Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brit Nat blogger attacks 'identity politics'

Our old favourite Chekov is at it again - despite the pivotal stage the political process in Northern Ireland has reached, the UUP/Tory blogger has chosen this moment to return to Nat-bashing of the Scottish variety, leaping on a report commissioned by the Scotland Office that purports to show that Scotland has received a £76 billion 'devolution dividend'. Chekov characterises the SNP's response to the report in the following terms -

"If you believe the government’s figures then you are ‘doing Scotland down’, hence you are not a good Scotsman. It’s the type of reductionist, identity based politics we’re accustomed to in Northern Ireland."

Actually, the principal way I would describe anyone who believes the Scotland Office figures is "credulous". But Chekov is not a Scotsman, and yet I have no hesitation in saying that he most certainly is doing Scotland down. How else can you characterise the sneering tone he employs upon encountering any suggestion that Scotland could stand on its own two feet economically - "sense of entitlement to dwindling oilfields", "saved from collapse by the British taxpayer"?

The bottom line is that if you have to rely on undermining Scotland's confidence in its own economic self-sufficiency to quite that scathing degree, it's an implicit acknowledgement that the alternative arguments for the union are wearing a bit thin. Chekov seems to instinctively register this point at the end of his post, when he goes through the motions of essentially saying "other pro-union arguments are also available" -

"Of course economics only form part of the pro-Union case. The Conservative reaction to this story is the most pertinent, from a unionist perspective - “People know Scotland is better off socially, culturally, financially and politically as part of Britain”."

Well, if the Tory reaction is the most 'pertinent', it's certainly not the one that's actually resonating among the Scottish electorate. Scotland-as-part-of-Britain is socially, culturally, politically and financially superior to Scotland-as-a-nation...and this from a man who claims to disdain identity politics? Perhaps this would be an appropriate night of the year to invite the gloriously un-self-aware British Nationalist Chekov to ponder the immortal words -

"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion."

I think it's an observation I've made before, but Chekov on the subject of Scottish politics is essentially AM2 without the laughs.


  1. A better subject for blogging would have been whether or not the NI Assembly will exist this time next month. That way, some of us with little understand of the complexities of all these initials that make up the province’s politics might have been a little more the wiser about what they hell they are up to over there.

    Of course the sensational bits we all got.... you know, the "What's that you say Mrs Robinson" bits (although, to be fair the original Mrs Robinson did wait till the lad was a graduate, at 22ish, before she got into his pants), but the complexities of all these parties with more letters than members is beyond most of us, and might be well explained by someone who lives there.

    In the meantime, more joeyed figures from the Westminster government, hell bent on defeating the SNP at any cost whatsoever, isn't worth a blog at all. No one with any sense believes them. Even their best friends don’t believe them. You can make figures say whatever you want them to say, and this lot are better than most at obfuscation. If you can invent 45 minutes to destruction from what turned out to be 2 pea shooters, you can invent a few silly numbers about Scotland’s oil.

    Even if there were a grain of truth in what these figures say, the situation would be entirely different if the country were independent. We wouldn’t be contributing huge amounts to maintaining so much of what Britain requires to make it seem like it is still a serious world player. We wouldn’t be at war (even on the cheap as it is being done now, that’s an expensive business). And how many small countries maintain an embassy in Ulan Bator, and why would they? Indeed why does the UK?

    So let’s not worry about government figures too much. It’s only in the first couple of months of a government that anyone believes a word that they say... the rest of the time we tend to regard them more like children playing, and cleverly inventing scenarios that get, by the day, more improbable.

  2. Tris, I notice in a comment after that post, Chekov slips even deeper into hysterical mode, branding the SNP an "un-reformed, depolrable bunch". It just suddenly made me wonder - what would the SNP actually have to do to "reform" itself in Chekov-world? Would it, by any chance, have to become a unionist party?!

  3. That's a spot on idea James.

    It would certainly confuse Mr Gray!!!!

  4. If 'Chekov's post infuriated you so, why didn't you comment on his blog & get some debate going?

    Also, you scoff at 'AM2' on this & other postings, yet you never challenged him on his/her blog.

  5. If you're so interested in my motivations for doing and not doing things, I think my own first question would be - who are you and why have you chosen to post anonymously? What significance can we read into that?

    As it happens, you're quite simply wrong about AM2 - I left comments on his blog on a few occasions, and more to the point I spent countless hours debating with him on the Scotsman and Herald boards in the days when he could be found there. As for Chekov, I'm quite happy to debate with him or anyone else - my guess is he's well aware of the existence of this post and others I've made about him, judging from the tell-tale signs I've seen on my stats. So he's clearly decided not to respond to my points either here or elsewhere, which of course is entirely his prerogative, but it's a complete red herring to pretend that I've prevented that debate from taking place. Quite honestly from reading his blog I haven't noticed the slightest sign of him being interested in seriously engaging with others who have taken issue with his posts about Scotland - at the absolute most all you'll get is a snide one-sentence riposte about "that just goes to show how ghastly the SNP are". For an articulate, highly intelligent guy, he's got a startlingly one-dimensional view of politics, both on his own patch and beyond.

  6. "If you're so interested in my motivations for doing and not doing things, I think my own first question would be - who are you and why have you chosen to post anonymously? What significance can we read into that?"

    None, I am not Chekov, nor do I sympathise with his political views (or yours for that matter), I just think that if you take such umbridge with his post then you should challenge the blogger directly, if you're confident in your own arguments that is! The way you've gone about this seems to be the blogging equivalent of hit & run.

    Fyi: My name is Jordan & I'm an ex-pat Scot in Leicester, you most probably see my "tell-tale signs" on your "stats".

  7. Fair enough, Jordan - I didn't think for a moment you were Chekov, because your comment wouldn't have made a lot of sense, but I did wonder if perhaps you were one of his keener followers. I still don't really understand why you'd go out of your way to leave a comment just to say that - if you're truly suffering from the misapprehension that I'm somehow shy about challenging people on their own blogs, you obviously missed the exchange I had on the Rachel Lucas blog last April about gun control that literally went on for a week. I was in a minority of one debating with goodness-knows-how-many American 'gundamentalists', so no, the suggestion that I would shy away from a debate with Chekov doesn't have a lot of credibility. I just realised that he wasn't remotely interested in engaging - you can see the evidence of that for yourself if you check the occasional Scottish thread on his blog.

    Incidentally, when I was talking about noticing the tell-tale signs of Chekov visiting this blog on my stats, it was something considerably more specific than location - it was the words "login=Chekov". I think that's fairly conclusive by any standards! Doesn't that suggest to you he's simply not interested in responding, and wouldn't have been regardless of whether I'd made my points here or on his own blog?