Bedtime for a fairy story

I don’t do Twitter and am the world’s most reluctant Facebooker, being far too anti-social for social media. I’ve got a PhD in time-wasting as it is. Getting into Facebook or Twitter would be like persuading an alkie of the benefits of heroin. But people who do use Twitter report that David Torrance, subject of yesterday’s och-whit-ur-you-like, has been complaining about the low standards of the debate in the Scottish independence referendum. He’s not the only Unionist to voice similar complaints.

It’s likely that wee Davie’s beef is really that Scotland isn’t having the debate that he wants us to be having. We’re discussing independence. We’re discussing the fact that the Westminster system is a rank and rancid Victorian gentlemens’ club that’s still suffering a hangover from the heady days of Empire. We’re discussing getting rid of Trident, building a commonweal, and creating a land that has the powers and the will to confront its own problems. But we’re not discussing Davie’s pet Unionist project, the one that’s going to take a wave of the sparkly wand of the federalism fairy to magic into existence.

We’re not discussing lots of things. We need to up our game. No one has written a serious and intelligent report with footnotes on how the constitutional debate is affecting Scotland’s loch monsters, banshees, kelpies, selkies or little folk. Do we really want to throw away all that mythology in order to become a modern 21st century nation? No one wants to talk about the brownies though, especially not Labour.

What about the pixies and elves of England – not to mention the gnomes of the City of London and the mental dwarfs of Westminster – should we not show solidarity with them? Why has no one mentioned Shrek? Will the M6 take us to the Magic Kingdom, or is London too far far away? These are serious questions that only the federalism fairy can answer.

Federalism in the UK isn’t going to happen. Not now. Not ever. There is no will for it amongst the federalism fairies. Like the charming and suspiciously kitsch Edwardian fairies of Cottingley dancing in the rose garden in the sepia images, they were revealed as a hoax when Nick Clegg went into coalition with Davie Cameron in the rose garden at Downing Street. Ming Campbell took the photies for that too.

The Lib Dems are the only UK party to advocate federalism. They like advocating it so much they’ve been advocating it for over 100 years without ever managing to do anything about it. It’s their version of Labour’s Parliamentary Road to Socialism, which comes complete with its own little solidarity selkie. It makes plaintive noises and offers a nirvana of redistribution, only to drag you to your death in the deep dark watery gloom.

Tories don’t really have a Scottish fantasy creature, since having one depends on being in touch with Scottish reality in the first place. They’re just the ugly duckling that grew up to be an ugly duck. One that paddles in a moat you can get cleaned on Westminster expenses.

And then there are the zombies. You can’t kill off a Westminster politician’s career by voting him or her out of office. They’ll just come back from the political grave and eat the brains out of Scottish devolution legislation in House of Lords committees.

So it is actually vital that we discuss the role of fantasy creatures in the independence debate, because from here it’s looking like they’ve been the heart of UK government for decades. Could be that’s the problem.

However on Tuesday we did discover that one particular fantasy creature is real. A Labour MP who takes a principled stand for fairness in the Scottish independence debate. One exists, there’s even better photies than there are for Nessie. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Maverickshire, according to Sevvie in the Guardian, was spotted on camera telling off a Commons Committee for a cheap stunt designed to embarrass the Scottish Parliament and preventing a proper investigation into whether Alistair Darling’s pal Nick MacPherson had broken civil service rules on political impartiality. It was very easy not to mistake Paul for a dead log floating aimlessly, because that’s what the rest of the room was doing. He was walking out in disgust. Pity he’s not a Scottish MP, but that’s probably asking for a bit much. If ‘bit’ is defined as ‘bigger than the UK’s national debt’.

Meanwhile in the Guardian there was also an article about the political uncertainties faced by Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, and their respective bands of austerity munchkins. The article discussed the possibility that electoral plans might have to change if there’s a yes vote in September. An anonymous MP admitted that the Better Together campaign was worse than crap. He bewailed:

“The Better Together campaign is just ramshackle. It would not matter if it was just crap, but it is nasty. All the threatening from Whitehall has been counterproductive.”

In Scotland, at least amongst supporters of the yes, undecided voters, and quite a few who are leaning towards no – in other words anyone who isn’t a member of a Unionist party leadership, channelling Alan Cochrane, or wishing upon a federalism fairy – this is a political insight up there with the realisation that Jeremy Kyle is only pretending to be a social worker.

This article also repeated the assertion previously made by Benedict Brogan at the Telegraph that a yes vote in September would certainly force Cameron to resign.  Westminster’s dylithium crystals cannae take the loss of Scotland.  So voting yes is looking increasingly like the only sure fire method of getting rid of Davie Cameron.  The Guardian was also of the view that Miliband would have to resign too, since Labour would be seen to share equally in the culpability.  That’s what independence supporters would call a hatrick.

And this within 24 hours of yet another Unionist commentator complaining that they are unhappy with the standard of the debate in the referendum campaign. It’s no bloody wonder there’s a low standard when one side of the debate is doing its utmost to prevent a proper debate taking place.  Their jobs, careers, and reputations depend on it.  Sometime in the future there’s going to be an robot copy of David Starkey presenting a sneery history 3D live streaming about crappy prime ministers of English history. Davie’s name will figure prominently.  And there’s another reason for a yes vote – it might one day produce a David Starkey history programme that’s worth watching.

When the Westminster parties refused to consider any form of enhanced devolution as an option on the ballot for September – an option which would probably have secured a handsome majority and enabled them to avoid the issue of Scottish independence until they’d all safely retired – they all sneezed at once and finally killed the federalism fairy. Instead we got the cartoon monsters of Project Fear, and the realisation that Scotland is more likely to get devo-max or federalism or whatever devo tweak you like from Santa than we are from the Westminster parliament.

We’re all up for a serious debate. But first the fairy stories have to be put to bed.



42 comments on “Bedtime for a fairy story

  1. […] Bedtime for a fairy story […]

  2. jimnarlene says:


  3. Juteman says:

    Westminster is all about illusions. The illusion of choice. The Libdems exist to pretend that a federal UK is possible. MP.s like Dennis Skinner exist to pretend that a socialist UK is possible. The Westminster Party offers every faery story written, and just like faery stories, they aren’t real.
    Apart from the wicked witch. She really did exist.

  4. Great article, Paul. Keep up the wee dug biting.

  5. […] I don't do Twitter and am the world's most reluctant Facebooker, being far too anti-social for social media. I've got a PhD in time-wasting as it is. Getting into Facebook or Twitter would be like …  […]

  6. john king says:

    AI am sick to death of the “we want answers brigade” who repeat ad nauseum that the YES camp have nothing to say, its akin to standing on a mans neck and demanding he explain himself. for gods sake folks L-I-S-T-E-N the voices are there you just cant hear them for your constant carping.

    • Eilean says:

      Aye John.”The We Want Answers Brigade” I always feel like they should be beaten about the head with a hard copy of “Scotland’s Future”😉

  7. The ‘we want answers/information’ is a bit of a number 2…… in number 2 in the Prisoner TV series.

    I have little time for the lazy people who have relied thus far on the unionist leaning media soundbites for their information, where one of the soundbites id ‘the Yes side doesn’t have any information’!

    I still keep my patience but have now taken to ask “What do you want to know then and i’ll tell you right now?” Sounds a tad cocky but it has usually taken less than ten minutes to persuade them to vote Yes.

    As for this great article, the author is absolutely correct, we all know that the likes of Torrance is a pretentious diluted version of someone like Alan Cochrane, tries to hide his contempt for the fact we are having this referendum at all: they share the pure fact that basically nothing they say about the referendum makes sense………’Federalism’ my arse.

    That chicken won’t ever be coming home to roost. Vote no and Scotland will be lucky to have the power to fire a washabi pea from an elastic band.

    Kidding only himself is Mr Torrance and his tone and language is wrong and a disgrace-shit stirring is usually the last resort of the desperate.

  8. diabloandco says:

    That wee dug is getting seriously nippy!

    I am so glad that you sail into my mail box, fair makes my morning!

  9. H Scott says:

    ‘channelling Alan Cochrane’
    The mind boggles!

  10. Capella says:

    They can hear the answers OK. They just don’t like them. The NAWS are like children putting their hands over their ears and shouting “la la la la la”.
    The Guardian should be commissioning articles from WGD. Then there would be a reason to buy it!

  11. No no no...yes says:

    Another fine article. For me, the DEBATE itself isn’t the issue, it’s the poor quality product by the programme makers. Poor chairing and adverserial format are to blame. I would argue this is a deliberate tactic to alienate public engagement. YES panellists are doing a good job but often get interrupted and “asked to be brief” if they have a rebuttal.

    YES needs 50% +1 vote and media bias is being used against it.

  12. David Agnew says:

    There seems to be an odd view of Scotland as one part Brigadoon, one part benefits street and at no point a contributing member of the UK. That viewpoint is the key debating tactic of bettertogether. At no point are they prepared to listen to any view that does not chime in with this twee, but essentially ineffective “proud Scot yet proud to be British mindset.”

    They keep asking questions, they keep getting answers. They ignore the answers and keep asking the same questions. You try to answer them, you try and engage, but the answers given are not ones they like or the answers they expected. There’s a difference. How many people here have debated no voters on a forum or tweet exchange, only to see them trot out the same stuff the very next day? Its almost as if they weren’t really looking for answers, the question and the illusion of doubt is more important to them.

    This is the problem with people like Torrance. He doesn’t want or expect answers. This is the voice of apathy. The voice that tells you to lie down and have a wee rest because life is too hard. These things are better left for others better and bigger than you. I remember one no voter telling me “there is no shame is being dependent on someone bigger and better than you”.

    When I expressed my anger at this viewpoint – he posted a pic of mel gibson and William Wallace.

    300 years of union and that was the best they could come up with. Independence I hope and trust will be an apathy killing machine.

    • jamie macdonald says:

      I agree, I just think sometimes, so many of our people are so apathetic towards politics, that apathy could kill Independence first! ! (heaven forbid!)Though having said that, this does seem different this time, jings even my missus has started to ask me questions about it! But she says she doesn’t know any women voting yes ,but she did know they saw (geez p) Eastenders, Jermy Kyle, I’m a celebit eh? etc
      Great stuff as usual Paul, I always look forward to my walk wi’ the wee dug, (are you letting him off the lead when the campaign kicks off proper!!) Encouraging, Informative and always a laugh, – must read!

      • liz says:

        One hope we can have is that the apathetic ones won’t vote at all.

        I read recently of someone having a conversation with a voter who said that they would be voting for Labour as usual in the referendum??!!

        So what they will do when faced with a Yes/No option, I’m not sure.

      • yerkitbreeks says:

        If you’re canvassing, just get nicer and nicer with the apathetic ones – even if only until September.

        When it’s a YES stand back and watch many of them take the credit !

    • tartanzen says:

      The words hit, nail and head come to mind.

      Excellent points David.

      Some of us on the Yes side may have been wise to this our whole lives. But for those of us who have woken up at some point to one degree or another I think we can safely testify that nobody else can force it for you. These No voting naysayers will either wake up before the referendum or they won’t.

      I think the main value in contradicting their doom-laden views is to allow undecided people watching on to see there are alternatives (and hopefully much more appealing ones at that).

  13. Cameron and Miliband to resign after a successful Yes vote? No chance, despite the humiliation suffered by both, along with the leader of the non-existent party, Clegg, these people will carry on as they are doing just now, trying to persuade middle England that they are just the boys to lead then in 2015. And apart from having a little local difficulty with Farage, who is going to wipe the floor with all of them in the Euro elections, their policies will be tailored, as they are now, to that end. And what joy. Scotland, the whinging jocks, will be long gone. No longer tying themselves in knots with their hypocrisy, saying one thing to their core vote, while lying to the angry hordes North of the border. No, they won’t go anywhere, but just think, they will no longer be our problem, that will be for our friends down South. My in-laws all live in England, and I really do sympathise with them in that respect. What a future stretches before them when the penny finally drops that this is as good as it gets, and whoever forms the next Westminster Government, it won’t make a bit of difference, as the austerity cuts roll on, with no end in sight. And meanwhile, North of the border.

  14. DougtheDug says:

    “When the Westminster parties refused to consider any form of enhanced devolution as an option on the ballot for September… they all sneezed at once and finally killed the federalism fairy.”

    It’s an odd position to be in, defending Westminster politicians, but their refusal is because they couldn’t offer enhanced devolution not just that they didn’t want it. (And the federalism fairy died of neglect a long, long time ago.)

    Devolution is designed to do one thing and that is not to affect the centre of Government. All the current devolution settlement did was to pass the responsibilities of the Scottish Office over to the Scottish Parliament which was easy as the Law, NHS and Education were already separate in Scotland. It was also funded as a Government department with a block grant based on Barnett.

    They tinkered a bit with tax but it was nothing major and designed to make its use unattractive.

    Enhanced devolution for Scotland would require the splitting of UK Government departments which didn’t happen with the original devolution package and it would cause disruption at the very centre of government so it’s simply a non-starter.

    Federalism has always been a non-starter because federalism has nothing to do with the powers of a parliament but about how regional powers, however small or large, are protected by the constitution. For federalism to be more than a throwaway line on an old Lib-Dem leaflet it has to start with a written constitution and again that’s just not going to happen in Westminster.

    I’ve always said that Devo-Max is the maximum amount of power that Westminster is willing to give Scotland and under that definition we are already there, bar a bit of passing the block grant through HMRC and calling it tax powers.

    That’s the point that really gets me angry, that the Better Together camp are still peddling the idea that Scotland will get more devolved powers after a No vote when devolution is already at its maximum extent and they know it.

  15. Helena Brown says:

    An excellent commentary of something which needs repeating along with the ‘there is no devo max on the ballot paper’, the English never would accept federalism, they see themselves as the conqueror not someone who regards the ‘Celtic Fringe’ as it’s equal. They see three other countries which they either conquered or took over, in our case bought. Do not know how many times I had this discussion on the so called National Papers with people who thought federalism was the answer.
    As for the level of Debate, well there is a shouting match going on, the BT crew only know one way to win and that is shout down the opposition, that is not debating.

  16. Eilean says:

    Regarding the BTL comments in the MSM. I followed the link to the article in the Guardian that was part of yesterdays article. I dont often read the BTL stuff but I was in the mood for some reason. I have previously referred to this practice as “Sewer Snorkeling” I am always left with one question. Why? Granted it is right and proper to go on and refute any “errors” in the original article. and to defend your argument. But what I mostly read is people arguing for the sake of it. Does anyone honestly think that they are ever going to convert any of the bigots that they are arguing with. “But think of the undecideds” is the usual reply. Again do they honestly think that the undersides are going to read through reams of frankly racist bile looking for answers?

    The other day BBC Scotland opened comments for the first time in ages and almost immediately it was filled with the usual anti Scottish bile possibly some of the worst examples that I have read. The pro union types were having a field day. They were obviously excited at yet another opportunity to give the bloody porridge wogs a damn good thrashing.

    Most pro-independence commenters are obviously well informed but I do wish that they would put their knowledge and enthusiasm to better use and talk to real people that might just be persuaded and more importantly people that actually have a vote in the referendum.

    (Rant over)

    • Eilean says:

      “undersides”? undecided!
      Wee embarrassed smiley face thingy.

    • liz says:

      I used to comment on the guardian regularly, now I post if it is something I feel strongly about although I know I shouldn’t bother.

      I think it is hard to stop correcting a false statement but I don’t ever engage with trolls because that is a complete waste of time.

      Also they will be mainly non-voters on the guardian CiF pages which makes even more pointless.

      • Eilean says:

        It will never happen but imagine what the “Scotlands 2P 2w 2S / Alex Salmond’s a dictator” mob would be like if suddenly overnight all the pro indi comenters stopped posting. What would they do then. They’d be completely lost. The OBEwan would probably disappear up his own backside.

  17. bringiton says:

    The problem that unionists like Torrance have is that they are now completely outside the independence debate and as such are irrelevant.
    No one is talking about federalism because it is not an option in the referendum so why waste time discussing it.
    Torrance,in particular,just doesn’t seem to get it.
    Thanks Paul.

    • iheartscotland says:

      Torrance has painted himself into such a corner, that like you say, he’s irrelevant. Newsnet let him post articles there for reasons that escape me.He’s never had very much to say IMO.

  18. Rory says:

    Very funny stuff, Paul your ‘wee ginger dug’ is a simply fantastic. Perks me up every time. This really cracked me up;

    ‘– this is a political insight up there with the realisation that Jeremy Kyle is only pretending to be a social worker.’

    Also from the comments, if never heard ‘porridge wog’ before! Classic.

    Keep the positivity and work ethic up guys, you’re all setting a great example for our wee country.

  19. faolie says:

    Brilliant stuff as usual. And who’d have believed that ‘possibility that electoral plans might have to change if there’s a yes vote in September’? Jings. Thatafact?

    As for DC getting the heave when we vote Yes, well here’s a scenario:

    Wipe out by Farage in Euro elections
    Yes vote in September
    Two excuses to kick out Davie
    Boris enters parliament and gets elected leader in time to win, rather easily, the 2015 GE
    Ed Miliband kicked out

  20. Mosstrooper says:

    Well done Paul. my favourite bit is the Tory fantasy creature being an ugly duckling that grew up to be an ugly duck.

  21. WRH2 says:

    I have to say I’m not really interested who has to jump on their sword following a Yes vote. It might even make negotiations easier as whoever takes over will have less baggage. However, what does seriously get my goat is the constant nonsense of the continuing UK or rUK or fUK. There will be no UK! It will be England, Wales and Northern Ireland and I know its a bit more awkward to say but it’s more accurate geographically. I don’t care if they are the successor state or not but they will no longer be the UK.

    • Eilean says:

      I don’t doubt for one moment that they will use “UK”. They will claim that it is still one monarch and therefore an “United Kingdom”
      Same goes for the Union Flag. Perhaps even more so.

    • As it’s going to be Wales, England & Northern Ireland remaining, WENI is what it should be. Read out loud: Weenie amuses me greatly. Portrays perfectly the diminished stature of rUK.
      Sorry. I’m getting a tad bitter now!

    • liz says:

      Whether it is correct or not, I agree they will continue to use UK as that would be a step too far for the EWaNI voters to accept.

      Also the union flag, again that was designed at the union of crowns and not Treaty of Union, so they will probably still use that – it would break the hearts of the Brit Nats if they had to give up their precious flag.

  22. JGedd says:

    My other half regularly corresponds with friends in other countries, mostly Czechs, and recently one commented about the view of the UK form there being military parades, royal pageantry and more military parades.

    He asked if it seemed like Prussia. Partner replied that no, it was more like the Austro-Hungarian empire – splendid uniforms, grand palaces, but corrupt, ramshackle and rotten at heart. Kaiserlich und Koniglich. He understood at once.

    • WRH2 says:

      Your comment reminds me that Vaslac Havel once announced a competition for a better name for the Czech Republic. Maybe we should start a competition for a new name for EWaNI. Oh I can see me being barked at for starting something! Lots of nice biscuits for the dug…..

  23. […] Bedtime for a fairy story. […]

  24. […] I don't do Twitter and am the world's most reluctant Facebooker, being far too anti-social for social media. I've got a PhD in time-wasting as it is. Getting into Facebook or Twitter would be like …  […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s