Jeremy Corbyn, a Very English Hero?

Jeremy Corbyn’s opening speech was a bit of a turn-up. Full of energy and passion and with turns of phrase reminiscent of Harry Potter: “the wealth-extractors”. They sound nasty. He is now dashing around Tory marginals, campaigning like a professional.

It came as rather a surprise after the listless, phoned-in performance he turned in over Brexit, and in the House of Parliament, sounding often like a substitute maths teacher gamely - but lamely - filling in for the drama department. Obviously, it’s still unlikely, but it would be ironic if Jeremy Corbyn turned out to be Britain’s next Prime Minister.

It struck me that perhaps the feeble performance at PMQs and elsewhere could have been an act, designed to lure the Tories into calling a snap election, when he would throw off the facade and emerge as a true leader.

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The Brief: Three Reasons Why Brexit Means the Break-Up of the UK

Talking to English friends recently, it has become apparent to me that they don't really think that the United Kingdom is in the process of breaking up as a result of Brexit. It will all blow over, they insist, when everyone realises what a great success Brexit is. Things will unfold like England after the Reformation - sure there were difficult times, some beheadings. A massive land grab by the aristocracy. Bloody Mary. But then it all came good under Elizabeth 1. And that is how it will be again. But my perspective as a Scot is pretty clear. Brexit spells the end of the UK. Here’s why:

1 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. So a UK-wide Brexit would mean that for the convenience of the English, Ireland and the European Union would be expected to undertake the trouble and expense of enforcing a border across 300 miles of the island of Ireland. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

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A Thought for the Day the Scottish Parliament Votes for a New Independence Referendum

(Below this piece is a response from Bob Tait, in which he recounts being called a "rootless cosmpolitan" by the poet Hugh MacDiarmid.)

Recently, listening to Radio Four’s ‘Thought for the Day’, a programme that is intended for a moment of religiously-inspired reflection in the morning news cycle, I heard the Reverend Giles Fraser denouncing “rootless cosmopolitans’.I was surprised and horrified as to me this phrase connotes ‘Jews’. It has a history - the ideological separation of non-ethnic Germans from the rest of the population by the Nazi regime.

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How Le Monde Sees Brexit and the Scottish Referendum

The week that ‘Article 30’ was triggered by Nicola Sturgeon and ‘Article 50’ was triggered by Theresa May’s letter, I was in France and over a cafe creme each morning, read about it all in Le Monde. This great European newspaper with its painstaking reportage and thoughtful opinion; sophisticated use of photography, and broad agenda of international news, illuminated the situation and it is always interesting to see oursels as ithers see us, as the poet said.

At their meeting in Glasgow, May said to Sturgeon about the referendum call: “Ce n’est pas le bon moment.” Some things just sound better in French. In English her: “Now is not the time,” has a rather nanny-ish ring, it’s one of those circular phrases that May likes. I can imagine a character saying this in Alice In Wonderland and the White Rabbit replying, irritated, looking at his watch: “The time is always now, don’t you know anything?” But “Ce n’est pas le bon moment,” sounds faintly desperate. It reminds me of the Jacques Brel classic “Ne me quitte pas,” with its lines “Oublier le le temps perdu” (Forget the time and the time that’s past). This song, of course, would also do as a soundtrack for Brexit.

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Politics on the hill, an Edinburgh View


A video about this blog made by Phantom Power Productions is available here.

March 11, 2017.

Climbing Arthur's Seat on an overcast March day, thinking about politics, I wonder if Nicola Sturgeon is going to call a second independence referendum; if Theresa May is going to trigger Article 50 next week. Holyrood Park is busy - the route to the top is thronged and I hear snatches of conversation in many languages: French, then Polish, French again. A group of fit-looking German men files onto the path above me. It seems to me, returning after an absence of a few months, that Edinburgh increasingly feels like a European capital.

Behind me an English student is entertaining a visitor: “This is ten minutes from campus.” They are arguing about whether the rock paths laid on the hillside to protect it from erosion could be considered natural. “Is an anthill natural?  Ants modify their environment.”

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