Tartan themselves up

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Proposed mascot for an independent Scotland
Proposed mascot for an independent Scotland

Buried deep on page 214 of the Scottish government’s white paper Why we should get to be our own country, you will find the sentence: “With independence, Scotland will always get the government it chooses.” That sums it up: this whole separatist thing is just petulance and refusal to accept that in a democracy, some areas will vote for one party yet receive a national government of the other.

Yes, Scotland always votes Labour/SNP but is sometimes ruled from London by the Conservatives; similarly, Brighton always votes Labour/Green but is sometimes ruled from London by the Conservatives – quick, let’s form a separatist movement and demand our own referendum.

The 600-page white paper, released online last week, argued that an independent Scotland would be successful and prosperous. Seconds after it was released, the Scottish government’s website crashed for the remainder of the day.

“In an independent Scotland, we will establish a new Scottish Motor Services Agency. At present spending on this function, carried out in other parts of the UK is funded, in part, by taxes and fees collected from people and businesses in Scotland.”

Yes. Similarly, it is funded, in part, by taxes and fees collected from people and business in SW15, but I don’t see them fighting for their sovereign rights and political independence.

In fact, all of the arguments in favour of an independent Scotland can also be advanced in favour of an independent Surrey.

Still, impressive stuff.

Don’t tell him, Pikemen!

Last Wednesday I had the unusual experience of attending four first-night Chanukkah candle-lightings in three different towns. Two on campus from two rival/complementary rabbis, one at home, and – in between – one at Mansion House in London, hosted by the Lord [Lady] Mayor of London.

The Lord Mayor brought her Pikemen and Drummers: all quite low-key really.
The Lord Mayor’s Pikemen and Drummers: all quite low-key really.

When the Board of Deputies offered me a free £190 ticket to their annual dinner at Mansion House, I was a little dubious because guest speaker Theresa May appears prominently on my list of human rights violators, but since I was promised “a glittering occasion” I decided to go for it.

They say there’s no such thing as a free three-course meal in the presence of the Lord Mayor’s Pikemen and Drummers, but how wrong they are.

Also in attendance were such luminaries as Douglas Hurd, the Israeli Ambassador, the President of the Romanian Parliament (obviously), and – appropriately enough, the 613th richest person in the world – Russian oiligarch [sic] Moshe Kantor.

Theresa May made sure she was well-received by shamelessly playing to the gallery: apparently “the message of the last 60 years is that anti-Semitism can flare up anywhere at any moment.”

Really? Is that seriously the main message of the last 60 years? If Theresa insisted on saying something dispiriting then she could at least have spoken about racism more generally, but nevertheless, on the plus side we’ll now obviously all support her when she runs for the Tory leadership in 2015.

In the vote of thanks she was identified as “the fourth most senior woman ever,” although I think the speaker may have omitted the words ‘in British politics’.

At the end of the evening it was announced that “ladies who want to may take the flowers home.” Nothing ever changes…

Sussex boffins do it again

What will they think of next?
What will they think of next?

Excitement continues to mount across the country for Sussex’s introduction, in a year’s time, of electronic essay submission. In the meantime, schools of study have contacted their students to explain, “We cannot accept submissions via email.”

And even the fact that this message was distributed via, erm, email did not put a damper on everybody’s keyed-up-ness. Here’s what the BBC had to say in their recent radio news report on the subject:


Wake me up when it’s 1980.

During this festival of freedom…

They say that there is nothing new under the sun, and appropriately enough another occupation has broken out on campus. Never knowingly underreacting, the University authorities immediately commenced legal proceedings.

Their press office statement allayed students’ fears of an over-the-top injunction against ‘any protest action’ like last time:

rect3037And fortunately this limit is abundantly clear from the draft possession order itself. Oh no, that’s what would happen if the statement above was honest and the University genuinely intended to restrict the order to occupational protest only. Actually, the wording is extremely wide and reads:

sussex possession orderIt was accompanied by a witness statement from Roger Morgan, head of security, who described the “large number of opportunities and channels for students to express their views other than through occupation of Bramber House.”

This CCTV 'evidence' looks suspiciously like a group of students entering a seminar room...
This CCTV ‘evidence’ looks suspiciously like a group of students entering a seminar room…

His list included: holding demonstrations and marches around campus (which would be rendered trespassory by his proposed order), “freedom of assembly in Library Square” (which would be rendered trespassory by his proposed order), and the use of Facebook and social media pages [and blogs!] (which this order would prohibit from being written or viewed by anyone on campus).

The possession order hearing will be at 10o’clock this morning, 2nd December. Here’s to another six months in contempt of court! #seeyouinstrasbourg


Five of the best

Direct your blame here
In tonight’s episode, Sussex IT Services was run by Paul Davies. Romanians were feared and despised by UKIP. Article 11 was suspended by Roger Morgan. And Scotland may be brave but it’s still petulant. This was an Gabrielquotes production.


  1. You suggest that all the arguments for an independent Scotland could be said for Surrey. Save for perhaps the existence of an independent nation-state from well before the Act of Union. Surrey was never its own sovereign nation as far as I know.
    As for accepting your lot in a democracy – that seems a rather peculiar tactic for achieving positive political change.

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