There is more to Sweden than meets the (UK medias) eyes.

by Jack R

It feels like the UK, amongst other countries, is on something of a Swedish “kick” at the moment. Of course IKEA has always been popular in the UK, but more recently it seems impossible to escape the invasion of Swedish television dramas onto the BBC or the numerous Swedish delicatessens in trendy London suburbs. Even our newspapers and social media seem to pay more attention to what Sweden is doing politically or socially, most often in a very admiring “look how great Scandinavian liberalism is” sense. Most recently this was concerning the feminist film rating system – the Bechdel test – which is being introduced in some cinemas in Sweden, another aspect in an endless stream of examples commonly spread as to why Sweden is such a liberal paradise.

All of this makes it seem rather strange to me, as a UK citizen living in Sweden, that something as important and high-profile as a protracted, three month long gang war in the city of Gothenburg wouldn’t be reported by the UK media.

Of course and unfortunately, every large city has gang problems and the occasional shooting, but since two men were shot dead in the Hisingen island area of Gothenburg on the 4th of September, a rampage of gang violence spanning almost three months followed. The most recent shooting was on the 17th of November in the area of Hjällbo, at 16.30 outside a kindergarten. Surely such an extended display of violence would warrant at least a brief, journalistic acknowledgement by the same media that sings Sweden’s praises as a “liberal democracy” and broadcasts countless Swedish TV dramas and films?

Herein lies the problem – Sweden is a paragon of liberalism and harmony in the eyes of the UK media. Sweden is referenced in the media to illustrate the flaws with our society and what we could learn from our Scandinavian friends, as such to report on the negative aspects of Sweden is to damage the strength of its status as a liberal paradise in future articles.

At this point I should say that yes, I do believe that the UK could learn much from Swedish politics and culture and yes, I am aware that the UK media widely reported the Stockholm summer riots of 2013. However I believe that such reportage did not consider, and did not investigate, the root causes of the riots. Instead some slight reference was perhaps made to youth unemployment, after which the discussion was quickly left behind in favour of pictures of burning cars.

In order to provide a more balanced view of the state of Swedish society and politics, I intend to write articles here concerning things which do not come to the attention of our national media and show that, like the UK and any other “liberal democracy”, the country faces just as many issues. Some future articles will include an introduction to REVA, the latest anti-immigration initiative in Sweden, as well as the Swedish Democrats – a political party who are showing themselves to be a growing force on the right-wing of Swedish politics.

I also intend to write the occasional culture piece to show how beautiful Sweden is as a country and provide some humour. The first piece in that trend shall most likely concern kräftskiva (which means lobster party), and I shall most definitely write an article about Swedish humour and comedy sometime.

Until then, please bookmark this blog and check back regularly if you are interested in Swedish politics and culture.