Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No more Aaro before breakfast for me

Jesus wept. God willing, some more Watching of this one later today, but Aaro has already provided me two fairly serious "choke on your Egg McMuffin" moments and I fear the health consequences of further reading. In one:

I’ve long had this one, pleasant fantasy: which is that, somehow, people get what they say they want, but it all happens in some kind of parallel existence and I don’t have to suffer from their preferences

Dave, meet Riverbend. Riverbend, meet Dave. I think you've probably got a lot to talk about with respect to Dave's vision of the promotion of worldwide democracy through force of arms, and who ended up bearing the fucking consequences of it.

In two:

I am not going to argue with Mr Salmond about the extent to which English people or companies might have helped to discover “his” oil and gas, or the extent to which Scotland might have been subsidised by English enterprise or natural resources. I am not going to argue about it because it’s so obviously demeaning.

Yup, people, in its crudest and most horrible form, the age old argument of "why is our oil underneath their sand?" (or in this case, sea). Dave seems to actually believe that if you develop hydrocarbon resources, that gives you an ownership claim to them which is senior to that of the state in which they are located. I am, to be frank, surprised that this view has not led him to an even more insane Middle East policy than the one he actually has.

By the way, there is, shall we say, a rather more relevant precedent for the possible model of an independent Scottish economy than Iceland. It's a country which has a lot more in common historically and institutionally with Scotland than Iceland does, and it's been doing quite well of late. It begins with "I" and ends with "eland" but it isn't Iceland. Edit: I could have sworn it said "Iceland" earlier today, but it says "Ireland" when I looked at it just now. Either there has been a typo cleared up, or (probably more likely) I misread it first time. Slap wrist, bruschettaboy. Double Edit: No, right first time. There is one mention of "Ireland", followed immediately by a mention of "Iceland", in what would normally be a context where Ireland would make much more sense, but then it is in turn followed by Dave talking about Norway. Is this a simple typo, or is Dave really trying to suggest that Scotland and Iceland are similar?

Update: Oh fucking great, that's my mid-morning bagel ruined too:

Of course it’s all your oil, we had nothing to do with it. And by the way, please don’t imagine that we will act in any way to reassume control of any of our natural “English” or “Welsh” assets currently held by Scots.

Dave appears here to be actually threatening the expropriation of private property held by ethnic Scots in England. I am pretty sure that even Milosevic's Serbs didn't try that one on.

Update: I now have a tofu curry for lunch and so I am being careful and reading the piece one sentence at a time, between mouthfuls. It doesn't help much when you get sentences like this:

(yes, of course there will have to be border checks, ask the Norwegians)

If you asked the Norwegians, I think they might say something like "border checks? What the hell is Aaro on about? Norway has two borders, with Sweden and Finland, and all three are Schengen countries. Even before joining the Schengen agreement, Norway had open-borders agreements with both Sweden and Finland. Norway has in fact not had border checks since the Nordic Passport Agreement of 1957. There is an offchance that Aaro is referring to the Svalbard of Norway, which is a rather strange treaty-recognised anomaly and not part of the Schengen agreement, but this would be pretty weird as the Svalbard islands obviously have no borders with anyone for there to be checks at."

thanks, Norwegians. Presumably Aaro means "customs checks", which still do exist between the Nordic countries, but that's not what he says.

Update Hey Norwegians! You forgot about the border with Russia which Chris Baldwin has just reminded me about in the comments!

"Oh yes, sorry about that, but to be honest it just seemed really weird to us that Aaro might decide that his big example of a serious impediment to trade was the one or two trucks a day that trickle through Lapland".

thanks, Norwegians.


Blogger Matthew said...

Aaro probably does regret Irish independence, and has no idea why they would have wanted it when there were so many other problems which people like Aaro were trying their hardest to solve.

11/28/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Perhaps he's gearing up for a potential invasion, around 2015?

"Sir David Aaronovitch, writing in the Times, argued that claims by the anti-war lobby that the invasion was about getting control of Scotland's oil was wide of the mark. Instead it was for the humanitarian reason of freeing the Scottish people from the rule of President Galloway, and to find and destroy the secret nuclear weapons facility that Prime Minister Johnson (not the former Minister and trade unionist) had alleged was at Faslane, on the Clyde. Aaronovitch warned that if the nuclear weapons facility was not there, he would never believe another word the English government told him, and for that matter, neither would anyone else."

11/28/2006 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave appears here to be actually threatening the expropriation of private property held by ethnic Scots in England. I am pretty sure that even Milosevic's Serbs didn't try that one on.

Um, no. IIRC the Croats had a bit of a stab, but we don't like to mention that. Or the expropriation of private property held by ethnic Palestinians in, er, Palestine.

It's a bizarre column this even by Aaro's standards.

As you can imagine I find myself in a lot of discussions with a lot of people, and never once have I had somebody set their drink on the table, lean forward with furrowed brow and say: “You know, the one of the things that I would most like is for the Scots to have independence.” In fact, never once has anyone of any kind in any situation ever mentioned it to me.

I conclude from this that Aaro doesn't spend much time in Scotland.

You think I don’t like him? He’s clever, is Alex. He is the debater par excellence, the sixth former with the answer for everything.

Was he ever on University Challenge?

His party is in the high moral business of squaring circles, giving the business of making impossible promises an almost religious dimension.

Unlike New Labour of course. Wha's like us!

11/28/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was he ever on University Challenge?

Yes - as part of the manchester Uni contingent that answered every question with the name of a revolutionary Marxist thinker.

11/28/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that - was Alex on it? Clever bloke y'know, though not quite up to the level of Aaro.

11/28/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norway has a border with Russia as well.

11/28/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

gosh yes, right you are. I have adjusted the post accordingly.

11/28/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am not going to argue with Mr Salmond about the extent to which English people or companies might have helped to discover “his” oil and gas, or the extent to which Scotland might have been subsidised by English enterprise or natural resources. I am not going to argue about it because it’s so obviously demeaning."

Yes its called international trade, David. They would have been recompensensed at a market rate for this act of "subsidy", which is why they did it. Scottish companies have been known to do the odd bit of enterprise in England as well, David.

Matthew: Not just Irish independence, but Indian independence for that matter. Its a standard argument for colonialism.

11/28/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I conclude from this that Aaro doesn't spend much time in Scotland."

Hell, he's a well paid columnist, he probably doesn't spend much time talking to anyone who isn't a well heeled londoner (or maybe if he's feeling a little adventurous, Brighton). The man of the people act is not terribly convincing.

11/28/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

He did go to Dundee at the beginning of the year to give a lecture on "Conspiracy Theories: From JFK to Princess Diana", which we Watched at the time.

11/28/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

yep, here it is, and he went down like a drain too, so presumably he has a scunner for the Jocks.

11/28/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

The 'no one has ever said it to me' argument seems to translate as 'I'm a political columnist who's never spoken to a member of the SNP about substantive matters' which seems rather an odd thing to be confessing to.

And the 'ask the Norwegians' line is also strange in that he's chosen a country not in the EU, while SNP policy has been 'independence in Europe' for as long as I can remember. Is he suggesting that the UK should block an independent Scotland from joining the EU or EEA?

Does anyone know what the border situation between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was post-Velvet Divorce? That would seem to be the most appropriate model to be looking at, but I suspect it wouldn't help his argument.

11/28/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AFAIK the Czechs and Slovaks had an open border. At least in 1994 I could take a train from Prague to Bratislava without so much as a passport check.

Both countries are of course now in the EU which would accord with SNP policy.

Aaro's thoughts are probably in line with the metropolitan consensus that the SNP/Plaid are at best quaint hillbillies to be humoured (and we here in Norn Iron are best forgotten about). But if the Nats suddenly look like real challengers for power, that upsets the applecart and explains our friend, who has never been much interested in Scottish nationalism, sitting up and taking cognisance.

Then again, this could just be a bit of New Labour hackery filtered through Aaro's personal idiosyncrasies.

11/28/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Aaro probably does regret Irish independence"

You do rather get the impression from this column that if the SNP were to win power in Holyrood Aaro would want the Scottish parliament made illegal and its MSPs banged up, Sinn-Fein-in-1918 style.

The column is otherwise a fairly straightforward lift from the remarks of John Reid and Douglas Alexander at the Scottish Labour conference, particularly the insinuation in the final paragraph that national independence is irrelevant in an age of 'Islamist terrorism' and 'environmental crises'. The difference, of course, is that Alexander and Reid are Scottish MPs representing Scottish constituencies and so do at least have some familiarity with the debate.

11/28/2006 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone read Aaro's book about the UK, 'Paddling to Jerusalem'? I know it's in my local library if necessary. Does he mention the Jocks at all?

"Examples might be Osama bin Laden is left in Afghanistan ..." so in DA's universe, ObL is in Guantanamo? Not in mine, he isn't.

And yes, for this scenario to be sufficiently entertaining Mr Salmond must actually be elected to run something, and thus be shorn of his habitual role as super-snide sideline critic, his nasal sneer now turned to plaintive defence of his own inevitable disasters.

DA is neither snide nor a critic as a rule, however ...

It's been a while since I lived in God's own country (clearly I'm biased, but there really is no shortage of geniuses and entrepreneurs), but I understand the present enthusiasm for devolution to be inspired by globalisation and the EU rather than a reaction to them. If EU expansion dissolved state borders to a situation similar to the US federation of states, then Scotland is likely to fare perfectly well in the way that Minnesota does. Scots don't have pretentions of complete self-sufficiency; what they want is protection from something like Thatcherism, which few of them voted for, while many of them feel (rightly, IMO) that the Tories knew they couldn't win Scottish seats, and so 'punished' Scotland with fewer initiatives, lucrative job creations etc. Certainly, when I was in CND, 'Jobs not Bombs' seemed a very powerful argument. I still think that nuclear weapons are very unlikely to be used, and are a collosal waste of money: money which the government can either invest in some form, or simply not collect as tax. DA really has no clue how much we hated Thatcher in the 80s. DA sneers at Scots naive hopes and hatred of London control. Speaking of alternative universes, perhaps the best parallel is "It's a wonderful life" - we saw London as the town without James Stewart: prosperous but soulless.

I'm actually against devolution: I'm of the 'we all hang together, or by god, we will hang separately' tendency. But DA's arguments are very poor: he really loves only power, but politics is more than that. It is about debate. Few politicians wield power. All can, at least, speak their minds. Not enough do.

11/28/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My passport was checked when I went to Norway, but that was a) 1991 and b) not a particularly formal affair. I was hailed by a very attractive young woman as I dragged my huge rucksack along the platform of Oslo station and she showed me a badge and asked me the usual passport check questions.

Perhaps DA is anticipating a situation where independent Scotland stays in the EU while the rump of the UK, led by a PR-elected coalition of tories and UKIPpers, withdraws.

What does his first paragraph mean? I think I see what he means but the examples don't make any sense.

11/29/2006 02:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fallhammer; a check of your passport at Oslo station wouldn't be a border check; did you arrive on a train that had passed through a non-Nordic country?

11/29/2006 06:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone read Aaro's book about the UK, 'Paddling to Jerusalem'? I know it's in my local library if necessary. Does he mention the Jocks at all?

I've not read it, but I did see a secondhand copy in Barnardo's in Stockport - I wasn't tempted enough, unless anyone wants me to get it for them.

Re. DA on Scotland - given the Dire Warnings of Caledonian Meltdown that the New Labour hierarchy have been touting recently, I'm not surprised that DA's on message with the, er, 'best' of them.

11/29/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An express train from Gothenborg. It's a fair point, but she was definitely what one would normally call a customs officer.

It's understandable that the thought of losing the Scottish MPs terrifies Nulab. In persuading the Scots to stay though, it might be more effective to tell them what an appalling neighbour England would be without the moderating influences of the other nations.

11/29/2006 11:27:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home