The Liz Truss of political prose

It’s not a joke, well, it is a joke, but in a different way entirely. The right wing Spectator magazine must have had some sort of nervous breakdown because it has seen fit to publish the turgid musings of “I’m not a nationalist because I’m British” blogger Effie Deans, writing under what may or may not be his or her real name of Irena Skuba. I am guessing that this too is a pseudonym as “Irena Skuba” has a suspiciously limited internet presence and there have been persistent rumours that Irena/Effie is really a male academic at Aberdeen Uni or perhaps even a joint creation of more than one person. I have yet to be convinced that Effie is not actually a performance art piece created by an independence supporter trying to see just how unhinged the writings of an anti-independence British nationalist can get without being rumbled as a parody. The answer to that is, very unhinged indeed.

The Spectator tells its readership of golf club bores that it is the “best written” weekly in the English language and that its writers’ only allegiance is to “clarity of thought, elegance of expression and independence of opinion”. But they decided to have a week off for Effie.

For those of you with the immense good fortune never to have come across the semi-literate witterings of Effie/Irena, she/he or possibly they, is a Conservative supporting anti-independence troll whose prose does to the English language what a bowl of cement powder does to the digestive tract. As a writer, Effie has the same sensitivity to language as one of those random name generators on the Internet. Effie believes that sentences are not to be lovingly crafted on the page, but rather beaten into submission by the sheer weight of the syllables that are squeezed into them.

But it’s not just the frequency of Effie-isms, sentences which you have to read four times before concluding that they make no sense whatsoever, that elevates Effie into the hallowed halls of truly appalling writers, it is also the sentences that are, sadly, comprehensible, because all too often these contain opinions which are not just ungrounded, but which have flown off the planet altogether and are currently orbiting a distant planet like a black hole which crushes all sense and meaning out of existence. Effie truly is the Liz Truss of political prose.

In one memorable piece, Effie suggested that Scottish nationalism could be killed off for good by flooding Scotland with patriotic migrants from England so that the pesky natives were everywhere outnumbered by monarchy supporting true blue yeomen and women from the leafy shires. Cultural genocide doesn’t count when it’s committed by Brits.

In another article, Effie wrote of her horror of bilingual road signs in the Highlands, which she claimed got her hopelessly lost on her way to Fort William. This is because two lines of text is apparently far too confusing, although if you’ve ever tried to read one of Effie’s blogs, one line of text is confusing enough. Effie is one of those poor Brits who are confused and defeated by the Gaelic language, and still suffers night terrors about that time she went up to a big green and yellow square van with flashing blue lights and AIMBEALANS written on the side and tried to order a double vanilla and chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkles.

Now that Effie has broken into the mainstream media, she is a definite contender for a future episode of BBC Question Time, which needs a replacement for orange jaiket man now that we all know who he is and now has to bus in Tories from the North of England in order to make up a properly BBC balanced studio audience. As long as it isn’t filmed in Fort William she might actually make it to the studio.

It certainly will not be long before the BBC Scotland is doing the paper review and quoting Effie, next up is Brian Spanner presenting Debate Night Scotland.

The main thrust of her Spectator piece is that Nicola Sturgeon will find it harder to challenge Rishi Sunak because he is British Asian and his recent ancestors did not stride across the fields of Culloden slaughtering Jacobites. Effie, like many right wing British nationalists who are blind to their own nationalism is convinced that : ” Scottish nationalism depends on people who dislike Britain for a variety of historical reasons. The typical SNP supporter opposes Britain because of various historical grievances which it associates with the Tories. Mixed in with this is typically a West of Scotland sectarianism that blames Britain for everything that has gone wrong in Ireland.”

Nowhere in Effie’s world view is there any recognition of the reality of the modern Scottish independence campaign, that it is rooted in dissatisfaction with a semi-democratic Westminster system of government which perpetuates inequality and privilege and not at all about the past or ethnic nationalism. That is not a conceptual leap that Effie is willing or able to make because to do so would entail accepting that the rise to political prominence of the modern Scottish desire for independence is rooted in the shortcomings and failures of a British state which proclaims itself to be a union of the nations of these islands while simultaneously acting like a highly centralised unitary nation state. The modern Scottish independence movement is not primarily concerned with ancient history, rather it is motivated by finding workable solutions to the problems of modern Scotland, solutions which can only be implemented if Scotland possesses the full powers of an independent European state because these solutions are blocked by a sclerotic and undemocratic Westminster which runs the entire UK for the benefit of the wealthy and the interests of the financial sector in the City of London.

It is far easier and far more comfortable for Effie and her fellow Conservative Anglo-British nationalists to deny that they are in any way the problem, and that if they really want Scottish independence to go away it’s them and the British state that need to change, so instead they assert that it’s all the fault of Scottish nationalists, their hatred of the English and their obsession with the events of past centuries and historical grievances. No wonder the Spectator has published her, she provides a soothing balm to its Conservative readership in the rest of the UK, which has no understanding of just how unmoored her ideas are from the realities of modern Scottish politics. The fact that a prominent Conservative magazine has seen fit to publish Effie merely tells us how intellectually bankrupt British nationalism in Scotland has become.

It looks like we are going to be in for a news-packed week, unfortunately I might not be able to blog every day as my other half is going to the USA to visit his family, the first time he has seen them since the pandemic and since his sister passed away from covid. I will be staying at home as I am not really fit enough for a transatlantic trip. It’s the first time sine the stroke that he has gone away, some friends are coming to stay to help me as I’d struggle to manage by myself. I will blog when I can.


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