Late – and brave – amendment to make Creative Scotland lead arts body

Ted Brocklebank, Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture has had a late flash of inspiration and has put down an amendment to the legislation that would have seen Creative Scotland pass smoothly through Holyrood tomorrow.

His amendment proposes that Creative Scotland – a forced marriage between the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen – should be designated the lead body, a sort of primus inter pares, in a collegiate concept of all Scottish arts companies.

Unfortunately, it looks as if this last minute inspiration may fall victim to the yawn-making practice of politics as virility test.

This is a Conservative amendment. The Scottish Labour group are said to be likely to support it.

But the Scottish Government – which indeed has had to fight for everything it has achieved, much of it remarkable – looks likely to see this as a test of strength and may dig itself in to a bunker of resistance, along with enough support from other parties, to carry the day.

A pause for thought would be constructive.

The arts and the management of the arts is a comfortably cross-party territory. A united front in marshalling the arts community into a single potent body would be the most constructive act imaginable.

Perhaps there has been method in Brocklebank’s tardiness. Given any time at all to start lobbying, the arts companies would have been at it like ferrets. As professional communicators, they are highly skilled subversives. And the phones and the networking joints in Edinburgh tonight will be buzzing.

But this should not be seen either as a party political issue or a trial of strength.

The Government should accept the amendment and be grateful for the fact that its fingerprints are not on the trigger. Brocklebank could be doing them a favour.

Without a clear organisational lead, Scotland’s arts will not grow as they might. A leaderless collective will be nothing but an invitation to a continuation of the jockeying between territorial warlords.

Tomorrow could be inspirational and the current Scottish Government, perhaps more than any other, has the capacity to surprise and to move beyond the tribal. We’ll see.

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