Friday, 14 May 2010

With fire and sword

I missed this when it came out (easy to do with the capacious Sunday Times, especially if you don't read it).

It's a playful interview with Norman Stone, who has a book to push. There are some typically sparky comments from the Professor:
Stone was born in Glasgow and still retains his Glaswegian accent, which makes his eastern European languages sound all the more authentic. Does he have any sympathy with the Scottish Nationalists? He snorts again. “Put it this way: when the British Army puts down the Scots with fire and the sword, I shall be riding on the tanks, acting as their interpreter.”

Should be music to the ears of some Scottish Labour MPs given how they came out in hives at mention of a coalition with the Nats. I've rarely witnessed such dismissive loathing expressed by one party about another on this island. Strangely, though, Labour and Plaid work fairly harmoniously together in the Welsh Assembly Government. Why does there seem to be so much more antipathy between the Labour and the nationalist party in Scotland than in Wales?

I have a feeling I know what the Professor's opinion might be. He once remarked to me: "The Scots are either on their knees or at your neck; the Welsh don't even reach up to your knees".

9 comments:

Sir Watkin said...

the Welsh don't even reach up to your knees

Odd how the Scotch display towards the Welch precisely that disdain which they so resent in the Saxon.

I suppose that as the English consider themselves Top Dog among the nations of the British Isles, so likewise do the Scots consider themselves among the Celtick nations.

malty said...

It's in the bin now so I can't verify but I don't think the article was in our porridge scoffing edition.
I wonder why, marketing men or the lawyers?
Stone of course famous for being one of the few Glaswegians going to university, not on the union ticket.
The atmosphere in Holyrood at the moment is..well, sackfull of ferretish, the Nats plans to sack thousands having been uncovered, with the heading 'because of the Tory cut backs'. Salmonds performance was that of a cornered venomous reptile, the leader of the labour faction whose name, face and performance are forgettable in the extreme recoiled in horror and retreated with a sore paw.

When Dave meets Alex he will need to draw on reserves.

Gaw said...

Sir Watkin: Do they? The Professor may do but then few are excluded from his jocular strictures.

Malty: Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting? Interesting times in Scotland where exhibition displays of demagoguery can be expected.

Recusant said...

How could you viscerally hate such obvious herbivores as Plaid?

Barendina Smedley said...

The Labour Party in Wales mystifies me. I used to be quite friendly with the daughter of a senior Welsh Labour person, and from what I could she, she and her father both were amongst the most immaculately small-c conservatives I've ever met (which is saying something) - rather gentle, romantic creatures who didn't much like America, modernity, Mrs Thatcher, nuclear war or indeed anything else associated with dynamism, conflict or change. But maybe they were unrepresentative?

As for the Stone book, if it lives up to the promise of that interview it will be pretty remarkable.

Barendina Smedley said...

For the slightly pished-sounding 'she' in line 3 please read 'see' btw.

It is also worth checking out some of the published reviews of Stone's new book. There's an excellent Telegraph one, by the way, incredibly po-faced and disapproving, which reminded me within the first paragraph or two why I gave up on an academic career, how desperately dreary and at the same time vicious some academics are, and also somewhat perversely, because of all this, why Stone stands out as such a treasure.

Gaw said...

Recusant: Yes, even the holiday cottages have it easy nowadays.

Barendina: As it was the only show in town I suppose the Labour Party in Wales had to be a broad church (chapel). Which makes it puzzling why Plaid's encroachment on Labour's Valleys strongholds hasn't engendered a great deal more irreconcilable bitterness.

I trawled around for reviews too and couldn't agree more with you (the Economist's was a prime example). Pettifogging, unimaginative, constricted - in short, exemplifying why 'academic' can be a pejorative term. Also I noted how these reviewers are really quite dwarfish in comparison with Stone, who - whatever you think of his eccentricities - is undeniably a huge intellect and a man of great culture and learning. I'd rather read an interview with him than a book from most of his reviewers.

Vern said...

NB the Economist review was by Edward Lucas, a fraud and a charlatan of the highest order, who published an absurd book entitled the New Cold War and then wrote dreadful scaremongering articles for Standpoint and elsewhere on this risible shtick.

Gaw said...

Thanks for the tip-off. I shall be mindful. (And it was a pompous load of old bilge).