It’s my Opinion

THE death of Neil Armstrong last weekend brought back a raft of memories for me of the night - well, the early morning - of July 21, 1969 when Apollo 11 landed. The excitement seemed to capture the spirit of the swinging sixties. In fairness there was a buzz around the nation, not least in the North-east where oil had just been discovered.

The moon landings confirmed that technology had well and truly come to stay as Armstrong walked on the surface.

Technical skills were ably demonstrated in the new oil industry, welcomed and embraced by the local workforce who, in harmony with other nations, rejoiced in bringing home the spoils from the North Sea.

As someone who was to arrive two years later I could only marvel at the progress mankind made in the decade I had been away from the area.

I did, nevertheless, pose a number of questions then as I would now in 2012. If we are to so technically skilled why do we not have equal social skills?

In 1971 we were on the moon, but why were we socially still in the 1920s?

I saw then - and to a lesser degree now - a situation where there was - or is - no vision, no leadership, and I’m not commenting on political leadership.

The North-east missed golden opportunities in the early 70’s which could have secured infrastructure, educational and leisure facilities, and arts projects to make us proud.

Instead we failed to grasp the nettle, to the eternal shame of local politicians, the business community and the generally unconsulted public.

We did, however, proudly proclaim Aberdeen as ‘oil capital’ when in fact it was nothing of the kind,

Scotland, and indeed Grampian, has long produced intellectual folks who have helped shape the nation. Where were they in 1970? Put in their place by lesser beings who talked grandly of economic growth without the wisdom of social development.

There certainly was no perceived wisdom in the generally ignorant Labour party responsible for the administration in the city.

Nor was there vision emanating from business leaders who saw the opportunity to make a fast buck, and did just that.

Fast forward to 2012 where at least we are having a debate about developing the city and its surrounds.

While I am not convinced the current coalition is working, we have to accept that they are democratically elected, which is more than you can say of the vociferous voices in the business community who not only think they know best, but actually think they have a God - given right to believe they are the new democracy.

Their idea of social engineering is to build houses, and glass domes to their own ineptitude, which they hope will become the new places of worship for future generations.

I like to imagine that will all change when the normally wise folks wake up to some home truths and look for leadership from elsewhere, if it in fact exists.