Theresa May suffered her first big Commons defeat on Brexit this week. David Davis said that he was disappointed, which is politico-speak for banging your head off a wall until it bleeds while screaming for your mother. This isn’t the usual definition of disappointed, but when British politicians say words those words don’t usually mean what those of us who are encumbered by handicaps like merely being fluent in the language might expect them to mean.
It’s helpful these days to be able to decode what politicians actually mean when they say something, because the words that come out of their mouths bear very little resemblance to what has actually happened. What we really need is a dictionary of British politico-speak. Like when Boris Johnson said that he apologised if other people had misinterpreted what he had said, which really means that he’s a liar liar pants on fire and he’s upset that he got caught out. Or when Theresa May says she’s going to be very clear you know that what you’re in for makes less sense to the average human being than the collected works of Wittgenstein translated into Klingon by Google while using a Sinclair Spectrum computer. Or when anyone in the Conservative party refers to Michael Gove as my honourable friend, what they really mean is “that duplicitous backstabbing slimy wee bawbag bastert wi a coupon like a well skelpt airse”.
The defeat suffered by the government – well I say suffered by the government, it’s really the rest of us who have to do the suffering – centred on another of the 21st century’s British politico-speak novel interpretations. This time it was all about the obstensible reason for leaving the EU, which was taking back control and restoring full sovereignty to the British parliament. It’s just that restoring the full sovereignty of the British parliament has turned out to mean giving the prime minister of the day untrammelled powers to do pretty much whatever he or she likes without having to be held to account by a parliamentary debate or to bother their pretty little head with annoying trifles like having to explain themselves. Restoring the full sovereignty of parliament really means reducing the sovereignty of parliament. Although we were told by our honourable friend Michael Gove, amongst others, that the full sovereignty of parliament was going to be restored, which really ought to have told us everything that we needed to know about the veracity of the promise. And it wasn’t even written on the side of a bus. However, many MPs were unhappy with a government which planned on ramming through a Brexit deal which was supposed to be all about restoring sovereignty to the British parliament, and then not actually allowing that parliament to have any meaningful say on what that deal might be.
Some Conservatives actually had enough integrity to rebel and to insist that the government needs to give parliament a meaningful say on the Brexit deal. Although saying that there’s a Tory who has retained some integrity isn’t saying a great deal really. A piece of sweetcorn that’s passed through your digestive system and is excreted out the other end has also retained some integrity, but it’s still embedded in foul smelling crap and it’s not as if you’d like to have it on your plate.
The Daily Mail was furious though, so that was a result. As a rule of thumb, anything which annoys the Daily Mail is good news. The far right lunatic end of the Brexiteers, which is most of them really, were crying betrayal. It’s a remoaner coup! Although when a government is defeated in parliament by a vote of MPs that’s kind of the exact opposite of a coup, but then this is an article about how British politicians use words to mean the opposite of what the rest of us use them to mean, so that was only to be expected.
None of Scotland’s Tory MPs voted against the government, just like none of them voted against the government in an amendment the previous day which the Conservatives managed to defeat. That’s defending Scotland’s interests in British politico-speak. The amendmentwould have prevented the government from using the so-called Henry VIII powers to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement. Scotland’s Tory MPs are quite happy for the government to do that, and they’re quite happy for the government to ram through a Brexit deal without having to bother with minor irritations like democracy or accountability. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t involve making crass remarks about the Travelling Community or disabled people, Scottish Tory MPs just aren’t interested. I’d say that their hearts weren’t in it, but that would imply that they had hearts to put in.
The Tories and the Scottish Unionist media are sure as hell not standing up for Scotland’s interests in this universe. It’s even unfair to say that there is a parallel universe in which the Scottish Conservatives and their pals in the Scottish Unionist media are defending Scotland’s interests. It’s more like a universe which has wandered off on a wee tangent of its own. It may be the universe where half the population of Glasgow are Tories, and most people in Dundee are posh people with upper class English accents. You know, the universe where Question Time finds its audiences.
It’s not that the Scottish Conservatives have burned out, because that would imply that they had some sort of fuel to begin with. They were in fact being entirely propelled by hot air from the Scottish Unionist media but that’s not enough to sustain them, hence their inevitable decline in opinion polls. Today the Tories are upset about the Scottish budget and an increase in income tax for high earners and hoping that their vileness and incompetence in Holyrood can be a distraction from their vileness and incompetence in Westminster. “It’s a tax on aspiration!” harrumphed Murdo Fraser. Some of us aspire to have decent public services though. Some of us aspire to live in a society where the better off pay more than the poor. Some of us aspire to a country which provides for the disabled. Personally I’m happy to pay a wee bit more in tax if it means pissing off some raving British nationalist zoomer on the internet.
Naturally there was a howl of outrage in the Scottish media about how the Tories are less effective at standing up for Scotland in Westminster than some wet toilet paper studded with a couple of pieces of digested sweetcorn. Of course you need to read that sentence in the same way that you’d read any sentence uttered in British politico-speak, so it really means “Oh no, the other thing.” The same newspapers which trumpeted the Vow and yelled to the heavens that a No vote really meant stronger devolution and entrenched powers for the Scottish Parliament were predictably silent when Westminster delivered the opposite, just as they’re silent on how Ruth Davidson and her wee band of saviours of the Union are doing precisely bugger all to stand up for Scotland’s interests.
You might think, if you were a reasonable person, that it would strengthen the Union if Scottish Tory MPs defended Scottish interests and if Scottish Unionist newspapers held a Westminster government to account. Clearly neither the Tories nor their media pals consider the people of Scotland to be reasonable. They might hope that we don’t notice, but we do. That’s precisely why the UK’s days are numbered.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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