Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't these bleedin' Jocks have a sense of humour?

One of the great taboos on Have I Got News For You is audience interaction. It just doesn't happen - the audience are there to be heard (laughing and applauding) and not seen. So for this decades-long convention to be abruptly broken last night, there must have been some very special comic imperative at play, right? Well, yes. It was apparently utterly essential to conduct a straw poll to determine whether the London audience thought that the Scots (who everyone knew were watching, naturally, this being a 'national British programme' and everything) should "bugger off" or not. In case you're wondering, the overwhelming verdict was that we should, indeed, "bugger off".

Curiously, guest host Ray Winstone later made a joke about an anti-Pakistani comment by a politician, who he described as a "prat". The audience roared with laughter, congratulating themselves with no apparent trace of irony on their politically correct, tolerant sense of humour. This of course comes hot on the heels of the notorious recent Question Time incident, when an audience member suggested that "we should dump our nuclear waste in Scotland and then give them independence", prompting hysterical giggles from the programme's English host, English panel and the rest of the English audience. Clearly this sparkling (and immaculately non-racist) Jock-bashing wit is not restricted to actual comedy programmes on our "national British" television networks.

So what actually lies behind all this thinly-disguised loathing and rage? It seems to be a confusing mixture of a belief in the London media's fantasy that Scotland is "subsidised by hard-working English taxpayers", and anger at the fact that Scotland is inexplicably considering walking away from all those (ahem) "subsidies". You'd think the latter point would provoke delight and relief, but no, instead the message is something along the lines of "yeah, bugger off back to us with your tail between your legs, so we can subsidise you some more and hate you for it". Alternatively, the muddled thinking may possibly indicate that on some unconscious level they do in fact suspect that the Scots probably aren't getting the better end of the deal.

And before we hear the predictable squeals of "don't these bleedin' Jocks have a sense of humour", let me make a constructive suggestion. How about a comedy programme shown throughout the UK, with an all-Scottish panel, in which the Scottish host asks the all-Scottish audience - "If the English ask for the nukes after independence, who thinks we should just tell them to bugger off? Who thinks we should do the world a favour by holding onto Trident, disarming unilaterally and not offering a penny in compensation to the London Treasury? Sounds fair to me, yeah guys?"

Let's see if all that can happen without acres of column-inches being devoted by the London media to a solemn discussion of the dark tide of anti-Englishness in Scotland - and, naturally, its all-important relationship to Braveheart.


  1. Great post, strikes right to the heart of the matter.
    I don't need to add any comment.

  2. I was forewarned that I wouldn't like what I saw. So I watched the ilayer version last night prepared to be angry.

    I just saw a load of silly people being a bit racist, and a very old man with an accent I couldn't understand trying desperately to be funny, and failing. What on earth was he doing on that show?

    The programme's raison d'etre used to be being clever and funny; it has for some times been reduced to being a bit snidey, but I laugh along happily when they take the p out of the Tories and labour and even that other lot that are about to become extinct.

    I lived in England for a while at uni, and had racism every day, so the attitude to us from the audience last night didn't surprise me.

    Incidentally, at university in France I was the target of no racism whatsoever.

    London is fed this crap by Boris Johnson and the English press. Why would they not think that we are a bunch of scroungers, heavily subsidised by the London. The fact that London is heavily subsidised by Scotland wouldn't cross their minds, true though it might be.

    I imagine if this episode has done anything at all, it has worked in our favour.

  3. Thank you so much for this article - it articulates exactly my feelings on the subject in a way I struggle to put down in words. When I heard 'they' and 'them' that was it! Of course, that is going on every day, this was just the must blatant example yet - and delivered in a cockney accent for added effect!

  4. I agree with this so heartily.

    I'm proud to be a self-deprecating Scot, and am extremely happy to make silly jokes about the Scots. That's not what was happening on HIGNFY: it was deliberate patronising and marginalisation. If there was a Scot on the panel, would they have made this joke? No, of course they wouldn't.

    Your final paragraph shows exactly what was wrong with HIGNFY, and what has been wrong with it for quite some time.