Thursday, September 18, 2014

Talking to a Brit

"Are you from England? Ohmygoooood! I love your accent. Say 'shag.' Do you know Kate Middleton?"

Seriously, this was the starter: The SNP are the Seriously Nasty Party.

I'm not surprised. Makes me wonder now "nice" the American rebels were, beneath our civil religion's hagiography of them (the victors wrote the history).
Alexander: Do you know about the highland clearances, about Thatcher's destruction of industry, suppression of the Gaelic language, banning of gay rights etc.? All laws lead from England pushed onto Scotland without consent.
I understand Thatcher ran roughshod over longstanding but inefficient industries, throwing a lot of people out of work but for the economy's overall health, which is why a lot of British people hate her.
Not everything she did was bad, but it was the demonisation of those who were "others", different that is so unforgivable.
She wasn't conservative by American political standards: pro-abortion and I understand pro-gay.
No, that's the point, she was strongly against gay rights, as well as linguistic ones. She banned mention of homosexuality in school sex education, meaning that if a gay student had relationship issues a teacher wasn't legally allowed to advise, not to mention not talking about safe practice of gay sex when HIV was up and coming.
Thanks for the history. Was she for open immigration?
That I don't know, but I doubt it. I know that she was strongly against Celtic languages, against gay rights, shot down a *retreating* Argentinian ship, privatised all sorts of services that just happen to now be far behind the rest of Europe in terms of quality of service (rail!!), demonised gays, the poorer side of the working class... Not to mention the arts.
"The trouble with socialism is eventually you run out of other people's money." I'll have to look up the rest. Britain was right about the Falklands, defending their own people, who wanted to remain British, even right under Argentina's nose.
It's on the surface a clever quote. But let's look into it. I am, for my age, a *modestly* high earner coming from a lot of hard work. I pays high rates of tax, compounded by extra "foreigner tax" due to my work being very international. I am not only happy to pay such money, but grateful. Why? Because those around me who either can't or haven't made the best notices in life and this don't work as much or do work even harder but earn less have a better quality of life than they otherwise would. I DIRECTLY benefit from this by having a better educated and happier populace around me leading to a sense of greater safety and also more connection within communities, more to talk about etc. not to mention the services I get. So it's not other people's money, it's my money and every other taxpayer's money benefiting not only others but also me, directly.

I wasn't talking about whether or not Britain was right to defend the Falklands. I
WAS talking about a ship that was retreating and thus not eligible in any way to be fired upon.
But YOU should have the right to decide how to spend your money, be it for a holiday villa or for community charities. Not the government. That's the classic American way and I imagine the British one as well. I understood what you meant about the Argentine ship. I don't have confirmation of that. Do you mean the British sub sinking the General Belgrano?
I do! I didn't come to be out of nothing. Without society, it's protection, education etc. I wouldn't be who I am so it invested in me, and I in turn am investing in the next generation.
But the government has taken the choice from you. If you want to live simply and give most of your money to philanthropy, great. Should be YOUR call.
No, it hasn't. It isn't asking me to pay back anything it didn't already give to me. Also, why should it be my call? I don't live alone, but in a society. Unless I want to live on a deserted island I should be required to contribute to society.

It's definitely not the British way of thinking. Again this is where that term British is so vague. The vast majority of Scots very much share my understanding of society. There will be exceptions, but they are small. A lot of England would see it your way, but often not a majority of England, a large minority of it. Certainly Wales doesn't share that opinion. And that's the trouble: a more right-wing England can basically choose the prime minister for Scotland and Wales, and that's not very democratic.
I know. I lived in Britain.
Ah, apologies! Then you know exactly what I mean.
I know that before World War II much of Britain was Dickensian poor; people in parts of London would starve to death. The average British serviceman thought socialism would end all that, and that's what he was fighting for, what he was hoping to come home to. So in '45 Churchill was voted out and it came to pass.
Indeed. Perhaps if England hadn't tried to conquer the whole world but instead focused on helping its own people like the talented but small European nation that it is it would have been much better off...
Maybe. "Small is beautiful." But the empire wasn't all bad. It created my country.
I agree, it wasn't by any means. But for the people of England, I think a path closer to our small north European neighbours' would have been far more beneficial. That's one of the reasons I'm convinced that Scottish independence will be great for England too, in the long run.
I wouldn't want a world without the Anglosphere; our culture as obscure as Sweden's, for example.
Whoa... I'd far rather have Swedish culture than anglophone culture spread that much, though make it Danish or Norwegian. That said, those countries don't care how spread they are, they care about keeping their traditions, and about caring for those who live there, two things the English speaking world hasn't done nearly as well as they have.
That's sort of the point, Alexander. They didn't spread. Nature abhors a vacuum. What if anything would have replaced the Anglosphere? I imagine something less humane.
David: I make that point that the welfare state worked quite fine before the 1960s and the problem of mass immigration and multiculturalism that followed.

I am no fan of Thatcher. She was vastly overrated and had the good fortune to be there just as the Cold War ended though she also recognised the danger of the EU when it was a little too late. However, she did nothing about the problems of immigration Britain still has today and handed Zimbabwe over to Robert Mugabe.

The election result in Sweden where the Sweden Democrats won a big share of the vote means that many Swedes evidently do not agree with Alex. Interestingly, many SD voters are immigrants, especially non-European Christians (Assyrian, Coptic, etc.) and secular Iranians, who would have a pretty damn good reason to support them...


  1. Perfidious Albion.

  2. In the interests of factual accuracy ....

    (i) She banned mention of homosexuality in school sex education, meaning that if a gay student had relationship issues a teacher wasn't legally allowed to advise

    Exaggeration. The "promotion of homosexuality" by local government was banned, not the mention of. Certain left wing councils deliberately chose to interpret this ban very broadly in order to create perverse consequences, and thus discredit both the legislation and the government that passed it.

    This legislation was not a reflection of Margaret Thatcher's personal views (she was, as you suggest, if anything "pro-gay"), but a response to widespread public concern about a picture book aimed at small children, and called Jenny lives with Eric and Martin, which as its title suggests aimed to normalise the idea of same-sex parenting. The ban probably accorded with the views of British society as they then were, but ultimately proved counter-productive.

    (ii) The Belgrano was not retreating. It was heading away from the British naval task force, but signals intelligence showed that this, far from being a retreat, was in order to execute a flanking manoeuvre preparatory to making a surprise attack.

    (iii) suppression of the Gaelic language [...] she was strongly against Celtic languages

    I don't think Margaret Thatcher had any view on the Gaelic language, or took any actions that could be construed as either pro or anti.

    She reneged on a manifesto commitment to set up a Welsh language television channel (Welsh is of course a quite different language from Gaelic), not because of antipathy (strong or otherwise) but purely on grounds of cost, and she relented when she perceived the strength of public opinion in Wales on the matter.

    (iv) Margaret Thatcher gets all the blame for the decline of inefficient heavy industry in Britain. One can certainly argue that things could have been handled better, but it was an inevitable outcome of poor decisions made in the 1950s and 1960s, combined with changes in the world economy. There was little any British government could have done to prevent it, and the process of rationalisation was in fact initiated in the mid-1970s by the previous Labour administration. Harold Wilson (Labour Prime Minister) closed more coal mines than Margaret Thatcher did.

    I am no fan of Margaret Thatcher. She was aggressive and a divisive figure - but so were her opponents, who have disappeared down the memory hole (conveniently for some). It was a time when British political discourse was polarised and violent (sometimes literally so). Moderation was out of fashion.

    Your interlocutor talks of "demonisation" but this has more to do with the Margaret Thatcher of imagination than reality. (The Left, however, certainly did (and continue to do) a brilliant job of demonising her.)

    Throwing around loose and emotive language is entertaining, but when it comes to assessing Margaret Thatcher and her period fact is a better starting point than myth.

    (And what the Highland Clearances have to do with her I really cannot imagine ….)

  3. With Australia being somewhere in between? (I'm Australian.)

    1. That's my impression, having known only a few Aussies and never having been there. Same British assumption about government (same with "American" Canada): government doesn't stand for "the people" but "the Crown"; people expect the Crown to take care of them, which a socialist government does in the Crown's name. It's like noblesse oblige. But Australia also has an outlaw (the convict settlers)/frontier tradition, like a bigger version of Texas, only with beautiful California-like beaches so lots of surfing. So I can imagine the Aussie attitude being a mix of the two. An American-like assertiveness, not like the Brits and the Canadians famously saying "sorry" all the time.

    2. I think you're right. However, we do the 'sorry' thing also.


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