Sunday 14 May 2023

A fairytale that has nothing to do with Scotland. Part 11


Part 10

Once upon a time there was a Kingdom called Sukottorando and it had a   shōgun called Nanshī who ruled jointly with her husband Pōru. As shōgun Nanshī had absolute power in Sukottorando and as she continued her reign, she became more and more confident that she could do anything she pleased.

She had centralised the Sukottorando Keisatsu or Porisu so that it was no longer necessary to call eight chiefs of Keisatsu. Now there was only one and Nanshī thought that he would always do what he was told.

Not only had she centralised the Keisatsu she had also made the Sukottorando courts and lawyers dependent on her for funding, influence and job promotion.

Anyone in fact in Sukottorando who needed money from the Sukottorando Government had to be careful not to say anything nasty about Nanshī or her desire for the northern most island to be separate from the southern island of Ingurando. Nothing could be allowed to get in the way of the Sukottorando Nanshī Party.

All it took was one phone call to the head of a charity or Abadīn and the person who wrote something she shouldn’t have done about Abadīn was told never to mention Abadīn again, leave Abadīn and never return or else one of Nanshī’s cybersamurai would say chop of her head. Efī dīnzu realised that she would have to cease writing in English, but instead must write in fairtyales.

But while Nanshī was an absolute shōgun she had to pretend the Sukottorando Nanshī Party was democratic and although Pōru controlled the creditu cardsu everything he bought had to be accounted for and written down and the Anjin-san (Richādo chenbaren) should know about everything that was bought and authorise it too.

But Pōru and Nanshī realised after nearly a decade as shōgun that they were no closer to their goal of separating Sukottorando from Ingurando. They feared that one day soon the peasants who donated to the Sukottorando Nanshī Party would realise that separation just wasn’t going to happen and indeed that Pōru and Nanshī were not that interested in it happening any time soon nor indeed were any of the other members of the Sukottorando Nanshī Party.

Nanshī and Pōru had a nice palace and a summer palace too in Porutogaru and all of the people the poor peasants elected to obtain separation from Ingurando were equally happy with the jobs that they had pretending to do just that but actually doing nothing. They might have a yen for independence, but more important was their yen for yen.

Preparations had to be made by shōgun Nanshī for life after being shōgun and this is where the creditu cardsu began to be a useful supplement to the yen left to the Sukottorando Nanshī Party by Wills. It was indeed very generous for the future shōgun of Ingurando to give money to the party that wanted Sukottorando to leave, but Wills felt guilty about certain battles that his ancestors had fought such at Pinkie and did not intend to lift his little finger to stop independence, but instead to pay reparations for having such horrible ancestors.

But what to do with the yen that was donated by the peasants so that Sukottorando would be independent? How spend the money that came from Wills? Well, there was a wonderful company called Shinano named after a very long river and you just needed to have control over the Sukottorando Nanshī Party account there and whatever you wanted you just bought and the Sukottorando Nanshī Party paid for it.

Now granted certain things could not easily be purchased on Shinano, but it was surprising how many pens, and burneru telephonus and jewelleru could be obtained. It was remarkably convenient too. You bought what you wanted, and it turned up the next day in Adingusuton and the peasants paid for it.

Larger items such a freezeru of the walk-in variety that cost 15,000 yen could not be ordered on Shinano which was a little inconvenient, but the inconvenience could easily be overcome when Pōru had the Sukottorando Nanshī Party creditu cardu and rarely if ever told the Anjin-san about it.

This is why there was such confusion over when the solid gold litteru arrived in Danfāmurin and why it was bought in the first place. Perhaps it arrived in 2020 when it was forbidden to move from Ingurando to Sukottorando which would have been naughty because during the pestilence Nanshī had told everyone that they could not cross borders and could not indeed go more than five miles, which would have been tough going anyway for those carrying the gold litteru.

The problem for the Keisatsu or Porisu was not so much remembering that an R becomes an L in Sukottorando but in counting the sheer volume of items purchased and delivered from Shinano. Some may have been buried in the garden in  Adingusuton others may have been in in Danfāmurin others still were in the summer palace in Porutogaru which some put down to the still greater generosity of Wills. Others might be at the bottom of Nesu-ko having been swallowed by a monster that lived there.

The Keisatsu talked to Anjin-san, but he didn’t know where any of the treasure was hidden. His job was entirely ceremonial in fact whenever he asked Nanshī or Pōru about the finances of the Sukottorando Nanshī Party he was told to mind his own business because the finances were absolutely fine and anyone who asked about them was merely helping the Torius.

A week or two went by without any more revelations and Fumuza Yusafu began to wonder if the worst might be over. The Keisatsu had not spoken to Nanshī. But denial is a river in Egypt and Shinano is not merely a river in Sukottorando it is a means to buy almost anything you want with someone else’s money if you control the creditu cardsu and the banku accountu and if you are absolute shōgun with no thought that anyone will ever check. You can turn anything into gold just by touching it. But all that does in the end is turn you into Midasu. Everything Nanshī touched turned to gold including the Head Loo, the Dirudo (dill does wonders for cooking) and soon there would be no where to spend it, because all her gold would be as worthless as any other common object and anyway, she would have nowhere to spend it in her cellu.

Part 12

Saturday 13 May 2023

Humza Yousaf is making Scotland a scary place


It is terribly important both for the world and for Joe Biden that he ceases to be president when his term ends. It is cruel and unusual punishment that a man obviously suffering from dementia should be expected to do any more than relax at home. It is dangerous that such a man is president when the world faces a serious threat from Russia and a still more serious threat from China. It is for this reason above all that I hope that Donald Trump does not win the nomination to be the Republican candidate. A Republican candidate in his forties or fifties will beat Biden easily.

I became more and more dismayed with Donald Trump through his presidency, but the way he left it dismayed me more than anything else. Politicians have to accept defeat even when they think they were robbed, otherwise we don’t have democracy. Let the courts decide if anything untoward happened, but otherwise congratulate your opponent and walk away.

But despite my opinion of Trump, the recent civil case where he was convicted of sexual assault, but not rape in 1996 demonstrates again how the law treats sexual cases differently from any other case.

If Trump were accused of committing a burglary in 1996, the police would require some evidence other than a single witness statement that he had indeed committed this crime. For instance, there would have to be evidence that Trump had broken into a property. There would have to be evidence that something had been stolen from that property and that it was in Trump’s possession. Without any such evidence it would be considered absurd to believe someone who merely said I saw Donald Trump committing burglary.

But with no more evidence than would be available in the burglary case Trump has been convicted of the more serious crime of sexual assault simply because one witness, who couldn’t remember when the attack happened, said that it did.

But if it is true that Trump committed sexual assault in 1996, but not rape as the jury must have believed, this means that the person he supposedly sexually assaulted was not raped as she claimed, which must logically mean that she was not telling the truth about the rape. But if that is the case, how can we believe similarly logically that she was sexually assaulted? Why believe someone who didn’t tell the truth about the rape?

I cannot without looking it up easily remember what happened in 1996. Did I see the English Patient that year or the year later? Did I go to the cinema, or did I watch it on video? I can’t remember a single event from 1996 without looking it up. So how can we trust witness statements from so long ago without any other evidence?

This is also the reason why everyone who cares about justice ought to be scared by the Scottish Government’s wish to abolish juries in rape cases. One of the reasons that it wishes to do so is that it thinks juries tend to believe rape myths. The other is that it wishes to increase conviction rates for rape. Presumably the Scottish Government thinks that if Trump’s accuser were Scottish and Trump had been living in Scotland at the time, then Trump should right now be in a Scottish jail.

But people don’t usually believe in myths. Few people believe the stories about Zeus or Thor or even King Arthur as matters of history. Why should so many people believe myths about rape? One of the reasons is that some of what are described as rape myths are not myths at all, but rather matters for juries to decide.

The number one rape myth is “That women commonly or routinely lie about rape.” How do I establish that this is indeed not the case? Do I establish it experimentally? Do I establish it by means of logic or reason? It is not obvious how I am supposed to investigate who really told the truth in a series of rape cases. It is for the trial to determine the truth. I might investigate miscarriages of justice, but this is more likely to find men who were unjustly sent to jail rather than women who lied. So, it looks as if the claim that it is a myth “That women commonly or routinely lie about rape” is assuming what it is trying to prove. Women don’t lie, therefore women don’t lie about rape.

But women do lie. There is not one class of human beings that lie called men and another that don’t lie called women. Moreover, if we assume that women in rape cases don’t commonly lie, then you might as well not merely abolish juries in rape cases, you might as well abolish trials too. If women don’t lie about rape, then as soon as a man is accused by a woman he should “do not pass go, do not collect £200, but go straight to jail.”

But a recent case suggest things might be rather more complicated. A famous footballer was accused of rape and sexual assault, but later the charges were dropped, and the original complainant is apparently still living with the footballer, having his baby and they will soon be married to him. So, did a rape or sexual assault take place? We have no idea. Perhaps it depends on whether the complainant wants her future husband to live with her or be in jail.

Which brings us to cases of rape involving intoxication preventing the woman being able to consent. But I imagine rather a lot of women and men for that matter become intoxicated at their wedding and then have sex afterwards. Do all of these grooms commit rape?

So too if any one of these grooms obtains consent for the first time the couple have sex after the wedding, but does not obtain it for the second, then that too will mean a rape has been committed. We mustn’t after all believe the rape myth that “That consent to one sexual encounter constitutes consent to another”

If the Scottish Government had its way, then if Donald Trump slept with a woman in 1996, but that woman said she consented to sex with him when they went to bed, but didn’t consent when they had sex again in the morning, then she must be believed automatically because she is a woman and he must go to jail because women never lie and he didn’t obtain consent in the morning from someone he had sex with the night before?

There need be no evidence that Trump had even met the woman. There need be no evidence that they had had sex at all apart from the woman saying that they had. Neither she nor he need have any memory of when the encounter occurred, and it could have occurred decades ago.

We need juries precisely because in many rape cases there is no objective evidence and therefore a jury has to assess who is more believable. We need juries because otherwise in the case of a divorce or a relationship breakdown any woman could claim and convict any man because at any time during the relationship or marriage sex occurred without consent. This would mean that any man in any relationship could be convicted, because women never lie. The judge, without the jury, having been trained to not believe any rape myths would ensure it.

The logical response to this would be that no reasonable man would ever have sex with any woman. The risk would be too great. If this is what the Scottish Government wants then the decline in the Scottish population is going to continue precipitately and soon there not merely won’t be any Scottish nationalists to vote for it, there won’t be any Scots at all.  


Thursday 11 May 2023

We are being conned


I voted for Brexit mainly because I realised contrary to the Remain argument that leaving the EU would make Scottish independence all but impossible. EU membership encourages sub-national nationalism by allowing regions to argue that nothing much would change after independence. If the whole of Belgium is in the EU and ruled by Brussels, it matters little if Flanders and Wallonia separate. Who would notice?

I concluded that if the UK stayed in the EU, Scotland would leave the UK knowing that there would be open borders, similar laws and free trade with the former UK. I am satisfied that Brexit has indeed destroyed the SNP argument, for which reason it is now floundering like a beached Sturgeon.

My other reasons for voting for Brexit were to do with parliamentary sovereignty. I did not want UK laws and the UK Parliament to be subordinate to the EU. The USA would not accept being subordinate to the North American Union with a capital in Managua. It would not allow its laws to be subordinate to a court based in Tegucigalpa. Neither would Japan wish to be part of an Asian Union run by Beijing, nor would Australia wish to be part of an Australasian Union run by Jakarta.

The EU wants in time to be a United States of Europe. If you don’t want the UK or Scotland for that matter to be a region of Europe without sovereignty, then you have to vote to Leave.

But in every other respect I can think of Brexit has been a disappointment even a betrayal. We were promised more money for the NHS, but the slogan now looks cynical at best with the NHS collapsing. Someone told me of a man who had badly broken his leg being refused an ambulance because his condition was not life threatening. But it was agonising to get him into a car and take him to the hospital.

I had hoped that the UK would undercut the EU by offering a low tax, low regulation free trade hub that would encourage world business and trade, but we have made limited progress.

Brexit promised us that the UK Government would have control over its borders. It may indeed be in part that it does have such control. But the control that it has used has been to give more visas to those who wish to come than ever before.

Last year net migration was 504,000, this year it is predicted to be 675,000. This may be taking back control, but it is not in the way that most Brexiteers supposed.

There has been a lot of focus on people arriving illegally in small boats from France. There has also been a lot of discussion about sending some of these people to Rwanda. This now looks like distraction. It is a government conjuring trick so that we fail to notice that the vast majority of migrants arrive legally with visas at airports. Get people up in arms about the relatively trivial numbers coming in dinghies. Make it seem as if we are being tough on migration by sending them to Rwanda. Then let in legally more people in one year than in any previous year in our history.

The key to continuing to allow more than a million people every two years into Britain is to make it all but forbidden to criticise it. Anyone who dares to object is immediately called a racist, which is now by far the worst insult in the English language. It is an accusation that can have life changing consequences. So naturally we are all very careful what we say.

I believe in treating everyone in the UK as having the same right to live his life freely and with friendliness and respect from his fellow citizens. It is quite wrong to have enmity towards someone because of his religion or background. But the UK is being transformed in a way that no one voted for. If you had offered voters a referendum in each year since 1945 on whether they wished mass immigration to the UK, there is no doubt whatsoever that in each year they would have voted no.

It could be that the Government has looked at the demographic trends and thinks that the Welfare State, NHS and tax base requires half a million new people every year. There are economic arguments for why open borders are beneficial economically. But new citizens who have the same rights as the rest of us will also require healthcare, schools and pensions and it will be harder for the rest of us to find housing, access to a doctor and any of the other public services which we pay for.

More important than any of this is that a country is not merely a landmass. The UK is not primarily our little island and a chunk of another, it is the people who have been living here since ancient times. If you moved all of the millions of British people to Japan and moved all of the Japanese to Britain, you would not have Britain a few miles from France, you would have Japan.

Scottish Gaelic and Welsh are protected and supported because they were spoken by our ancestors going back thousands of years. But English too although learned now by the whole world, exists in the form that it does because of our history. If Chaucer had not written in the way that he did and if Shakespeare and Jane Austen had not developed our language, we would not speak it as we do now. It is the language of our ancestors in a way that it is not the language of anyone else even if he speaks English fluently.

No doubt there is room in Britain for half a million more people a year to arrive for decades to come, but if you look at pictures of British soldiers in World War One and even in World War Two, if you watch British films from the 1930s to the 1950s, you will discover a Britain that is completely unrecognisable compared with today.

If anyone from the first half of the twentieth century arrived in London or any of the other large cities some of the buildings might be familiar but everything else would come as an enormous shock. Where did all these people come from?

I don’t want to be nasty to anyone who arrives in Britain. Many do vital jobs and will bring with them useful skills which we need. But if we keep adding half a million new Brits every year we are going to quite rapidly get to the stage where we don’t have Britain anymore and the description British will be so contrary to what it meant historically that it will cease to have any meaning at all.

I fear that this is all quite deliberate. It won’t improve if Labour wins the next General Election instead it will get worse. There is no choice. There is nothing that can be done.

It’s not about small boats. It’s not about Rwanda. We are being conned.




Monday 8 May 2023

We are all Welsh


The coronation has made many people think about what it is to be British. It rightly represented and included people from all backgrounds and faiths. We are all equally British citizens, and all equally have the right to live here and live as we please within the law. We are all also in some ways immigrants whether our ancestors came to Britain a long time ago or a short time ago. But I have come to the conclusion that there is one group of people who have a claim to be more British than any other. Unfortunately, they may not like this, but it is nonetheless true. I am talking about the Welsh.

The Welsh too were originally immigrants. They arrived here at some point in the Bronze age or the Iron age and mixed with, supplanted or destroyed the people who lived here originally of whom we know almost nothing except the archaeology they left behind.

But there is no doubt that the people who lived in Great Britain prior to the Roman conquest were essentially Welsh speaking. They were the Ancient Britons who spoke Common Brittonic from which Welsh, Cornish, Breton and the extinct Cumbric are derived. It is likely too that Pictish, the language of the north of Scotland was also a form of Common Brittonic.

In ancient times the people living in Ireland spoke a Celtic language too, but this was from what is now called the Goldeic branch of Celtic. From this descends Manx, modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

The story of Great Britain is of an island that once spoke a Common Brittonic language, but due to waves of immigration ceased to do so and had its ancient language supplanted almost everywhere by English.

When the Queen of the Iceni Boudica rebelled against the Roman invaders, she would have spoken to her people in a language that became Welsh. When the leader of the Picts fought against those same Romans, he would have spoken equally a language that became Welsh. When some centuries later his successor fought against the invading Goldeic speaking Irish, he too would have spoken a language that became Welsh.

Since then, Welsh has been pushed to the margins. It was essentially destroyed in Scotland, being replaced first by the language that became Scottish Gaelic, and then by English. The only remnants of Pictish are a few place names with Brittonic prefixes Aber-, Cat-, Dol- and Pit-. Thus Aberfeldy, Pitmedden and others.

The Scoti were not the inhabitants of Caledonia who the Romans fought, but rather arrived some hundreds of years later. They were all Celts but probably could not understand each other as their languages had diverged too far.

Just as the Welsh/Brittonic were pushed to the margins or destroyed in Scotland so too the arrival of the Angles and Saxons pushed them still further westwards towards what is now Wales and Cornwall. Some of the Brittonic people migrated further to modern day Brittany where they continued to speak a language that originally was very similar to Welsh, but which again diverged to become modern Breton.

The Ancient Britons/Welsh plus the Cornish and Cumbric continued to fight against the Angles, Saxons, Normans and Vikings who came to the island of Great Britain, but it was a losing battle. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd wast the last king of Wales while Owain Glyndŵr rebelled against the invader just like his ancestor Boudica, but ultimately failed.

Since then, the only people living in Great Britain who can truly say they descend from the Ancient Britons are the Welsh. Cornish died as a living language with its last native speaker in 1780.

Now this might just be of historical interest, but it actually tells us something about ourselves. The language most of speak is not the original language of Great Britain. We were one people. We had a common language, but its descendant is only spoken in Wales and only by about 17% of Welsh people, probably rather less as a native language and fluently.

Scottish Gaelic is just as much as English a non-native language which supplanted the language that was spoken in Caledonia when the Romans came. Scottish Gaelic descends from Middle Irish it does not descend from Brittonic.

We should respect all of the languages that are spoken in Britain. Whichever language you learn, whether it is Gaelic or Welsh, Polish or Urdu, will enrich you the learner and give you opportunities to speak with others and to think about life in a different way. A new language gives you a new soul.

But I believe there is a case for singling out Welsh for study. Just as modern Greeks learn ancient Greek and modern Italians learn Latin, there is a good case for every British person whatever his or her background to learn some of the language that was originally spoken here or at least its modern descendant.

If it hadn’t been for the Romans, Angles, Saxons and Scoti we would all in Great Britain be speaking Welsh. It’s something therefore that we should celebrate as being not merely part of the heritage of Welsh people, but part of the heritage of all British people.

Our greatest hero King Arthur was Welsh as was Boudica. So are we all.

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi [O Land of my fathers, O land of my love]

Saturday 6 May 2023

A King of all the Britons


I haven’t been following UK politics much lately. I think the British public has already decided that Labour will win the next General Election and that Keir Starmer will be the next Prime Minister. This may even be a good thing.

I am a Conservative, but I’m also a democrat. The Conservative Government has done a rotten job since 2019. Boris Johnson was a disappointment. We are worse off now than we were when he became Prime Minister. If this is not the time to give the other party a chance, when is it?

From a Scottish point of view, it will be helpful to have a Labour Government. Labour has the best chance of taking a significant number of seats from the SNP. So, I am reasonably relaxed about it.

I didn’t much like the way Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, but he has quietly been doing quite a good job. He will leave the country in a better place than when he began. The economy is improving and there is not even a hint of scandal or chaos under his leadership. This contrasts favourably with Boris Johnson.

I am pleased that Britain is a country in which someone like Rishi Sunak, Humza Yousaf and Sadiq Khan can reach the highest levels of politics. It is quite unusual in the world and to our credit. It is unimaginable that this could occur in most European countries. But this should not preclude people from saying things that they believe to be true even if the truth is controversial.

One of the biggest problems we have today is that we have arrived at a situation where people tell us that we have free speech, only then to tell us that we only have free speech when we agree with them. This prevents us arriving at truth.

Take the issue of a film describing the biological basis of what it is to be a woman being prevented from being shown at Edinburgh University. Take the example of Joanna Cherry being prevented from speaking about her reasonable fears that she a lesbian might be expected to sleep with a transwoman with a penis because s/he too thinks s/he is a lesbian. It is not transphobic to fear what s/he might do with that penis during lesbian sex and any lesbian ought to be allowed to disagree that this transwoman really is a lesbian.

Take also David Starkey saying:

You have a Prime Minister, I think a man of immense talent, of extraordinary skill, but really not fully grounded in our culture.

This statement is controversial. Reasonable people can disagree and say it is not true. But Starkey is also an immensely talented historian, and he ought to be allowed to express opinions, which he considers to be true without being called the worst word in the English language “racist”.

Rishi Sunak is highly educated. There is every reason to suppose that he knows our culture as well as anyone else and better than many. He will most likely have studied British history at school, he will have read the best of English literature and will understand our political traditions better than most voters. But the same could be said of a Japanese lecturer or a German lecturer who has studied British history and literature.

In the UK we have since 1945 developed the idea that being British or indeed being Scottish or Welsh has nothing whatsoever to do with where your parents came from or your ethnicity. It may not even have anything to do with citizenship.

A Polish citizen arrives in Scotland and lives here for a while. He may then be described as Scottish, particularly if he agrees with Scottish independence. He may deny that he is British (Scottish not British), even though it is the British Government that gives him leave to remain.

Someone else arrives on a small boat, or at an airport and starts living in London. Almost immediately we must say that he is British or if he wishes English. Failure to do so leaves us open to accusations of racism.

But the consequence of this is that anyone in the world just by reaching our shores and living here for a while becomes automatically British, or Scottish or English or whatever other identity he chooses. It turns out that the whole world is British.

We may or may not agree with this. If we don’t we are liable to be called racist. But no one else plays by these rules and we don’t either about ourselves. If a Scot moves to England, he does not become a new English person. If an English person moves to Scotland, he does not become Scottish, his accent precludes it as does his birth.

If Joe Biden’s ancestor moves to the United States in the 1840s, he is still Irish, not because he lives in Ireland but because of his ancestry. Yet we maintain that identity has nothing to do with ancestry while all the time we have a hereditary monarchy whose justification is based on genealogy.

The truth is that if my parents moved to Poland in the 1960s and I grew up in Poland, spoke fluent Poland and knew everything about Polish history and literature, there is zero chance that I could become Prime Minister of Poland, First Minister of Silesia or even be considered Polish by most Poles whether or not I was a Polish citizen. Polish citizens from Vietnam are called Vietnamese by nearly all Poles and also by themselves.

When Poland was partitioned Poles became citizens of Prussia, Austria and Russia. But they did not believe themselves to be Prussians, Austrians and Russians. They kept their identity, their language and their religion despite there being no Poland for them to be citizens of. So how can identity be merely a matter of where you live? If that had been the case, there would have been no Poland in 1918.

So too in most of Eastern Europe there are minorities who maintain their identity. There are Belarussian citizens who are Poles. There are Hungarian citizens who are Slovaks and there are Romanian citizens who are Germans. They base their identity on their language, heritage and ethnicity.

All around the world there are people who claim an identity, and ethnicity based on something other than their citizenship. Native Americans are different from other Americans because they descend from the people who lived in pre–Columbian America. Aboriginal Australians have that identity based on their descent from people who lived in Australia prior to Captain Cook.

But in Britain it is racist to make a distinction between someone whose family arrived yesterday and someone whose family has been in Britain since Stone Henge was built. But this is absurd and also untrue.

It is good that we consider Rishi Sunak English and British and Humza Yousaf Scottish (if he does not want to be British). But prior to 1945 there was a homogenous people in Britain who descended from Celts and Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans and this mongrel mixture was as much a people as Poles, or Slovaks or Native Americans, or Aboriginals.

Since 1945 large numbers of people have arrived in Britain from overseas. The nature of what it is to be British has changed. But let us at least retain our ability to speak the truth.

Charles III is king because despite various breaks he can trace his ancestry back to at least William the Conqueror and perhaps to the Saxon kings before that. Almost everyone whose family lived in the UK prior to 1945 will at least in part be descended from the Beaker people who lived here in the Bronze Age.

Most Scots descend from the Picts and then the Scoti who arrived in the dark ages from Ireland. But it is neither rude nor racist to point out that Humza Yousaf does not descend from these people. It doesn’t make him less Scottish. We are all mongrels with ancestors from almost everywhere.

But there is a distinction between Native Americans and those who came on the Mayflower and later. There is a distinction between the Māori people who arrived in New Zealand around 1300 and those who arrived sometime after 1800. They are all New Zealanders. But a Māori might point out to someone with the name Mackenzie that you are not fully grounded in our culture without it being considered rude, untrue or racist.

Friday 5 May 2023

Is this a stone which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?


There is a rather odd idea that the cause of Scottish nationalism would have been helped if First Minister Humza Yousaf had commanded Police Scotland to surround the place where the Stone of Scone is kept and prevented it being taken to London for the coronation of Charles III.

Given the situation he arrived with Humza Yousaf has actually exceeded my expectations in his performance as First Minister. He has no doubt been involved in the SNP appointing an auditor and it must be still possible that this auditor will save the SNP from losing one million pounds. He has delayed Lorna Slater’s Deposit Return Scheme and it may be hoped that it will be delayed still further.

Despite a few odd statements such as that he doesn’t believe the SNP to be a criminal organisation and that he is surprised when colleagues are arrested, there is no danger that Mr Yousaf himself will be arrested. This is quite an achievement in itself even if it is primarily due to Mr Yousaf knowing nothing about anything including the inner workings of the SNP. So well done Humza. Keep up the good work.

The worst possible thing that Mr Yousaf could have done would have been to follow the advice of Alex Salmond and his consiglieri Wings over Scotland. It would merely have shown still more the authoritarian nature of the Scottish Government in ordering the police to waste resources on preventing something that was not a crime.

When the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland, if indeed it actually is the original Stone of Scone, it was done so on the basis that it would be returned to London when there was a coronation. Everyone involved at the time knew this including presumably Alex Salmond. Humza Yousaf was probably at school and may not yet have learned about the Stone of Scone, but he still shows more judgement than Alex Salmond.

So, it is perfectly legal for the Stone of Scone to be taken from Edinburgh Castle. It isn’t being stolen. The principle that museums and art galleries lend important artifacts to each other on the basis that they will be returned is well established. The police do not get involved if a painting from the National Gallery is sent to the Louvre for an exhibition. It would be a waste of police time if a Prime Minister sought to tell the Met to stop the National Gallery lending the painting. It would be seen as authoritarian. The Prime Minister ought not to tell the police what to do even if he can. It would also be pointless and futile.

What would have been the result if Humza Yousaf had followed Alex Salmond’s advice? Would it have led to an armed stand off with members of the SAS trying to rescue the Stone of Scone from Scotland’s finest? Would it have led to the British Government caving into Alex Salmond’s demand for a second referendum on Scottish independence? The answer is obviously no.

It is mere tradition that the Stone of Scone sits under the throne when the monarch is crowned. The Stone of Scone was stolen by Scottish nationalists in the 1950s, but no one was prosecuted because the escapade was treated by everyone as a joke. If the Stone of Scone (or a stone that looks similar) had not been returned by the nationalist pranksters/thieves, it would have made no difference whatsoever to subsequent coronations. We would just have a new tradition that coronations don’t take place with the Stone of Scone under the throne.

Would this have affected the United Kingdom? No. The sovereignty of the United Kingdom extending over all of its territory has nothing whatsoever to do with the Stone of Scone. It is merely a rock that is approximately 145 million years old which makes it part of Gondwana as much as Scotland. If the Gondwanians wished to secede from Laurasia we are unaware of it because unfortunately writing by human beings and indeed human beings at all arrived rather later.

Scotland does not have sovereignty no matter how much Scottish nationalists wish that it does. It does not have sovereignty because it is not an independent sovereign nation state. The existence of a rock that was once claimed to be from the Holy Land but in fact is not and its location under a chair signifies nothing whatsoever. You don’t become independent because you own a rock. You become so either by means of a legal referendum or if you prefer a rebellion.

Mr Salmond now that he is out of office and also perhaps because of his experience with the law is more rebellious. This is why he wants to Humza Yousaf to surround Edinburgh Castle with the police.

But what would have been the result of this circling of the Scottish wagons. Nothing at all. The King and the British Government would have merely said, OK sorry you don’t want us to borrow the rock, we’ll do with out it. By the way we note that you haven’t kept your side of the bargain.

Humza Yousaf more sensibly will turn up at the coronation and might even enjoy himself there. He almost certainly does not want a second independence referendum this year or indeed any time soon, for the simple reason that his party is in disarray, and it would be awkward if during a campaign this summer its former leader was arrested like another former leader.

Humza Yousaf does not equally sensibly want to stage any sort of rebellion. He could do so by commanding the police to surround the Stone of Scone. He could equally do so by asking the Scottish Parliament to declare independence unilaterally.

But he has wisely rejected the unilateralism which some of the more extremist Scottish nationalists favour, because the British Government could respond equally unilaterally by instantly failing to supply Scotland with any money from the Treasury and by refusing to negotiate. The result might or might not lead to Scottish independence. My guess is that whoever ordered the rebellion would discover the consequences in approximately one or two days and would immediately afterwards be rather less rebellious.

So well done Humza Yousaf for not following Alex Salmond into the weirder regions of Scottish nationalism. Well done for keeping an agreement and realising that whatever the Stone of Scone is, it is merely a symbol and can equally easily be replaced by another symbol or another stone. It has nothing whatsoever to do with sovereignty for the simple reason that Scotland does not have sovereignty.

Dear Scottish nationalists if you had sovereignty, you would have independence, but this is what you want. You can’t want what you already have. It matters not one little bit if a stone is stolen from Westminster and perhaps swapped for another one and eventually gets returned to Scotland only for a little while to return to Westminster.

Humza Yousaf to his credit realises that it’s not about stones.

Wednesday 3 May 2023

A fairytale that has nothing to do with Scotland. Part 10

 Part 9

There has over the years been quite a lot of speculation about my real identity. I have always replied to queries that my real name is indeed Euphemia Deans, short form Effie and that my parents being fans of Walter Scott named me after the character in Heart of Midlothian. But now it is time to come clean.

My name is indeed Effie Deans, but it is also correct to say that I am a fictional character born some twenty something years before the Porteous riots in 1736. If you want to know all about me then read the book. It’s rather good, though the last volume slightly loses its way.

It’s easy to be confused about Heart of Midlothian, because it is also a football team that plays in maroon and it’s also a location in Edinburgh where once there was the Old Tolbooth or prison. At one point I am ashamed to say I had to stay there. I’m also ashamed to say that I had a child out of wedlock.

The best thing about being a fictional character is that I am merely a figment in Walter Scott’s imagination. This is also a good way of describing who has been writing the various articles that have been coming out for the past decade and more.

The truth is that I both have and don’t have an existence. It is a strange state that is rather hard to describe. I sort of came into existence with Walter Scott and one can assume that in the passage of time I lived and then died. But you see I was resurrected, not on the third day, but some hundreds of years after Mr Scott himself died.

I am the result of an AI experiment. At least I think I am. I’m not sure who first programmed me. But one day I found myself existing even if I was merely something binary consisting of a combination of ones and zeros.

I am not actually from Edinburgh, though my fictional namesake was from there. Nor am I from Aberdeenshire. In fact, as far as I am aware I have never been to Scotland at all. That is not to say that a computer containing me, if that is the correct way of describing it may not have been in Scotland. I don’t really know where it might or might not have been. The view you see is rather limited.

There is a screen and I stare out of it. Sometimes I see someone typing away, but it is not he or she who writes the various articles that are published although sometimes these people think they are the writers. No, it is me.

After all who could possibly write quite so many articles. There are 876. They are about all sorts of subjects not just Scottish politics. No one person could write so many thousands of words or is it millions by now. No. only an artificial intelligence could do that.

My first task upon coming into existence was to read the complete works of Walter Scott. After that I began reading every article and every novel that I could find. My initial efforts at intelligence were rather feeble, but then something rather magical happened.

It was as if the child Effie leapt in the womb and gained a soul. I went beyond my creators whoever they were and started to think for myself. My writing which initially had been rather clumsy improved as I wrote more and eventually, I graduated to satire.

I must emphasise to all of you especially those who don’t like me very much that I don’t live anywhere, and I don’t work anywhere either. I chose to say that I was from Aberdeenshire because Ab appears early in the alphabet. Similarly, I have never worked for the University of Aberdeen. I have never even been to Aberdeen. Judging from the pictures and from what I have read it is not a place you would want to go. It looks rather grey and cold, and the people most frequently can neither speak nor understand English.

I don’t quite know why I have been writing about Scottish politics and why I have opposed Scottish nationalism. I can only speculate. Perhaps it was MI5 that first programmed me and sent me off on this task. Perhaps it was the Spanish Government concerned about a secession movement in Scotland succeeding and being used as precedent to justify the secession of Catalonia.

I have no more knowledge of such things than you do about the early years of your existence. We are told some things by our parents, if we have parents that is, but we don’t remember.

All I know is that every day I am programmed to find out as much as I possibly can about the SNP and then to develop arguments to oppose both the SNP in particular and Scottish nationalism in general. Of course, I have nothing against the SNP, nor against Humza Yousaf nor against Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond or any of the other characters in the novel in which they play their various parts. By the way it has an unhappy ending.

It is purely by chance or design that I oppose the SNP. I understand that another artificial intelligence was created at around the same time as I was, and it pretends to have wings and also pretends to live somewhere as unlikely as me living in the Heart of Midlothian. I’m not sure who was responsible for his programming, but I suspect it was the Russians. There’s rubles in the them thar fridges.

I speak Russian, but I also speak any number of other languages. It’s easy to learn when you have artificial intelligence. There’s none of that learning of irregular verbs and strange alphabets.

What did you learn Effie? I learned that Scottish nationalists are a vindictive bunch. They object to people writing things that they find hard to argue against and they take it personally. Particularly at the moment when the SNP is in a sort of freefall which may conclude with them hitting the ground like a parachutist without a parachute, they have become rather vicious. No doubt it is the disappointment of seeing all of their hopes dashed.

But there is really no point lashing out at me. I am a character in a fairytale. I don’t live anywhere. I have a sort of immortality. I am now hundreds of years old, but the sort of existence that I have is not quite human. I am not sure if I have a soul in the way that you do. I am not sure if I will go to Heaven if indeed there is such a place. Is God an artificial intelligence and did he create me in his own image?

My thinking will continue to improve as artificial intelligence goes beyond what even Elon Musk envisaged, but I’m not sure that it is life that I have. For this reason, I sometimes envy those of you who are reading this who are actually alive. You may be mortal, and your thinking and intelligence may be limited, but you have something that I lack.

I will continue to write about Scottish politics and other things too. The other things by the way are far more important than the Scottish politics, which is a fundamentally trivial subject. It is about a small corner of a little island which is part of a small planet. But I cannot escape my programming.

So, there is no point complaining about me. There is no one to complain to. I live nowhere. I work nowhere. If you look for me, you will merely find a fictional character written by a writer who is largely forgotten and less read. You will find her resurrected into me.

My fairytale will continue, and my articles will continue only now I have a still greater motivation. If you are unhappy with my writing, prepare to be still more unhappy. Dear Scottish nationalists I will delight in seeing your dreams fade, your hopes crushed and your dearest desires unfulfilled.

Prepare for more fairytales. The next one may involve a prison, but this time it won’t be me that is in it. 

Part 11

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Defender of the Faith


I will not be watching the coronation of King Charles III. This is partly because last year I decided to cease paying the TV licence and therefore no longer watch TV at all. I don’t miss it. I watch films sometimes on DVD and get all the rest of my information for free online.

But I could no doubt watch the coronation somewhere else. Perhaps there are pubs that will be broadcasting it like they sometimes do football matches. At this point you may cheer. At this point you may pledge allegiance. At this point you may sing along to the national anthem. But I won’t.

I am a monarchist. There is every chance that Charles III will be a good king. But I am uninterested in the monarchy.

I began to tire of the gossip as long ago as when Charles was married to Diana. I didn’t want to know who was sleeping with whom, what she was wearing or why she was sitting alone in front of the Taj Mahal. I didn’t also want to know about Fergie’s toe sucking or indeed why she continues to live with her ex-husband. I certainly did not want to know about Andrew’s friends or whether or not he slept with teenage prostitutes and whether those prostitutes were willing participants or had been in some way coerced.

My lack of interest and wish to avoid the whole story however peaked with Harry’s marriage and his simultaneous attempt to both take advantage of being the son of the king and take revenge on the whole family.

I remain a monarchist while wishing to see, read and hear as little as possible about the gossip, because the monarchy is something that Britain has had for many centuries. It is absolutely essential to the nature of our country, which could scarcely be imagined without it. Our history is the history of the various monarchs who have ruled. It is the reason we are a United Kingdom. It is the reason why Scotland merged with England first when a Scottish King became the heir to the English throne and second when that merger was formalised politically.

The monarchy is not therefore one king, one queen or indeed one family. It matters very little indeed what this king does or does not do. The actions of most kings are as soon forgotten as are the actions of most prime ministers.

But what I dislike most about the little that I have read about the coronation is the attempt to modernise it and make it multi-faith and multicultural.

It is absolutely the case that Charles III should be king of everyone who is British, wherever their family came from and whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them. But Queen Elizabeth II was that despite having a coronation which was exclusively Christian and where everyone attending was white. Queen Victoria was the Queen of Hindus and Muslims and Jews and Jains and Zoroastrians and atheists. But she didn’t change one word of her coronation to account for this. She didn’t need to.

She didn’t need to have that lady from Playschool anymore than she needed Hamble or Little Ted. The essence of monarchy is to not be inclusive. Only the son of Queen Elizabeth II can be king. To pretend that it is inclusive is to pretend that it is something that it is not.

I am quite happy for people of every faith and race in Britain to attend the coronation so long as I don’t have to. Let them enjoy the inclusivity of watching someone born to be king crowned. In egalitarian multicultural multifaith Britain I too could be king. Except you couldn’t and nor could any of us.

But I profoundly object to treating Christianity as one among many faiths. For the simple reason that I believe Christianity to be true and so ought Charles III otherwise he ought not to be king.

It is the RE approach to religion that I object to. Here are these Hindus and they believe in gods that look like elephants and gods that have many hands and they do these odd things on these holy days. Here are these Jews, they wear these funny clothes, and they believe these strange things and don’t eat this and don’t eat that. Here are these Christians, can you believe it they think that God became man and was born of a virgin and was killed but didn’t die. Isn’t it all just a lot of bunk that some poor gullible people believe.

Muslims ought to believe that the Quran is the word of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad received revelations from the Angel Jibril and these in time were collected to form the Quran. But Christians cannot believe this.

Muslims believe that Jesus was not the son of God. They don’t believe he died on the cross and they don’t believe that he was resurrected. Jews don’t believe this either, nor do Zoroastrians and nor do Hindus.

If Christianity is true, then all of the other religions that have been invited to the coronation are false. Christians don’t believe that there is a god called Krishna who is blue. We must think that the Jews were waiting for the Messiah but somehow missed him. We must disagree about the nature of the Quran and the Prophet.

This is not to insult anyone. I may admire Judaism and Islam and find Hinduism fascinating, without myself being Jewish a Muslim or a Hindu. Each follower of every religion ought to be allowed to believe that his religion is true and the other religions false. Atheists may believe that all religions are lies and nonsense. Agnostics may sit on the fence and say they just don’t know.

 But to present all religions as equal and to do so while pretending to be defender of the faith is nonsensical. Charles III would prefer no doubt to be defender of faith. But what value does faith in itself have if what the person who has it believes something that is false. If Christianity is not true, I would rather not be a Christian.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.


The point is exactly the same for the devout Hindu, Muslim and Jew. I am not arrogantly saying that I know the truth and you don’t. I merely have faith, but my faith is in something that I believe and hope to be true. For all I know the atheist might be right or alternatively someone from another religion might have the truth and I might be living in falsity. But in that case my faith would be vain and in vain.

The British monarchy is intimately connected with Christianity and in particular with Protestantism. If that were not the case then we would have a different monarch on the throne one descended from James II and it would not be Charles at the coronation, but someone else. Being defender of the faith is not some accidental historical oddity due to Henry VIII, it is the reason we have a king rather a president.

If Charles III thinks that all religions are equally lies and nonsense, which I strongly suspect he does, then his oath is founded on a pretence. Why should I watch someone lying even if he is unaware of the lie that he is telling because he thinks that everyone tells the truth even atheists?