Darren McGarvey (aka MC Loki) has emerged a sharp and incisive young commentator on politics in Scotland. Scottish Left Review interviewed him after the 5 May elections but before the 23 June referendum. He is a Glasgow-based writer, performer, community activist and journalist as well as Scotland’s most high profile rap artist. Between 2004 and 2006, he wrote and presented 8 programmes for BBC Radio Scotland which attempted to examine the root causes of anti-social behavior and social deprivation. In 2009, he founded Volition Scotland, an organisation which attempts to put young people in charge of the services they use.
When and how do you think people will wake up to the lack of radical change offered by the SNP?
Sometimes I wonder if that is the correct question. I am beginning to think that, perhaps, I need to wake up to the fact there is no demand for radical change. My assumption the SNP was radical came from the ‘yes’ campaign and what seemed like its inherently disruptive objective. In hindsight, I see now that the ‘yes’ campaign was branded vaguely and I poured in all of my assumption – taking it all in good faith that radical change was imminent. It really wasn’t. I was part of a section of the electoral market that was captured strategically; targeted by powerful branding. Lesson learned. Also, I don’t think SNP planned much beyond the referendum. In many ways their current trajectory is a sort of improvised Plan B.
Does Labour in Scotland have a future?
Corbyn is clearly a man of integrity. But he is also the personification of a left-wing politics which is riddled with moral confusion. I had big hopes for Corbyn but I think my politics may be going through another growth spurt in light of radicalism being vetoed at the ballot box earlier this year. The centre of gravity for Scottish Labour is Sturgeon not Corbyn. They need to emulate the SNP by adopting a new posture towards constitutional politics. The days of Labour setting the agenda are over.
What can we expect from the Greens?
The Greens will now perform the role usually reserved for the radicals I imagine. One of agitation; exposing opportunism and moral posturing. But beneath any public hostility the Greens know their limits. This was reflected in their election campaign where critique of SNP was muted. I suspect many within the SNP membership are looking to the Greens from time to time thinking: ‘I wish we could be more like them’. They are a beacon for a genuinely new politics.
Where does RISE go from here?
The far left needs to evolve or die. Scotland is obsessed with constitutional politics but the real debate going on everywhere else is about what social justice means in the 21st century. On the left we need to strike a delicate balance between progressive identity politics and class struggle. These two aspects of our current ideology are cutting diagonally across each other.
Are there non-party solutions to how to advance radical/leftwing politics in Scotland?
Of course. Sadly though, much of our activist, artistic and literary community has been absorbed by the SNP and it’s Creative Scotland control grid. This isn’t to imply anything untoward but simply to state the truth. It’s becoming counter-intuitive to challenge the structures of power in Scotland – including the Third Sector – because people can carve out nice little niches for themselves by keeping their safe hands on whatever lever they are in charge of. For me the goal is to stay self-funded and create opportunities by taking risks and following my own instincts. State support for artists is essential, obviously. But personally, I’d rather put my hand in my own pocket and find out the true value of what I do than jump through hoops for pen-pushing bureaucrats. But that’s just me.
His music and writings can be found at https://misterlokiscotland.bandcamp.com/ and https://lokithescottishrapper.com/author/lokithescottishrapper/ He also tweets under the nom de plume of Loki The Stooge @lokiscottishrap providing ‘Cultural errorism with a splash of self regard’.