It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped caring which minor celebrities/business people/“cultural icons” do or don’t support independence. Maybe it was the Krankies, Willy Walsh, one of Vic & Bob (not even checking which), that hairdresser with the…hair. Whoever or whatever it was, it’s long passed saturation point.
I pin the blame, as with most social ills, squarely on David Cameron, who a few weeks back delivered a speech about Scotland from the comfort of a Velodrome in London. “Let the message ring out….we want you to stay,” bleated the Prime Minister. Nothing the Yes campaign could ever say or do could win over as many waverers to their cause as this speech. Except maybe if the entire London media set started heeding his advice and talking about how much they loved Britain…
One man who fled the greatness of Britain in order to avoid paying tax on his £500m fortune, David Bowie, used the Brit Awards (which we will be claiming our share of by the way) as a platform to remind Scots of the importance of staying in the UK and not fucking off to Switzerland/New York like he had. Our Prime Minister was deeply moved, apparently letting out a “little cry of joy” and there’s been no let up in the greeting since then.
Next in the fray was renowned economist/cutter of hair, Nicky Clarke who took to the airwaves to declare that Scots “don’t understand the economics of the whole thing” “Braveheart” “romanticism” yada yada. Don’t watch it, it would cut your hair. Or maybe that’s the point, I’m not the economist here.
While I don’t expect much from Thatcher‘s hairdresser, there’s one interjection that’s really stuck in my craw. Before I get properly wired in, I should probably point out how much I love Paris Lees. In the last few months alone, she’s been the only sensible person on Question Time, tore notorious transphobes to bits and generally been fucking awesome. Recounting her experience of debating perennial hate figure/monger, Julie Burchill, she lambasts her “cruel and inaccurate jokes” about trans* people and says she’s tired of people opposing homophobia being the ones called out for “political correctness.” She talks lots of sense, a lot of the time.
So, it’s a shame she wrote this fucking terrible VICE piece. VICE is usually a home for an ever increasing collection of Nathan Barleys to write about how orwful it was being outside of London for the afternoon/gap yahr and how the locals were poor/simple but probably happy or at least mildly entertaining, so it’s a good fit for utter drivel about what “puts the great in Great Britain” but this offering takes the Royal piss. Of course, it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek but it’s not the “irony” that’s ironic, it’s the parts that are supposed to be vaguely serious.
It begins with a cruel and inaccurate joke, as Paris tells Scots,
but seriously, you lot fucking love Britain too, don’t you? You’re like those homophobic men who claim to hate gay people but secretly jack off to pictures of other men’s butts when no one is looking.
Except no. We don‘t have a secret boner for broken Britain and it’s not actually gay men who’re responsible for homophobia. Anyways, the tired tropes about how there would be no homophobia if it wasn’t for all those pesky gays are followed by even more tired tropes about Scotland, in the form of discussions of Haggis, Trainspotting, Braveheart, Zzzzzz… This is more sleep inducing than offensive and demonstrates that some otherwise progressive people in England can’t seem to grasp that the movement for self-determination and social, political and economic transformation doesn’t exist because there aren’t enough repeats of Mel Gibson films on the BBC.
Back firmly on terrible gender/sexual politics ground, we’re also offered this gem,
while you can argue about the rights and wrongs of why Scotland and England married, the point is we are married now.
Rather than deconstruct why this fails on so many levels, I feel the main problem is the use of these relationship metaphors at all. When you compare the enormous, destructive, damaging and violent power imbalances between men and women or between queer and non-queer people throughout the world, pithy questions like the constitution are all but irrelevant. So it’s just unacceptable to continue to speak in these terms, whatever our view on independence. Comparisons to harmful relationships or broken marriages, which seem to emanate more from Yessers than Bitters, need to do one. Paris should and does know better as well.
As always when I read hoaching stuff like this, I’m thoroughly bewildered by the disdain shown towards England, or what Paris calls “Britain.” These attitudes are much more troublesome than someone intentionally saying “Scotch” to get a rise out of people. The “Britain” offered up is an achingly familiar one – meadows, soggy Walkers crisps, Poundland, tadpoles, dog shit, the Queen and…one more time kids…the fucking Tea-DL – what A Thousand Flowers likes to call, “the relentless death march of twee fascism.”
Let’s say this again, loud and clear, in case you hadn’t heard before. We are not prepared to remain in a state which is failing all of our citizens, most specifically the poorest and most vulnerable, to facilitate a bunch of hacks in the South wetting themselves at the prospect of going to Poundland, to buy their sparkly Union Jack bowler hat from some wean on a workfare scheme, enroute to the Jubilympic teddy bears picnic being organised by their local branch of Infidels Against the Islamification of Islington. If this is Britain, you’re more than fucking welcome to it. I still don’t see why this has to be the only vision for England’s future we hear about, whether from the right or the left.
There’s one particularly glaring lie in the Paris Lees/VICE boakfest, the claim that “this isn’t a piece of persuasive writing.” Yet, it’s persuaded many people about exactly why we need an alternative to this kind of pish and why England needs a vision that’s neither the EDL nor being nothing more than “dog shit on a Nike trainer.” Considering this purports to be a piece about how amazing Britain is, it looks more like a very convincing case to bury Britain’s Poundland politics for everyone’s sake.
Scotland isn’t looking back as Paris claims, bitter about some old battle anymore, we would be incapable of contemplating independence if we were. It‘s the confidence we‘ve gained in the past few decades, that we deserve more than the soggy crisps offered by elite rule from London that has brought us to this point. We’re looking forward, in eager anticipation of the battles that lie far beyond the vote in September, where we and she will be firmly on the same side; battles for economic and social justice, battles for equality and liberation, battles for democracy and power.
England’s citizens deserve more as well but England can’t be great until people like Paris switch sides and stop backing the Tories in their desperate attempt to hold onto their Northerly deer hunting retreat. It can’t be great until everyone on these isles realises that they have an opportunity to build a more independent society, from the ground up.
If your manifesto for a better future is tea and tadpoles, then UKIP and the EDL have already won. No amount of tax dodgers, “stylists to the stars” or misplaced scatological metaphors can save Britain now. Keep calm if you want to, we can’t carry on like this.
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal