Sometimes I think everyone’s lost their minds.
This has been building up for a while now.
Looking at the official results of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and Ballot Box Scotland’s quick mockup of the recent Ashcroft Poll is illuminating in some ways. Obviously, the place the work needs done is “Scotland.” But let’s have a wee bit of fun.
He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.
– The Lord of the Rings, Book I, Chapter V, “The White Rider”
A while back I speculated that the EU Referendum was being used as a proxy war between two different factions within The Establishment.
On one side, you had the Nativists: these are people who have – or at least believe they have – genuine pride and concern for the United Kingdom, a belief in their nation, and a willingness to put party-politics aside for what they perceive as the greater good. Despite their selfishness & arrogance, for whatever reason, they really do care about the UK’s international reputation, its territorial integrity, and its wealth. This is exemplified by the likes of David Cameron, Theresa May, John Major, and other pro-EU figures in the UK Government Party.
On the other side, you had the Conmen. These people might talk a big talk about the United Kingdom and Great Britain, or even let the mask slip & talk about England – but in truth, it’s all lip service to their voting base. They don’t care about the UK, its people, its borders, or even its wealth, even in a nominal sense: all they care about is themselves and their own coffers. This is clear to see in the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage, and all the other squillionaires who look set to make themselves even more rich in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
So what does this mean for Scottish Independence? I have a bold theory.
See when people say this, this is what they sound like to me:
Now, the difference between country music artist Kellie Pickler and anyone who seriously suggests that an independent Scotland would be “replacing” London with Brussels is that Ms Pickler is at least genuine in her ignorance. She freely admitted it, acknowledging that it might be “stupid,” and so there’s an honesty about it. She isn’t pretending that she knows what she’s talking about. She isn’t trying to fool people with sophistry. She isn’t someone trying to score political points by completely misrepresenting the relationships between Scotland, the UK, and the EU. In fact, in knowing she may be wrong, Ms Pickler is displaying greater wisdom & self-awareness than any of the idiots pictured above.
But then, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that people who talk about the United Kingdom as “the country” would somehow pretend that the EU is a country too. Otherwise we wouldn’t have them presenting such utter mince as the idea of Scotland being a country within a country within a country. What is going on here? Are Scotland, the UK, and the EU all countries, or only some of them? Did the UK stop being a country when it joined the EEC, or just when it changed from the EEC to the EU? If Europe is a country, but the UK will only be a “sovereign independent coastal state” after it leaves, does that mean every other country from Germany to Malta isn’t independent at all? That’s the point: it’s designed to be mince. It’s stupid, meandering, meaningless guff that sounds like it makes sense until you realise that if you’re presenting the idea of the EU as a “country” and that Scotland is only a “region” of the UK, then do you believe the UK isn’t a country?
And look what’s happened: the fools have me actually arguing with them about a stupid, idiotic notion that doesn’t even bear scrutiny after the slightest poking. It’s like a real palaeontologist wasting time on Brian J. Ford’s witterings, or anyone arguing with proven discredited scientific frauds as if they were somehow not proven to be discredited scientific frauds. As Mark Twain said: “never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
So you know what? I’m going to have to use the Socratic approach. If faced with a statement or argument so mind-bendingly stupid I cannot actually argue with it… then I won’t. After all, some things cannot be argued for the simple reason that they are not reasonable, serious, or legitimate arguments in the first place. There’s a reason we have logical and argumentative fallacies: if we’re to have a genuine debate, then how can we possibly expect to learn anything at all?
The SNP just want to exchange London rule with Brussels rule!
Well, I can’t argue with that – because the UK and the EU are two different things.
An independent Scotland would have a billion-pound-black hole!
Well, I can’t argue with that either – because an independent Scotland’s finances would be different from the UK by the very fact of its independence.
The Scottish Independence Movement is just an excuse for anti-Englishness!
Would you look at that, I can’t argue with that one either – because it just doesn’t make sense for thousands and thousands of English Scots to support a movement that doesn’t like them.
Why would Scotland give up its biggest trading partner?
By Jove, I can’t argue with that at all – because right now Scotland is part of the UK Internal Market, & has no control over international trade, so you cannot call the rUK it’s “partner,” ergo, how can it “give up” a “trading partner” it does not actually have?
Why would an independent Scotland take back all the powers from the EU just to hand them back?
What an amazing thing, I can’t argue with that in the slightest – because you seem to be arguing that an independent Scotland not only would see no change in its relationship with the EU (which is impossible given the very nature of independence), but that wouldn’t get any of the powers currently controlled by the UK, as well as much more confidence that the UK will let Scotland keep those powers against all evidence to the contrary.
I’m sure there are reasonable, decent, genuine arguments in the Scottish-UK-EU conundrum, but pretending that Brussels has been the capital of the UK for forty years sure isn’t one of them.
A strange thing happened after the Ayr March earlier this year. While talking with a pal I’ve known for years, someone asked if I was “the author.” I wasn’t sure what they meant – until I followed their gaze behind me, where there was a stall selling copies of a book. I was simultaneously flattered, yet a bit perturbed, because there was a hint of an accusation in there, a sort of “oh aye, you hawkin’ yer wares tae indyfolk, then?”
The relationship of money to politics is a tricky one, and a very sore spot for many.
“We made clear, and I made clear in the House a bit earlier that we will do nothing that will draw a customs border down the Red Sea… And we will – if I may – IRISH SEA” Irish sea!”
– Dominic Raab at the Exiting the EU Committee
It’s easy to think of the new Foreign Secretrickster of being a buffoon: that he accidentally called the Irish Sea the Red Sea because he’s too stupid to immediately think the sea separating these islands from Ireland might have Irish in the name. After all, this is a man who has a history of making incredibly stupid statements.
But there comes a point where ignorance simply doesn’t add up anymore. There comes a point where someone seems to be too stupid – and for me, this is where I started to reassess Dominic Raab.