Readers will recall that earlier this week we heartily recommended a fantastic article written by Irvine Welsh for Bella Caledonia. Talking of the “Trainspotting” author’s happy times living with family in England and discussing how Scottish independence could enhance British cultural unity, it was an enormously positive piece which was widely acclaimed and warmly received pretty much everywhere.
Scotland on Sunday saw it through rather different eyes. Ignoring the uplifting message of friendship entirely, it grasped on a couple of isolated lines (so to speak) from the 5000-word essay and used it as an excuse to run a story headlined “Irvine Welsh says young people better off dealing drugs than studying for meaningless degree”.
After being on the website for just a couple of hours (at time of writing we can’t confirm if it was in the print paper), the piece mysteriously vanished, not even being visible in Google Cache. But an alert Wings Over Scotland reader was on the cut-and-paste case. If you want to see SoS’s twisted interpretation of Welsh’s words, they’re below.
Irvine Welsh says young people better off dealing drugs than studying for ‘meaningless degree’
Irvine Welsh has suggested that it could be more beneficial to sell cocaine than to study for a degree
Published on Sunday 13 January 2013 13:48
Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has suggested that it would make more economic sense for young people to deal drugs than studying for a “meaningless” degree.
• Studying for degree is little more than “prison of debt”.
• Scottish political separation “could provide cultural unity” for UK.
Speaking on an online blog, the writer said that studying for a degree at university now amounted to no more than a “prison of debt” and that if he were in the shoes of young people today, he would invest in cocaine. He also said that an independent Scotland could bring a positive political change and that ‘assumed Englishness’ had undermined the country.
Writing on bellacaledonia.org.uk, Welsh hit out at the lack of opportunities for young people and the unaffordability of further education.
He said: “I was personally liberated by the welfare state, specifically the Butler Education Act. This meant that my college fees would be paid in full by the state, and I would also receive a full grant, which amounted to 2/3rds of my dad’s wages. Now all that has gone, and I personally would never enter the prison of debt, in order to go to University for a degree that has been rendered pretty meaningless.
“I would choose to invest any resources I had in other directions; like many bright, eager young kids from poorer backgrounds now do, I’d probably buy a rock of cocaine, cut it and sell it. And repeat. It simply makes more economic sense.”
Turning to the question of Scotland’s place in the Union, Welsh added: “From the viewpoint of the Scots, it has foisted 35 years of a destructive neo-liberalism upon us, and prevented us from becoming the European social democracy we are politically inclined to be.
“Therefore I’m advancing another proposition: political separation could promote the cultural unity that the UK state, in its current form, with its notions of ‘assumed Englishness’ is constantly undermining.”
Irvine Welsh’s books are often based on his upbringing in Edinburgh, with heavy focus on drug use and the question of Scottish identity often featuring.
EDIT: Interesting post-script Twitter exchange from alert reader Leo Miklasz. Kenny Farquharson is Scotland on Sunday’s deputy editor.