Things That Aren’t Countries

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.

Send in the Clowns

Please do not interpret the music choice as a slur on the wonderful Glen Michael or the magnificent Paladin, who would both make better Prime Ministers than any in my lifetime.

Last time on the Clown Cavalcade, we learned about…

  • a International Trade Secretrickster who made her Scottish colleagues the butt of a Jocksploitation joke
  • a Health & Social Care Secretrickster who blamed the Scottish Government for not doing his job
  • a Environment Secretrickster who wants the number of MSPs and MLAs to be reduced
  • a Education Secretrickster who was kicked out of the last cabinet for leaking state secrets two months ago
  • a Culture Secretrickster who wanted to make the ability for Scotland to become independent even more difficult
  • a Business Secretrickster who got a full house on English Myths About Scotland Bingo
  • a Housing & Communities Secretrickster who didn’t get the memo about Scotland’s “declining” Oil & Gas Industry

There’s still more to come. Dare you enter this circus of ciplinarians?

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Killer Klowns from Outwood, Surrey

Please stop misusing the word ‘clown’

With regard to your recent article and headline (Our elders are supposed to be older and wiser. But not these Brexit clowns, theguardian.com, 21 December), I am a prize-winning international musical clown, part of an honourable profession, and am deeply offended by the misuse and misrepresentation of “clown” in connection with parliamentary or other forms of chaotic behaviour.

The constant use of the word “circus” in the press to denote a mess or bad behaviour is also distasteful. Unlike the comparison the press constantly draws, a clown or indeed a circus must be orderly and efficient to work properly. And in the case of a circus, it takes teamwork – which is the opposite of the impression the press gives.

Please could the fourth estate find other words to describe political behaviour.
David Konyot
Tilney St Lawrence, Norfolk

With the greatest of respect to Mr Konyot, I am being very specific in my reference to the current cabinet as clowns. While I would be loth to presume to tell you all about your profession, my impression is that the work of a clown is to present the semblance of chaos and pandemonium with highly trained and practised routine by experienced and disciplined performers. In other words, it’s all an act. That’s what I’m saying. It is not (always) incompetence: it is deliberate and concerted actions designed to provoke a reaction and set certain responses in motion. The question is, are these charlatans truly as incompetent as they appear, or is it a masterful act of deception that would make Keyser Soze proud?

Last time, we catalogued…

  • a Prime Moronster who says a town in England is worth more than the most populated region of Scotland
  • a Clowncellor who said Scotland having any control over its own affairs was “constitutional vandalism”
  • a Home Secretrickster who couldn’t wait to cut Scotland’s funding
  • a Foreign Secretrickster who passionately advocated for full-fiscal autonomy for Scotland before voting against it every chance he got
  • a Brexit Secretrickster who said Scottish people should be disenfranchised following a Yes vote even if they were still part of the UK when a General Election was held,
  • a Clowncellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who seems to resent Scots more than most of his own party
  • a Defense Secretrickster who immediately claimed a No vote as a victory for his party

So who else is there? Doo-doo-doodle-oodle-ood-doo-doo-doo

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Don’t Sleep – The Clowns Will Eat Us All

When Julius Fučík composed Entrance of the Gladiators in 1897, he was no doubt thinking of the blood and thunder spectacle of the ancient Coliseum: mighty warriors from all across the Roman Empire thrust into brutal combat against slaves, beasts, and one another. The Thraex beats his wicked sica against his battered parmula; the Murmillo’s burnished manica glinting in the blazing Italian sun, his face obscured behind the grill of his cassius crista; the Retarius brandishes his mighty trident and man-catcher net. The crowd rocks the walls of the Coliseum with their acclaim for their heroes. The bombast & majesty of the piece made it ideal for ironic juxtaposition for circuses in the early 20th Century – it worked so well that this magnificent fanfare became forever linked to the slapstick & satire of the circus clown.

Of course, in the 20th Century, it’s come full circle – from the music being used to offset the silliness of clowns, nowadays the piece seems best served to ridicule people with rather high opinions of their competence.

In the 19th Century, it was the theme for gladiators.

In the 20th Century, it was the theme for clowns.

In the 21st Century, it’s the theme for politicians.

So what does this troupe have in store for Scotland?

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Natural Enemies

Brothers and sisters are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots! Or Welshmen and Scots! Or Japanese and Scots! Or Scots and other Scots! Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!
– Groundskeeper Willie, speaking an untold truth

Since we’ll know who the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be shortly, I’ll be out for the rest of the day. But before I go, I want to make an observation.

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World of Fools

“It is sometimes the height of wisdom to feign stupidity.”
– Cato

Most of Scottish social media is abuzz with that Jeremy Vine thing. But there’s another Jeremy Vine thing which I’d like to share, because I think it’s very illustrative as to the tack the UK is taking us.

(If you haven’t read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series – at least the original trilogy – and I highly recommend that you do, then consider yourself warned. I’m not generally bothered by spoilers, but others are, and this article discusses a really awesome twist).

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Whoever Wins, We Lose

I could actually weep for some of the people in our country:

I genuinely don’t understand the logic of anyone whose view of Scottish independence is affected by who is or might be Prime Minister, or which party is in government. It very much suggests they haven’t understood the question.
– Some Numpty On Twitter Who Already Gets Too Much Attention

It is everything to do with the question – because “who is or might be Prime Minister/party of government” is never our choice. It is the choice of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland together. One of those countries outnumbers the others 8 to 1.

More than that, it isn’t just who is Prime Minister now, or who may be Prime Minister in the future – it’s every single Prime Minister in my 35 years of existence on this planet.

My first Prime Minister was so beloved of my fellow Scots that the Number 1 song in Scotland on the week of her death was “Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead.” My second Prime Minister (even if he is, in retrospect, far and away the best in my lifetime) led the UK to financial disaster and aggravated the forces which led the UK to where it is now through his sheer incompetence. My third Prime Minister is a war criminal who conspired to steal Scotland’s resources. My fourth Prime Minister sold even more of Scotland’s resources to mitigate his cataclysmic mishandling of another financial crisis. My fifth Prime Minister, who cannot be mentioned in the same breath as pigs in polite company, presided over cruelties, scandals, and catastrophes that would give my first Prime Minister pause. My sixth Prime Minister has become a punchline.

Six Prime Ministers in my lifetime, and arguments can be – and have been – made for each of those six being the Worst Ever.

At least until Seven.

So who will that be?

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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

As predicted by nobody (except those who were paying attention) the European Elections were a resounding victory for Remain-supporting parties in Scotland – who won every single voting area, as well as more or less matching the EU referendum result of 62% of the vote – and an unmitigated disaster for them in the rest of the UK.

And amidst all the hand-wringing and caterwauling about what on earth the UK Remain Camp can do to solve this crisis, they actually exacerbate the problem in the process.

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Loving England Again

Scotland wouldn’t be what it is today without England. That much is obvious: England is our neighbour on the largest of these islands; we’re more or less the same age; a northern branch of their ancestors, the Angles, are among the four peoples who founded Scotland.

It’s nigh impossible to live in Scotland and not have some sort of regular encounter with England. Our public broadcaster is primarily focused on England, with English opinions and interests and accents on the main news, the continuity announcements, all the way to the soap operas and property shows; we elect MPs to a Parliament in Westminster which controls a great number of our laws, frequently against our own representatives’ wishes; the vast majority of newspapers are owned outside Scotland, and regularly headquartered in England. While most folk in England can live their lives largely untroubled by Scottish opinions and interests and accents, we in Scotland cannot avoid England and the English even if we wanted to.

That’s our lot as part of a United Kingdom of England Plus Three.

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