It isn’t a 700th anniversary by any means, nor is it a great political happening. But it is something illustrative of Scotland’s centuries-long struggle to make our collective mark upon the world.
So the new clarion call is “if the SNP win a majority in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, then we’ll recognise the mandate that we’ve refused to recognise no less than four times since 2015.” (Unless you’re Lisa Nandy, Willie Rennie, or Alister Jack.)
Here’s the thing, which it amazes me hardly anyone brings up – by every reasonable measure except the number of seats (in a system designed explicitly to prevent any party gaining a majority) & regional vote share, the SNP have a stronger mandate for an independence referendum in 2016 than they did in 2014.
- In 2011, 45.4% voted SNP on the constituency list: in 2016, that rose to 46.5%
- In 2011, 876,421 voted SNP on the constituency list: in 2016, that rose to 1,059,897
- In 2011, 53 of 73 constituency seats – as in, the First Past the Post system used in UK General Elections – went to the SNP: in 2016, that rose to 59
It is only because of the method used to elect members to the regional list that the SNP lost their overall majority despite increasing their vote share, the number of voters, & the number of constituency seats – which tend to be all that matter in First Past the Post systems such as the UK’s ancient regime. (And this isn’t taking into account that the SNP went into the first independence referendum with a mere 6 MPs and 19.9%, etc.)
So this poses an interesting question.
The reaction to the First Minister’s announcement this past Friday has been decidedly mixed. Some considered it a perfectly balanced and ultimately realistic approach; others have criticized it for excessive caution or repetitious platitudes. Where you lie on that sliding scale seems to correlate with how much you trust the SNP, the Scottish Government, and the First Minister, to deliver the intended 2020 timeline for the next Scottish Independence Referendum despite the monolithic obstruction that is the UK Government.
Whatever you thought of the announcement, it is clear that it is beyond time to get things going again. There has been a considerable vacuum left by Yes Scotland since its dissolution three months after the 2014 Referendum. Many groups and initiatives have attempted to fill that void – All Under One Banner, the SNP’s new Yes campaign, the revived Scottish Independence Convention and its Voices for Scotland campaign – but for various reasons, none have truly captured the movement in that sense of united purpose felt in the run up to 2014. Personality conflicts, party dynamics, internecine disagreements, campaign fatigue, and lost momentum have taken their toll on the movement’s structural integrity.
Getting the disparate independence supporting groups together is the primary goal of the National Yes Registry.
We men are wretched things, and the gods, who have no cares themselves, have woven sorrow into the very pattern of our lives.
– Achilles, The Iliad
For whatever reason, the people behind the theft of our democracy wanted us all to share, comment, & get very worked up about this video, from a TV programme that came out seven years ago. That this should be amplified so widely now rather than any point in the last seven years immediately puts me on edge.
I’m not a classical scholar by any means: my use of a Latin quotation from an Ancient Roman source in this site’s header is merely because I prefer, when possible, to use the original source – one not obscured by the unavoidable bias of translation. I’m deeply suspicious of people who overuse (or improperly use) certain words & phrases from dead languages, which you’d think would put me at odds with my great appreciation for history & classical scholarship. As expected, there was a clamouring of “he’s rambling,” “gibberish,” “terrible pronunciation,” and whatnot, while others responded with “actually not bad,” “brilliant,” “didn’t understand a word of it but it was highly entertaining.” For the most part, to my immense frustration, the vast majority of comments on either side were deeply unhelpful – mostly pronouncements of credentials (“I’m an ancient Greek scholar & what he said was nonsense/flawless”) without anyone providing something that would be useful – like, say, providing the bit of the Illiad he was speaking, saying why it was nonsense/flawless, old-fashioned stuff like evidence, you know. You’re just expected to believe them because they said so, rather than because they prove their case forensically. That it was both sides doing this shows why we’re in this mess.
I find the whole episode highly instructive on many levels.
The Scottish peoples’ mandate for a second independence referendum has been reinforced for a fourth time. The SNP had their second best general election result in the party’s 80-plus-year history. Ronnie Cowan, elected to represent Inverclyde for a third time, has increased his majority – and joins 47 other pro-independence MPs. 81% of Scottish MPs – 1 in 5 – is pro-independence. That’s more than the 1918 General Election result in Ireland which preceded the Republic of Ireland.
Anyone who says that the SNP have no mandate for an independence referendum (not even outright independence negotiations, the mere democratic exercise of a referendum) is, to put it bluntly, either lying or stupid.
Meanwhile, England has descended further into the abyss. Aided and abetted by “moderates” and “centrists” who act as midwives for the unspeakable in the name of “reason”; enabled by an establishment who refuses to take the direct action needed to stop this assault on our collective freedoms; facilitated by a “neutral” state media who had one of the architects of the lawbreaking EU referendum on as an election night pundit.
It really is like some sort of nightmare, isn’t it?
This has been building up for a while now.
“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.
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.
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…
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?
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).