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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Notes on a non-scandal

In the latest scare story about Scotland's currency that has been concocted by the No campaign (and of course in this respect the UK Treasury is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the No campaign), there's one particular bit that leaves me in gales of laughter. It's the apparent belief that Scots will somehow be 'scared' into voting No by London's threat to take away our banknotes. For starters, as the SNP have pointed out, no-one with an ounce of sense is going to take the threat seriously - if it's feasible for Scotland to have its own banknotes as part of the UK, it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that it suddenly wouldn't be feasible as an independent country. But on a more fundamental level, even if it was true that our banknotes are under threat, who exactly is going to be deterred from voting Yes for that specific reason? Here's how different sections of the electorate are likely to react -

Group 1 - People who actually care about Scottish 'national prestige' and distinctiveness. These people would almost certainly see the demise of the banknotes as regrettable. But by definition they will also care about the far more meaningful trappings of statehood that would come with independence, and will regard them as infinitely more important than the trivial issue of banknotes. Who in their right mind among this group will think that the design of banknotes is more important than whether Scotland has its own representation at the EU and UN?

Group 2 - People who don't give a monkey's about Scottish 'national prestige' and distinctiveness. These people will only be persuaded to vote for independence if they believe that it will improve their lives and the lives of their families, and make the world around them a better and safer place. Who in their right mind among this group will think that the design of banknotes is more important than the question of whether we should get inhuman weapons of mass destruction off our shores, or whether we should put an end to London's monstrous welfare "reforms"?

Group 3 - There isn't a third group.

* * *

What terribly sad news about Brian Adam - arguably the most genuinely likeable guy in the whole parliament.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Now that the daffodils are back, it's time to vote for a blog that is fighting for the things that really matter

My fellow citizens, these are uniquely dangerous times that we live in.

Lord Fraser wants to call in the RAF to bomb Glasgow Airport. The Treasury wants to rip out the soul of this nation by taking away our banknotes. Richard Baker still wants to be a government minister.

These are just three of the unpredictable and growing menaces that threaten our survival.

As the great lady once said, this is no time to go wobbly.

Scotland MUST retain its independent blogging deterrent.

Conventional forces such as Better Nation and A Burdz Eye View are all very well, but what this country really needs is a blogging weapons system that can annihilate whole cities with its mind-numbingly detailed coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

If so...

Vote liberty.

Vote oxygen.

Vote for a blog that is tough on Tavish, and tough on the causes of Tavish.

Vote Scot Goes Pop in the WoS favourite blog poll.

Thankyou. May God bless you, and may God bless the United Yetts o' Muckhart.

(DISCLAIMER: Just like Trident, voting for this deterrent is no guarantee that it will actually work. On the plus side, this one won't cost you £25 billion.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Poll : Which Presiding Officer has been best?

Bit of a random one, this, but I've been thinking about how the reputation of Commons Speakers at Westminster has so rarely matched up to my own assessment. For example, Betty Boothroyd was treated by all sides with something approaching adulation, but I thought she was a fairly poor Speaker in a lot of ways. She had a very "macho" attitude (odd for the first woman to hold the position), and on one occasion reacted to an attempt to shout down Simon Hughes with the words "oh spit it out, man, there isn't going to be quiet". Her rulings were hopelessly inconsistent, and often seemed to be based more on what mood she was in than on the parliamentary rulebook. And that's before we even come on to her meltdown during Michael Mates' resignation statement.

So that's the (very roundabout) inspiration for today's poll. Holyrood has now had four Presiding Officers - which do you think has been the best? The voting form can be found at the top of the sidebar.

UPDATE : Apologies, but I've had to abandon the poll. There was some kind of technical fault - to begin with votes weren't being recorded at all, and then once they were recorded they started disappearing again! For what it's worth, George Reid appeared to be the most popular Presiding Officer, with Lord "just call me Sir David" Steel firmly in bottom place.