it's time to get above ourselves

Letts Take Back Control

In a competitive group Quentin Letts (author of ‘Patronising Bastards – How the Elites Betrayed Britain‘) won the competition for Stupidest Tory Bigot of the Week today with this doozie of a tweet:

“India in 1947 had rather less difficulty gaining its independence than we are having in 2017 leaving the Brussels empire. Time for Boris to go the full Gandhi.”

The Full Gandhi – that’s like the Full Bhoona but with omelet and chips.

If you have difficulty mouthing the words ‘Mahātmā Boris’ – you are not alone. But the metaphor shines a light into the exceptionalist soul of the poor persecuted English nationalist, lashing out at everyone and anyone for their self-created cluster-fuck of a withdrawal crisis (Phase 1 Complete!).

In this world Brussels has the role “we” did in relation to India. But “we” are now recreated not as a nation of racist semi-house-trained halfwits, but poor persecuted, colonised India.

I think we may need to look at this idea a little closer.

Just as a quick ready-reckoner, some suggest the British Empire presided over 37 million deaths (between 1858 and 1947) while ‘Brussels’ have made a few inbred Tory nationalists feel less comfortable about their own privileged destiny (1972-2017).

Apart from that it’s a really solid comparison.

For fictionally straightened bananas read the Amritsar Massacre killing between 400-1000 people, that’s basically the same innit?

(Bless those Gurkhas!)

But if the shambles of the Brexit negotiations doesn’t make the very real crisis of faith, trust and belief in democracy that preceded it untrue, we also don’t need to go to the far fringes of the Conservative right to witness a complete detachment from reality.

A far more prosaic and locally-sourced form of fantasy than – Boris as Gandhi – can be located with some of our own MSPs who squealed like stuck pigs at even the most remedial of tax reforms as proposed by the SNP draft Scottish Budget.

God knows what these people would be like if they were ever faced with an actual radical act of distribution?

For many Scottish Conservative and Unionists the proposed budget was as if Che Guevara had ridden into Holyrood on horseback and tied Fred Goodwin and the Duke of Buccleuch to a post each.

Annie Wells (MSP for Glasgow) wrote:

“A message from to the 1 million Scots who are to pay more tax. Don’t be ambitious, don’t be hard working and don’t be successful in the SNP’s Scotland.”

It’s a statement as deluded as Quentin Letts.

As Miriam Brett puts it:

“To claim that people accumulate wealth through work hard and ambition alone is to tell poor people that their lack of wealth is a reflection of not working hard and lack of ambition. We know this not to be true.”

To buy this shit you have to look about at your friends, family and colleagues and think: “you don’t work hard, you don’t have ambition”.

For all the bravado of the Conservatives this is a death-trap shrink-wrapped in their own conceit.

People simply don’t believe that the rich and powerful got there by hard-graft and that the poor and powerless are indolent and work-shy, which, given the daily barrage to the contrary is something next to a Christmas Miracle.

What happened this week isn’t very radical but is is highly symbolic.

As writer(er) AL Kennedy wrote, speaking out against the principle of “more progressive taxation” after it was attacked by the Scottish Conservatives said:

“The Scottish economy and social contract could act as an example to the UK as a whole – it’s already being attacked for just those reasons. If austerity is a cruel confidence trick perpetrated by ideologues and wealth-addicts, Scotland stepping back from the con shows Wales and England another path and shames the looters at work now.”

From MSP Annie Wells at a salary of £60k a year, she’d have to pay another 29p  a week.

That won’t buy you a Twix.

Like the Baby Box the change in tax bands isn’t about the numbers.

Conservatives and Unionists don’t actually care if boxes change infant mortality or if new tax bands give the bulk of people a respite. What they care is that it is different and it is happening, and that is intolerable.

For all they may fume, there is nothing they can do about it.

As it’s revealed that Anna Soubry has faced messages that she be ‘hanged in public’ we should remember not just Gandhi’s oft-quoted notion that British civilisation “would be a good idea” but that “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Let’s not get contaminated by the sheer ridiculousness of the ‘debate’.

While it’s easy to laugh at the absurdism of Brexiteer nonsense – a more serious landmark has been reached. One: of the idea of progressive taxation within Scotland has been broached and will now become a debating point, a high-water for discussion, and the second: more important concept that has entered public debate (and god knows why this has taken so long) is the idea of taxes raised here that aren’t spent on toxic ‘UK’ priorities.

That these are taxes raised for Scotland exclusively is a new magic.

These simple concepts will run and run ‘all the way through’.

The idea of meritocracy may be an assumption running through Conservative closed circles, but it’s a highly contested idea in Scottish public life. Scottish nationalists are (rightly) accused of living in echo chambers, but this week showed the Tories own belligerent, privileged bubble to the world in harsh and simple figures.

A new title suggests itself: Patronising Bastards – How the Elites Betrayed Scotland.



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  • Ian Clark 3 months ago

    “Scottish nationalists are (rightly) accused of living in echo chambers …” That’s certainly a sweeping statement.

  • James Mills 3 months ago

    Annie Wells bleating about ”hard working” people being discouraged from being ambitious is rich considering that she was parachuted into her very well-paid ”job” as an MSP – she wasn’t voted in , she is supported by patronage !


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