As we approach the season of tinsel and gluttony while we bomb to hell where Jesus lived I got to thinking of what Scotland has achieved this year. It occurred to me we have reversed the Fear campaign. And we did it not by using their methods, but by simply not lying down to get trampled.
Far from relaxing after winning the Referendum vote, or showing any sort of generosity to the losers, (“It’s all about English votes for English laws” – Cameron) Unionites have doubled their attacks, and doubled them again. Fabrication, smear, and plain abuse is dropped on Scotland and its population like bombs on Syria. Are we planning another plebiscite this coming September? If not, they must be scared witless about something they don’t like. Could it be Scotland’s ambitions cannot be vanquished?
With 56 MPs at Westminster Scotland is a first hurdle winner. At least, it came as a shock to corrupt and indolent Labour.
Still, December means we take on a lighter, frivolous mood befitting the soggy-minded attitude we all assume at this time of the year. Broadcasters with political shows invite Unionist pundits to spout the same puerile observations as they did last time, only now with a chortle and a laugh. Keeping Scotland subservient is all good clean fun.
And on the subject of banal repetition, throughout the cut and thrust of politics I noticed a number of words and phrases that appeared in almost every speech, internet post, or twitter patter, to the point they became meaningless and overused.
Shortlist for Overworked Phrase of the Year is:
- Ticks all the boxes.
- I’m sorry I upset people.
- Close knit community.
‘Ticks all the boxes’ is ubiquitous: spoken by couples on television shows looking to buy a new property, on holiday programmes, as justification for ideological political policies, lifestyle choices, and your perfect mate. ‘I’m sorry I upset people’ was this year’s biggest apology that wasn’t an apology. The most memorable came from Jeremy Clarkson, a gifted television presenter who has made a career out of acting the overgrown schoolboy, and a total ‘bellend.’ (His description.) Many another celebrity and second-rate politician who committed a stupefying remark to the ether found themselves saying sorry, but avoided saying they were wrong to have made the insult, or were unbelievably pig-ignorant, thus their vanity remained intact. ‘Close knit community’ was exploited to cover villages under flood water, streets where a murder had taken place, a group of like-minded people beset by tragedy such as having the hell bombed out of them, an internet social site under attack, but not any place in Scotland where a majority voted Yes. Yes voters are a disparate group of misguided people terminally gullible.
As this is my personal essay site I am free to be the full judging panel and make my own choice as dictator in residence.
And the winner is… A close knit community.
The phrase was invariably spoken by a reporter or written by a journalist who had never set foot in the area they talked of, nor done any research to gauge the attitude of the people around to discover whether or not the community was ‘close knit,’ or hardly knew each other at all. It signified a surface sentimentality imposed of people supposedly doing each other’s shopping, helping to mow their gardens, or fix their neighbour’s roof.
The last true ‘close knit’ community on record was the rocky islands of St Kilda, a remote archipelago north-west of north Uist, abandoned after generations of hard survival by a group of souls numbering no more than 180 at any one time.
At the same time as over-worked phrases and clichés, we had any number of fashionable words, again each used without care to that attached. Thus almost every SNP politician was ‘demonised’, which was true but how exactly? You can be heavily criticised without people coming to believe you are the spawn of the devil. When a politician is known to have erred criminally his apologists claim he is demonised, not chastised or rebuked.
Shortlist for Word of the Year:
Most often thrown at Yes voters, particularly any member of the SNP, ‘separatist’ was used to mean somebody who does not understand the wonderful ‘close knit’ community that is the United Kingdom and all its blessings, the same one that advocates foreigners should stay away, and anybody not pure English should be repatriated. (You cannot be a separatist and welcome Lizzie to Balmoral to shoot deer. Only a republican is a true separatist.) Delivered by enemies of Scotland it gives the impression of a people who cannot relate to other nations which the intelligent know is the Englishman’s malaise, not Scotland’s. ‘Existential’ was stuck onto anything. A pie with a new type of filling was an existential delight. Trying to park your car is an existential task. “Parking Fine” on the windscreen does not mean your driving skills are good. To the elderly, an existential threat is forced to use an iPhone. ‘Trope’ is anything a political opponent repeats as argument that has no basis in fact. Its proper definition is figurative language. The word describes commonly recurring literary or rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. Switched to politics it means a clichéd low blow, a familiar smear, a slur, or a commonly held belief holding no truth whatsoever.
And the winner is … Existential.
As the great political writers down the generations noted, governments that despise democracy use fear to keep the population in tow and docile, ready to conform to diktat and conventional wisdom. Paranoia is king.
Unknown numbers of unknown insurgents in unknown safe houses amount to an existential terrorist threat.
Terrorists have taken squatter’s rights under our bed. One acronym blending into another – Taliban-al-Qaeda-ISIS – they have us wonder if sleeping in a hammock is safer. An existential threat allowed Westminster to indulge in an ugly bout of jingoism, drag us into another unwanted war, and help increase orders for armaments to keep the industry and the generals happy as pigs in…
The disappearance of the nation’s wealth handed to crooked banks by Brown and Darling left the country with an ‘existential’ hole in its budget. Budgets are to be treated as housekeeping money; don’t spend what you don’t earn. No government on earth does that, it would ruin their economy in a week.
Thanks to No voters, the power elite run all of Britain. You can travel from Pall Mall to Orkney and never leave the scene of the crime.
Time for a wee break
Almost 150 essays in two years is a great deal more than I thought I could compose, and a weekly audience of 3,000 plus far more than I ever thought my scribbles could command. I’m grateful to all who bother to read it, and to comment.
Unless Nicola Sturgeon runs off with the French Ambassador, or David Cameron admits he’s a lightweight chancer who relies on UKIP to do his party’s dirty work, I’m taking a break until the New Year.
Until then I wish everyone a better New Year than this, a second referendum on autonomy, and peace in this troubled world. At least the United Nation’s unanimous vote on Syria gives us hope.
Oh, and days start getting longer as from now.