Saturday, September 20, 2014

More Post-Referendum Blah

- First and foremost, you'd have to say that it was probably the opinion poll two weeks ago showing Yes ahead for the first time that screwed their chances of victory.  That early warning forced pretty much everyone in the country who didn't agree with Eck et al to come out to the polls, and it was that high turnout that swung it decisively for the No campaign.

That's a particular irony, given the Yessers' focus on the wonders of democraticity and so on, since it was a massive democratic stampede against independence that did them in.

That massive turnout is a back-handed compliment to the Yes campaign, but should also be a bit of a downer.  The Better Together campaign was shockingly poor - in two years, I can't remember seeing a single BT leafleter, stall or door-knocker, despite living and working in the nation's capital city - and their messaging skills were diabolical.

Frankly, I suspect that the unionists could've laid off campaigning altogether and still carried the day... And yet, they still won decisively.  

- I'm not really a big fan of the OMG the massive turnout shows how wonderfully re-energised our democracy really is analysis.  55% of an 85%+ turnout voting against the proposition tells me that the majority of voters came out to say "This is a very daft idea, please stop it".

It'd presumably be easy to replicate this turnout if we had another referendum next week on Do you agree that Scotland should be a theocracy? or Should we rename the country "Bawbagistan".

On "the debate" itself, well, look - a few million people parrotting the party-approved talking points of the UK's political behemoths, or reciting the contents of the day's papers, got really old very quickly. 

- The aftermath of the referendum is now chucking up some fairly revealing stuff, as an old and familiar political refrain sets in for the defeated side - the Party can never fail, and can only ever be failed by the electorate, the bastards.

If you check social media and forums, you can see that the Yes camp's footsoldiers have a thousand theories about why they lost, and almost every one of them is a variation on We Wuz Robbed. 

I'm yet to see even one person flirting with the idea that they lost because millions of Scots found their arguments unconvincing.  Eck himself came close, but then rowed it back with a lot of grousing about those sneaky Westminsterers.

The message I take from the result is that most of us trust Holyrood to empty the bins, but not to run the entire show;  that most of the country doesn't believe we can magic a Scandi-style social democracy out of thin air through a single vote; that most of us don't buy the idea that there's something fundamentally different about a person who lives in North Berwick and another raised in Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

That, to put it mildly, is not how others see it.

- An example.  Irvine Welsh is saying obliquely here what others are stating far more bluntly - namely, that the Yes campaign was a grassroots democratic uprising thwarted by the craven timidity of the people...
"The no voters should take a bow: they delivered the UK establishment a reprieve the enervated, confused and weak campaign of their masters certainly didn't deserve. They have bought time for the union, and many of them, people who will habitually support the status quo at almost any cost, will simply be relieved..."
"At the start of the campaign, a narrow win for the political-class-led no would have been a nightmare result for the establishment..."
Now, sharp-eyed observers will note that the referendum wasn't hacked out of the clay by the common man through sheer grit, but was itself legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Government; that this campaign was led by the SNP, a political party filled with politicians, that has been in power since 2007.  Had the Yes vote won, it wouldn't have been Elaine C. Smith negotiating the split with David Cameron, yo.

It's unclear to me how the Nats have managed to rule the nation for seven years without themselves becoming members of the political class but they appear to have managed it, as far as Irvine is concerned.

Irvine's rattle about "people who habitually support the status quo" on behalf of "their masters" is a much more polite version of what many of the rank-and-file Yessers are now saying themselves, which is basically that they lost because two million of their countrymen are spinelesss, servile, cowardly traitors*.

This is a pretty bizarre message for people who have spent much of the last year up on their high horses about their foes "talking down Scotland", but it's what lurks at the bottom of the pool that nationalists of all stripes swim in. 

- Which is pretty much why I had little to say about the IndyRef until it was almost upon us.  For all the chat about how wonderfully positive the debate was, it looked rather different to me.  This was probably the biggest political decision of my lifetime, and I went out of my way to avoid getting dragged into it for the last two years.

There's a reason for this. Most of the unionist types I've spoken to regarded the Yes voters with more or less open contempt as a bunch of mouth-breathing fools vapidly repeating a lot of Braveheart drivel, while the majority of pro-independence folk plainly saw their foes as a shower of brain-washed, institutionalised pro-Tory cretins.

You'd think it'd be impossible for these people to civilly discuss the matter, and you'd be right - it pretty much was.  It didn't bring out the best in people and quickly devolved into a hectoring, flag-waving squabble based on emotion rather than reason.

I watched people I've known for years who have taken little or no interest in politics generally go from indifference to sudden fits of blazing rage about e.g. nuclear weapons in Scotland, with nothing but derision and denunciation for any disagreement. 

A debate that energises people towards boiling fucking rage and contempt isn't my idea of a good time, and it hasn't been a very positive experience in my book.  Maybe other people had a ball but for me, it was all pretty unpleasant.  I found our grand national debate shouty, aggressive and belligerently arsey from start to finish, and I'm glad that it's all over.

- Except, of course, it isn't over.  Nationalism generally - British, Scottish, Paraguayan - is largely the collection and stoking of angry grievance, and the manner of this particular defeat is only going to make the Scottish nats even angrier.  The thought of a rerun in a decade or two is both depressing and depressingly inevitable, and I expect the next attempt to be even less enjoyable.


*I could show you countless examples, but my favourite one so far is this football forum, featuring die-hard fans saying that they now can't stomach to attend the national team's games, because they've been ruined by the disgusting behaviour of their fellow Scots.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

IndyRef 2014 Live Blog

06.30 - Final Result 

No wins by a large majority.

Update, 14.00 Friday - As noted in comments, when I say "large majority", I mean "large majority by comparison with the narrow squeaker that we all expected".

In all, a pretty brutal and disappointing night for the Yessers.  On the other hand, they should be pretty proud - they fought by far the better campaign, even if it was exceptionally bullshitty, and it took near enough the entire country coming out to vote to thwart them.  I'd say "hats off", if anyone still wore hats.

04.00 - Result 

Actually, fuck this.  Follow me on Twitter.

03.55 - Result 

Renfrewshire goes No on 87% turnout. 

03.35 - Result 

Inverclyde goes Naw by 0.2%.  A massive and devastating rejection for Alex Salmond personally, the Saltire and the very notion of Scotland itself, which will now surely crumble into nothing leaving only the North Sea above Carlisle.

03.00 - Result 

Eilean Siar announce their result in their heathen lingo, baffling all.

02.45 - Result 

Shetland goes strongly Naw as well, reflecting their skittish, uncertain nature when they aren't blinkered.  They look cute, but they can give you a nasty kick. 

02.05 - Idle speculation 

Glasgow and Dundee yet to report, so it could still turn out radically different.

Better Together HQ on TV celebrating like they've just beaten Liechtenstein 2-1 in the 97th minute, which both shows sheer brass balls and is entirely apt.

02.05 - Result 

Orkney goes strongly No to appease the Old Gods, to ensure that the harvest is bounteous and the maidens' wombs are fruitful.

Quote - Lord Summerisle: [singing] Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo. Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew. Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo.

02.00 - Godawful pundits 

Polly Toynbee and Danny Finkelstein explain to Andrew Neil exactly how much of a bunch of horrible bastards the Tories intend to be about Scotland doing exactly what the Tories wanted us to do.

The pundits think "Very reasonable" but I have to say that I think the Tories are going to go full Mad Max 2 on us for the crime of giving them a bit of a fright.

No doubt this will be a big thing with the Nats tomorrow as a thwarted and raging Alex Salmond makes a lot of noise about how the UK Government will punish Scotland for having the temerity to question them but, you know, the answer to that is - thanks to you, you twat.

Note here, in case there's a shock - I'm currently assuming it's going No. It may not.

01.40 - Trends 

It's all looking very No now, but I'm sticking with it.  Yes or No, I want to see tears.

01.30 - First result! 

Clackmannanshire, Scotland's smallest and diddiest electorate, votes Naw.

To be fair, we can't discount the possibility that that they thought they were being asked whether they wanted to ban tractors from the high street.

Of course, it'll be hilarious if it turns out that this election was never close, and the UK Government have been trolled into offering Devo Max for nothing.

I'm not in favour of Devo Max myself, though.  I've met MSPs and I'd rather hand executive powers to the fucking Wombles.

01.25 - Electoral count

Fire alarm going off in Dundee at count.  Well, you can only keep them off the crackpipe for so long.

01.15 - Nothing happening

Hardcore pornography break.  Back in 20 mins.

12.45 - Sensational news! 

Allegations of electoral fraud in Glasgow, reports the Herald.

Translation for non-Scots:  "Allegations of electoral fraud" is Old Scots for "The SNP think they've lost the referendum".

Update!  Apparently, a clear case of Sky News being even bigger fannies than usual.  Apologies for the joke about it, SNP types.

12.05 - Geography 

Time-filling now with debate about how the UK will look if the vote goes yes.  I've got contacts inside the Yes Scotland campaign and can reveal the draft outline, below:

 

12.00 - Anthem 

While the BBC run through a million variations on "We don't have a clue what's going on", allow me to suggest a viable national anthem alternative, upon which we can all agree, to the boring, joyless, tuneless, blarting drone of Flower of Scotland.  

Here.

11.45 - BBC Coverage 

Dirty tricks by the BBC as they invite John Redwood on to troll the No voters.  I'm already self-harming out of raw guilt.

Update - 11.46  What have I done?  Why, God, why?

11.35 - Polls 

Initial polls suggesting No 54% Yes 46% on a turnout of circa 80%, which is a backhanded compliment to the Yes campaign, I'd say - the Yes vote was so huge that practically every softly-No voter in the country has had to turn out to thwart it.

Not much comfort to the Yes camp if it goes that way I suppose, but then there's a long, long way to go. 

11.15 - Claims of misbehaviour 

YouGov reporting that 10% of No voters encountered "unreasonable behaviour" by Yes campaigners, and 5% vice-versa.

This is unsurprising and I'm glad to see that it's not higher.  Basically, large crowds of loud, flag-waving people are intimidating, even if they're all happy and friendly, and I doubt whether the big rallies were 100% happy and friendly.

As I said previously, there are occasions when big crowds of my countrymen waving flags are very welcome, and these occasions are called "football matches".  Political events, not so much.

11:00 - Social media 

Which hashtags were people using in the referendum? Bear in mind that many of these were tagged pretty neutrally by a lot of Twitter users:

1. #IndyRef 3.75m
2. #VoteYes 1.1m
3. #MeaninglessPlatitudes 439,000
4. #BelligerentRepetitionOfPartySanctionedPoliticalTalkingPoints 272,000
5. #BetterTogether 224,000
6. #PhotosOfCatsWearingFlags 222,000
7. #InsaneConspiracyTheoriesAboutReptileTories 190,000
8. #IncoherentCursing 188,000
9. #RubbishPhoneticScots 174,000
10. #SponsoredTweets 162,000


10:50 - A serious interlude 

As I said here, I voted no and hope it goes that way.

However!  I've no stronger attachment to the UK's nationalism than to the Scottish version and I'll survive in either country, so I'd say that -

- The best possible result is a decisive win for one side or the other, between 5-10% minimum.  There'll be a lot of grousing, but a clear and unambiguous result will let us get on with either setting up a new country or getting back to work on the one that we have.

- The worst possible result is a 50%+1 victory for either side.  A new independent Scotland with a tiny margin of victory isn't much of a mandate, nor is the same for the status quo.  The conspiracy theories will be rife and the resentment neverending.

So, let's hope for a clear result, whichever way it goes.

10:40 - Political Map of Scotland 

Foreigners baffled by the geography should see here, for a political map of the country explaining in-depth who and what is where. 

10:35 - Timings 

News coming in that if there's no clear result by 2am, we get to start phone-voting countries off the island.

10:30 - Demographics 

Who's voting Yes and No?  See below for my calculations on the matter, from yesterday.




10:20 - Opinion polls 

The pre-referendum polls have been solidly going around 48% Yes 52% No all week.

I'm hearing that in the event of a Yes win, the UK armed forces are expected to conduct airstrikes on YouGov headquarters and ICM pollsters have vowed to chuck themselves off bridges with live grenades duct-taped to their foreheads.

10:05 - Flag check 

A lot of concern about what the respective flags of the UK's constituent nations will look like post independence.  For the avoidance of doubt, see below...

Saltire.jpg
The Saltire - the official flag of the Scottish National Party



Golf sale.jpg
National Flag of Scotland

rUK Flag.jpg










National Flag of the rUK







I actually think they're missing a trick with the rUK flag and should instead go for a new flag, with a picture of the old flag on it, but on fire.

You can have that one for free, Westminster heraldic experts.


10:00 pm - Evening All

Alright then, let's be getting this live blog on the road.  The beers are in the fridge, the coffee is in the pot and I've set my bile-gland to meltdown.  From now until - hopefully - the result of tonight's independence referendum, I'm going to be right here babbling on about the results as they come in.

Commentary will take the form of sarcastic jibes about politicians' appearances; bizarre and irrelevant digressions and increasingly incoherent, belligerent denunciations and cursing as the night progresses.

Indyref Political Map of Scotland 2014

To assist with tonight's independence referendum, see below for a political map of Scotland - Right-click and Open in new window to Enlarge.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014




The RatThe Rat.png
Referendum Special 2014
Braveheart.jpeg
Film star Mel Gibson “salutes Scotland’s Braveheart stand” against English, Jews, Blacks, Critics, Mel Gibson’s ex-wife


What’s All This Independence Malarkey?
The IndyRef in Graphics 

  

  

Sponsored links - Unionist Live Chat 4U




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fuck It

Okay, fuck it - I'll go for No, although I'm expecting a Yes victory, and by a larger margin than many people are expecting.

I'm man enough to admit that I have no idea which choice presents the nation with the brighter future.  Neither does anyone else of course, despite what they might say to the contrary - not Alistair Darling or the First Minister, nor any member of either campaign.  Hell, Krugman has been full of warnings but even he doesn't really have a clue, and they gave that guy the Nobel Baubel for Economicry.

Being the type of person that I am, the patriotic emotional appeals of both sides leave me cold.  This week's anguished laments for the possible passing of Great Britain and the Union Flag rank below the death of my hamster in 2005, in terms of pure personal trauma.

Meanwhile, even the grandest soliloquies of our gaudy Saltire-waving Yessers pack all the visceral punch of a Pepsi commercial because, you know, they are the same thing.

Yes Scotland - The choice of a new generation.  Enjoy Better Together with friends.

As best I can tell, these competing nationalisms don't describe actually existing or even possible countries.  They're advertising slogans, focus-grouped to fuckery to appeal to the voters on a base, instinctive level because nationalisms, both British and Scottish, are mainly appealing to people who can rank "Having been born in a particular country" among their greatest personal achievements.

So whether dependent or not, I imagine that Scotland will probably get along just fine.  A little richer or poorer for either option perhaps, maybe even dramatically so, and that'll be a bummer for everyone on the receiving end*, but somehow I suspect we'll avoid mass starvation.

Reject the grand national visions as basically bogus then, and you're left with the campaigns themselves...  And let me tell you, neither is a pretty sight. 

The No campaign's message has been pretty simple: Good old Britain, eh?  It's not that bad and we're a big bunch of mates in the end.  Shame if something happened to an independent Scotland though, you know, one carelessly-dropped match, and whoomf!  It's been a tawdry and demeaning campaign for the Union, by turns patronising and histrionic.

For all that Better Together have catastrophically fucked up this simple yet dull message though, it's still a pretty reasonable and straightforward point that they're making.  God knows I love to kick off about the shallow cruelty of the status quo but by and large, you can leave money in the bank and be reasonably sure that the Generalissimo won't have spent it on cocaine and hookers by lunchtime.

The bins mostly get emptied; the hospitals are open and admitting patients; the roads aren't deathtraps and your kids can generally walk to and from school without fear that they'll be cut in half by a hail of machine-gun fire.

All of which inspires me not, and others even less, but I can live with it.  Since I recognise that it's basically a bit shit though, I'm still wide open to bright ideas and will be overjoyed to poke through the blueprints of any radical overhauls proposed.

Up against the solid example of an actually-operating system, Yes Scotland have deployed a wondrous vision of an optimistic, creative, self-confident nation that can do whatever the fuck it likes without having to face any serious consequences at all.

If you've paid attention, you'll notice that we're being offered a caringly socialist business-friendly independent country of huge financial innovation that exploits its petro-chemical wealth to the full to create an environmentally-responsible future, while retaining all that's best about Britain.

Or, more succinctly, the product we're being offered is a pack of sky-fairy fluff, containing as few actual promises as possible, in order to to guarantee its appeal to the broadest section of the populace. This impressive act of imagineering has gone down so well with half the electorate that the First Minister felt he could drop insane shit on the populace such as, oh, threatening to default on the national debt.

Trying to get an answer on how any of this will work in reality is like donning boxing gloves and trying to pin a question mark on a hot-buttered balloon full of birdshit - slippery work, not really worth the hassle and even success can only mean that you wind up needing a change of clothes.

And this is just the headlines - there are countless other major problems with the Yes campaign, not least:

- The endless goddamn flag-waving.  There are occasions when a horde of my flag-flapping countrymen are a welcome sight, and these occasions are called football games.  

On other occasions, they're less desirable.  Occasions such as, say, large crowds of self-proclaimed patriots repeatedly gathering outside news organisations to angrily demand that journalists alter their output to something more congenial. 

- The non-stop arsing on about the wonders of democracy.  I'm not keen on taking lessons on the joys of civic responsibility from people who are so committed to the ideal of democracy that they feel they need to carve a wholly new polity out of the rump of an old one, in the hope that this will help their particular viewpoint to win the day, and I say that even though I'm in tune with much of what the Yes camp has to say. 

- The trolling about the Tories.  The Yessers' constant resort to David Cameron et al as a weapon against doubters every time they're on the back foot doesn't encourage much confidence in this supposedly new politics, in my view. 

The Labour Party have spent years demanding my vote on the grounds that otherwise, the Tories will vandalise the place.  This is called Blackmail and I was never much receptive to it from men and women in red rosettes.

In fact, I really didn't like this game when it was called Support our cause or you are helping Saddam Hussein to victory and I like it even less when it's my own arse on the line.
 
I may be repeating a lot of the same stuff that I've said in the past here, but I've learned the odd lesson or two over the years, and they're helpful now.

I'm going to vote no for the same reasons why I don't take e.g. the libertarians seriously - because I don't trust people who publicly proclaim that one thing and one thing only is the magical cure for almost everything that ails the nation.  There's something a little creepy about movements that can be succinctly summarised with only one word and one flag.

I'm voting no because repeated experience has taught me that people who propose theoretically simple schemes for the enrichment of the people, but then get ridiculously aggressive when you ask straightforward questions, are probably attempting to pull the wool over our eyes about something or other.

I'm voting No for the same reason I was against bombing the shit out of Iraq and Libya - because people who urge us to support massive moral masterworks but categorically refuse to clue anyone in on the detail, on the assumption that everything will work out wonderfully in the end because God is on their side, shouldn't be trusted to fundamentally re-order a supermarket, let alone a nation.

And that's why mostly, I'm voting no because I believe that the major players in the Yes campaign couldn't give a damn whether independence will take the nation to the mountaintop or drag it through the valleys.  

I think the Yessers believe that we'll be a better nation independent, but them merely believing it doesn't make it so, and I think that if it all ends in tears, few if any of these people are going to point the finger at themselves. 
 


*Very few of the high-profile campaigners will be on the receiving end.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Some Random Referendum Points

- A work colleague today observed of David Cameron and Ed Miliband that what the UK needs is more of the strong, conviction politicians of yesteryear - men (and presumably women) with the vision, principles and willpower to get shit done without a lot of spineless waffle and faffing about.

And this is fine, as far as it goes.   We could respond with a few acid remarks about other nations' "strong politicians", but I can think of a few examples from these very shores.  Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair spring to mind, and I think it'd be reasonable to say that their take-no-prisoners, my-way-or-no-way attitudes have, in their own fashion, led inevitably to the insane position in which we all now find ourselves. 

A more relevant example though is Alex Salmond himself.  Nobody could deny that the First Minister has a vision, doubt his principles or question his willpower.

It's unfortunate for everyone however that he envisions a nation that can do fuck-all whatever it likes and ride out the consequences without significant cost; that his principles encompass blithely dicking off vital economic and financial problems as irrelevancies that will quickly rectify themselves, and that he apparently possesses the strength, willpower and commitment to convince at least half of his countrymen that e.g. only whiny twats would ask difficult questions and actually expect answers.

Now, who knows?  Perhaps the FM is correct and we can indeed bring a viable nation into being through the force of our sheer determination to forge a more just and prosperous country.

I'm just saying that, you know, him believing it, doesn't make it so.

While it's possible that a few more bulldozer, I'm-right-you're-totally-wrong politicians in London might have curtailed the worst of the unionists' endless, hilarious slapstickery, I've always kind of preferred those MPs who spent less time grandstanding about, oh, showing Vladimir Putin that we won't tolerate his nonsense, and considerably more time worrying about how he or she intends to get the damn bins emptied.

And that's boring, yes.  But then, boring, bin-emptying politicians are a lot less likely to explode the nation in a fireball of war, economic meltdown and bad debt.

- Speaking of which, I see John Major's been telling everyone who will listen today that if Britain is about to turn up its toes, then it's definitely Labour's fault.

This is fun, not least because Major was part of the government that looms largest in the grotesque bestiary lurking at the back of the Scottish psyche.  It's also hilarious because it's actually true that Labour bears plenty of blame, and yet Major diagnoses precisely none of the reasons for why that is. 

Nonetheless, Major's intervention represents the Tories getting their ducks in a row for the inevitable post-referendum pissfight, and it isn't going to be pretty.  Yes or no, expect omni-directional, bullshit-boiling seethe from absolutely everyone.

- Meanwhile, it's been great fun watching the possibly imminent destruction of Britain dawning on the print press.  My favourite part was the headlines earlier this week, along the lines of - An independent Scotland would make the Queen sad.  Look at her sad, sad face. 

Quite who this is aimed at is beyond me - the only people in Scotland who give even the vaguest of fucks what the Queen thinks about anything are the elderly, a few Red-handed Rangers fans and a smattering of raging poshoes, and the lot of them are either solidly in the no camp or actively handing out fliers for Better Together.

It speaks volumes about the sheer detachment of the national press from events north of Carlisle that, at the first hint of a threat to the established order, they immediately wheel out our mouldering monarchy to troll the Scottish populace.

Without exaggeration, I'm confident that e.g. the weepy-Queen-pimping press would've got better results if they'd told us that a no vote would make Ian Beale cry, prompt Rolf Harris to self-harming and goad Boris Johnson to suicide.

- And I think everyone's probably spotted the stark tonal shift in popular depictions of Great Britain this week. To the casual reader of the right-wing press, the UK is usually depicted as somewhere between a stabby, strumpet-infested nuclear wasteland of feral scum, sofa-riding moochers and scimitar-waving Islamist lunatics, and a particularly arsey EDL rally.

Suddenly however, Britain is now the world's most successful political union - a wonderful, bounteous Eden of amity and plenty with a glorious record of harmonious tranquility.

The casual reader must stop to wonder what happened.  Certainly, when I read those Mail editorials in the context of the paper's broader themes, the message I take from it is - Scotland: Please don't abandon this pestilent, Gestapo shitehouse.  

And if it looks like that to me, as a reliably consistent plaguer upon all houses, you can imagine exactly how it looks to your average wavering yes-voter.

Monday, September 08, 2014

This Week In Wackiness

If you're going to assail a supposedly huge and dominant cultural force like "intellectuals", it would probably be better to specifically name the individuals that you're arguing with, rather than havering on and on about e.g. "The intelligentsia"; "Religious apologists"; "They"; "The BBC"; "Academia"; "The supposedly serious press"; "They"; "Apologists"; "The serious press"; "They"; "An opponent in debate"; "Religious apologists"; "Intellectual London" and "They".

And if you do insist on hectoring unnamed, possibly allegorical foes with wacky generalisations and frantic hand-waving, then it's probably also a good idea to avoid using the words "phantom menace" in your title, to minimise the sniggering.  

Further, if you do manage to name only one individual who can be said to represent academia, intellectuals and the itelligentsia in general, it'd probably be wiser to choose somebody other than Eric Pickles as your example.

Otherwise, this week's Nick is relatively unobjectionable, although I do have to observe that "Otherwise" leaves us with only an author photo and a Max Factor advert. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Chicken


"A suspected car thief who bombarded police with bricks and tiles during a rooftop siege was given a Kentucky Fried Chicken takeaway meal by officers to ensure his "well-being and human rights"... 

...A spokesman for Gloucester police said: "He has been demanding various things and one was a KFC bargain bucket. Although he's a nuisance, we still have to look after his well-being and human rights. He's also been given cigarettes." - Telegraph, 7 June 2006

Now, bear with me here.  You may not think that this old story is relevant to the recent sex abuse ring scandals in the north of England, but it stands out as one of the more stark examples of how many British public bodies instinctively react to bad press.

Let me clue youse in on how this one worked, and see if we can't draw some useful conclusions: Some local no-mark has hoofed it up onto a roof and is refusing to come down.  Sending officers to climb up and arrest him would be very dangerous, so Plod decides - why not give the guy a bribe and arrest him when he comes down of his own accord?

A sensible measure all round, you might think - the offender winds up in custody just the same, and nobody ends up with a broken neck.  Job's a good 'un.

But now there's a problem - suddenly the Daily Telegraph are on the phone, demanding to know why the coppers are pandering to criminals.  A spokesman wracks his brains; he considers telling the journalist the truth as laid out above, and dismisses it.  We can't just tell the truth here, he thinks, We'll get a monstering.  I'd better think up a plausible excuse instead.  

So the spokesman tells the press that the cops are forced, compelled beyond their will by namby-pamby laws, to give criminals free buckets of chicken.  It weren't us, guvnor.  I blame human rights, innit.

And let's be clear here - the coppers on the scene know that there's no human right to fried chicken.  The spokesman knows that there's no human right to fried chicken and, unless he's a staggering berk of intergalactic proportions, the journalist knows it too.  At every stage of this tale, everyone is fully aware that the human rights blah is a nonsense excuse, a made-up dodge to evade responsibility for an entirely humdrum act.

But the human-right-to-chicken story is perfect for everyone.  The cops get off the hook by blaming a popular media bugbear, and the Telegraph gets a thumping Hell-in-a-handcart outrage story to infuriate their tottering, sexually-retired readership.

The story that hits the page is an enormous insult to everyone's intelligence but the very nature of the institutions involved dictates that it's the bullshit version that's presented to the public.  It's inevitable.

Thus do we all as a nation get just that little bit more stupid, and more accepting of further nonsense in future.

So, zip forward to the present, where even the New York Times is getting in on the Rotherham sex abuse debacle, in an outbreak of reactionary buzzword-bingo - "Foolish western tolerance", "diversity", "liberal society so open-minded that both its brain and conscience have fallen out" etc and argle bargle. 

The actual story depicted in the recent report, of course, is that local police basically regarded victims of crime as too scummy to protect, as evidenced by their habit of investigating these offences only just far enough to justify not investigating them.  This tells us all kinds of terrible things about how the police investigate sex crimes; who has access to justice and how the UK treats its poorest citizens.

Admitting this, however, would open a massive can of worms for everyone involved, and nobody wants that to happen.  So concerned parties put their heads together and think up an excuse.

What shall we say? they ask each other... And then someone at the back of the room pipes up.  Could it be that we were just all... compelled beyond our will by a smothering culture of political correctness?  Weren't we all possessed by the demonic forces of diversity and forced to deliberately dodge doing our jobs properly?

Nods, smiles.  Oh yes, they say to each other, We were all so blinded by an abstract concept that we utterly failed in our most basic responsibilities.  That's definitely what happened.

So now, we have the cops, the local MP and the Home Secretary all agreeing that oh yes, they were all just totally brainwashed by an alien ideology, compelled beyond their will to make a shocking horse's arse of their duty to protect the public.  A fresh inquiry is announced, not to investigate e.g. the plainly appalling standard of sex crime investigation in the area, or to find out why the cops so clearly considered a bunch of young girls to be basically annoying scumbags, barely worthy of attention... but to find out just how horrifically everyone was driven bonkers by political correctness.

Which is to say, it weren't our fault, guvnor.  I blame society, innit.

Cue hallelujahs across the land.  And thus do we all as a nation get a little bit stupider, and more accepting of further nonsense in future.