Despite Bob Dylan winning his Nobel Prize – the best thing about which was Bob’s indifference/disdain for the whole shebang – pop lyrics are generally asinine. When they’re removed from their protective musical cloak things tend to get even worse.
There are still many gems – I always liked “you ain’t no punk, you punk” (The Cramps, Garbageman) – though rarely ones that involve a multimillionaire self-consciously ‘making a point’.
So here is Sir Mick Jagger (last good song, 1980), who has bestowed on us his lofty thoughts on Brexit:
‘Lock the shutters, bolt the doors, London’s gonna be like Singapore’.
Apparently that’s a reference to the ‘horrific’ thought of the UK becoming a tax haven after Brexit. Mick has obviously forgotten the 70’s.
His piercing insights on politicians are hard to beat too:
‘The world is upside down, led by lunatics and clowns. No one speaks the truth and the mad-house runs the town.’
The wind has rather gone out of the sails of the whole SNP schtick. Those heady days of 2014 (up to 18th September that year) seem like last century.
So it seems a bit harsh to continue to point out their failings. However, I’m up for it.
39.The upper chamber beckons…
Here’s a Twitter snapshot series:
Yup, the Daily Record has mysteriously floated the idea of unemployed Eck hitting the House of Lords – where The Knife has personally sipped at the finest subsidised booze in the kingdom – followed quickly by the Scotsman doing the same thing. Funny that. It’s almost as if Eck is regretting his rash promise about rocks and the sun (his usual), to which the True Believers of the SNP still cling. Don’t hold your breath. Eck’s perceptively brilliant finger-on-the-pulse style of leadership is sorely missed.
Why, she demanded to know, genuine frustration in her voice, wasn’t Labour praising her achievements? Cruelly, Kezia Dugdale’s group broke into sarcastic applause and cheering. The SNP leader was baffled by it all. You would be too if you got your news from The National and had rules against internal party dissent that make the Chinese Communist politburo look like a model of open debate.
….and Twitter remains invaluable:
…watch the development from the last tweet. Gerald Warner is always precise:
So, a few little local difficulties, then, for the poor man’s Angela Merkel. At least she still has the consolation of being the highest paid politician in Britain, which suggests that, among the political class, remuneration is in inverse proportion to ability.
Gordon Brown ruined his own party partly by taking the Scots for granted, and amusingly if predictably, the Nats are copying him. Corbyn is now going for them. Corbyn of all people – Mr Free Stuff versus the party of Free Stuff. And if you read wise owl @euanmccolm, they don’t know what to do about it.
44.The Fringe beckons…
Salmond promises to talk about his relationship with Trump at this year’s Fringe. Heavily redacted, no doubt
As I often point out, none of this is about a problem with Scotland as such. It’s all about a problem with the SNP – who for the most part are bullying, limited, rabble rousing, unimaginative power freaks. They almost never make a legitimate case for independence based on sovereignty, with all the risks honestly explained.
In case anyone is interested, here is the list of Remainers in Scotland who, and I quote: …call for a national debate on Brexit. We ask our fellow citizens, and our politicians, to think again. It is time to call a halt to Brexit.
They wrote to the Glasgow Herald, which is behind a paywall, on 18th July. The Herald excitedly dubbed them a “Who’s Who of Scotland’s intellectual elite”, and made it their front page.
Well, judge for yourself. I am personally unpersuaded.
(Spoiler alert: it is a very boring list, but there’s more stuff at the end if you scroll down)
Professor David Bell, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling; Andrew Bolger, former Scotland Correspondent, Financial Times; Professor Christina Boswell, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh; Professor Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde; The Rt Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC; Dr Chad Damro, University of Edinburgh; Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, University of Edinburgh; Christine De Luca, poet; Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland; Sir David Edward, Professor Emeritus Edinburgh University Law School and former ECJ Judge; John Edward, Former Head of European Parliament Office in Scotland/Former EU Policy Manager, Scotland Europa; Colin Imrie, European policy analyst; Maria Fletcher, Director of Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE); Lord Foulkes of Cumnock; Dr Peter Geoghegan, University of the West of Scotland; Gwilym Gibbons Creative Help Ltd; Dame Anne Glover, Vice Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen; Vanessa Glynn, Chair, European Movement in Scotland; David Gow, Editor, Sceptical Scot, Editor, Social Europe; Dr Eve Hepburn, Chief Executive, Fearless Femme CIC; David Hood, Director, Edinburgh Institute for Collaborative & Competitive Advantage; Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director, Scottish Centre on European Relations; Helen Hunter Education Officer (retired); Helen Kay M.A., M.Sc.; Stefan G Kay OBE; Patricia Kelly, retired teacher; Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG; Mark Lazarowicz, former Labour MP 2001 – 2015, Edinburgh North; Graham Leicester, International Futures Forum (in a personal capacity); Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, former Secretary of State Scotland and former High Commissioner to Australia; Dr John MacDonald, Director of the Scottish Global Forum and editor of CABLE magazine; Gordon Macintyre-Kemp, Author and chief executive, Business for Scotland; Dame Mariot Leslie; David Martin, MEP; Monica Martins, Managing Director, WomenBeing Project; Marilyne MacLaren, retired politician and educationalist; Rt Hon Henry McLeish, former First Minister; Maggie Mellon, former executive board, Women for Independence and social work consultant; Professor Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews; Isobel Murray, Professor Emeritus Modern Scottish Literature, Aberdeen University; Dr Kath Murray, Criminal Justice Researcher; Andrew Ormston, Director of Drew Wylie Projects; Alex Orr, Managing Director, Orbit Communications (in a personal capacity); Robert Palmer firstname.lastname@example.org; Ray Perman, author and journalist; Willis Pickard, former editor TES Scotland and Rector, Aberdeen University; Dr Janet Powney, consultant in education and evaluation research; Lesley Riddoch, journalist and broadcaster; Ian Ritchie, software entrepreneur; Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, former Secretary of State for Defence, former Secretary General, Nato; Bill Rodger, Treasurer, European Movement in Scotland; Anthony Salamone, Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser, Scottish Centre on European Relations; Prof. Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh; Anne Scott, Secretary, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Scottish Branch; Peter K. Sellar Advocate, Axiom Advocates Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh; Prof. Jo Shaw, University of Edinburgh; Dr Kirsteen Shields, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Dundee; Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO; Alyn Smith, MEP; Grahame Smith, General Secretary STUC; Professor Michael E. Smith, Professor of International Relations, University of Aberdeen; Prof Chris Smout, Historiographer Royal of Scotland and Emeritus Professor, University of St Andrews; Struan Stevenson, former MEP and European Movement in Scotland Vice-President; Bob Tait, philosopher and former Chair, Langstane Housing Association, Aberdeen; Lord Wallace of Tankerness, Liberal Democrat peer and former Deputy First Minister; Sir Graham Watson, former President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party), former MEP; Dr Geoffrey Whittam, Reader, Glasgow Caledonian University; Fay Young, Director of a digital media company, c/o 3 Fettes Row, Edinburgh.
That last one is especially poignant.
The must read piece on this self serving malarkey (as all these ridiculous multiple signature proclamations are) is from a genuine Great Scot, David Robertson, a Wee Free minister. He correctly points out that the authors’ views may not be entirely unconnected to their incomes, in some cases. Rigorously objective they are not. Read his whole piece, but here’s a telling excerpt:
Which brings me on to the state of the Scottish intelligentsia. This is the land of David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment. The land which produced missionaries like David Livingstone, politicians of the calibre of John Smith and medical innovators like Sir James Young Simpson. We are the land which created writers like Burns, Stevenson, Scott, Conan-Doyle and George MacDonald. We are the land of the radical Christianity of Knox, Chalmers and Mary Slessor. This is the land where a railway worker’s son like James Mackay can rise to become the highest legal official in the land. This is a land that even today produces composers like James MacMillan. Scotland has thrived because of its intellectuals. So how have we descended to the state where several of our leading intellectuals manage to produce a letter of such vacuity and banality, that if a student in college had produced it, they should have been failed?!
As he goes on to state:
This is what Scotlands metro-elites regard as intelligent debate nowadays – they talk to each other, tell themselves how important their conversation must be and so they continue in their wee circular world
That faintly nauseous feeling engendered by numerous politicians of various tribes, with the high points exemplified by the twin peaks of Blair and Obama in their hubristic primes. Yup, it’s got a name now, which I hadn’t quite twigged before.
It’s one of those bland words/phrases – think liberalism, neconservatism, social justice – which gets knocked about in the media and the political arena, often without people pausing to consider what it means.
Progressivism was imported from Europe and would result in a radical break from America’s heritage. In fact it is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution, in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society — built on a foundation of thousands of years of enlightened thinking and human experience — would be drastically altered and even abandoned for an ideological agenda broadly characterized as “historical progress.”
Progressivism is the idea of the inevitability of historical progress and the perfectibility of man — and his self-realization — through the national community or collective… progressivism’s emphasis on material egalitarianism and societal engineering, and its insistence on concentrated, centralized administrative rule, lead inescapably to varying degrees of autocratic governance.
Yup, we can all recognise that, whether we like it or not. I’m a ‘not’. It’s the opposite of true democracy, subsidiarity, respect for others, charitable endeavour etc. A surefire way of stifling altruism and enterprise, of crushing freedom of thought and speech. It’s neither specifically Left nor Right. It is a horrible amorphous blob of state control. It has ravaged the UK (especially Scotland), parts of Europe and is trying to take over the USA.
The author of the above is populist (and popular) Jewish intellectual, Mark Levin.
There is a lot of bullshit about when it comes to describing ideologies, political philosophy, the roles of the state and the individual, all that stuff – but I reckon the above description is a keeper. It always helps to know your enemy.
38. Things aren’t going too well over in Hyndland and Bute Square. If you’ve sampled any of the earlier blog posts on this topic, you’ll realise that I am neither a fan of the SNP, nor a believer that they will get their alleged goal of independence. I know it’s a minority view and possibly wrong, but even Nat knuckleheads are probably happier with the current happy state of perpetual whining whilst not having to worry about where the cash comes from, than actually having to govern responsibly.
That said, it must be bad when a True Believer like Kevin McKenna over at the Glasgow Herald has lost faith.
I would quote the whole article, but I can’t be fagged to pay them any money (paywall) or even sign up for a freebie. The first two paragraphs seem to suffice. A bitchy pop at Ruth Davidson, presumably followed by a discussion of ‘the cowed pygmies of the SNP’. A phrase that I could get used to:
THIS ought to have been a time of hope for the SNP government and those in the wider Scottish independence movement. Instead, where there ought to have been optimism and a renewed sense of purpose there is now doubt.Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, will continue to proclaim her leading role in sowing the seeds of uncertainty among the Yes movement but she is deluding herself if she seriously believes this to be the case. Her party’s success in securing 13 seats at the General Election has been built on fear and loathing of others.
There is a reason why she is desperate to avoid a second referendum on Scottish independence: her party, devoid of anything resembling a policy, has gorged itself on Scotland’s constitutional uncertainty. Once this has been settled one way or another she knows her party will retreat to the margins of Scottish public life.
Nationalist solidarity with the working classes ahoy!
Well, here we are again. Right after a huge and probably unnecessary exercise in democracy (AKA the general election), the mob are displeased and distorting the facts and the history. Fine, it’s the usual nonsense, and it happens elsewhere (see Russia). As is often the case, it takes a newsworthy tragedy such as the Grenfell Tower fire to act as a vehicle for the hate.
What mystifies me though, is the wilful verbal violence from the more privileged members of society. Take for example a multimillionaire expat novelist, who from humble beginnings now describes himself as upper, not even middle class. Could it be the walking cliche of Scottish lowlife shenanigans, Irvine Welsh? Why yes it could:
Why would you call a middle aged lady who has done you no harm, that? Is it acceptable/funny/appropriate? Could it even be, dare I say it, misogynist? I think it could. I know it’s one of Irvine’s favourite words, but even so.
Anyway, let us accept that he enjoys the attention (indeed, I am guilty of providing him with some), and his faux notoriety. What about the responses to his excitable tweet?
I’m afraid that it doesn’t get any better. Take for example, double-barrelled charmer, Hales Evans-Kanu. Hales’ Twitter bio suggests a fairly well to do settled situation: Passionate about Welsh football and music. Friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend, giggler, marketer, blogger
But, here she is:
Perhaps Irvine felt he’d gone too far. Some of his followers seemed to think so. Over to you Irvine:
I don’t want to be too critical. Feelings are running high after Corbyn’s defeat, and for those at the bottom of the ladder in terms of prosperity and social class, recent events could be both disappointing and even frightening. I get that. Perhaps that’s Irvine’s problem, or even Hales’ at a pinch. Let’s ask the Daily Telegraph:
My main residence is in Chicago. My wife, Elizabeth, and I bought it for about £1m six years ago and we’ve spent £250,000 doing it up. It’s probably worth £2m now. I also have a place in Miami and a nice flat in Edinburgh, plus a few rental properties.
So there you have it. You may disagree with me. I don’t think it’s harmless Twitter fun, just venting off a bit of anger etc. It’s really pieces in a jigsaw of societal division and hate which occasionally breaks out into violence. And it’s coming from the left. It always does. It’s not the poverty-affected left either. They are just the cannon fodder. The inciters will be just fine.
Happily, Twitter still has a valuable role. Here is the summary of the social media take on the Grenfell Tower tragedy, just in case you hadn’t yet worked it out for yourself:
…and the very next day, the awesome pen of Brendan O’Neill, on Facebook:
It’s nice to be right, and it’s been going on in this blog since last September. I mean the specific issue of SNP failure, rather than just well deserved SNP loathing. Most sentient observers could see it too, but much of the feeble media tended not to dwell on the now obvious trend**. The current SNP mob have now had it re independence and the whole Salmond/Sturgeon cult-of-personality-love-in, is a busted flush.
Wonderful. Given that the SNP demand unquestioning loyalty, it’s nice to see tweets like this morning’s:
Obviously it would have been even better if Pete Wishart and Stephen Gethins had lost their seats (stay tuned), but I’m fairly happy.
Scotland is a great country, and the SNP have done it no end of harm.
** this is a typical piece of wise-after-the-event. Honestly, guys
Those people who are openly dismayed that they see Trump ripping up the institutions and processes of sane stable government are wrong.
They’re also missing the point.
Trump often has the manner and superfical effect of a wrecking ball, but since 1997 in the UK and 2001 in the US, both countries have been decimated by the slow motion wrecking balls of New Labour, the Bush foreign adventures and the Obama Terror. Do I sound like some sort of right wing Trumpian monster? Possibly I do, but like many voters I am not ideological other than in the vague ‘less government in our lives would be better’ way. And like all voters there are specific issues that I would like to see dealt with. We can disagree on our wants and our priorities, but whatever they are, most voters want pragmatic government that works.
Why do I think Trump is not destroying the institutions of power? Well, it’s in the evidence so far. Charles Krauthammer’s take six weeks ago is pretty much spot on:
The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him? Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer.
Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant. Consider: The courts Trump rolls out not one but two immigration bans, and is stopped dead in his tracks by the courts. However you feel about the merits of the policy itself (in my view, execrable and useless but legal) or the merits of the constitutional reasoning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (embarrassingly weak, transparently political), the fact remains: The president proposed and the courts disposed. Trump’s pushback? A plaintive tweet or two complaining about the judges — that his own Supreme Court nominee denounced (if obliquely) as “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” The states Federalism lives. The first immigration challenge to Trump was brought by the attorneys general of two states (Washington and Minnesota) picking up on a trend begun during the Barack Obama years when state attorneys general banded together to kill his immigration overreach and the more egregious trespasses of his Environmental Protection Agency. And beyond working through the courts, state governors — Republicans, no less — have been exerting pressure on members of Congress to oppose a Republican president’s signature health-care reform. Institutional exigency still trumps party loyalty. Congress The Republican-controlled Congress (House and Senate) is putting up epic resistance to a Republican administration’s health-care reform. True, that’s because of ideological and tactical disagreements rather than any particular desire to hem in Trump. But it does demonstrate that Congress is no rubber stamp. And its independence extends beyond the perennially divisive health-care conundrums. Trump’s budget, for example, was instantly declared dead on arrival in Congress, as it almost invariably is regardless of which party is in power
Not that I necessarily agree with all these opposing moves, the point is that there is relatively little absolute power outwith national crises and wartime, and all presidents must exist within a system. That system is entirely intact. Of course, in those areas where Trump has shown real skill, he gets little credit from the establishment.
The real damage occurred with his predecessors. The same happened in the UK under Blair, it’s happening now in various parts of Europe courtesy of the EU. Australia and Canada come and go a bit, but it really has been a classical Gramsci/Dutschke ‘long march through the institutions’. There is no better example of the occasionally overt nature of this than the US Supreme Court wrangling – surely all judges should be politically neutral in their work? If only.
Trump and inevitably, Brexit, are the most prominent examples of pushback against this infiltrative game changing. That’s all. And despite the risks and occasional misdemeanours, I welcome both. Particularly when I consider the alternatives. The Trump presidency so far, like Brexit and the associated Remain sulking, has done nothing that changes my mind on this.
There is a good analogy. When I was a teenager back in the 70’s the British cultural and music scene was hardly vibrant. Superannuated hippies made dull long winded and overhyped LP’s, gigs were often tedious doped up snooze fests. Even one’s parents were comfortable with it all. Then came punk. Not just a musical phenomenon (though the best is still great), more of a kicking over the traces cultural paradigm shift that was in some ways absolutely tremendous. The country had a totally different mood. And the Establishment suffered acute Fear and Loathing in response. But there was no threat, no real damage, no real animosity. It was fun. By 1981 it was over, pretty much, as the appalling New Romantics took over, and we’ve never had it again. Four years max.
In fact, as I survey in middle age the current music scene (indeed, nearly everything since the mid 90’s) I shudder at the complacency and derivative boring rubbish that is out there. Punk was great.
And that’s how I see Trump (and Brexit). How I hate the proclamations of stultifying conventional career progressing professional political types, of whatever party. Boring earnestness usually goes with platitudes, sanctimony, virtue signalling and complete ineffectivenness. That applies to all parties – though some are worse than others. If you become an apostate then the humourless horde try to destroy you. Trump is an antidote, possibly only temporary, like the Punk Era, but welcome all the same. He doesn’t give a toss, he’s spontaneous, he often means well, he’s unconventional**, deeply flawed, funny and rides his luck. His enemies almost uniformly underrate, dismiss and fear him, in one confused bundle. Good for him.
One of the mission statements of this blog is from the late John von Kannon: “If I can’t have good government, give me entertaining government”.
And you only have to look at who’s against him (and Brexit), to get that little heartwarming glow.
**fascinatingly, the day after I wrote this, here is the highly experienced Robert Gates – former CIA and Defence Secretary, with bipartisan support – talking about Trump:
Broadly philosophically, I’m in agreement with his disruptive approach. So in government, I’m a strong believer in the need for reform of government agencies and departments. They have gotten fat and sloppy and they’re not user-friendly. They are inefficient. They cost too much. I also think on the foreign policy side that there is a need for disruption. We’ve had three administrations follow a pretty consistent policy toward North Korea, and it really hasn’t gotten us anywhere. So the notion of disrupting and putting the Chinese on notice that it’s no longer business as usual for the United States I think is a good thing. Now the question is, obviously, in the implementation of disruption. On the foreign policy side, there’s the risk of being too spontaneous and too disruptive where you end up doing more harm than damage. Figuring out that balance is where having strong people around you matters.
36 (in a continuing series): Hard facts from intelligent people
I am indebted to the legendary patriot @BrianSpanner1 for this absolute gem of brevity and hard fact, taken from a letter to the Scotsman last July, written by retired law professor Alistair Bonnington.
It introduces a refreshing real world analysis to the SNP’s fantasy role-playing as a proper government. It’s even more relevant now than when it was written. Magnificent.
Thanks to last Thursday’s local (council) elections, we have a new snapshot on the Scottish political state of play. Nobody usually cares much about these episodes, although they can be fairly consequential. These latest polls are getting attention – correctly – as a political barometer.
34. The ‘Yes cities’ are not actually Yes cities
We heard a lot of guff about Scotland’s two ‘Yes cities’ after the 2014 referendum, these being Glasgow and Dundee. There’s a faintly patronising edge to the interpretation of this, that they voted Yes for independence because of their economic struggles compared to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Maybe, but also maybe not. It’s one view, but not one that really favours the SNP’s independence cause – surely they would rather the punters were ideologically in favour of secession, not just after a bit more cash?
In any event, despite Economics Titan Alex Salmond boldly predicting an independent Scotland swimming in oil money, the bottom has still dropped out of that market, and decommissioning rigs is looking like the new mini-bonanza. Not a nation-building foundation, I would suggest. One doubts that the Scottish economy (flatlining at best) is going to turn Glasgow and Dundee around, and yet they still didn’t vote for majority SNP councils. In Dundee they actually lost their majority (see ‘decline’) and in Glasgow, despite more advance publicity than a Led Zeppelin comeback gig, they achieved the much desired peak of ‘no overall majority’.
I should add that both Glasgow and Dundee are perfectly nice places to live and should not be pawns in some weird Nationalist game. I’d rather live in either of them than most other places in Scotland.
35. Scottish people do not reflexively hate Tories, nor do they mysteriously love the EU***
…which are two of the Nats’ biggest claims. Who, even in France and Germany, loves the wretched EU?
Here’s the evidence, taken from the SNP’s own house rag, The Nat’onal:
Doing the sums, the Scottish electorate was 3,987,112, and 1,661,191 voted Remain but 1,018,322 voted to Leave. That’s 642,869 more people wanted to Remain. A big number, but not a massive difference in some ways. I wouldn’t take it as a proof of a deep and abiding love for the EU. More than a million voters still wanted to leave. Looked at another way, given the turnout, 41.7% of the electorate (so less than half) positively wanted to Remain, and 25.5% wanted to Leave. I’m not claiming it was terribly close, but simply correcting the frankly daft notion that all Scots are gutted by the thought of leaving the EU. Far from it, and with a turnout of 67.2%, it should be noted that a third of voters couldn’t be arsed to express a view. I suspect that this lot are not all secret Eurofanatics, however. The UK turnout was 72.2%, so the Scots were notably more apathetic than the rest of the UK. That refers to the situation last year. It looks like the EU is a lot less popular in Scotland now.
Anyway, the SNP and the rest of us were all agreed that the local election results would be harbingers of the imminent general election. Suddenly they seem less keen on that line. Why would that be?
*** shortly after I posted this blog, this outstanding piece by the highly erudite and well informed Tom Gallagher (@cultfree54 on Twitter), appeared on Policy Exchange. Recommended