An article from regular Yours for Scotland columnist Mia.
Many of us never believed UK governments were ever subjected to serious democratic scrutiny. But after watching in disbelief the depths the establishment plunged to shield from scrutiny a corrupt Scottish government and civil service, I think it is safe to say that many of us have reached now the irreversible conclusion that functional and effective democratic scrutiny is not possible in Scotland for as long as we remain in the UK.
After observing repetitive patterns of behaviour in what passes for democratic proceedings both in Scotland and at UK level, it seems to me that instead of democratic scrutiny what we might have is what looks like staged performances disguised as “parliamentary committees,” where villains are given free rein to impersonate incoherent clowns and escape scrutiny.
The scope of this clown act appears to go beyond disguising unpreparedness. It is being used to slow down uncomfortable questioning, block scrutiny and fool taxpayers into believing what they are paying for is an effective democratic tool, rather than the illusion of one.
The clown act appears to have taken the UK parliamentary committees by storm. In Scotland, after 300 years of being laughed at, I suspect it is a tad more difficult for voters to show leniency towards political clowns. That might be the reason why performances up here tend to go for something with more class, hence the high functioning amnesiac act.
In essence, the main characters in both acts appear to be very similar. Both set outs have such parallelism that one would be forgiven for thinking both were thought out by the same mind.
The main characters appear to include a leading actor as the villain, which would pretend to be either a clown or an amnesiac. There is also a main supporting actor as the overprotective chairperson, usually of the same political inclination as the villain, whose task is to ensure the most uncomfortable questions are blocked out and the villain gets an easy ride.
Then there are a few secondary characters who feed the villain easy questions to create the illusion the villain is willingly cooperating with the questioning. Then we have the detective, which is a dreamer who joins in thinking they will have the opportunity to scrutinise the villain properly, but soon realises that despite having carefully produced intelligent and interesting questions to ask, the villain and the chairperson will find a way to block any meaningful answer to those questions.
The last main character are the unsuspecting victims. These will be us taxpayers fooled into believing the scene is an effective democratic tool and who will be presented with the bill for the whole act plus all damages caused by all the villain’s flops off-stage too.
Performances in Scotland seem more heavy-handed than those at UK level. If the chairperson is not perceived as strong enough to contain the uncomfortable questioning, then time is not wasted. There is a very rapid entry on stage of a few extras acting as damage control agents who threaten everybody else with prosecution if the questioning becomes too efficient. That sends the performance prematurely into the end scene terminating the performance.
The most important character in both acts is the detective. Remove the detective with the real questions the victim wants answers to, and the whole charade flops because the villain, the extras and the chairperson on their own would never manage to fool victims into believing the act is anything other than a whitewash.
On the 17th November we had the most recent example of a clown act. I am referring to the part of the Westminster Liaison Committee where Johnson was asked questions by our wonderful Angus McNeil.
I call it a clown act because as soon as Mr McNeil starts his questioning you can clearly see Johnson adopting a childish and foolish attitude, stammering exaggeratedly to derail the thread of questioning and to exasperate McNeil. He also keeps an irritating smirk on his face throughout showing he is doing it on purpose.
If you wish to watch the questioning by Mr McNeil, you can do so by visiting the parliament live tv website. This comes with a warning mind. The performance of Johnson is infuriating and you may feel the uncontrollable urge to throw things at the screen to make it stop.
The link for the whole session is below
Mr McNeil starts his questions approximately at minute 16:43:14.
After watching this individual standing as the UK PM delivering incoherent grunts, fake stuttering and babbling noises as his response to the serious questions put forward by Mr McNeil, I could not stop wondering why on earth our Scottish nationalist MPs are wasting their talent and our time endorsing this clown act with their participation on it.
A few seconds into the questioning by Mr McNeil it was already evident that both the PM and the chairperson were working together to derail his questioning. Looking at the way Johnson and the Chairman conducted themselves during Mr McNeil’s interventions, it was also evident that if it wasn’t for Mr McNeil’s determination to ask and the quality of his questions, nobody watching Johnson during those 6 min of video would have ever taken that committee as a serious democratic tool. They would see it as a farce. Mr McNeil was the detective figure giving credibility to the charade.
Interesting and very well presented as Mr McNeil’s questions were and lovely as it was to hear his naturally nice accent compared to the unnaturally sounding “plum in the mouth” posh accent of many of those sitting around that table, nothing was ever going to change by playing along with this clown game. Scotland is not further forward and the clown impersonator walked out of that chamber in the same way he got in: with his teflon cover intact.
I wonder therefore, why talented SNP MPs like Mr McNeill are helping a rotten British establishment to fool taxpayers into believing such corruption still allows a functioning democracy. Because it clearly does not. That committee was a farce.
I do not understand why they do not walk away and leave the whole charade to fall apart under the weight of its own corruption, because from where I am standing, it seems the only sensible thing to do if we ever wish to restore democracy in Scotland.
During those 6 minutes of questioning by Mr McNeil, what we see is a man clearly unfit to be PM, but yet catapulted to the post by a political establishment who has no democratic mandate to act on behalf of NI, Wales or Scotland. There is clearly no democratic restraint of any kind.
Unfit for the post of PM he may be, but the man feels his feet under the table safe enough to be at perfect ease insulting Scotland’s taxpayers’ intelligence with patronising comments.
Why do we have to continue putting up with this?
This clown impersonator tells us that the deal with New Zealand could increase our exports for 100 million. He then asks Mr McNeil “are you turning your nose at that?”. Well, I don’t know Mr McNeil, but I most certainly am, actually. My nose was so twisted when hearing it for first time that it was almost out of joint. As far as I am concerned he could have told us that it would increase it by a trillion and still we would be none the wiser. The word “increase” is a relative word which only has any meaning when compared to something and within a particular time frame. If the increase in exports with this trade deal is 100 million in 10 years compared to having no deal at all, then the deal is rubbish. New Zealand imported goods from the UK for value of around a bn per year from 2012 to 2020. But if the increase is of 100 million per month in goods exports compared with what we already had with New Zealand as part of the EU trade deals, then we are talking of a good deal.
But information is power, so one can guess that the whole purpose of the clown act is precisely to stop us getting any worthwhile information that may help us to scrutinise how badly this government is serving our interests.
And if our MPs cannot get the information they seek to protect our interests and this charade is not helping Scotland in any way, what are our MPs wasting theirs and our time for by keeping us in this union?
The pinnacle of the clown act was of course using the opportunity given by Mr McNeil mentioning a totally inoffensive word in Gaelic to launch a calculated double attack on him. The clown impersonator embarked on an exaggerated and totally out of place rant. I did not hear the chairperson warning him or making any move to stop him wasting everybody’s time with his rant, like he did repeatedly with Mr McNeil when he was frantically trying to get a cogent answer to his questions.
Many have said the clown impersonator had misheard the Gaelic word and that is why he reacted in the way he did. I don’t think for even a second that he misheard or misunderstood anything at all. I am sure he enjoyed a taste of our fabulous Scotch whisky more than once to the sound of that beautiful word. I think his aim was always to derail the thread of uncomfortable questions Mr McNeil was clearly on track of asking. I think this pretend clown realised immediately that disclosing the figure of the 100 million left him totally exposed to even more uncomfortable questions regarding the trade deal which he did not have the balls to answer. As it was clear Mr McNeil had come well prepared with the figures, Johnson took the cowards’ shortcut: to shut down that line of questioning by launching a rant on a totally unrelated matter. Isn’t that what they call “a dead cat”?
But he did something else. By launching that misplaced rant on hearing the Gaelic word, he was also making the very subtle point that in this union of non-equals, if you want to be understood at all times, you can only use English because if you use anything else, no matter how well known the word is, you and the electorate who elected you to represent them will be giving everybody else a licence to be misinterpreted and treated with contempt.
What I saw on that was an opportunistic attempt to undermine any other language that is not English, so I found that part of the clown act particularly ghastly and offensive.
Scotland’s languages should be respected in equal measure as English, so after 6 years of SNP majorities in Westminster, why are they not?
This insulting performance is not what taxpayers in Scotland expect from a PM. Scottish taxpayers expect to be respected by educated answers to pertinent questions made by their representatives. Allowing farces like this to continue is not the type of mature and corrective response Scottish voters expect from the chairperson in that committee either.
The working class in Scotland has to work very hard to put food on the table. Us working class people see money taken directly from our salaries to pay buffoons in character like the PM or the sycophant chairperson who was trying to keep Mr McNeil on a leash while giving the PM free rein.
The money that is taken from our salaries is used to pay farcical committees like this one or the even more embarrassing farce we had in Holyrood recently. What Scottish taxpayers expect in exchange is for time and moneywasting farces like this to be stopped immediately and for all those involved in it to start behaving like they deserve the salaries we taxpayers have to pay them and not like actors on a staged performance.
We also expect a proper chairperson, not useful idiots determined to interrupt the flow of questions from one of our elected members of parliament to give respite to a clown impersonator or a pretend amnesiac with no intention of dignify taxpayers who pay their salaries with cogent answers.
So, what is it exactly that we are paying our MPs and actually the FM to do? To be the supporting characters in a clown or amnesiac impersonator’s act designed to help a corrupt establishment to avoid scrutiny, or to actually represent us, represent our interests and to deliver the democratic mandates we have entrusted the SNP with for the last 7 years?
We thought we were paying them to do the latter.
How is perpetuating contempt for democracy endorsing farces like this helping to deliver the democratic mandates the SNP was entrusted with?
Seven years of wait demonstrate this strategy is not working so why wasn’t it changed?
How can our MPs ever represent us properly in a place where obtaining answers to serious questions is impossible because the system has been set up to deliberately avoid meaningful answers to ever be produced?
They clearly cannot, so what are they still doing there?
What exactly do we want a nationalist FM and a majority of SNP MPs for if all what they are prepared to do is to continue legitimising farcical performances a corrupt and self-serving establishment creates to obfuscate, avoid scrutiny and protect its own interests above those of the people of Scotland?
For nothing. if that is all what they are prepared to do we are better off voting for somebody else.
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Craig Murray is due to be released next Tuesday on the 30th November 2021 from Saughton Jail at around 10am where he has been wrongly imprisoned for several months as a political prisoner in the corrupt state that Scotland has become.
The very least we can all do is be there to meet and cheer him to demonstrate our determination to defend freedom of speech in Scotland.
Craig will address the rally and it will be videoed so that it can be shared with media across the World.
If you can be there please make the effort. I am in the USA so will not be there in person but I will be raising a toast to him and perhaps sharing any video at the St Andrews Night Dinner I am hosting in Clearwater, Florida.