Life beyond politics

I always wondered what Kevin Williamson has been up to after unleashing Irvine Welsh upon the world in the early nineties and now, thanks to Gene, I’ve found his blog. As well as a revealing post on the unpleasant and stupid John Wight, there’s also his letter of resignation from the Scottish Socialist Party. Read the whole thing. There is a good analysis of the Sheridan libel case and the prospects for Scottish independence. But this is Williamson’s main reason for leaving the party:

After all those years of boring meetings in cold and drafty halls I’m looking forward to the freedom that being outside of a political party will finally give me. I might even get involved in some real politics now. It will also mean the freedom to get involved in causes that I chose rather than the lost causes that sections of the left persist in choosing.

But most important of all it will give me the time and space to do what I should have been doing for these last eight years, which is to write books. My last book was published way back in 1997 – the year before I joined the SSP. The SSP has taken up so much of my time, energies and headspace for such a long time. But no more.

Books are important. The language and the culture of resistance is important. It is not political parties – as many on the left mistakenly believe – but a country’s radical writers, musicians and other creative individuals who piece together and preserve the often hidden or censored history of working people. It is these same people who have the intellectual freedom and rigour to come up with radical new ideas. In this respect one Alasdair Gray is worth a hundred Tommy Sheridans.

Politically, I am only now beginning to catch up with the likes of James Kelman, Alison Flett, Tom Leonard, Iain Banks, Irvine Welsh, Duncan McLean, Hector MacMillan, Edwin Morgan, Janice Galloway, James Robertson, Carl McDougall, Liz Lochhead, Angus Calder, Elspeth King, Jim Ferguson, Sandie Craigie, AL Kennedy, Joy Hendrie, Raymond Ross, Thom Nairn, James D Young and so many more in our fine tradition of engaged independence-supporting Scottish writers.

Back in that pivotal year of 1992 – when the Scottish cultural and political resistance to Westminster rule moved up a few gears – these engaged writers were light years ahead of almost all of us who would eventually found the SSP. Scotland owes these writers so much more than any political party for where we’re at and for where we’re going.


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