing visibility on the world stage. The Eurovision Song Contest is and remains an important discursive tool in defining nation states and indeed notions of “Europeanness”.
Both my parents are Scottish and most of my family still live there and it’ll be interesting to see how the developments in the country unfold. Regardless of the outcome, the fact that the Scottish Government has listed the Eurovision Song Contest in their white paper demonstrates the symbolic value that the contest continues to have nearly 60 years from its inception.

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