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From the Province of the Cat 16 – When Up is Down then Down must be Up

"Who.... are.... you?

“Who…. are…. you?


I happened to be in Edinburgh the day Nigel Farage was heckled in and huckled out of a High Street pub. Unfortunately I was too late in arriving. I would have loved to have seen the three Auld Reekie cabbies who in turn refused his fare as he tried to escape. In the end a Black Mariah from the newly formed Police Scotland vanned him away from his political “miscalculation”. I will not dignify the UKIP leader’s comments by quoting them but it was interesting to see how the Scottish media tried to spin the story in the direction of “a nationalist mob” and they indeed did give Mr Farage screeds of coverage which was an opportunity he gladly took even though he hung up on BBC Radio Scotland and no-one believed a word.

One of the main criticisms in the media of the protestors action against Farage’s visit – and by no means the least contentious – was that they were “naïve”. Farage was in Scotland, supposedly, to canvas on behalf of UKIP’s candidate in the Donside by-election – so why was he in Edinburgh? This was proof, was it not, that Nigel Farage knows as much about Scottish geography as he does about Scottish politics? I am quite willing to believe his grasp of both is slim but he is extremely media savvy and he played the Scottish journos like a fiddle. He was not interested in the slightest in the election result in Aberdeen. Everything Farage said and did was calculated to play well in the media in England. London lapped it up. Like Lord Braxfield at the sentencing of Thomas Muir in 1793 they might as well have collectively exclaimed “This confounds our deepest fears!” It was certainly not the “mob” in Edinburgh who was “naïve”.

As the days go by and the referendum in September next year approaches it becomes increasingly obvious that, politically, the people of Scotland are being asked to hold several impossible contrary views at once and to believe in opposites being equal and although different, supposedly, they are much the same, allegedly. We are told that Scotland is potentially a rich country and at the same time it is a poor country and that it is badly governed whilst simultaneously well run. Likewise we learn that we can become independent of the UK whilst being a part of the European Union while at the same time being part of the UK and separate from the EU and if we become independent we will not be allowed to join the EU despite the fact that we are already members and have been for over 30 years even though, if the Tories have their way, we won’t be.

It appears we are also energy rich but concurrently dependent on a single volatile price commodity namely oil even though it is apparent to anyone who follows the history of oil that the price of a barrel of Brent crude is unlikely to fall in real value. Also we cannot have the pound sterling as currency post independence despite the fact that we have been using it for 306 years because what we thought was “ours” is in fact “theirs”. Our industry, banks and financial services will flourish like never before come independence but at the same time be hemmed in by borders and hostile markets and that the system for administering pensions and national insurance and other taxation matters will miraculously evaporate in September 2014 if there is a Yes vote. High profile swivel-headed and loon-eyed Labour politicians (is it just me or is Margaret Curran morphing into Marty Feldman?) warn us that our blood relations in the rest of the UK will no longer be members of our family but in actual fact will be foreigners and that foreigners, or at least immigrants, are a bad thing when in reality Scotland is crying out for them.

The stockpile of obsolete nuclear weapons currently stored at Faslane, which the majority of Scots want removed, are to be renewed in order to make the UK a safer place when at the same time as London is facing increasing terrorist attacks and Scottish soldiers continue to die for no reason in Afghanistan, which is the main cause of terrorist activity even though military action there was designed to “root it out” and William Hague is desperate to arm Syrian “rebels”. Meanwhile the plans put forward for a Scottish defence force are laughed at by Whitehall briefed UK military chiefs as being inadequate and unworkable and would leave Scotland vulnerable. The counter claim is that it would require less Scottish personnel as are currently serving in Her Majesties Armed Forces at present and cost proportionally less and be in line with countries of similar size and population and that if we had the power to govern ourselves we would be less likely to illegally invade countries like Iraq therefore nobody would be overly interested in attacking us. Even if we become, independently, a member of NATO which we may not be allowed to be even though we currently already are despite a significant number of Scottish citizens desiring us not to be.

I won’t even mention the constitution of a new Scotland or the one the UK so famously doesn’t have but actually does because it’s called the “Treaty of Union”, or the health service, social security, education, fishing, agriculture, housing, land ownership, culture, broadcasting and everything else we will have to sort for ourselves but for some semi-mystical reason we will not be able to despite history, reason and the law of averages.  Get the picture?

On and on it goes – this reality, that reality; this positive message, that negative consequence. It is as if the Yes and No camps have taken each other into a corner of a room to have an intimate conversation yet all the while Dr No raises his voice so that the whole house can hear him. He wants answers to questions even he can’t answer. No-one can. This does not deter him. Quietly, at the top of his voice, he declares that as far as an independent Scotland is concerned he wants a theory of everything. “But”, reasons Dr Yes, “not even Einstein could provide that.”

The good news for Dr Yes is that help may be at hand. An American mathematician called Eric Weinstein has developed a new theory about “geometric unity”. As I’m sure you know, like good ideas at Westminster, most of the universe is missing. For example all we know about matter – atoms etc – accounts for less than 5% of the mass of the observable universe. 25% of the rest is dark matter and the rest of the rest is dark energy both of which nobody knows much about or even what they are.

What Dr Weinstein proposes is that the universe is in fact a fourteen dimensional “observerse” that has our good old four dimensional space-time continuum contained with it. This is where the Yes and the No camps come in. The relationship between the two is strained and mutually exclusive because the Unionists, limited by their four dimensional space and time, can see the rest of the “observerse”, where Independence exists, but are removed from it and cannot detect every detail because it exists within all the fourteen other dimensions. Like a crowd at a football match they can see the pitch and are affected by what happens on it but cannot participate in the game. Or the two together, both Dr Yes and Dr No, appear to be symmetrical but in actual fact neurologically there is a terrible asymmetric disconnect so that if they were the left and right hand of an individual they would not even be aware of each other.

No matter what answers Dr No receives he will proclaim as loudly as he can that they are wrong. The idea of the “observerse”, where future knowledge resides, is literally beyond him. The tragedy for the Unionists is that the “observerse”, as proposed by Eric Weinstein, already contains both them and all future solutions but they cannot see it. This is not the political equivalent of “geometric unity” but rather the cussed short sightedness of the perpetually asymmetric democracy of a political system which has had its day.

Scotland exists in the universe both as we understand it and as Dr Eric Weinstein describes it. The beauty of ideas is that they change us. Could the idea be, then, that Scotland has to find a universe where we change Dr No and quieten him down and find the social and political equivalent of “geometric unity”? If so I propose we move there now, minus Nigel Farage.

© George Gunn 2013

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  1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The central thesis is the most useful one. After three hundred years of a union which has made us a happy and prosperous society we need subsidy from the generous English taxpayer so vote for more of the same

  2. Stuart Ingleby says:

    Really good article, deftly witty, I enjoyed reading that, thanks.

    To add a bit of comment on the physics referred to:- there is quite a lot of experimental evidence for dark matter and dark energy- these are well-established phenomena (and I think we will see a new dark matter particle discovered in the next few years). The problem with modern fundamental theories, such as Weinstein’s ‘observerse’ (which I wish he would publish in proper detail instead of as a press release..), is that they are so far ahead of the capacity to test them that they are essentially speculative. Ripe material for satire and irony, as you have shown.

  3. Great post George, thanks

    (Though I don’t understand the Dr WEinstein stuff – surely a made up name?! It all made very good sense of the nonsense we’re in up to and including: “Quietly, at the top of his voice, he declares that as far as an independent Scotland is concerned he wants a theory of everything.”)

    What do you think of Macwhirter’s ‘Road to Referendum’ piece in the Herald today? [and how do you add a link in a comment like this?!]

  4. George Gunn says:

    Dear Justin, no Weinstein is not a made up name and yes I have just read Iain Macwhirter’s piece. Iain is a good writer but he is shy of walking down the radical road. I do not believe for one minute that the Union of 1707 was the most successful in history. For my people it was a disaster and resulted in many of them leaving the Highlands. A few made a lot of money at the expense of the many and without the empire to both absorb and produce the wealth and wars to justify it Britain is now so sickeningly ill-divided and Scotland and England are drifting apart politically it is in the best interests of all the Scottish people to have our own country. I wish Iain Macwhirter well as he is one of our best journalists and a thoughtful individual and commentator but he educated to be cautious. It is also untrue to say that the referendum was unasked for. Time will tell which way the vote goes. I pray it goes Yes.

  5. annie says:

    Good grief! Looks like a wormhole has opened up leading to some weird Turkish dimension:

    “We have come to the conclusion: Yellow without navy blue and red, black without white is impossible,” the statement read, referring to the giant team’s colors. “With them, it is stronger and more beautiful.”


    Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast 😉

  6. George Gunn says:

    not a bad strategy, Annie

  7. Thanks for the link Annie! One question is how can such moments of people standing up for ourselves cascade into real social change rather than provide an excuse for the powerful to entrench their power further?

    George – Yes “one of the most successful political unions in history: the United Kingdom” is a strange conclusion, especially given that Empire is – by definition – about conquering other people and the clearances that happened here then happened to people all over the world (and are still happening where I work in Africa) as part of the same process. The argument that the union at least ended the wars between Scotland and England is a bit undermined by the point that such a union helped escalate war on so many millions of others.

    But I am left wondering whether Macwhirter is playing a long game, because taken as a whole – even with his apparent ‘even-handed’ argument that we are not being offered the one choice most people want – the logic of his analysis would be a majority for ‘Yes’ not, as he claims, out of apathy, but out of a reluctant acknowledgement that the City of London is not up for reforming and this is the best way out. I wonder whether independence built on such a reluctant recognition of reality may lead to a far more radical future than one built on over-optimism about what might suddenly change with independence? Or whether the different kind of reluctant independence (retaining Queen and NATO and the UK pound etc) on offer can ever motivate people to take such an apparently radical step?

  8. annie says:

    ‘not a bad strategy, Annie’

    Well, if it’s guid enough for Alice, it’s guid enough for me 🙂

    You’re very welcome, Justin.

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