Silly season isn’t what it used to be. There’s just too much end-of-the-world stuff going on. Even the ‘Phew, what a scorcher!’ headlines of August are a portent of doom these days.
Luckily, blue tick Twitter is always good for a giggle. The humour may be unintentional, but our liberal celebs have outdone themselves this year. For instance, here’s Emma Kennedy opining on the Union:
I can’t think of a single reason why the First Ministers of the devolved nations don’t have a seat in the Cabinet. In fact, it’s disgraceful they don’t already.
— Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) August 11, 2020
Really? Not a single reason? Well, for starters, how about the collective responsibility on which all administrations depend? I’m not sure that the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon or Labour’s Mark Drakeford would want to be bound by the collective decisions of a Tory government. And as for Northern Ireland — where the First Minister and Deputy First Minister are of equal standing and one of them is a Sinn Fein politician — how’s that going to work?
I’m so sick of this ‘The British People’ nonsense. It’s inflammatory and divisive and also errant vacuous nonsense with no meaning in a multi-party democracy. The phrase should be banned from political discourse. https://t.co/zVW56W5qlZ
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) August 8, 2020
He was, of course, expressing his disdain for a certain style of political rhetoric rather than the British people themselves, but why shouldn’t ministers speak and act in our name? It is their duty, after all — and it would be weird if their language didn’t reflect that fact. The Professor may recall the New Labour years when ministers also invoked ‘the people’ and ‘the British people’. I wonder if he felt equally sick about it back then? Or perhaps he thought that things could only get better?
Jessica Simor QC has also had a lively August online. For instance, here she is tweeting about the CANZUK concept (the idea of a political union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom):
What do these countries have in common? Yes English. But crucially, they’re largely white. Put simply, this is a racist idea. https://t.co/qIUiNGJMyt
— Jessica Simor QC (@JMPSimor) August 8, 2020
As many people pointed out, including Paul Embery, exactly the same could be said about Simor’s beloved European Union — if not more so. When challenged, she responded that “geography chooses itself”. Well, yes — but then so does a common language and shared institutions.
One may believe that first ministers should sit in Cabinet, but is it necessarily “disgraceful” that they do not? One might not like ministers invoking “the British people”, but should the phrase be “banned from political discourse”? And one can surely disagree with the idea of CANZUK (and I have my doubts) without calling it “racist”.