It’s TUESDAY 7 JUNE and though the weekend papers are dominated by the death of the legendary Muhammad Ali, we feel you’d want us to return to the EU. It’s our duty – even though the boils and locusts still come apace and this week the shouting match – sorry, debate – descended into absurdity.
POPULISM RULES, OK
Before we begin, here’s possibly the best Brexit story of the week – “Homeless man chalks out anti-EU book on pavement in Trafalgar Square” in Friday’s Evening Standard. And guess what? It’s ‘Kenny from Scotland’.
Our MUST READS this week come first, from Tom Slater in Friday’s Spiked, taking issue with remarks made by shadow minister Pat Glass about ‘older, white men’ whom she sees as the heart of Brexit. “Her disdain for the gruff, working-class voters … is shared across the political class. They just keep it quiet. Not too long ago politicians could get away with tarring Eurosceptics as prejudiced, pasty-munching morons. They were fair game … now that those ‘fruitcakes’ are voting in a referendum, the elite has had to mince words. Every question about immigration is met with a constant nod to Eurosceptics’ ‘legitimate concerns’. But scratch the surface and the same fear of the braying, blokey Brexiteers lurks.” Even if Remain wins, says Slater, the chasm will still be there…
Second, from Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times [but we’ve used the Reddit link] wondering at the volte-face of so many of the Labour left. Their natural instinct, says Lawson, is to vote Brexit, but they’re now for Remain because they fear people might just prefer Boris Johnson to Jeremy Corbyn if it comes to an election – “They see Brussels as a way of getting social legislation they want via EU directives, imposed on the recalcitrant British who have had the lamentable bad taste to reject a left-wing platform at the ballot box.”
Martin Kettle in the Guardian has the jitters – shock, horror, it looks as though Brexit might win, and it’s the fault of “past and present bad political habits … there is still too much lingering truth about Britain losing an empire and not finding a role. The more reluctant our embrace of our Europeanness, the more exceptionalist colonial-era British habits of thought and culture linger on, still subtly influencing the way parts of this country think about defence, hierarchy, schooling, foreigners – and Britishness”. Heaven forfend.
David Torrance in yesterday’s Herald pointed out the inconsistencies in the SNP argument for remaining in the EU – something Jim Sillars has been preaching for many moons, hence the new SNPLeave group.
If you missed Sir John Major’s uncharacteristic outburst on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show you can catch up here on the Huffington Post UK website, with a swift “bitter ramblings of a vengeful man” riposte from Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Those of you too young to remember the referendum of 1975 should read Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald. It was, he says, a very gentlemanly affair compared with our ‘meaner, cruder, scarier’ 2016 version and reminded us that then it was Labour that was split in two. Times have changed – “the issues are superficially similar… but everything seems a lot more serious now, with the refugee crisis, immigration and Eurozone unemployment.”
If it’s facts you’re after – though at this late stage, why bother – Christopher Huggins from Keele University supplied Friday’s Conversation with data on EU workers – how many and where they come from. Not many from Britain apparently – our lamentable reliance on our mother tongue to see us through any situation means we don’t have the necessary language skills.
In truth, you may as well toss a coin before you cast your vote. It’s what Adam Bienkov suggested in Friday’s politics.co.uk might be a more reliable way of determining the outcome than listening to political pundits. And Alex Morton in Thursday’s ConservativeHome warned about putting trust in ‘experts’ and “opinions that masquerade and are treated as universal truths, when in fact they are merely a set of assumptions”. Amen to that.
AN ‘INCOMPREHENSIBLE ACT OF EVIL’
We are still headshaking over poor wee Liam Fee. More MUST READs this week – Kenneth Roy’s two special reports for the Scottish Review – including the transcript of an interview on BBC Scotland’s morning radio Call Kaye phone-in.
Over the weekend the Scottish Children’s Commissioner broke cover to defend the Named Person scheme, saying that using the case to attack the scheme was unforgiveable posturing [£]. Despite this Mark Macaskill and Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times [£] found questions about child protection in Scotland need answering – did Liam have a Named Person? Why were so many warnings ignored? Yesterday’s Herald reported a Survation poll finding that two-thirds of us think the Named Person scheme is an “unacceptable intrusion” into family life, so we clearly don’t think it’s going to be effective stopping abuse.
And as the Mail on Sunday reported, there are rewards for apparent failure in our public services. All grim reading, made worse by the fact that we’ve been here so many times before…
‘MY CHAINS FELL OFF, MY HEART WAS FREE’
Friday 3rd June was Tax Freedom Day – the first day in 2016 that you stopped working for the government and started enjoying your hard earned salary… Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute explains in CityAM. This year it’s the latest it’s been since 2001. Brian Monteith in yesterday’s Scotsman suspects that a yet to be calculated Scottish Tax Freedom Day would be even later. How good it would be if it could be earlier, says Monteith, to make Scotland more competitive for business, instead of 10% more expensive. Dream on Brian…
If you go down to the beach today: Friday’s For Argyll had news of the Marine Conservation Society’s Big Seaweed Search – a ‘citizens’ science’ project aiming to map the whereabouts of the slippery stuff around Britain’s coast. Apparently there are 650 species, but their distribution is changing. Pack your bucket and spade and register here to take part and find out more…
Demise of the pies: We are indebted to the QI postings of Rampant Scotland for this wee snippet about Killie Pies. The world-famous steak and dribble-down-your-chin gravy confection beloved of Kilmarnock FC fans – also lurking on a supermarket shelf near you – is in a sticky [and we use the word advisedly – our editor being an Irvine Valley man] situation after falling foul of outsized Ayrshire egos. Only in Scotland…
Pet owners know theirs is the cleverest animal on the block, but this honey badger takes some beating. It takes whatever life throws at it and still comes up trumps. Thanks to Louise Gentle of Nottingham Trent University in the Conversation.
Eat your heart out, Steve McQueen…