Sunday, 21 December 2008

Not all white on the night

What a party it promised to be. In June, when the Scottish government revealed plans for Homecoming Scotland, its big tourism initiative for 2009, it gleefully presented in its publicity material an image of hundreds of happy white-faced “heroes” marching off to celebrate their Scottishness.

When, six months later, the SNP administration unveiled its latest vision for next year's festivities, a late arrival had appeared among the group of party-goers. Pictured in the front ranks was a single, solitary Asian man. Apparently oblivious to the rumpus around him, he can be seen thoughtfully reading The Life of Robert Burns.

The updated image features on the cover of the new Homecoming events guide and is said by officials to represent “the diversity of modern Scotland”. Alex Salmond, the First Minister, says in the introduction: “Whether you're a Scot, you have Scots ancestry or you have a passion for our great nation, 2009 will be an exceptional year for Scotland.”

But if any government spin doctor hoped that a little bit of airbrushing might bolster their promotion, they were sadly mistaken. The move was lambasted last night as insulting tokenism by campaigners for racial equality.

More at: Token figure.

This article was followed up in most of the Scottish Sunday papers, and provoked much debate, a sample of which you can find if you scroll down to the comments here: Airbrushed into history.

The regular reader will recall that it was this very blog which first raised issues about the tone of Homecoming Scotland, and raised questions about the "heroes" image, as both VisitScotland and the Scottish Governement refer to their original piece of artwork.

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