Revolving the cringe

Scotland is uniquely incapable of governing itself. It’s the only notable thing about us. We’re not programmed to take decisions. Not like those Norwegians or Finns who are all six foot tall blond androids who come out of the factory with a preinstalled democratic decision making app.  It’s the same people who made Angry Birds.  But no one is going to make a short ginger android, on account of the risk of it running amok and causing a worldwide cataclysm with its radioactive Irn Bru datacore and a death ray capable of frying mince from halfway across the solar system.

It’s often interesting when someone presents you with an argument to turn it on its head and look at it the other way round. For decades, Scotland has lived with the argument that we’re too wee, too poor and too stupid to be a normal independent country. No Unionist party has actually uttered the phrase, except to dismiss it as an invention of independence supporters, but it is an accurate summary of the thrust of the arguments against independence. The phrase is the distillation of the Cringe.

Too wee too poor too stupid means Scottish independence would have no effect on anyone apart from Scotland – and the effects on Scotland would be George Robertsonesque in their cataclysmassiveness. The rest of the UK would sail merrily on, ruling waves and waiving rules, scarcely noticing our absence except once a year when Bob Geldof presented a Band Aid concert to send relief packets of square slice and Mars Bars to the starving weans north of the barbed wire border.

The central claim of the Yes campaign is that Scotland is not too wee, that it’s a wealthy country, and that the population of Scotland is no more nor less intelligent than any other collection of 5 million humans. The argument that Scotland is too wee too poor too schtupit is obviously false, but if the original argument is false, then it is no longer so certain that Scottish independence is a consequence free zone for the rest of the UK.

The British establishment scarcely notices Scotland – except as spot of Great British regional colour. Scotland’s role in the pantheon of Britishness is to act as a tatty tartan lucky charm on the mantlepiece, rubbing it occasionally will magic away the contradictions in the belief that British nationalism isn’t nationalism at all. It’s Scottishness of the Rory the Tory I’m Scottish You Know variety, Scottishness as a form of heritage kitsch, a distinctive past but not a distinctive future. Safe, twee, and not something you give much thought to.  Or in Rory’s case, a fair bit of thought which is hopelessly deluded.

So they thought that winning the referendum would be easy. It was taken for granted that people in Scotland would also share their unswerving conviction that our future lies with Westminster. A museum replica of a Glasgow tenement single-end with no hot water and an outside cludgie is all very charming and poignant, but it’s not like anyone would want to live there. Instead the referendum became an opportunity to score political points against Alicsammin, and finally manage what George Robertson promised when he said devolution would kill nationalism stone dead.

But they reckoned without the Yes campaign. An entire nation of DIY enthusiasts who are experts in renovating clapped out Glasgow tenements and turning them into attractive 21st century living quarters. Look, they said, we can’t just live here, we can live here with style. Compared to the draughty corridors of Westminster where no one can hear you scream, modern living is a very attractive prospect.

But by gaining ground in this independence referendum Yes supporters are not likely to get a photo shoot in the lifestyle pages of the Guardian and gushing praise for our use of soft furnishings. Which is a shame, because we’ve got a really interesting Celtic twist on Scandinavian design.

Instead, in their eyes, we’re the doing the equivalent of marching en masse into the chambers of the Palace of Westminster and the offices of the national media, and collectively baring our builders’ arse cracks in their faces. During their lunch break. They’re not best pleased by the intrusion and it’s putting them off their tea.

On Sunday it got worse for them. A proper serious newspaper with a lifestyle section came out in support of independence. The anti-independence strategy depended from the beginning on minimising engagement and portraying independence supporters as a tiny minority of deluded and backward looking fantatics. Better Together wasn’t having a whole lot of success with that before, it’s got much harder now. The independence tenement is getting the glossy photie treatment. You don’t get that with Better Together’s 60 Minute Makeover.

And in the draughty corridors of an unrenovated Victorian institution, the shocking realisation is beginning to dawn on some that the unthinkable might happen. And that in turn means the Westminster parties must face up to the consequences that will have on their own plans. All the earnest discussions about Labour’s polling figures, tensions between Davie and Nick, the rise of UKIP, the future of the UK within the EU, they’ve all gang agley. The British establishment is having an Oh-Fukkit moment, the feeling you get immediately after your foot slips on an icy pavement but before your arse hits the pavement giving you a very sore bum and a very red face.

A couple of weeks ago, the delightfully batty Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph said that a Yes result in the referendum would lead to David Cameron’s resignation. Although Benedict also thought that it was all Gordon Brown’s fault. Clearly the concept that people in Scotland might think that Davie Cameron and Gordie Broon are equally at fault hadn’t occurred to him. And neither had the thought that we might just think him and his UK media colleagues might share a goodly portion of the blame too. Despite that, he was at least acknowledging that Scottish independence changes the Westminster game, and the rest of the UK will have their own DIY work to do. Still, at least we’ll have a lovely photo spread of a renovated Edinburgh town house to show them.

Although other Tory voices have denied that Cameron would resign, the consequences of a Yes vote would be massive politically. Scottish independence doesn’t mean the loss of another colony, leaving Westminster to carry on despite the loss of 37% of the territory it governs, 8.3% of the people who are its subjects, and 9.9% of its income. It means the potential loss of over 37% of the balance of trade, the renegotiation of EU opt outs which depended upon concessions of Scottish resources, and the urgency of finding a new home for Trident. The budget plans and manifestos they’ve spent months preparing for a General Election in 2015 will all have to be rewritten in a hurry. None of which has been prepared for. They’d even made a point of saying they weren’t going to prepare for the possibility of Scottish independence.

It will have happened on the Coalition’s watch. And worst of all they could have avoided it. They’ve been caught out by their own arrogance, short-termism, and lack of understanding of a country that’s supposed to be an equal partner in the most successful union of nations in the history of the universe. If that’s not a resignation issue for a Prime Minister, nothing in British politics is. It also tells us that if we want to get rid of David Cameron in solidarity with ordinary people in working class areas in Manchester, Liverpool, and Southampton, like Labour tells us, then the surefire way to do it is by voting Yes in September.

Scottish independence means the end of the Union of 1707. It means the end of the United Kingdom. The remainder of the United Kingdom is perfectly at liberty to call itself what it likes, but though the words remain the same the substance will have changed, and a whole range of Westminster’s load bearing walls come tumbling down. It leaves them exposed.

A revolution is what happens when you turn an accepted way of thinking upside down. When the Cringe is turned around – it’s the British establishment who are too wee in imagination, too poor in understanding, and really far too stupid to be permitted to continue in power.



44 comments on “Revolving the cringe

  1. diabloandco says:

    Your no up busying away at this unearthly hour are you?
    Gee , that’s dedication and another belter for a Wee Ginger Dug!

    I’m up because my other half is off to Spain – flights at 7ish so needs must to make sure he goes!

  2. Ruth Laird says:

    What a tonic!

  3. Devereux says:

    Cup of tea and WGD smiley face

  4. Matt Seattle says:

    Classic psychological projection, eh? No-one actually said “too wee..” etc. but it’s implied by all the scares and smears. And they said it because it was true – but of themselves, not of their target.

    Well analysed, Doctor – we’re not Freud – and we’re no feart!

  5. dennis mclaughlin says:

    another biscuit & sqweeky toy for the wee dug 🙂
    your ‘oh! Fuckit’ moment brings tears and laughter !.

  6. Maggie Craig says:

    You really are on a roll! Another brilliant piece.

  7. macart763M says:

    Cleans ovens and writes crackers like this.

    “But they reckoned without the Yes campaign. An entire nation of DIY enthusiasts who are experts in renovating clapped out Glasgow tenements and turning them into attractive 21st century living quarters. Look, they said, we can’t just live here, we can live here with style. Compared to the draughty corridors of Westminster where no one can hear you scream, modern living is a very attractive prospect.”

    A must read every day. 🙂

    I like that. ‘An entire nation of DIY enthusiasts’. Now that’s a can do attitude writ large.

    Its the narrative that dare not speak its name in the UK press and shows them up for the principle free zone it really is on Scottish independence. Of course there will be heavy fallout for rUK. Yet not one title, not one serious journo or commentator in a two year fecking period, has had the principle or the guts to either explore the issue or ask the questions of Westminster or BT. The fact they have failed to do so will hit the rUK public hard, too bloody hard and IMO the UK press and government have failed miserably in their duty to fully inform and yes, protect the electorate. Irresponsible and arrogant doesn’t begin to fully describe what they have set about doing in this campaign.

    Sadly though, after being on the receiving end of their current narrative for long enough, I find the first words coming to mind some days is ‘hell mend them’.

  8. Hugh Wallace says:

    A great read (as always) Paul, just what I needed to have with my morning coffee. And proof again why yours is the first place I visit after seeing what Wings have to say.

  9. Roll_On_2014 says:

    I like these lines from the Sunday Herald’s reasons for supporting independence.

    “Scots have never been afraid to astonish the world. A small country has made a habit of producing big thinkers. The Sunday Herald says that it is time to think big once again. And to think for ourselves.”

  10. vronsky says:

    “And worst of all they could have avoided it”

    Really? How? In my mind independence has been inevitable for at least twenty years, and there are smarter people who saw it coming for longer than that. The seeds of this situation were sown a very long time ago, maybe on the very day of that forced marriage in 1707.

    WM is of course lying when they say they have no preparations for Indy, that’s just the usual witless pre-poll rhetoric, denying the possibility of defeat. There will be plans, and I don’t like thinking what they might be. Brace yourself.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I meant that they could have avoided their own complete and utter humiliation – which is what will happen if there is a yes vote.

      I am convinced that independence will happen – if not this September then one day. It’s inevitable. But Westminster could have tackled this referendum campaign in a very different way. They could have offered devo max and forestalled it for a generation. And they could have admitted the truth that Scotland doesn’t NEED Westminster.

  11. […] Revolving the cringe. […]

  12. Another great read. It’s also the first time I’ve seen anybody point out that Westminster’s EU rebate will require renegotiation and that the EU might be less happy to grant it without Scotland’s resources.

  13. Capella says:

    Gosh, what a lot of early risers! Another cracking post. There will be a lot of dirty washing to go through as the Union unravels and so plenty work for the WGD and co. I agree with Vronsky – there will be plans. But I’m also sure that the cunning Alicsammin and his cohorts will have thought of that!

  14. Helena Brown says:

    I am late again, having just posted a put down to some person called Gray on the American Spectator. He needs to read you before posting there again.
    I always get cheered up when I come here, yesterday on buying my copy of the Sunday Herald I encountered two women who were of the mind that we were too wee to manage to keep ourselves. The more talkative one reminded me so much of a certain Johann Lamont, talks a good story but normally it is rubbish and her side kick who came over as easily bullied. I declined to give her the argument she so much seemed to want. Somebody might give her one as she was asking her customers whether they were for YES or NO. She and sidekick were a definite NO, I was told.
    Funnily this morning we were discussing why people like Mr McWhirter seem to think Nationalism or perhaps it is just Scottish Nationalism is a dirty word, if you ask someone in the US their nationality they will say American, if you ask someone from Bulgaria or France they will tell you they are Bulgarian or French, Nationalism is a collection of people who live together in one place and see themselves as connected. The trouble is the xenophobia in people in England with English Nationalism being taken over by the English Defence League or the BNP and indeed Ukip so we are bad people.
    Yes the YES campaign is definitely grass roots,and we are going to win.

    • macart763M says:

      Very well put. 🙂

      • Capella says:

        Robin McAlpine wrote a good explanation of the different kinds of nationalism here:
        Worth a read if only to enlighten the ignorant!

      • JGedd says:

        Husband went for a copy of the Sunday Herald yesterday – almost forgot how to do it since we haven’t bought a paper for yonks. On the way out of the village shop he was followed by a posse of about five English folk who demanded to know if he was buying that paper. He replied that yes he was buying it, not stealing it.

        They then followed up with comments like, “Don’t you know it’s full of independence propaganda? Surely you’re not taken in by that. ”

        He pointed out that they were carrying copies of the Telegraph which is full of Britnat propaganda. They seemed scandalized at such a suggestion.

        “You haven’t read it, ” one asserted.

        “Au contraire, ” answered spouse, “and I’m one of their on-line opinion panel to whom they write from time to asking for my opinion on their news content which I certainly give them in no uncertain terms.”

        He managed to extract himself from these self-appointed vigilantes for Unionism with a (polite) salutation in Gaelic.

        However, what struck me was the assurance, not to say arrogance, of people who feel so certain of their place in the community they can buttonhole someone coming out of their own local shop in Scotland to question them on their choice of a newspaper and their political allegiance.

        This is a part of Scotland which is hostile to Independence anyway so they seemed genuinely astonished, as if this was the first time they had encountered someone locally with these responses. You can be quite sure that the English are well-integrated in these communities as long as they are unionists. I have encountered English people, supporting independence who are surprised at the entrenched unionism in these parts.

        • macart763M says:

          Must admit to a very quiet smile yesterday as I bought my own copy. By lunchtime all of the big stores and newsagents had sold out and this in a supposedly very unionist area. The other Sunday titles still in very noticeable stacks hardly touched.

          It looks as though the Sunday Herald has left a bit of an impression. 🙂

        • gerry parker says:

          No idea how to behave when they are in someone else’s country.

        • dennis mclaughlin says:

          try and find a Scottish accent in Kemnay 🙂

  15. mary vasey says:

    Once again absolutely brilliant & thanks for brightening my day

  16. […] Scotland is uniquely incapable of governing itself. It's the only notable thing about us. We're not programmed to take decisions. Not like those Norwegians or Finns who are all six foot tall blond …  […]

  17. Stewart Glendinning says:


    That blog must rank as one of your best yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you and more power to your keyboard!

  18. Eilean says:

    Rule Britannia, Britannia waves the rules.
    If we stay in this union then we are fools!

  19. Morag says:

    Another really great blog!!! so glad you run with Lamonts guff “…we’re not genetically programmed to govern…..” your biting their ankles with this one!

  20. Nigel Mace says:

    Spot on. I agree with Vronsky that there will be – at any are now – preparations going on, but it’s the last minute ‘dirty tricks’ to stop that result, which they are belatedly really beginning to fear, that disturb me. You’re right that they thought – no assumed – themselves to be secure. Cameron would never have signed the Edinburgh Agreement had he actually understood anything very much about the real state of Scottish politics. The consequences for rUK/rB or whatever, are going to be huge and Cameron must know that he is about to become a much despised piece of English history. The grubby brawl that will ensue will be like nothing Westminster has ever, ever seen. Truly, a Scottish revolution is about to shake the English state as it has not done since 1638 when Scotland’s civil war provided the fuse that led to the nearest thing England has ever seen to a revolution of its own. These are awesome times – and the wee ginger dug could fit nicely into one of these 17th century portraits.

  21. Westminster is also clapped out with extensive building work required to underpin it before it sinks into the Thames in a heap of rubble. Might be the best thing to happen to it, especially in light of the story being uncovered of the way MPs treat their poor wee assistants.

    Whilst there is acknowledgement that the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ is sinking in more ways than one, at present the people concerned are too scared of repercussions to make formal complaints. Seems, though, like it’s only a matter of time before another very disturbing facet of Westminster hits the headlines near you.

  22. JGedd says:

    By the way, Paul just watched your Yew Choob video and it’s GREAT! Watched it three times already and I’m still wiping away tears. This is going to be big. Congratulations on a fantastic job. Being shared abroad already..

    • Nigel Mace says:

      Very interesting and very close to a sotto voce ‘Yes – if it were my choice’. I think Jon Snow has sussed it but whether anyone else in his trade in London will realise that he has, I rather doubt – but then he was always ahead of the pack.

      • macart763m says:

        It does appear that Mr Snow had his eyes opened whilst on his hols. Be interesting to see how he treats the subject in front of camera from now now on.

  23. Les Wilson says:

    Westminster is only now realising what Scottish Independence is REALLY going to mean to them, there is the feeling of growing panic exuding from the MSM and in the UK parties. Something they thought would never happen is on the brink of doing just that.

    Their cosy elite world will go on, but severely dented by the incompetence they have and are still showing. This ” Union” to Scotland is not a Union, it is a prestige holding that they need not concern themselves too much about, and it just keeps giving, it’s cheap too! What is not to like about their Northern territory!

    I believe their ” OH Shit !” moment is flying towards them and their usual propaganda messages are not working, as our eyes are slowly opening to the deceit and manipulation, and the downright theft perpetuated against us. Fear is setting in on them, they can say nothing good as to why we should continue in the Union, rather they try to scare us to death, or at least into a NO vote.
    Well, hell mend them, they deserve all that they get.

  24. K McCutcheon says:

    To quote my wife on our way home last night ” Thier wettin themselves all the way down thier legs as they run around like headless chicken wondering what to do after September when we finally boot them right up thier yah yah arses. K

  25. Great essay Mr Kavanagh, although death ray frying mince line made me spill my drink. It’s curious how little discussion there’s been about RUK having to renegotiate is EU treaties, given how well UKIP is doing down here (Yorkshire) the negotiations will not be straight forward.

  26. YESGUY says:

    WGD quality …. cant get the smile off my face .

  27. wendy smillie says:

    A great read as always, Mr Dug.

  28. bringiton says:

    The organisation which will be shaken to it’s roots is the British Labour party and especially the Scottish contingent.
    It will be interesting to see how many of them immediately pledge their troth to the
    people of Scotland after September.
    Of course,there are a few who have made it clear that Scotland,as a country,doesn’t exist as far as they are concerned and as such will play no part in our future politics.
    Westminster,encouraged by their proud Scots,made the referendum all or nothing in terms of the outcome,so for those proud Scots,what goes around comes around.
    Thanks Paul.

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