What an utter muddle David Torrance gets himself in as he tries to have a go at Scotland’s growing independence movement whilst making a doubtless heartfelt but nonetheless failed effort to defend his beloved Union against charges that it is broken. (Britain is neither ‘broken’ nor a failed state
It’s all there. The dishonesty. The strawman arguments. The inconsistencies and contradictions. The disturbing obsession with ethnicity. It’s like revisiting one of those tiresome tracts produced by British nationalist commentators during the referendum campaign. A campaign which those same British nationalist commentators insist is over and should be moved on from, whilst being curiously unable to let go of their own role as anti-independence propagandists.
In order to get to the more mundane unionist drivel offered by Torrance in the forlorn hope that it might be taken for grown-up political analysis we must first get by the obstacle of his tortured attempt to argue that the Union is not broken because the UK is not a “Failed State”. (Note the sleekit way Torrance calls in aid Tom Nairn, despite the fact that the distinguished academic never has and surely never would describe the UK as a failed state.)
Where does Torrance get the idea that independence campaigners described the UK in such terms? Not from anything that was actually said and that he is able to quote. Not a bit of it! The idea is entirely a figment of Torrance’s fevered imagination born of his own highly prejudiced interpretation of Yes campaign rhetoric.
The conclusion that one inevitably draws from this pathetically contrived effort at straw man building is that Torrance is totally bereft of a way of refuting the argument that the UK is broken and so must resort to pretending that “broken” is synonymous with “failed state”. It’s dishonest. And it’s very, very silly.
The obsession with ethnicity which David torrance shares with his fellow British nationalists is revealed in the remark about one of the latest British politicians to be accused of corruption being “a Scot”. Most of those who are regularly referred to by Torrance and his ilk as “narrow nationalists” will be wondering what the hell Rifkind’s being “a Scot” has to do with anything. But Torrance seems to suppose, for no reason he troubles to explain, that the man’s ancestry is highly relevant.
Note again how Torrance name-drops another academic at this point, impertinently presuming to put words in the mouth of respected lecturer James McEnaney. How would Torrance know what James McEnaney would make of Rifkind’s dubious escapades?
Torrance next has recourse to some classic “whitabootery” with the woefully ill-thought argument that “the phenomena Nationalists [sic] cite as proof of Britain’s broken-ness exist in Scotland too”. At which point it is impossible to resist the use of a vernacular expression denoting reaction to a statement so stunningly stupid as to challenge the standard lexicon of the English language.
In an evidently totally unconsidered attempt to counter the “broken Britain” hypothesis Torrance manages both to acknowledge the broken-ness and to provide a statement of how this broken-ness impacts on Scotland which is as succinct as any that an advocate of independence might hope to deploy.
It all then descends into confusion as Torrance manages to reference two arguments – from Will Hutton and Peter Hain – which pretty clearly contradict his own argument. Yeah! I don’t get it either.
Those who have read my previous critiques of David Torrance’s unfortunate forays into the realm of Scottish politics will know that I always strive to give credit where it is due. In that vein, young David is to be complimented for the following,
“Marry holistic structural reform of the UK to a bold policy agenda and you might end up with something both electorally attractive and worth fighting for.”
Which is the most artful euphemism this writer has yet seen for the actual strategy being pursued by the British parties. A strategy which might be more accurately stated thus,
“Combine another round of cobbled-together constitutional tinkering with a raft of empty promises in the hope that it will fool the voters one more time.”
For the gift of that amusing denouement at least, I thank David Torrance.