Thursday, May 1, 2014

"It's not you, it's me"

Last week's post 'The Mad, Mad World of Rory Stewart' was originally going to have the words 'and Benedict Brogan' tacked on to its title, but I realised there was probably only so much lunacy I could take in one sitting. You might remember that the Telegraph man caused a flurry of excitement a few weeks back by claiming that the consensus view in Westminster was that David Cameron would have to resign as Prime Minister if Scotland votes for independence in September. I had a read through some of the relevant articles to see if I could understand the reasons for that, but I didn't really make much progress, not least because the version of the facts that Brogan built his 'logic' upon was so utterly alien from anything that we would recognise as being true. In desperation, I even listened to Brogan being interviewed at length by Iain Dale on LBC - an intensely painful experience that was the rough equivalent of trying to learn about the subtleties of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by watching Sarah Palin being interviewed on Fox News. But I did eventually start to get to grips with the Gospel according to Benedict. It seems Scotland has reached the brink of independence for just three reasons -

1) In the 1980s, the Scottish Labour party under Gordon Brown (apparently the greater seniority of John Smith and Donald Dewar was a figment of our imagination) opportunistically whipped up anti-Tory and "nationalist" sentiment. Please note that there was no question of the Thatcherites having blundered with their quasi-colonial approach to ruling Scotland, or with their introduction of policies that were repugnant to the Scottish population. There was also no question of us Scots having spontaneously reached our own verdict on whether Thatcherism was consistent with our values or not. No, the whole thing was a Gordon Brown plot, and if Labour had only acted "responsibly" we'd have all remained much more docile, just as nature intended. Brown's recent intervention on behalf of Better Together should therefore be seen as a conscious attempt to "atone" for his sins.

2) Many southern Tories are no longer really unionists, because they have become too obsessed with Euroscepticism. And please note that the only conceivable way in which a Tory can ever be a problem for the No campaign is through not having a sufficiently cultish devotion to the Union. This became clear when Dale invited Brogan to explain his curious idea that David Cameron could somehow be an asset for Better Together if he were to set up base in Glasgow for a few weeks. You might have expected that Brogan was going to tell us that Cameron could project a liberal and tolerant impression of Toryism that was more in tune with Scottish values, or that he was the man to offer constitutional reforms within the UK that would accommodate Scotland's desire to substantially govern itself. But no - all Brogan had in mind was that "you have to remember that Cameron has always been a very strong unionist, in contrast to some of his colleagues". Well that's a relief, because if there's one thing Scotland absolutely LOATHES about the Tories, it's their failure to bang on about the bloody Union all the time.

3) David Cameron decided to hold an independence referendum to call Alex Salmond's "bluff". Yes, really. If you thought that the Scottish Government legislated for the referendum after putting it in their manifesto and then receiving an overwhelming electoral mandate, you were very much mistaken. Nope, it was all Dave's idea - and that's why he'll have to go if his "masterplan" backfires. Just to emphasise this point, the first caller to Iain Dale's phone-in after the interview said that he didn't necessarily disagree with "Cameron's idea" of holding a referendum on Scottish independence, but that if he was going to do it he should have given everyone in the UK a vote. The mind boggles.

If you're spotting an overarching theme here, it's probably a denial of Scottish agency at every stage of the process. The possibility that the independence movement may be a spontaneous and rational reaction to the failings of the Westminster political class isn't even up for discussion. We didn't decide for ourselves that we despised Thatcherism, we were brainwashed into thinking that by Labour. Our elected government didn't decide to hold a referendum and then run a good campaign, it was just a cock-up by our betters in London. And although mistakes by the Westminster political class have got us to where we are (it couldn't possibly have been anything else, after all, because Westminster is God and is the determinant of everything that happens), those mistakes were strictly confined to the very narrow domain of typical Home County Tory preoccupations, such as Euroscepticism.

As attempts by London journalists to rationalise the referendum go, this one is very much of the "it's not you, it's me" variety. Apparently a Yes vote would trigger Cameron's resignation because it would be a "vote of no confidence" in him. Well, such straightforward cause-and-effect would certainly be a novelty. Has no-one in the unionist London press noticed that we've given the Tories a resounding vote of no confidence in every single general election since 1959, but have had little to show for our efforts? That is kind of the issue here.

* * *

Our old friend Ian Smart appeared on Newsnight Scotland last night (again). Can someone explain to me why he was allowed to get away with the conscious and cynical lie that Labour for Independence "turned out to be" a front organisation comprised of SNP councillors pretending to be Labour? I don't blame Andrew Tickell for not jumping in at that point, because he was there largely to offer his legal analysis rather than indulge in partisan knockabout on behalf of the Yes campaign. But it really is incumbent on the presenter to instantly correct malicious falsehoods that are intended to lead voters astray.

Earlier in the programme, there had been a rather indulgent package about "No Borders", a hitherto unheard of organisation that appears to be the anti-independence campaign's answer to National Collective. After Better Together's sneering comments about National Collective in the Herald the other day, I can only salute the Yes campaign's restraint in not suggesting that No Borders' plans to "reconstruct Flodden through the medium of dance" are unlikely to win many votes for the union.


  1. Enjoyed your Palin metaphor James. For myself those moments of extreme cognitive dissonance are best exemplified by hearing one of Clegg's spinners attempting to bang on about social justice and poverty now that the lib dems are no better than yellow tories.

    Those trying to attribute laughable plots to Brown seem to have forgotten that if he was any good at plotting Blair wouldn't have been able to fend him off for so long as he sulked in the treasury.

    You can also see the incredible ignorance and arrogance of tories on the bigoted and racist site politicalbetting. Where the same imbecilic arguments are used time and again and apparently the biggest mistake was "allowing" the scottish public to have an independence referendum. As if there was any question whatsoever of Cameron being able to stop the democratic choice of the scottish public. They really are that out of touch and trapped in westmisnter bubble thinking which helps explain why such idiocy gets aired so frequently in the tory friendly press.

    Speaking of PoliticalBetting I am still being prevented from posting on there so if TheUnionDivvie or anyone else could speak out on PB for me it would be appreciated. It's the principle of letting such a cowardly tactic go without notice. It certainly looks like it is being used to secretly ban those who don't agree with the sites moderators and Smithson. Something I'm sure you'll understand from your experience of PB James.

  2. James, Be kind to Ian Smart - just think how much fun we are all going to have reminding him of his 'no complacency' tweets on the 19th of Sept :-)

  3. Mick, fwiw I've posted on PB about your problem. I suspect they'll sling me a deafie, but you never know.

    James, I suspect you've identified part of the major psychological trauma Unionism & Westminster are going through currently. They realise increasingly that they've lost control of events, that anything could happen, and they have to construct alternative narratives to create a (piss poor) illusion of authority. Of course the likes of Ian Smart are still holding to the 'steady as she goes, nothing to worry about' line; how much they actually believe that is another question.

  4. Mick, they did get back to me! See below:

    'It would appear Mick has been caught by the spam trap in the same way that Richard Tyndall and others have been, where it looks like your comments aren't appearing, then you retry and vanilla/askimet (the spam catcher) marks you down as a spammer for posting the same comment more than a couple of times in a short space of time.

    If this happens to anyone, send a message to PBModerator via the vanilla messaging system and we will rectify it.

    It can take anywhere from 5 mins to a few hours for vanilla to update itself once we've rectified it.'

  5. You seen this James ,what do you reckon?

  6. oops wrong one D'oh

  7. Smart does seem to be a particularly inept spinner as it only take two minutes for that particular lie to be uncovered for the nonsense it is. Though of course it's two minutes too long for the researchers at Newsnight to ever bother to do.

    Off-Topic - Thank you kindly Theuniondivvie. I'm still blocked/banned so we'll see when they decide to lift it.

    As I'm sure you and James have already realised the "spam" excuse is complete and utter bullshit. I know perfectly well how to post as does Richard Tyndall and the fact that this msytery 'glitch' isn't affecting anyone else says it all. The pitiful "5 minutes to a few hours" just makes the lie all the more laughable. As if it was a comment system (with a clear set or checkboxes in place to set for who can post) that was behaving like a petulant child and not PB's inept tory moderators.

    Those tory moderators like TSE really are an embarrassment. Now they are allowing the PB Tories to post on Murdoch and Salmond when we know for a fact that should I or anyone else post on Murdoch and Cameron then that would be instantly deleted and a ban put in place.

    Apologies again to James for bringing PB up. At least Theuniondivvie was able to stick the knife in to Smithson and the incompetent tory moderators by mentioning "on a site I'm not allowed to link to". Pretty damn obvious where the bigotry is in not allowing links to James scottish bog, isn't it?

    The uniondivvie laughing at hysterical PB tories for being impotent is also bearing fruit with the shrieking reaching truly earsplitting levels whenever he points that out.