Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If you're a nationalist and are considering assisting Labour Hame with one of their 'questions' in future, you need to read this...

If you haven't been following my recent exchange with the Labour Hame duty officer on Twitter, this might be a useful moment to recap.  The story begins on the 24th of July when the tartan-clad Website of the People posed the latest in its series of 'fiendishly difficult' questions for nationalists -

Should California secede from the Union, and are those Californians who wish to remain American guilty of being “anti-Californian”?

Several highly pertinent and well-argued responses from nationalists were swiftly received, for the most part noting that it is entirely a matter for the Californian people to decide, and that there are in any case a number of huge differences between California and Scotland (cultural, historical, constitutional) that render such a comparison meaningless. Curiously, though, on Sunday, the admin of Labour Hame claimed that the question was still - like all the others before it - 'UNANSWERED'. So I posed an obvious question of my own, both here and on Twitter, leading to a little exchange that has been going on for a couple of days...

Me : What would it actually take to get @LabourHame to acknowledge that one of their questions has been answered?

Labour Hame : How about when it's answered? Or is that too complicated for you?

Me : Not at all, that's grand. In that case, can you explain in what sense the seven answers I quoted were not in fact answers?

Labour Hame : Were any of them "yes" or "no"?

Me : Yes, my own was. As you'd know if you'd followed the link in the tweet you were replying to.

(I then once again directed him to a post that repeated my own answer to the question : "yes, if it wants to, but not if it doesn't" to the first part of the question, and "no" to the second part.)

Me : So I take it we can now formally certify that question as 'ANSWERED'? If not, what's your latest excuse?

Labour Hame : Sorry, that doesn't qualify. Either "yes" or "no" is acceptable - no qualifications. Try again.

(Unwittingly, this was a very helpful response, because for the first time ever he had set out his specifications for what constituted a valid answer. Those specifications may have been monumentally silly, but they were extremely easy to satisfy, and it would be impossible for him to pretend later on that he hadn't set them. Or so you'd think.)

Me : OK, I've tried again. See here...

(I then directed him to a fresh post stating that my answer to the first part of the question was 'no', on the grounds that the constitutional future of California was entirely a matter for the Californian people to decide, and that there was ample evidence that they have absolutely no interest in independence whatsoever - in stark contrast to the people of Scotland. My answer to the second part of the question remained 'no'.)

Me : So is the question 'ANSWERED' now?

Labour Hame : Okay, here's a clue: the correct answer is the same answer to "Should Scotland secede from the UK?" Try one more time.

Me : And I quote - "Either 'yes' or 'no' is acceptable". My answer was "no". Kindly explain why you've just contradicted yourself?

You won't be surprised to hear that my last question can I put this...UNANSWERED, in spite of the fact that there have been a couple of tweets from Labour Hame's duty officer on Twitter since I posted it. You can rest assured that I'll be pressing him on the matter if I hear nothing soon. Perhaps the answer is "Er..."?

Apart from the hilarity of this contradiction, the desperate switch from "either 'yes' or 'no' will do" to "there is only one 'correct' answer, and 'no' isn't it" marks the end point of a truly epic piece of circular logic. The initial answers from nationalists explaining why the comparison between Scotland and California didn't work were all irrelevant, because only a 'yes' or 'no' answer was required. But when a 'yes' or 'no' answer was forthcoming, that still wasn't valid, because Scotland and California are apparently identical entities, and if the answer is 'yes' for one, it must also be 'yes' for the other. OK, so perhaps you should have listened to the patient explanations that were so helpfully forthcoming about why Scotland and California are not, in fact, identical entities? Oh no, that'll never do, we just wanted a 'yes' or 'no' answer. And so it goes on into infinity.

I'd suggest this is a valuable lesson for any future question from the admin of Labour Hame - even if you answer it in precisely the way he claims he wants you to answer it, that still won't constitute an answer. And perhaps the next time we ask "why wasn't that an answer?", the response will be "because you're a nationalist, and I've just discovered a new law of physics that renders it impossible for nationalists to answer any question to my satisfaction".


  1. James, another interesting thing to note.

    You said 'no' to the first part: 'Should California secede from the Union...'

    Labourhame replied with: 'Okay, here's a clue: the correct answer is the same answer to "Should Scotland secede from the UK?" Try one more time.'

    This implies that your 'no' answer was wrong. Since the answer can only be binary - then the answer must be 'yes'. Does this mean that Labour now support Scotland leaving the British Union?

    Labourhame is populated by people who argue like children. The sad thing is, 'balanced' media reporting would mean that arguments like this, come referendum time, will get exactly the same air time as any well thought out argument, nomatter which side has presented it.

  2. Just who is *Admin*?

    And what school does he go to?

  3. DonMc expressed surprise on my blog that Labour Hame was allegedly written by an MP and an MSP. He was certain that it was the work of a 16 year old on a work placement.

    As this amusing saga drags on, I becoming more inclined towards his opinion.

    The assumption that the answer to every question posed on that blog is "yes" or "no" ties in neatly with that theory. Aren't standard grade questions largely multiple choice?

    I'm waiting for there to be a tantrum and a stomping off to the bedroom followed by the playing of Britney Spears at full volume.

  4. We've yet to learn the identity of the 'admin', though, Tris - it could be Kezia, it could be Harris, it could be both - or more probably it could be someone they've 'employed'. If the latter, I do hope they're paying that person the minimum wage.

  5. The style of the replies you have been getting. James, suggests to me that Harris is "admin".

    It's exactly what I read so many times on his blog. At least it's a style that shows some kind of wit.

    On the other hand, Harris did at least make a habit of publishing posts which expressed opinions contrary to his. At least I never had a post rejected.

    Dugdale, on the other hand, has never struck me as being in the least witty. Her writing is dull and flat. However, on the blog she ran in her own name (prior to her becoming too important to allow any contributions at all), she sent a good number of my posts straight to the trash can.

    So I agree, we cannot be certain who is "admin". My best guess is that it's a shared task.

    But maybe ....shock, horror... "admin" is a volunteer?