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Friday, 1 February 2013

A wee collection of ‘insult’ videos – and P.G.Wodehouse …

Among the writers of English prose I most admire is P.G. Wodehouse, and one of his most-quoted – and misquoted - lines is this one -

It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine

It has been used to support almost every conceivable position on Scots and Scotland, usually pejoratively and often highly selectively. It is a favourite among Englishmen who like to patronise Scots, and among unionist Scots who like to patronise nationalist Scots (the ones who believe their country should be independent, like most other democratic countries across the globe). It is used to justify reaction to near-racist abuse – vitriol passed off as humour.

For the delightful ‘Plum’ (P.G. Wodehouse) – the least racist of men, despite his unfortunate wartime experience with the Nazis, caused by his naivety – it was just another keen observation of human character and character types.

I have long realised and commented on what I call the politics of insult, and its power to create a reaction and galvanise opinion. I can track it from reactions to my YouTube videos, tweets and blogs. In fact, one of the factors that converted me to nationalism in the first place was the systematic patronising and insulting of nationalist Scots, and indeed Scots in general by Westminster.

Of course, there are many who feel it is an over-reaction and demonstrates a lack of humour to react. My feeling is they don’t know their history in respect of racial and political ‘humour’, especially of colonial Britain, of Ireland, and of that fermenting decade, the 1930s, especially in continental Europe.

Last night's ‘joke’ by a member of the Lancaster Question Time audience, and the audience’s reaction to it is a recent example – a clip post less than 24 hours ago is currently running at over 3100 hits, and has provoked a torrent of comments. Here it is, plus just a few from my collection – there are many more …


  1. I agree, Peter. It's definitely NOT a question of being unable to take a joke. It's a question of said "jokes" being part of a continuing tendency to see the Scots themselves as a joke. I've told plenty of jokes about stingy, drunk, or over-religious Scots myself, but I do not see our whole society as being depicted truthfully therein. Much of England, in my personal experience and judging from people's comments in the media, DOES however. I spent many years in London being addressed as "Jock" by people with whom I worked and socialised because they simply could not be bothered remembering my name. Taffies and Paddies were in a similar boat. Scotland was viewed as some kind of amusing parody of a country by a population that, I am convinced, had great difficulty even imagining it was real.
    The amusement is changing however. The thought that their kind of society might not be wanted or loved by their Northern neighbours is fuelling English indignation in many quarters and that this has taken a venomous turn can be confirmed by the extracts you have shown and by a glance at the English Press and their comments sections. Steve Bell's cartoon was a disgrace - especially since it was published by a supposed "Liberal" newspaper. The bile that comes from the English edition of the Daily Mail and its readers is little short of disgusting.
    And then there's the BBC. I know you have defended the BBC as simply doing its job in the past, but you have to concede that it's not exactly behaving impartially these days. Quick to blow up a chance comment by an Irish politician into a definitive negative statement about our position re the EU, they have shown no signs of reporting her subsequent statement that they'd simply got it wrong. Question Time is an edited programme. Someone must have decided to leave that comment - and the subsequent audience approval of it - in the final edit. Even Dimbleby called it "chauvinistic" and yet the BBC let it go out - clearly implying they saw no fault with it - or, indeed, that they approved. If someone in a Scottish edition of QT had made a similar remark about England and it had been greeted as warmly by the studio audience, I'm pretty damnn sure the media ceiling would have fallen in on the haggis-munching Braveheart-watching Nationalist racists - as Mail readers seem fond of calling us.

  2. Can social media offer a platform that challenges the established English media?

    1. Thanks, californiancrofter.

      Social media undoubtedly offers a platform to challenge established media. (we have more trouble with indigenous Scottish media than with UK London-based media: English, Welsh and Northern Ireland local independent media, by and large don't pose any problem).

      Whether the challenge is effective currently - or will be - is a big question. There is no hard evidence either way - but the hardest evidence will be the outcome of the referendum. Even then, we'll never know what the influence of media was, anymore than we've ever known what its influence is on general elections.

      But the referendum is different, and more significant than any UK general election ever held - and perhaps in its full ramifications, bigger than the entry into Europe was.

      All I know is that media matters, facts matter, information matters, and so does emotion and factors that transcend reason.

      My God, I hope I live to see it through!



  3. Thanks, Bob.

    I don't think the BBC should have edited out the clip. On what grounds? Taste? It was legal, if ill-considered.

    Thanks for posting



  4. Where are the clips, please?

  5. KCRA - If you've read the blog, they are at the end of it, displayed beneath the text.