On one of the continents, abroad

In an interview today with Tory supporting LBC radio presenter Iain Dale, Esther McVey gave us all a masterclass in political idiocy. Railing against giving foreign aid, she spoke about an airport that can’t be used because it was built in the wrong direction and windshear means planes can’t take off or land safely. What a terrible waste of UK aid money. Money that could be better spent on weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts for rich people, and paying the army to mount barricades against rioters protesting that the supermarkets are empty because of a no deal Brexit.

So where is this airport then, she was asked. “It’s on one of the continents … eh … abroad,” she stated confidently, safe in the knowledge that all foreign aid goes to one of the continents abroad. She might as well have said, “It’s on planet Earth.” Actually she’d have been more accurate to say that it was on planet Earth as the airport in question is only in one of the continents in a technical sense. It’s really on the island of St Helena, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean 1200 miles off the coast of Africa. Geologically speaking St Helena is a seamount produced by volcanic activity in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. So it’s sort of in Africa, but not really. It’s not abroad either. St Helena is a British territory, and its inhabitants are British citizens. So it’s not an example of overseas aid.

It was always going to be difficult to build an airport on St Helena. It’s a rocky and mountainous island, despite its small size. Although it’s only 44 square miles in area, it is composed of rugged and hilly terrain, which rises to the 2,684 ft high Diana’s Peak towards the south of the centre of the island. Flat land is in very short supply. There are not many places on St Helena where it was possible to build an airport. Wind shear is always going to be an issue for an airfield on a mountainous island in the middle of the South Atlantic, but although the windshear issues were greater than first forecast, the airport is currently in use. There are regular scheduled flights between the island and South Africa.

So it’s not foreign aid. The people it was built for are British citizens. It’s a British territory so it’s not abroad. And the airport does actually function. But other than that Esther was quite right.

It’s a trivial example really, but Esther McVey’s idiocy is an illustration of how this Conservative leadership race is driven by misinformation, foolishness, prejudice, and a wilful disengagement from reality. It’s not just Esther who is guilty of that, all the Conservative party candidates are equally happy to preach hypocritical cant. The candidates are of such a low calibre that the one who comes across as the most reasonable by far is the one who wrote and presented a BBC documentary to tell us all that Scotland is imaginary, who makes up statistics to suit his feelings, and who wants to transform the scouts into a chain gang.

As I type this, Sajid Javid is on the TV making his leadership pitch, telling his fans and the press that he’s ideal to be the next Prime Minister because the millionaire former banker is an outsider. He makes a big play of how his dad arrived in the UK from Pakistan with just £1 in his pocket. But Sajid wants to make sure that no one else can do what his dad did. He wants to raise the income threshold for migrants to the UK to £30,000. His plans to resolve Brexit are even fluffier and vaguer than the other candidates, and none of those are exactly well defined and well thought through.

Then he said that the change Ruth Davidson has brought to Holyrood is the same change he’s going to bring to Westminster. Does Sajid think that the Tories won in Scotland? Is he planning to lose seven elections in a row? Does he realise that the Conservatives ended up in fourth place in the EU elections in Scotland? Does he know that all opinion polls point to the Tory party being obliterated in Scotland at the next General Election and losing seats in the next Scottish elections? Fine Sajid. That’s the kind of change we can live with. This is what happens when you get all your information about Scotland from Ruth Davidson’s press releases.

But the big launch of the day was from the Blusterer in Chief. Boris Johnson finally crawled out from his hiding place and held a press conference to mark the official start of the campaign that he’s been unofficially running for the past ten years. It was polished, bombastic, oozing a carefully manufactured sincerity, and entirely fact free.

He started by claiming that he could secure a better Brexit deal than Theresa May’s, even though the EU has said repeatedly that the deal is not up for renegotiation. And even if it was they wouldn’t be about to do Boris Johnson any favours, since he’s universally despised in EU circles. But Boris Johnson wants us all to think that he can change this solid political certainty by sheer force of a total conviction in Britain. The only reason that Brexit negotiations have so far failed to produce the unicorns, cake, and magic beans demanded by Brexiters is because we haven’t believed in them hard enough.

Yet as soon as total conviction in Brexit collides with the EU, it will only strengthen those in Europe who have had quite enough of the UK’s delusions. That’s what Boris Johnson is really after, a means of portraying the EU as intransigent and unreasonable. Then he can play to the victimhood fantasies of the right wing English nationalism that has driven Brexit. Then he might have a chance of success in a snap General Election with the Conservatives standing as the party of no deal. Or at least he might enjoy success outwith Scotland, but then Boris Johnson cares nothing for Scotland. The feeling is mutual.

The truth is that Boris doesn’t really believe in Britain. He doesn’t really believe in Brexit. He doesn’t even really believe in the Conservative party. His one lodestar, his one true principle, his only guiding light, is an unshakeable belief in his own entitlement. The total conviction that he spoke of is really a total conviction that he is owed the Conservative leadership, and owed the office of Prime Minister. The tousled hair, the bumbling affectations, the Classical quips, they’re all carefully constructed to present an image designed to appeal to a certain type of English voter.

Today the House of Commons played into Boris Johnson’s hands by voting down a proposal to allow the Commons to take control of business and vote against a no deal Brexit. It was described as the last chance to block a no deal Brexit. The Labour motion was supported by all the opposition parties except the DUP, as well as by some diehard Conservative remainers.

However the motion was defeated by 309 votes to 298, because eight Labour MPs defied the whip and voted against their own party. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), John Mann (Bassetlaw), Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton). They should hold their heads in shame. Labour was very quick to expel Alistair Campbell for voting for the Lib Dems in the EU elections, Kate Hoey is still a member of the Labour party. If those Labour MPs had voted with their party, the motion would have carried. The last ditch effort to prevent no deal, and it was defeated thanks to Labour MPs.

Scotland is screwed if it stays under Westminster rule. The Tories will ignore us when they’re not actively despising us, and Labour offers as much protection as a wet paper bag in a hurricane. We’re ignored, traduced, lectured to. We are told that we’ll get what we’re given and should jolly well be grateful. Brexit will trash our economy and our prospects, but we’re told to suck it up. Scotland has zero influence on determining its own future, zero influence on determining the path taken by this so-called union. Is this really the best of both worlds that Scotland was promised by Better Together in 2014? Yet it’s only going to get worse.

The only remaining hope for Scotland is for us to become one of those places that is remote and distant from Westminster that Esther McVey thinks is “on a continent … abroad.” We’re already remote and distant from Westminster in terms of having any influence. We may as well have independence too and then at least we can plot our own course instead of sitting passively and silenced while it’s decided by the chancers, charlatans, and choobs of Westminster.

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28 comments on “On one of the continents, abroad

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug On one of the continents, abroad In an interview today with Tory supporting LBC radio presenter Iain Dale, Esther McVey […]

  2. mogabee says:

    I have reached the end of my tether with the bunch of hopeful Tory eejits. Let them do their worst while we wave cheerfully on the safe side of the border!

    • indyman says:

      Somebody in the Guardian comments section called them a bunch of arsemaggots. Pretty good description IMO

  3. Glendon Franklin says:

    I am not sure what a choob is but I think it probably describes Tory MPs quite well – chubby and obnoxious maybe?

  4. hoplite39 says:

    The Tories used to be called the Nasty Party. Now they are the Monster Raving Loony Nasty Party.

  5. M biyd says:

    Napoleon would be turning in his grave…if his body was still there.

  6. Melvin says:

    If that vote was last chance saloon, then the Labour Party have sealed the book on the Union.Every independence supporter needs to spread the word, Nicola it’s time launch the referendum now, no delays now is the time. The unionists are in turmoil in Scotland have no legitimacy.

    • Welsh Sion says:

      15. (of 20.)

      Scots Wha Hae – Reprise

      Scots, wha hae wi’ Salmond bled,
      Scots, wham Sturgeon aften led,
      Welcome tae yer gory bed
      Or tae destiny.

      Now’s the day, an’ now’s the hour:
      Seize oor chance a’ last fir power.
      See the fearties start tae cower.
      Scotland will be free!

      Wha will be a low appeaser?
      Wha will bow tae Lunnon’s Th’resa?
      Wha sae base as be a greaser?
      Let him turn an’ flee.

      Wha fir Scotland’s Pride an’ Aw’
      Freedom’s sword will strongly draw?
      Bondsman stand or Freeman fa’:
      Let him follow me.

      By th’ oppressive woes and pains,
      Of oor sons in servile chains,
      We will drain oor dearest veins
      But we shall be free!

      Lay Westminster oh so low.
      Traitors fall – like every foe.
      Liberty’s oors wi’ every blow!
      Let us vote fir SNP!

      [With acknowledgements]

      (Verse three to be amended soon enough …)

  7. Cubby says:

    The UK is now a black mad farce. A laughing stock for those looking in from other countries but no laughing matter for us in Scotland trapped in the prison called Her majesty’s UK.

  8. Robert Graham says:

    Just looked in and the Airport thingy seems to ring a bell , I could be wrong but didn’t that arse wipe Alan Duncan ,at least I think its his name you know the one who would have a certain Wiki leaks employee dragged off to GITMO by the CIA tonight, anyway I seem to remember him defending said Airport recently as he was the Minister involved, well he would defend it wouldn’t he , the tosser .

  9. Scozzie says:

    I’m not defending McVey as she’s an utter moron, but rightly or wrongly the cost of the St Helena airport came from DFID’s aid budget. Since the 70s the UK has supported its overseas territories through the UK aid budget. So while it’s not ‘foreign aid’ as she refers to it, it’s still attributed to the UK aid budget (via DFID).
    Perhaps in a rather muddled and moronic way she is attempting to say the UK’s financial commitments to its overseas territories should not be buried within its aid budget and perhaps attributed in a more transparent way in other government depts budgets & expenditures…ach no she’s not that capable of joining those dots!

  10. It may come as something of a surprise to Imperator Maximus Superbus Johnson as he reluctantly bows to the will of the Posh Rich Old Folk and steps forward to lead England out of Europe into the brand bright New Dawn of Barter and Haggle, the Invisible Hand of the Free Market, that the 13 Blue Tory MP’s in Scotland are not ‘Boris Johnson’s MPs’, but really owe their success and allegiance to Supermom Davidson, who is enjoying her last hurrah, backing a Loser in Javid the Exhaler, in the Danse Macabre that is the risible farcical Blue Tory Leadership Beauty Pageant.
    Ruth’s all over the MSM today, and yesterday, more chubbily cheekily grinning than ever, but the sparkle has drained from her eyes, as she contemplates Life After Treeza.

    At least Torcuil Chrichton of The Daily Clegg seems to think that Mundane and the Dirty Dozen are ‘Ruth Davidson’s MPs’.
    This is a lie, of course.
    But lying about Davidson’s status never stops the Hacks and broadcasters touting the ridiculous notion that this wee chancer has any sway or influence in England, especially now that the Big Alpha Male, the Silver Backed Johnson is about to rampage through the Corridors of Power, crushing all those who get in his way.. so in his wee scribble in the DR today.
    In about 3 weeks’ time, Davidson will be toast.
    Unlike Nicola Sturgeon, who ‘leads’ the SNP, Davidson is not the ‘Leader’ of the Blue Meanies, in Scotland. or anywhere else.
    She is yesterday’s news.
    She won’t be getting wee invites to Number Ten when the Boris takes over.
    The Herald has a Davidson headline and photie of her arm raised declaring that ther e will be no chance of Indyref 2 until after 2021, and only then, if NS has an SNP Majority Government.
    The fact that the SNP led Administration already has a mandate to call Indyref 2 escapes Davidson and her wee pals at the Herald Britland.

    She really has crumbled into oblivion quite rapidly.
    Even Gordon, Chrichton and Toodle Oo The Noo cannot save her now.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Agreed Jack, I posted this earlier elsewhere after being stunned at her gall being plastered all over, particularly the Beeb… The media fawning over this woman’s nonsense is as perplexing as their comments on Boris’s popularity, they are not reporting fact but creating a myth :
      – While Irish headlines warn “Tory hopefuls claim they’ll crack Brexit as ‘ever wilder promises’ raise fears here”, and 70,000 Party members (last official 2018 figure) wait to decide which of the final two has better manners, the irony of this woman’s wheezing extends beyond farce, aside the SNP’s existing mandate.
      Do the Conservatives have an outright majority in Holyrood OR Westminster? No.
      Have the Conservatives increased their majority in the last elections?No.
      Does Indy2 have a majority in favour in Holyrood? Yes.
      With Tory support falling heavily in all recent elections and widely expected to be decimated in upcoming ones, this latest hypocrisy is hopefully one of her last. Looking forward to this mouthpiece’s defeat at the next Holyrood elections, so she can go back to her media pals and be an irritating pundit instead.
      – As she undoubtedly will

      • Welsh Sion says:

        “Tory hopefuls claim they’ll crack Brexit …”

        – You’ve gotta hand it to the Irish headline writer.

        S/he’s got the ‘craic’, sure enough.

        • Bob Lamont says:

          I will ever forget the look of complete befuddlement when “Healing Nicely” was my response to the greeting “How’s the Craic?”

      • Davidson is ‘the boss’ of 31 MSPs at Holyrood, only 7 of whom were elected at constituency level on the FPTP system, while a further 24 are Jobs for the Boys ‘list’ MSPs, chosen in a Back Room somewhere, many of whom nobody had ever heard or bothered to actually stand as candidates in their constituencies.
        The FPTP system is what keeps Head Office Blue Tories ‘in power’ Down There propped up by the DUP zealots.
        Up here FPTP got Davidson 10.4% of the constituency vote, 7 elected MSPs.
        An abject failure in anybody’s eyes.
        Davidson is the Chief Clerk of the Branch Office.
        With May dead, and Javid with no chance, she has no power, or authority at UK level, and heads a team of 24 LisTory Gravy Trainers like Jamie Greene, Miles Briggs, Annie Wells, Murdo (7 times failure) The Queen’s Eleven Fraser, Professor Two Jobs WATP Adam Tomkins, whom we had the great good sense in our constituency to consign to fourth place, and Sir Edward Brian Stanord Mountain, 4th Barnet.

        Her fate is to check their expenses forms and make sure everybody labels their milk in the ‘fridge.that’s about it.
        In all her time as Branch Manager, there has not been one document from her or this lot, setting out her ‘vision’ for a future Blue Tory Scotland.
        Johnson Hunt and Gove are the front runners. Javid’s got the Big E.
        Davidson backed a cart horse.
        She’s toast.
        Baroness Davidson of Brigadoon?

        • Bob Lamont says:

          There can be little doubt of her elevation once her sterling defence of Empire is over, Brigadoon seems entirely appropriate, as there is little doubt her mouth will continue to run as long as the Musical….

  11. diabloandco says:

    while listening to the outstanding candidates for the post of prime minister of Britain , it occurs to me that Caligula had a good idea at least once.

    Let’s hear it for Trigger , or Red Rum or Silver as P.M – all of whom are infinitely preferable to the cattle market of candidates on offer.

  12. Craig P says:

    You have to wonder at the mentality of Scots who still believe that this is as good as it can possibly get. And that no matter how bad it gets in future, clinging on to the UK is still as good as it can possibly get…

  13. Macart says:

    Well said Paul.

    Westminster politics is effectively collapsing under its own actions and under its own practices.

    Well who’da thunk it?! 😎

    • Luigi says:

      Aye Macart I remember you saying a while back something like leave em to it and they will destroy themselves. After all WM will be WM. How true.

      • Macart says:

        Time and circumstances basically, Luigi.

        About now, I’d say there’s a perfect storm of the latter brewing.

    • Bob Lamont says:


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