The Wonder of Inchoate Brillo Rage

Its worth unpacking the establishments unbridled glee at the crisis of the SNP. Here’s Andrew Neil on LBC (which gets short-shrift from Lesley Riddoch):

We get the usual Unionist canards: any criticism of Westminster is secretly nothing more than anti-Englishness; Scotland is an economic basket-case; a secret Socialist enclave and guilty of not embracing the wonderful cleansing economics of Thatcherism.

The SNP stand accused of being committed to constitutional reform AND are responsible for the death of the shipbuilding industry. But the tone of the diatribe is clear and apocalyptic: Yousaf is  a ‘no mark’, Scotland is an ‘unreformed’ shambles and the SNP are guilty of wrecking it. For the Unionist commentariat, editors and media moguls the SNP crisis means the end of independence, without any glance at the opinion polls on the issue, and, if they can make it come about the end of devolution itself.

Scotland does have massive problems, some of which are shared with the rest of the UK (indeed the rest of Europe), and some of which are the responsibility of the SNP themselves. But the idea that Scotland should be thankful for the ‘buckets of old’ dispensed from its southern neighbour is laughable. So too is the idea put out by Neil that there is some kind of ‘collective consensus’ that Scotland is a far more socialist country than England. This is a double-edged sword. Unionist commentators frequently trot out the line that there is no real discernible difference in social or political attitudes north of the border, indeed Neil himself has trotted out that line many times. But what really makes the likes of Neil seeth is the fact that the precious privatisation which they hold so dear hasn’t been completed in Scotland to the extent it has down south. This presses all of his buttons, what he wants is One Nation and no divergence at all ever.

The fact that Lesley Riddoch points out just some of the disastrous impacts of such privatisation will have ole Brillo raging.


Comments (18)

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  1. Helen Burns says:

    That’ll be Andrew Neil, the arch Brexiter who lives in the South of France? That Andrew Neil?

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Is that the same Andrew Neil who crashed the circulation of ‘The Scotsman’ by alienating its core readership, Edinburgh’s public sector middle class?

  2. MacGilleRuadh says:

    Lesley did well. The point about privatisation is an interesting one. I recall the period before Thatcher and the feeling of despair during the ‘winter of discontent’ and the subsequent Thatcher ‘revolution’. I think for a while many people bought into the line that private sector ownership would engender greater efficiencies and benefits for consumers and society in general. The idea of the state shrinking and getting out of the way of efficient businesses was very much in the ascendency. Neill obviously still believes this but my sense is that the scales have fallen from the eyes of a large sector of the population in the rest of the UK as well as in Scotland. We have seen that privatised rail, water, phone, electricity utilities do not provide a better consumer experience – indeed the opposite in many respects. Privatised utilities have been allowed to consolidate into private oligopolies which appear to collaborate to fleece consumers and society at large. One small example being how the big phone companies all seem to have the same model of mandatory annual in-contract cost increases of inflation +3 to 6%. This does not happen by accident, it looks like there is clear collusion here. My sense is that people in England as well as Scotland have just about had it with this economic model and that it will be Andrew Neill who implodes before the idea of Scottish independence fades as he so fervently wishes.

    1. Why do hate Britain MacGilleRuadh?

      1. MacGilleRuadh says:


    2. Bill says:

      In the early 1970’s I read 2 major articles on health. The first, A new perspective on the health of Canadians, by Mark Lalonde and the second, (sadly title forgotten) by health economists from the south east of the USA. The Lalonde article pointed out the dangers of going for a technological solution to the increasing health problems caused by lifestyle and advocated a new approach focusing on diet, exercise and an end to excessive smoking and drinking.
      The second article assessed the British and American approach to health care and concluded that the NHS was a more effective and efficient approach than the American private, market led solution.

      How sad was it that we in Britain then embarked on the Thatcher experiment, using market forces, which continued unabated even after Milton Freedman admitted to the lady herself that his ideas were untested, had no empirical proof and in fact were destined to fail.

      My evidence relates only to an approach to health care. However you can see that the same determinants have been applied across the economy and as they have failed in health, so they have failed elsewhere. We need rid of the current Tory government and also rid of the Labour party continuing the approach of Thatcherism. The private sector sucks and will not deliver in any area other than greed and corruption for a few to the detriment of the many.


      1. R. Eric Swanepoel says:


    3. R. Eric Swanepoel says:

      Indeed. We absolutely have to shut down the idea/project of Scotland being ‘open for business’ and ‘investment’ (= outvestment).

  3. Izzie says:

    The Paisley boy? Helen would know.

  4. Alasdair macdonald says:

    Mr Neill, ex-Paisley Grammarian and great advocate of selective secondary education (the ‘qualy’. etc.) and ‘opting out’ wanted Scottish Schools to start opting out of the state system as they were doing in England, but, apart from a small Church of England Primary School in Dunblane, none did.

    When in 1992, Strathclyde Regional Council decided to merge his alma mater, Paisley Grammar with another Paisley school called Merksworth High School he leapt to the defence of his old school. Merksworth was a very small secondary school which served two areas of high socio economic deprivation – it was in the lowest decile of Scottish schools by this measure. The decision by Strathclyde Regional Council was a sensible one. The two schools were relatively close geographically, but Paisley Grammar was on a cramped town centre site with no room for expansion to meet the demands of a modern curriculum and its playing fields were about 2 miles away in Ralston. Merksworth was a relatively modern building capable of holding around 1200 pupils and had playing fields on site. Although Paisley Grammar’s roll was around 4 times Merksworth’s Neill’s papers started printing ‘horror stories’ of a ‘high achieving school being dragged down by a low achieving school and putting Paisley Grammar’s pupils in physical danger from ‘thugs from Ferguslie Park’. These were blatant LIES. He got Mrs Thatcher to change the law in Scotland to forbid the closure of any school which was at more than 70% occupancy. It was a farcical rule designed to stop the merger.
    He then started demanding an opting out ballot – which, obligingly, Mrs Thatcher had set of a relatively small percentage of parents could demand an opt out ballot. The rest of the Scottish media amplified Neill’s mendacious message. When the ballot was held the Paisley parents voted in huge numbers and, by an absolute majority decided to remain in the state system! So, opting out never happened in Scotland and schools are under local control. This is the ‘unreformed socialist state’ he rants about.

    Although Paisley Grammar and Merksworth did not merge, Paisley Grammar because of the physical constraints of space could not provide the full curriculum on its campus and for about 25% of the time pupils of Paisley Grammar were bussed to – where else? – Merksworth to receive the full curriculum! They were actually taught by the Merksworth teachers whom Neill had excoriated as being incompetent because the exam results were amongst the lowest in Scotland. Despite these teachers allegedly being incompetent, the exam results attained by Paisley Grammar pupils taught at Merksworth matched those previously attained by Paisley Grammar children. Even more nastily, the results achieved by the Paisley Grammar pupils who were taught at Merksworth were wholly credited to Paisley Grammar with no credit being given to the Merksworth teachers. Nasty stuff from a nasty man who had a UK Government do his bidding.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    If like many other right-wingers Andrew Neil espouses the Great Man (Occasionally Woman) View of History in opposition to Scottish collectivism, then where will these Greats come from to lead a Scottish Renaissance? This is an awkward question, and I imagine Neil wouldn’t want to be pressed too closely on it, because the answer generally either comes down to racism (like Mervyn Bragg’s view of innate British genius) or socially-engineered elitism (privileged oligarchies) or a combination of both (the British proto-caste system of dynastic inbreeders).

    Of course, these cognitively-challenged culture warriors who imagine themselves military historians so often fail to recognise that it was precisely great collective effort (not brilliant generals) which won WW2 for the Allies, and in particular, women (mobilised by the British, Soviets and USAmericans; not mobilised by Germany — until too late — Italy or Japan). And of course, the ‘British’ military forces largely consisted of colonial troops, also a massive collective endeavour.

    If we’d relied on the likes of Andrew Neil to inform our ideologies, the fascists would have laughed their way into all the capitals of the Empire. But I’m sure a great man like himself would have adapted.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Just so! In Scotland, people like Frank Mears sought to apply lessons learned and skills acquired in the ‘combined operations’ approach developed during WW2 in post-war strategic planning.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Graeme Purves, I didn’t know that, but I expect there were many such lessons that could have been applied.

        Also, I apologise for not mentioning the vast collective contributions of resistance, partisan, anti-colonial independence movements (the latter which the British crushed for its European imperial mates postwar) that were made up of ordinary unsung people including women and sometimes children. I’ve been watching the intelligent and gritty 1970s television series Secret Army (the lifelines that rescued downed Allied aircrew) on Talking Pictures TV, which is an antidote to all those guns-ho action movies. All all of the civil activities which contributed in ways unknown.

        Of course, after WW2, as historians like Svetlana Alexievich and Antony Beevor note, women were largely pushed out of their influential wartime roles and their achievements were often credited to men, or suppressed entirely. While participants in unglamorous and working-class stories, like the Arctic convoys or Bevan boys, also long struggled for recognition of their contributions. While serial blunderer, racist city-bomber, apex tax avoider and drunken depressive Winston Churchill gets the credit in hagiography after hagiography.

  6. Robert says:

    Unfortunately the present Tory elite are first class propagandists but dreadful at government and administration.

  7. Wul says:

    These “interviews” mirror so much of the “journalism” regarding Scotland.

    Proponents of the union are allowed to deliver an uninterupted monologue of unsubstantiated, subjective criticism, but supporters of independence are subject to robust interrogation and demands to counter a series invented “gotchas”. The interviewer had no interest in hearing or understanding Lesley Riddoch’s responses to his questions.

    The questions are simply ammunition to be delivered to the target (supporter of independence) and the audience is in England, having the story that the “SNP have destroyed Scotland” reinforced. The fuming, unionist gammonista is presented as a credible, neutral voice of reason and the independence supporter is presented as a maverick from a country hijacked by the SNP (even though we voted them into power time after time)

    Lesley Riddoch did a sterling job batting away the shite that Andrew Neil talks.

  8. Don Fowler says:

    Brillo pad, my, my, is there a more disconnected out of touch bullshitter, so patriotic a scot, he lives in France. So uniformed about ship building that collapsed under Labour and Tories in the 1960s. Struth what about the giant SE subsidies cross-rail, HS2 billions and billions wasted on overruns on trains that do not serve the wider population, money that would build “huners” of ferries. Education that old chestnut, was almost always shit for the majority, except for private schools. CfE tries to address this. Scotland is still in the so calked Union lest they forget! And, Westminster controls the purse strings. The union ain’t working – clearly, if we are such a basket case – Scotland lets go!

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