The propaganda department

A report has just been published by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. The House of Commons report was written by anti-independence MPs, largely from England. It consists of 11 MPs, five of whom are Conservative, five Labour, and only one SNP. The sole SNP MP on the committee is the only MP representing a Scottish constituency. So this is a committee which has no particular insight into Scotland, and no special sympathy for the Scottish Parliament, but even they recognise that Theresa May’s government’s handling of devolved issues in the wake of the Brexit referendum has been woeful. It lays the blame for the acrimony and anger which has been generated firmly at the door of the Conservative government and notes that current inter-governmental mechanisms are not fit for purpose.

Wee Wullie Rennie, remember him? He’s been quoted having a wee ribbit that the report is a powerful rebuke to independence supporters. Because clearly a report which highlights the woeful inadequacies of the British government’s handling of devolution is such a great advertisement for Scotland to continue as a part of the UK. Devolution was sold to Scotland as the great British alternative to independence, but even members of the British establishment concede that it’s not working for Scotland. Except Wullie. But then every time you look at Wullie you can’t help but make a mental note that somewhere a number 17 bus to Kelty is missing its driver. Although to be fair, bus drivers can actually negotiate a route and arrive at the destination which they told people that they were going to go to, which is more than anyone could ever say for the Lib Dems.

The report also says that consideration should be given to abolishing the Scotland Office and the position of Scotland Secretary. Scotland would be better off without the Scotland Office. In fact we have no need for any aspect of the Westminster government. It’s mired in dysfunction, incapable of delivering any of the promises that it feverishly makes to the electorate when the time for voting comes round, and sits in gloriously unaccountable isolation.

You only have to look at David Mundell’s performance in the post to see that he’s quite possibly the most pointless cabinet minister in a cabinet which even includes Michael Gove. Well I say ‘performance’, that’s a misleading term in this context since it implies actually doing something. You’d be as well talking about the performance of wallpaper or the performance of a cardboard cut out figure. You could in fact replace David Mundell with a life sized cardboard cut out figure and it’s highly unlikely that any of his cabinet colleagues would notice the substitution. There are those of us who wonder whether he was replaced by a life sized cardboard cut out figure quite a long time ago.

However we must be charitable. Unlike Michael, whose pointlessness is personal, Fluffy is hampered both by his own pointlessness and the pointlessness of the post which he occupies. If you wanted to know what the purpose of the Scotland Secretary was, you wouldn’t find out by watching David Mundell, or indeed any other occupant of the role. Quite possibly the only parliamentary position even more pointless than Fluffy’s is the post of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland – and I challenge you to name the occupant of that role without Googling it. Even Labour politicians don’t know who it is, and the real role of Labour politicians is to act as the opposition to other Labour politicians because they actually vote against one another instead of abstaining.

But back to the Fluffy one. See how easy it is to forget his existence and go off on an unrelated tangent? That’s precisely what his colleagues in government do too, only with them it’s a policy choice and not merely forgetfulness.

You’d get a better idea of what Mundell’s job consists of by fixing your gaze on one of those nodding bulldogs sitting on the parcel shelf of a car and advertising a UK patriotically themed insurance company. This is in fact precisely what David’s job is, to nod along in a UK patriotically themed way to whatever the Goves are saying. At least the toy dog is decorative, which is a lot more than you could say for either Mundell or Gove. Although that may be unfair, as there is quite possibly a ghost train ride somewhere that’s missing a couple of its exhibits.

Supposedly, the purpose of the Scotland Office is to give Scotland representation at the highest level of UK government. The Scotland Office is theoretically the voice of Scotland in the British cabinet. In theory David Mundell acts to ensure that Scottish interests get an airing in the British government, and in theory he brings a Scottish perspective to UK government decisions and policy making. But there’s theory, and then there’s real life.

In theory BBC Scotland is an unbiased, balanced, and politically neutral national public service broadcaster. In theory Jeremy Kyle brings social work onto the small screen. In theory the people commenting on stories in the Scotsman are human beings with functioning neurones. In real life, the Scotland Secretary is not Scotland’s voice in the British cabinet, where he is regularly ignored and never invited to any important meetings, he’s really the voice of the Conservative government in Scotland. It would make not the slightest bit of practical difference to Scotland if Scotland Office was abolished and replaced with a voice mail message saying, “Shut up and do what you’re told ungrateful Jockos. Leave a message after the beep if you want, but no one is going to listen to it.”

Despite losing most of its functions after devolution, the department has in recent years mushroomed in expense, and in the number of staff it employs. The cost is taken out of Scottish funding. These staff members and this money isn’t used for the benefit of Scotland, they’re used for the benefit of the British government. Nowadays the Scotland Office is nothing more than a blatant propaganda department selling the British government to the people of Scotland. We have no need for it. We already have BBC Scotland for that sort of thing.


This weekend I am speaking at the launch of Greg Moodie’s new book Cool Scots. The book launch will be downstairs in the Yes Bar in Glasgow from 2pm. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome.

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50 comments on “The propaganda department

  1. Andy Anderson says:

    We al new this Paul during the shambles regarding the Withdrawal Bill. How our government’s negotiators kept from murdering them I have know idea. I was annoyed watching and listening to it.

    Regarding Fluffy. You have said it all. In fact the Office he holds should be closed as it is ignored anyway. The new UK Government, Scotland offices is where he needs to sit. He should not be in the cabinet and just be a civil servant. Mind you they probably do not want him.

  2. Now, young Paul, the essay was supposed to be 60 words long.
    If BBC Breakfast can explain it all in a 60 word paragraph, why can’t you?
    Simply sublime.

    I’d imagine that Mundell will appear on Distorting Scotland tonight.

  3. jfngw says:

    Is the rumour true? Is he referred to as their little ginger dog in Tory circles.

    I can’t get that image of a nodding dog with a union jack waistcoat and a beard sitting on my passenger shelf out of my head now.

  4. Excellent, as always, Paul. Some enterprising entrepreneur should start selling “Nodding Fluffies” for the parcel shelf of Scottish cars. I’d buy one!

  5. gus1940 says:

    hi Paul – I love your description of the Scotsman’s resident swivel-eyed loonies.

  6. Macart says:

    The true nature of devolution has been discussed here and elsewhere many times, but for the removal of all doubt? Folk need look no further than the ongoing Supreme court case over Treeza’s power grab and the case put forward by UK gov’s brief Lord Keen.


    Power retained is not ceded.

    So you know? What he’s saying is that the sovereignty of Westminster parliament is unassailable. Your vote. Your opinion. Your needs. They don’t matter half as much as the will of parliament and the government of the day. That would be the government that just gave itself the power to legislate without parliamentary oversight. Pass a final deal without parliamentary oversight. Voted to ignore the amendments of Scotland’s representatives and generally told Scotland’s population that your devolution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

    That one.

    If you’re not YES yet, then you better focus right sharpish. The next bit will be really painful.

    As for Mundell and the Scottishland Orifice? Paul has said all that ever needs to said. 🙂

  7. […] Wee Ginger Dug The propaganda department A report has just been published by the Public Administration and Constitutional […]

  8. robert harrison says:

    I’ve got sore sides from all that laughing reading this man its comedy gold but very true as well on another note I still can’t understand why east Fife voted for rennie in 2016 as he’s never done a thing for them just like Davidson not lifted a finger for Edinburgh central.

  9. Just started to read BTL comments in The Scotsman on Mike russels take on the CA Committee’s recommendation that the Scotland Office be scrapped.
    It is small wonder that it is on the brink of closing.
    It is clear that the barrage of SNP Bad comments are the work of one or two nuts using a variety of pseudonyms.

    We have nothing to fear, from this lot, or are there only two?
    Clue; try and vary your writing style..

  10. carthannas says:

    Mìorbhaileach! (Agus glè bhrosnachail ann an Inbhir Nis cuideachd) Brilliant! (And inspiring in Inverness as well!)

  11. tintochiel says:

    As usual, I started smiling at your satire, Paul but, as usual, I got angry too at the contemptible, craven wee tulchan who occupies the office of Secretary of State for Scotland.

    When even A Tory zoomer like Bernard Jenkin effectively calls you a waste of space, surely Grima Wormtongue should just slink off into the sunset and do us all a favour?

  12. susan says:

    I think that it won’t be eliminated, rather it will be vital for controlling all those areas “power grabbed”. Sad but true.

  13. Fluffy’s job description, straight from the Scottish Orifice website-
    The main role of the Scottish Secretary is to promote and protect the devolution settlement.
    By any criteria, Fluffy has failed dismally in his main task. In fact, one could be excused for thinking that his main task was to attack and undermine the devolution settlement. Actually, it turns out that the devolution settlement is anything but settled.
    After a no deal Brexit there isn’t going to be a Scottish Parliament. It’s hard to imagine the full implications of the disaster that’s coming from a no deal. But the Tories will take full advantage of it, as far as Scotland is concerned. A declaration of State of Emergency over Brexit is highly likely. This would suspend normal constitutional procedures and would be a pretext for suspending rights and freedoms.
    We know that the demented woman in number 10 is an absolute control freak. She would be in her element with a State of Emergency. The shutdown of the Wings over Scotland Youtube site, is a little glimpse into the future. Of course the BBC and the rest of the Tory media, would only be too happy to back her up, getting rid of some their competition at the same time. Who would have thought in modern day Europe we’d ever see the scenes of violence in Catalonia.
    This scenario reminds me of Hitler using the Reichstag fire to suspend democracy in Germany. Of course, he never brought democracy back. And, that was only a one off incident. The Brexit disaster will go on for years. Every day there will be a new catastrophe. Makes one wonder, if these newspapers/TV reporters/TV news channels/news presenters were sympathetic to Brexit all along, knowing it would be a gold mine for them.
    I feel sorry for our English neighbours with what’s to come, but Scotland must escape this madhouse before it’s too late for us.

  14. bedelsten says:

    If the son of a Torry fish merchant can be successfully compared to a fish, the Govefish gadus govus, also known as being a bit of pollock, then the Secretary of State for Uselessness could perhaps be compared to the tetraodontidae sp., or puffer fish, which has developed some unique defensive mechanisms to compensate for their innate stupidity, one of which is, when threatened, to puff itself up with self importance until practically spherical. They also have lots of pricks on the outside, unlike the Westminster government…

    Meanwhile, thank you for taking the dug to Inverness. The rain held off. We met some lovely people, some with complex travel arrangements. It was possibly the biggest political rally ever held in Inverness but doesn’t seem to warrant any mention in the Inverness Courier.

  15. Graeme says:

    You know sometimes I feel a sorry for ole Fluffy Naemates because in spite of what a pathetic inconsequential, pointless character he undoubtedly is, when the history books are written about this period in Scotlands story, he will feature in a big way, a sad, lonely pathetic character whose name will become synonymous with deceit, lies & treachery not to mention beard munching that will be remembered long after he’s gone

    What a legacy

  16. Just because I had no idea, i had to google who the shadow secretary of state for Scotland is and having found the answer, I am none the wiser!

  17. Brian Powell says:

    Rennie is one of the dimmest around, but how bad does it makes us look that he gets elected.

  18. Macart says:

    Epic nuggetry from Jeremy Hunt:


    You know, I don’t think they quite understand yet the simple premise behind this ‘leaving the club’ thing? Yes, some folk in the EU will lose jobs and a LOT more will gain those lost by people in the UK who will be watching parent companies move house to EU countries.

    Now, according to Mr Hunt, at the eleventh hour these nations should bail out the UK because a. Ms May and the British nation (???) (see under what do you mean we?), won’t blink and b. This all may go terribly wrong by accident and it’ll all be your fault.

    Just to be clear like. The EU didn’t kick the UK out. They didn’t stop the UK from making its own choices either. They didn’t endanger agreements, home nation constitutional settlements, or place the economies of the populations of the UK in harms way. They did state from the very set off what its own red lines were. The protection of the four freedoms. It’s what make the EU, the EU. They CANNOT and WILL NOT jeopardise those principles for one state. To do so would undermine the very reason for their existence.

    No matter what the media state, or the spin placed by Tory policy wonks, NONE of the current omnishambles is the fault of the EU.

    Also? And maybe worth Mr Hunt considering. Struggling to see why ANY EU member state would or should intervene on May’s behalf given the actions of the UK government, the media and the nature of the leave campaign tbh. Why should any of the remaining twenty seven nations intercede? They were told in no uncertain fashion to f**k off, yes? Their resident nationals in the UK have seen a massive rise in hate crime, the HO have threatened deportations and the rhetoric of the right wing press has been nothing short of inflammatory to say the least.

    It’s NOT the responsibility of the EU to fix problems created by the government and political practices of the UK. Their job is to look after their own populations, their own economies, their own governments and politics. Their job is to protect the four freedoms which underpin the existence of the club. The UK, and in particular two parts of the UK, chose to leave that club and its RULES, because it didn’t like or want them. The UK doesn’t get to pick and choose and the UK government did freely choose to opt out of all of the above.

    Mibbies me, but this approach doesn’t really seem the way to win anyones good graces I’d have thought (shrugs).

    • Sam, you can’t reason with psycopaths, idiots, or greedy Money men.
      You are wasting your breath.
      We voted 62% Remain every LA ,all 32 of them voted Remain.
      It is a material change; if England voted to Leave the EU and we didn’t, then this change of circumstances is deemed cause to mount a second independence Referendum.
      End of Story.
      The EU 27 will not blink.
      Big Business is already implementing Contingency Plans.
      England and Wales will become industrial wastelands.
      They are already granting Fracking licences in the North of England, and fish farmers are feeding salmon with GM additives Up Here in anticipation of No Deal US 51st State status.
      You may as well stick your head in a cement mixer as try to reason with the likes of Mundell or Gove.
      They are dolt headed little career men, who must be easily members of the most inept group of politicians ever to loll on the benches in WM.
      We have 500 odd Red Blue and Yellow Toories whop see Scotland as a backwater colony, and the EU as Johnny Foreigner.
      We must strike, and strike imminently.
      We are in the Cat Bird Seat, but not after March 29th 2019.
      Greta Post, Mac.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      I think the same as you Sam.

      To me their current tactic is to show the people of the UK that it is all the EU’s fault for the approaching disaster. To me what they are doing is hurting their cause for flexibility. This approach to me is utterly ridiculous.

      If you get into the detail the EU have mapped out regarding the Brexiteers red lines (over a year ago) meaning we, the UK can only get the Canadian deal, no deal, or a future negotiated deal years down the road. We could get the customs union now but that means EU compliance on safety etc. etc.. This latter point being a good thing.

      The brexiteers idiots just do not get the complexity of how a supply chain works or the effort needed at a customs border. You would think that if you had no knowledge of something they would trust industry expert statements.

      I know two people very well that have a ‘it will be all right on the day, do not worry Andy’ approach to news on problems of leaving the EU. They think it is the same as the ‘project fear’ in 2014.

    • Jeremy is a deranged little Hunt, isn’t he?

      • Macart says:

        He is if he thinks he can use our name to back his delusional threats. I certainly don’t hold the EU responsible for this shambles.

        No. Mainly I hold Conservative government and Westminster political practices at fault.

      • Indeed – he is a living, breathing Freudian slip, Jack!

  19. Col says:

    Should the Scottish government just set up an equivalent to the Scotland office? Pump out endless pro indy messages and info.

    • Anne Martin says:

      Sounds like an idea, but where are they going to pump out the messages from? The BBC and MSM won’t help!

  20. Ottomanboi says:

    If the British state were what it claimed to be there would be an England Office.
    How silly of me, there is one already, its usual name is the British government.

    • Marconatrix says:

      Ha! But what if the Scottish Government set up it’s own English Office, perhaps even with its own stuffed-dummy Sec. of Dire State? Sauce for the goose … No? 😉

  21. Referendum1707 says:

    Talking about getting the message out there, help this fundraiser push Yes support towards tipping point then critical mass at which point support starts to build on itself. For now though we need to keep pushing.

  22. scotsmanic says:

    Speaking of the exorbitant costs of occupying forces controlling colonial outposts, they’re digging in for the duration.

    • Salmond holding Tony Hall’s feet to the fire.
      Lovin’ it.
      I expect that Owen Jones, and Billy Bragg, and Mervyn Bragg for that matter will be taking up this tartan cause celebre.
      A direct attack on Freedom of Speech if there was one surely?
      The State as censor.
      1984 and all that.
      Gary Robertson as Winston Smith.
      Oh dear.
      (I know that you guys on Pacific Heights read this excellent blog.)

  23. tintochiel says:

    “I expect that Owen Jones, and Billy Bragg, and Mervyn Bragg for that matter will be taking up this tartan cause celebre.”

    Good point, Jack. To date, only The Canary has expressed misgivings about this affront to free speech. Apart from that particular website, there seems to be different journalistic rules for independence for Scotland, The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

    I made an exception to listen to Vichysound yesterday and thought that Gary Robertson conducted a fair interview, allowing Mr Campbell to talk uninterrupted. I’d like to know who provided the Scot Arthur curved ball, though. They just can’t help themselves, the spinners of Pacific Quay, to mix my mephators.

    • Och, tinto, something like this would normally Private Eye’s wet dream.

      Ian Hyslop would have a ball torturing them if it were an English based blogger who was being censored by the BBC like this.

      But Hyslop, and the tight coterie of stand up former ‘cutting edge’ comedians who are ubiquitous pains in the arses appearing on an endless stream of ‘comedy’ panel games that populate the telly, are now part of the Establishment, permitted to gently lambast May, Corbyn and the Ultra Right Establishment for cheap laughs, but never too harshly, never to subversively’

      Boris and Jacob are figures of fun, but still rule the country.

      If Wings Over Scotland’s censorship by the BBC and the Establishment ever got an airing on ‘Have I got News For you’, or ‘Mock The Week’, then Hyslop or O’Brain would rasp:-

      ‘Shut up and eat your greens’ to rapturous applause and raucous laughter from the London audiences.

      Scotland does not exist in their mind’s eye.

      We are a nuclear sub; a grouse moor; a whisky spigot; a Festival to try out new material.
      Not for much longer.

  24. tintochiel says:

    Jack, your third para summarised my thoughts perfectly on those I call mere “licensed jesters”. When the threat to the establishment wot we are rears its head, they get stuck in, however. I remember Hyslop’s factually wrong but infinitely condescending remarks about Darien and our begging bowls a long time ago on HIGNFY: smug wee weasel but I don’t think I’ll meet him walking down the Gallowgate for a robust exchange of views, unfortunately.

    MSM? Tune out, turn off, drop out, as Timothy Leary definitely didn’t say.

    • Tinto, check out the number of ProudScotsBut entertainers who backed No whose careers have taken a turn for the better since; mainly on the BBC.
      Similarly the number of home based Scots journalists who have moved from Pacific Quay to the Washington or Los Angeles Desks since their dogged coverage of the ‘Separatist’ Campaign in 2014.
      If the money’s right, some people would sell their granny.

  25. Macart says:

    Seriously. Just check out this.


    This just get madder by the minute.

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