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?

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Patriotism vs Nationalism

It’s funny: in many dictionaries, Patriotism and Nationalism are treated as synonyms. Yet for some reason, I keep seeing people arguing that they are different – opposites, even.

When did this distinction between Patriotism and Nationalism arise?

Continue reading

The Metastasis of Debate

There are some subjects I can discuss without fear or reservation. Scottish Independence is an obvious example. Nuclear disarmament another. Pacifism – as in real pacifism, not the pathetic “passivismstrawman beloved of warmongers with vested interests in presenting their insane idealogy as the natural state of affairs. Expressing these views has lead to disagreement, ostracism, even abuse over the years. Yet it wouldn’t even occur to me to keep those views to myself. Bravery doesn’t enter into it: to be brave, you have to overcome fear. I don’t have any fear discussing these subjects, so I can’t call myself brave in doing so.

I don’t know the mind of the First Minister of Scots, but were I in her place, I would view her repudiation of Steve Bannon and everything he stands for not as bravery, but as simple common sense.

The responses to the First Minister’s decision prove it.

Continue reading

Britain Is England Plus Three

“We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom because they have product that we like. I mean they have a lot of great product. They make phenomenal things, you know, and you have different names – you can say England, you can say UK, you can say United Kingdom, Great Britain. I always say, “Which one do you prefer? Great Britain?”‘
‘You know Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren’t exactly the same thing?’
‘Right, yeah. You know I know.’
– The 45th president of the United States of America in conversation with a disgraced ex-editor, in a week where people fell over themselves to correct the White House’s Twitter account

So… aye. That happened.

I didn’t attend any of the protests, because I was invited to a recording of “Any Questions” on BBCR4 (long story, more on that in a future post). I’m fiercely ambivalent on the subject of Trump protests. On the one hand, I certainly agree that humourous, peaceful, but sincere protest of the sort we saw across the nations today is good for democratic expression: it’s much better flying silly balloons, hoisting funny placards, and singing comic songs than engaging in the more unpleasant, dangerous, and counter-productive type of protest. On the other hand, I’m reminded of Cyrus Stuart Ching’s response to a particularly belligerent questioner:

A man in the audience began heckling him with a long series of nasty and irrelevant questions. For a while Ching answered patiently. Finally he held up his big paw and waggled it gently.

“My friend,” he said, “I’m not going to answer any more of your questions. I hope you won’t take this personally, but I am reminded of something my old uncle told me, long ago, back on the farm. He said. ‘What’s the sense of wrestling with a pig? You both get all over muddy… and the pig likes it.’”

The current president – or, rather, the machine which placed him there – thrives on anger and outrage and dissent. The narcissist doesn’t care what you say or think about them, only that you do talk and think about them. And the UK media are talking about them a great deal, to the point they have dominated the news for days – and believe me, the irony of me talking about them too is not lost. I’m gritting my teeth as I type this.

But here’s the thing: we aren’t being given the choice to not talk about them, because our state media won’t shut up about them. Through our state broadcaster, they are invading our people’s homes, making that connection to the disaffected, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged – and making new recruits for the supranational cause they serve. We cannot simply ignore them until they go away, because too many people are pumping the great balloon with the oxygen of publicity – supporters, neutrals, and opponents alike.

Continue reading

There Is No Opting Out

Whoever you are, or want to be, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.
Marshall Berman

Ever since I started this blog, people have decided to talk politics with me. (Imagine that, eh?) Strangers who know me by my muckle black beard, friends & acquaintances who came across the blog by accident, people I haven’t known for years who ended up on the campaign trail. It’s a great conversation starter: “What did you think of First Minister’s Questions?” “Did you see that shameful display in Parliament?” “What’s that politician talking about?” “Why are the party doing this instead of this, that, th’other?” “Did you see this poll, article, website, paper, video?” Some of the best are those people – old school friends, long lost family, famous people who knew who I was – talking about their journeys, and the journeys of their friends and families. It’s incredible. Then come the weird questions: “Are you running for council?” “Why don’t you run for council?” “Do you think I should run for council?” “When did you start getting interested in politics?”

When did you start getting interested in politics. I’m always grateful and very much appreciate all these recommendations, suggestions, and anecdotes. However, it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of exactly what I’m trying to do. I don’t love politics. I don’t even like politics. I actually hate politics – and that, paradoxically, is why I’m doing this.

Continue reading