Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why must Ian Davidson hide emotions? Why must he never break down and cry?

I'm not quite sure why, but I found myself looking up Cry for Help by Rick Astley yesterday, for the first time in many years. It brought back memories of watching one of those interminable Channel 4 "Top 100 of something" list shows, in which Johnny Vegas recounted how he had first heard the song as a teenager. One of his friends had phoned him to say : "Rick Astley. Top of the Pops. Tonight. Good. Watch it." As fate would have it, I ended up having an eerily similar experience last night when one of the prolific SNP posters on Political Betting emailed me to say : "Ian Davidson. Meltdown. Huge. BBC2. Watch it. Now."

Those weren't the exact words, but they capture the gist.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the email until it was too late, and it's taken me 24 hours to have the chance to catch up with the interview in question, but it didn't disappoint - it's epochal stuff all right. What Labour have done in making this man the chairman of a theoretically important select committee is the rough equivalent of Alex Salmond handpicking a Cybernat from the Scotsman boards to be his campaign manager, specifically to enable that person to go on television and use terms like "New Liebour", "Bliar" and "Wee Joke McConnell" as often as humanly possible. That's the surefire way to win floating voters over, right enough.

Plenty of people have already pointed out how Davidson's naked thuggery in representing Scottish Labour's case has utterly destroyed the party's credibility, so I won't rehearse the point again. Instead I want to take a quick look at one part of what might very loosely be described as the "substance" of his argument. He makes the extraordinary claim midway through the interview that the electorate have "given" Westminster the sole right to decide constitutional matters by voting Yes in the 1997 devolution referendum. But the slight logical problem here is that a No vote in that referendum would have meant that there would have been no Scottish Parliament at all, meaning by definition that Westminster would have been left empowered to take every decision on the constitution.

So, to sum up, it seems that by voting Yes in 1997 we were giving Westminster the authority to decide constitutional matters for us, and by voting No we were giving Westminster the authority to decide constitutional matters for us. Doubtless according to Ian's logic abstainers in 1997 had much the same thought in mind as well.

Crikey, what lucky voters we were to be so spoilt for choice. Thanks heavens Ian is on hand to make sure the menu of democratic choices available to us is just as impressive this time round...


  1. GrassyKnollingtonAugust 9, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Nice article James and a funny and true analogy. My only quibble being that even in a jokey reference I'd prefer to see "cybernat" in inverted commas to indicate that it's an invented term by unionists for independence supporters(yes even the hard core anonymous crowd of ranters at the hootsmon).

    I hate to see independence supporters using it as it makes it seem mainstream and accepted rather than what it is, a pejorative term for people who aren't on message about the Britishness project and are willing to argue why not.

  2. I can see James point in using the term GrassyKnollington. Though as he uses examples to show us what kind of posters he means it is slightly redundant.

    Not to get too Marshall McLuhan, but the medium is the message. So I have little problem with posters employing the same tactics used against them on sites to traduce unionists and their hangers on. I might even go so far as to say sometimes a pithy or witty encapsulation can reveal a truth more acutely IF it reflects reality for most people.

    But as James observes, newsnight is not a forum or message board and Ian Davidson made a very big and very stupid mistake.

    The main difference is that most SNP posters would still have the brains to realise that newsnight is not the interweb. Whereas Davidson didn't have the wit or intelligence to tell the difference between a live TV current affairs programme and a Labour party meeting in glasgow where the kind of barking mad nonsense he spouted would be de rigueur.

    I'm slightly puzzled as to why people are pointing out the obvious logical flaws during Davidsons rantings. They are howlers and extremely telling to be sure, but that's hardly what anyone who watches that interview will take away from it.

    It's a bit like pointing out that Davidson had his shoelaces undone as he runs around screaming obscenities while snarling and spitting in the face of someone trying to ask what he's playing at.

    Sort of missing the bigger picture while giving his spurious attempts at reasoning more currency than they merit given what he did. He doesn't deserve to be taken seriously ever again after his meltdown, so why do so?

  3. We need to get smart here also. If we ourselves routinely use the term ‘cybernat’ as a mock identifier, among other things, then our usage will subvert the pejorative meaning(s) that unionists want to attach to the term. This is what many blacks in the US have done with the ‘n’ word, with the result that white racists’ use of the term has lost its effect. Before we can reclaim Scotland we need to reclaim the discourse of politics.

  4. In many ways 'Cybernat' has already lost its sting, because unionists have unwittingly undermined it by using it too broadly - it now means pretty much any nationalist on an online forum, which is scarcely an insult.

  5. You MUST have heard this!