Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's post-truth, it's cultish...yup, it's Massie

Scotland, eh?  The SNP.  Nicola Sturgeon.  Cybernats.  Jock-speak.  Streuth.  I mean...crikey.  Now, don't get me wrong, it's totally normal that all of these things exist.  Understandable.  Utterly reasonable.  Natural, even.  But all the same.  The Nats.  Salmond.  Mhairi Black's accent.  Jesus.  No wait, don't misunderstand me here.  We've got no right to complain about any of these things, which are all exactly as you'd expect them to be.  They're appropriate.  Fitting.  Apt.  But still.  Ian Hudghton.  Chris Law and that fire truck.  Flippin' heck.

Yes, I'd say that pretty much sums up every Alex Massie blogpost about Scotland for the last three years, and the latest one is no exception. The only difference this time is that the "but all the same" interludes take us even deeper into the realms of the fantastical than usual. First of all, Massie makes a truly mind-boggling implication about the short Jackie Kay poem that is included in each of the new baby boxes...

"I ask you to consider the reaction if the poet laureate agreed to write a poem celebrating – and therefore supporting – a new government policy (‘Ode to the Bedroom Tax‘ perhaps?)."

It's at moments like this you find yourself questioning your own sanity, but I have to report that having re-read the poem several times, I've completely failed to detect even the slightest hint that it 'celebrates' or 'supports' any government policy whatsoever. To my eyes, which admittedly are considerably less tutored than Mr Massie's eyes, every single line of the poem seems to be going on and on and on about how absolutely bloody marvellous some unspecified newborn baby is. He/she is extremely wise (seems improbable at that age, but who knows), has really bright eyes, a trustworthy hand, and a circular head (impressive). At no point are we invited to forget about babies, kneel in homage to the Dear Leader and chant "Material Change In Circumstances" forty-three times. Oh, and the poem is called Welcome Wee One, not The Box of Delights.

For his next trick, Massie attempts to brand Scotland a one-party state while gloating about the SNP only being a minority government, all in the space of one sentence. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't really pull it off, but you've got to admire his ambition.

"It is a reminder, if any were needed, that while talk of Scotland as a one-party state is overblown – the SNP is after all a minority government – Scotland is a country dominated by just one party. That has consequences, not the least of which is a realisation – commercial as well as political – that crossing the SNP may be unwise."

In other words Scotland isn't a one-party state but it really really is.

"a reminder that while much of the alt-Nat community thinks the mainstream press an irrelevance, sensible people know a little better"

Translation of 'alt-Nat' : exclusion from the mainstream media somehow makes left-wing Scottish civic nationalism a bit like the far-right groups that helped Trump into power. This makes perfect sense in spite of the fact that Massie himself is ideologically slightly closer to Trump than SNP supporters are.

"So just as there are idiots who think the BBC weather map a conspiracy to make Scotland seem awful small..."

Conspiracy or not, the undeniable point is that the BBC weather map does make Scotland look considerably smaller in relation to the rest of the UK than it actually is, and it's very hard to understand why right-wing Scots like Massie seem to glory in that fact. They could reasonably call it trivial, but why do they seem to think it's actually desirable? My own guess is that the map came about as the result of an unconscious bias - after all, if you were looking at the UK as if from space, it would be perfectly possible to centre the gaze on the heart of the country, with both the northern and southern extremes looking smaller than the area around Manchester. But no, it clearly just 'felt' more natural to centre the gaze on the far south, and to make Scotland look distant and tiny. That it might not have been a deliberate slight doesn't mean that it isn't extremely revealing.

"...so there are Unionists who think the use of the Scots vernacular – and the pretence the phonetic rendition of a Scots accent makes a language – the thin edge of the nationalist wedge"

For the love of God, someone buy the man a book. There may still be a lively debate over whether Scots is a dialect of English or a fully-fledged language in its own right, but the idea that it's no more than the phonetic rendering of an "accent" is such a preposterous post-truth claim that it might make even Trump himself blush.

Mind you, perhaps we've just solved the mystery of what government "policy" Massie thinks Jackie Kay's poem - written in Scots - was "celebrating".

36 comments:

  1. The Tory unionists see London rule as their only protection from a country which pursues equality and democracy,a threat to their cosy little world of elitism and privilege.
    The baby boxes represent a clear and present danger to their view of a feudalistic state based on patronage and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a small group of people.
    They belong to an era long since gone in the developed world but being brought back to life by England's Brexiteers.
    Arise Baron Massie.

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    1. Democracy? That'll be why the SNP are pushing so hard to create a revisionary chamber and elections that don't convert unionist popular vote victories into sep majorities.

      Equality - that'll be why the SNP are radically reshaping Scotland's tax system, redistributing wealth from the 1% to the 99%.

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  2. Massie is a tory piece of shit. End of story.

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  3. The most incredible thing about Massie is that he's been paid to write the same blog post for years.

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    1. It's less surprising when you remember that he got his job because of his father, who was once a moderately big name.

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  4. Yup, Massie's column is some type of embarrassing self help therapy for him alone. Twisting, contorting and cringing.

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  5. My dad got a book of poetry in Scots (W D Cocker) from 1940s (I think) for xmas and as he read some of it out my comment was "Jeez, they've done a great job of anglicizing us". Absolutely no question it is (or was) a distinct language. This was the language my father's grandparents spoke.
    Great blog James.

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  6. Its a unionist staple. Everything Scottish must be belittled - to object to the belittling is to be portrayed as small minded and parochial - to agree with the belittling is to be portrayed as the very epitome of reason.

    I really struggle to understand how those who claim to be proud of being Scots can happily glory in demeaning it. "I'm a proud Scot but ... etc"

    "Me Bungo Pony"

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 12:04 PM

      It makes ye proud tae see foodbanks that could easily be erradadicated by a small tax rise. And the increasing begging on our streets since the Nat sis took power makes yer fn proud. The freeze in council tax and service cuts makes yer proud. Welll done fash ye have made us all proud tae be Jocks. Call a referendum now as we are so proud you will win with a landslide.

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    2. I'm reluctant to reply to you "Kreacher". I'm loath to give you the satisfaction. Never-the-less ...

      Predictably, your reply doesn't address the point I was making. Instead you wander off into your usual abusive nonsense. Food banks and poverty are a direct result of UK govt policy. The economy is wholly reserved to Westminster and, until recently, revenue and welfare were also wholly reserved to Westminster. The blame lies there not at Holyrood.

      Even now, only 1 meaningful tax raising power has been partially transferred to Holyrood and welfare is still overwhelmingly a Westminster preserve.

      What you are proposing is that Scots should have to stump up £bns to protect the vulnerable in our society from UK policies. A de facto " Scottish defence budget". I have to assume you believe that a price worth paying to remain under Westminster control. A price that would not be necessary with independence.

      The problem with your "small tax rise" argument is that it wouldn't pay for everything unionists say needs money spent on it. Would it be used for child care, education, the NHS, the economy, local govt or welfare? To pay for all of those things the unionists are forever telling us they would use income tax to address will take a huge rise. A change to the upper rate won't get anywhere near it. Average and low earners would have to bare the brunt of it.

      Or we could vote for independence, get full control of revenue and the economy, and spread the costs of any increased spending across the whole of society with the myriad of options open to a sovereign, independent country.

      Try a reasoned response this time if you feel the need to reply.

      "Me Bungo Pony"

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  7. The new BBC weather map is what made me a nationalist. When was it introduced, 2002 or thereabouts? About the same time they abolished isobars. In independent Scotland we should reintroduce isobars as well as a proper sense of proportion.

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    1. 2005. Remember lovely Vanessa explaining how the new weather was more accurate and the animated rain but not showing clouds was what we all needed.

      The bbbbc does have form when it comes to political weather.
      Remember during the hoof in mouth fiasco they banned the outdoor forecast on radio. Done in order to discourage people from going outdoors, and done in spite of a government campaign that Scotland wasn't shut. It is the only accurate weather on the bbbbbbbc and they shut it down to placate english and yoon landowners.

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  8. There isn't room for lively debate over whether Scots is a language or a dialect. It is a language with a considerable body of literature and several distinct dialects of its own.

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  9. Graeme Purves is right, Scots is a distinct language passing all reasonable definitions of one. Paul Kavanagh has written a number of blog posts on the subject, supported by academic references.

    However, thanks for reading and reviewing Massie's drivel so we don't have to.

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  10. Scots writing. It's been around for centuries. For anybody wanting to know more ...

    An Introduction to Modern Scots

    http://www.scots-online.org/grammar/wal.asp

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  11. I gather from talking to some folk from Norn Ireland that Ulster Scots (a dialect of Scots?) is actually supported by a lot of Unionists (those of British identity) there, yet I'd imagine those in Scotland whose culture, identity, and history is seen through Ulster glasses are actually opposed to Scots in Scotland. Happy to be corrected on this though.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 1:47 PM

      Actually the promotion of Ulster Scots and Irish Gaelic is just to appease the factions and is very expensive. The money would be better spent on public services.

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  12. I've no time for vacuous, spoiled rich boys like Massie, but for the Makar to write a poem for inclusion in the baby boxes undeniably constitutes an endorsement of that policy.

    I'm less sure that this is such a terrible thing, or that there would be a "reaction" if the Poet Laureate (appointed by the Prime Minister) were to do something similar.

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  13. Oh God. He's really got his finger on the pulse, using "alt" something. Wow, impressive innovative thinker.

    And I see Nadine's on the bottle again. These britnatsis - what are they like?

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  14. Massie takes the thirty pieces of britnat silver. Typical britnat Scot with London-centric fixations. Money money money, me me me.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      Your Nat si MP'S are coining it in big style while contributing f all.

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    2. Evidence? Links?

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  15. Your comedic skill is underused James.

    Excellent post....

    I really enjoyed that..

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  16. I have an 820 page dictionary of Scots -
    it's title is "The CONCISE Scots Dictionary".

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  17. Thank you James. As of yesterday, that was the first Massie article I'd read in a while, and it stuck in my craw for all the same old reasons. The guy's obviously highly intelligent, but when it comes to Scotland, the Scots, the SNP and the independence campaign, Massie and his fellow travellers in the "thoughtful" unionist commentariat coterie are utterly addicted to misrepresentation. Let's at least hope that the frequency with which Massie has written about how "expected" and "appropriate" and all those other things the current political situation here in Scotland is, has finally started to rub off on his thinking. Certainly he did push that angle a lot harder than usual in this one. I smell cognitive dissonance.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 7:08 PM

      Scots are not fellow travellers just Scots who do not agree with Nat si ism and support the Union. Your comment seems to suggest Scottish Unionists are traitors.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      "Whit a bunch of pessimist moaners you Jocks are."

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    3. Glasgow Working Class 2January 15, 2017 at 8:14 PM

      Nat si impersonators are back. Not much to say ya fash numpties. Get it right up ye!

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    4. "Waah! Waah! I can dish it out but can't take a slagging in return!

      Waaaaaaahhhh!"

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    5. Glasgow Working Class 2January 16, 2017 at 11:38 AM

      Go fur the refer en dumb ya bunch a shitebags. Dae it this year before it is tae late.

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    6. "Waah! Waah! I can dish it out but can't take a slagging in return! And my accent is wholly unconvincing!

      Waaaaaaahhhh!"

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    7. Glasgow Working Class 2January 17, 2017 at 10:51 PM

      Shitebags announce the referendum date! Go fur it ya bawbags. This year go fur it Nat zis. Makes ye sick listening tae Nat si cowards backtracking on all their years of verbal shite.

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    8. Oh dear!

      "Me Bungo Pony"

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  18. It seems to me that there are two quite distinct language types that are referred to as "Scots", one is Doric and Shetland dialect etc and the other is working class English. Both are equally valid but saying the latter isnae English leaves the gate open for criticism of the claim that Scots isnt English as a whole.

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    1. Id also like to add that its a pity that the politics of the man are assumed to be a necessary part of the doubt over it not being English. Its perfectly possible to disagree with him on everything else he writes and yet come to the conclusion that Scots means Scottish English from at the furthest end of its diversion back to the mid range, ie Glaswegian and Doric but not posh Scottish English. Its possible to be pro Scottish independence and anti Trident and think that English is the language heard down the pub in Govan or Dundee and going by the last census, many people must have assumed this who may not have agreed with Mr Massie on much else.

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