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Wings Over Scotland

Distorted reflections

Posted on February 10, 2013 by

It sometimes feel as though the jagged, jittery line stretching from Gretna to Berwick isn’t so much a border as a fracture in a mirror, through which things look different according to which side of it you’re standing on.


On its south side, Labour decry a Tory government as the worst thing that can possibly happen. To the north, it’s an inconvenience Scots must bear for six or seven years out of every ten despite always rejecting the Conservatives at the ballot box, because to cast them out decisively would be selfish, childish “narrow nationalism”.

Scottish Labour MSPs abstain from voting for the replacement of Trident nuclear weapons, presenting a transparent lie of opposition to the weapons of global destruction. But something about the short train journey to London persuades Scottish Labour’s MPs to advocate Trident replacement enthusiastically, demanding only to know what else can be cut to ensure there’s enough money for it.

When in Scotland, the Tories and Lib Dems in the coalition government issue dire warnings that an independent Scotland would be cast out of the European Union and into international isolation. Safely back home in England, the Prime Minister promises UK voters a referendum that (according to polls) will achieve that very end.

The Huffington Post quotes the PM today on the subject of Scottish independence.

“He questioned why people should be made to choose between Scotland or Britain when they could be part of both, adding: “Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?”

But hang on. “Britain ain’t broke, don’t fix it” wasn’t Mr Cameron’s previous view.


“In a book about him due out on Monday, Mr Cameron pledged to heal what he called Britain’s “broken society”.” (‘Cameron targets ‘broken society” – BBC News, 18 August 2008)

“The problems we face are big and urgent. Rebuilding our broken economy because unless we do, our children will be saddled with debt for decades to come. Mending our broken society because unless we do, we will never solve those stubborn social problems.” (‘David Cameron: Together we will mend broken Britain‘ – Metro, 8 October 2009)

“Why is our economy broken? Not just because Labour wrongly thought they’d abolished boom and bust. But because government got too big, spent too much and doubled the national debt. Why is our society broken? Because government got too big, did too much and undermined responsibility. Why are our politics broken? Because government got too big, promised too much and pretended it had all the answers.” (‘Putting Britain back on her feet’ – speech to Conservative Party conference, 8 October 2009)

“British society, Mr Cameron says, is ‘broken’.” (‘Cameron tells us Britain is broken – but not how to fix it’ – The Guardian, 24 January 2010)

“Public perceptions are often very different to the picture that emerges from the official statistics. The Tories hope that these perceptions mean that Mr Cameron’s “broken society” message will strike a chord and reinforce his “vote for change” pitch.” (‘Cameron reveals how he will fix broken Britain’ – The Independent, 1 April 2010)

“David Cameron spoke at a youth centre in Witney of a need to review Britain’s ‘broken society’. He said the “sick behaviour” was “not confined to the so-called underclass”, who lead parallel lives to the rest of society.” (‘Cameron launches war on ‘Broken Britain” – Daily Express, 15 January 2011)

“Cameron made the pledge as he reasserted his analysis that Britain is broken, but he joined Ed Miliband in drawing a link between the riots, and recent scandals in banking, parliament and journalism, his words almost precisely mirroring those of the Labour leader.” (‘David Cameron on riots: broken society is top of my political agenda’ – The Guardian, 15 August 2011)

“David Cameron has said tackling the “broken society” is back at the top of his agenda following last week’s riots.” (‘Broken society is top priority – Cameron’ – BBC News, 15 August 2011)

“David Cameron yesterday gave his ministers one month to come up with new policies to tackle Britain’s ‘broken society’ in the wake of the riots.” (‘Cameron gives ministers a month to find answers to broken Britain’ – Daily Mail, 31 August 2011)

For most of his leadership of the Conservatives, David Cameron has spoken of “Broken Britain”. Indeed, so long and so often has he done so that as early as the spring of 2010 staunchly Unionist cartoonist Steve Bell depicted the cry as a broken record:


And yet, apparently all it took to heal this “broken society” was for Scotland to threaten to walk away from it. Broken Britain now “works well”, and must not be imperilled by the selfish Scots. And oddest of all, the Westminster opposition – not normally a body given to praising the achievements of the government – agrees.

The parties of London speak with a single voice. (Though presumably not His Master’s Voice, as said business has someone managed to slip through the cracks of Britain’s miraculous overnight repair.) Britain is still Great. Scotland is Better Together, safe within the loving breast of the UK. Everything’s alright. Everything is fine.

Until Cameron crosses the border again, of course.

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19 to “Distorted reflections”

  1. Albalha

    And on distorted reflections, listening to the Bateman programme, K McDonald standing in, anyway I’d missed the Rhoda Grant labour MSP proposal for the building of one bedroom houses on Scotland as an answer to the Tories bedroom tax ……. as was said by the contributors, Labour politicians in Scotland will say anything to kick those who favour independence ……. a classic example of one thing south of the border, where nobody in Labour is calling for the building of one bedroom houses as a way forward, and another for the other side.

    This is as good example to highlight to voters, says it all really.   


  2. Craig M

    This is such a complex subject to talk about. What do we mean when we refer to “Britain”? David Cameron probably thinks of something different to me. I would guess that he sees the world through the prism of H Rider Haggard novels and daring-do on the North Frontier, peppered with a desire that everyone stop putting The City under such scrutiny so that we can all go back to making loads of dosh, while the 99.9% of the rest of the population, go down the pub and play darts over a pint of London Pride.

    The Labour members for Scotland probably want us all to deliver our lives into their hands while they go about making loads of dosh and drink fine wines in some posh eatery in trendy London. Not the London where immigrants sleep 6 to a bedroom, but the “nice” part where the foreign ambassadors go.

    Your average person in England has a vision of Britain where they can afford to pay the bills and not have their car stolen when they park it at night. And when they get sick, not have to wait to long for the doctor to see them.

    The media view of Britain is one where they talk about each other on the telly, or in the newspapers, talking about each other. If there is life beyond the M25, then who cares, it’s not important until someone starts to make noises that might upset the comfortable applecart that is life in the media talking about about each other, talking about each other.   

    My view of Britain is one where I just shake my head at the failure of the people entrusted to “do something” to do anything worth while! So I support independence for Scotland. I had an interesting conversation about this with a Canadian couple recently and I defined Independence as a “desire for good government”. Maybe there is a slogan there.
    Redefine the Yes movement as a “Desire for good Government.” It sits quite nicely as a counter to the grossly bad government rom London fthat we have endured for the last 30 years. And therein lies my vision of Britain. A country crying out for good government, where the only solution is to disarticulate it into smaller, more manageable units, so that we can disenfranchise the pedlars of bad government that have plagued these islands for decades. You  know who you are!

  3. Appleby

    The worst of it is that some people are living in bubbles to the extent where they can get away with this, due to lack of alternative viewpoints (that they’ll listen to) being presented.

  4. HenBroon

    Agreed not only do they try and kick Scotland but they kick and sneer at other small independent country’s who Scotland would emulate. Look at the sneering at Denmark here. and then read this from Copenhagen
    Can anyone see a wide open goal there for the SNP, the YES office and anyone who can put together good articles. Nudge nudge wink wink ;o)
    Here is my effort, I have to go out so cannot do it justice.

  5. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Thanks for that link, Hen. I’d spotted the “too wee” line in the Herald piece and was wondering what to do with it, but you’ve come up with the perfect context. Will knock something up later.

  6. ayemachrihanish

    Britain on the International stage is a deluded post colonial power. BBC Message – “Britain is still Great” 
    Britain on the EU stage is a deluded eurosceptic and insideious US neoliberal sibling – BBC, “Britain is Great” 
    Britain in the UK, a Westminster centric deluded global leader and player of a deeply broken UK – BBC, “Better Together”
    But “to see ourselfs as others see us” that is the question? The answer – deluded, deluded, deluded! 
    I could go on but what’s the point? 
    Let Scotland, as a whole nation, continue to become “better informed” and start to see things as they really are. That’s what we all must all continue to do – like the rev – shine a light on the lies and propaganda of delusion creators.   

  7. Jeannie

    Will knock something up later.
    That’s nice, but could you write the article first though?

  8. Cameron

    See, this is what happens when you invite animal jokes. 😉

  9. R Louis

    Those seeking a truly definitive version of the Scottish cringe, need look no further than this mornings Herald on Sunday.  In the blogging section, a piece entitled ‘Have the Scots become unpopular or is it just me’, is truly the ultimate in pathetic Scottish cringery.  The author argues, Scots would be unpopular, if we are no longer the underdog with a chip on our shoulder, so we should reject independence.
    I haven’t provided a link, as I don’t want the Herald to get more traffic, so perhaps someone can link to one of those ‘cache’ sites – as I have no idea how to do it.
    Either way, brace yourself, if you do read it.

  10. cynicalHighlander

    @R Louis
    Type the title (‘Have the Scots become unpopular or is it just me’)  into a search engine and enter.

    At the end of each article (move cursor) is a double arrow giving a preview of page and any other similar or cached pages.

  11. Vronsky

    @R Louis
    It’s so awful you’d assume it was intended ironically.  It’s not, though.  Here’s another of his pieces. 

    If you read his other ‘writings’ whether on Scotland, women, or anything else, Gary Johnston emerges as a bitter wee person with, as the Americans say, ‘issues’. 

  12. Keef

    I have to say I don’t find that piece as being too far from a reasoned opinion. Take out the silly anti- English bit ( even though there is an argument to be made for that) and I thought it was an ok piece. Granted, I have not sat and studied it, but what was so bad about it?

  13. Alan Gerrish

    Craig M says: Redefine the Yes movement as a “Desire for good Government.” 
    By all means Craig, but please add:^ …by people in Scotland who put the needs and interests of the people of Scotland first”, otherwise we’ll get every Unionist bampot claiming that only they can provide “good government”!

  14. chicmac

    Britain is broke and the bailiffs  are on the doorstep’

  15. Keef

    Britain is indeed broken. Broken beyond repair. The longer Scotland remains part of its union the more needless damage that will need to be reversed and rectified. Westminster is in a mad cap rush to make further cuts to services to Scotland, at the same time it instigates as many projects as possible inEngland. Where is the Barnett offset rebate to compensate Scotland for the HS2 ‘northern extension? 

  16. Chic McGregor

    We’re still waiting for the rest of the agreed ‘Equivalent’ – the compensation the taxpayers of debt free Scotland were supposed to get for taking on their proportion of the huge English national debt.  Goodness knows how many billions that would equate to in present day money + 300 years interest.

  17. Malcolm

    Albalha says:
    “I’d missed the Rhoda Grant labour MSP proposal for the building of one bedroom houses on Scotland as an answer to the Tories bedroom tax ……. as was said by the contributors, Labour politicians in Scotland will say anything to kick those who favour independence”
    Yes. Feeble minded. Like people who say the way to deal with rising energy prices is to switch a new supplier. Totally fails to see the wider issue. But then that’s Labour through and through.

  18. Albalha

    Something else from Headlines on BBC Scotland Radio today ……. Ken McDonald said at one point ……. ‘The Better Together campaign as I have to call them, can’t say the NO campaign’, or similar …..this may have already been touched on by WOS, but if it’s an official line, it’s worth a wee explore I’d have thought.

  19. David Stewart

    This blogger has confused broken ‘society’ (a social commentary) with the separate issue of ‘breaking up Britain’ (the forthcoming referendum).
    Rev. Campbell has written an article stating that Britain is broken – he’ll be happy to reverse this by refusing to break it up any further, I presume.
    If he wants to stop mis-using the terms then that’s another matter.

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