Among the writers of English prose I most admire is P.G. Wodehouse, and one of his most-quoted – and misquoted - lines is this one -
It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine
It has been used to support almost every conceivable position on Scots and Scotland, usually pejoratively and often highly selectively. It is a favourite among Englishmen who like to patronise Scots, and among unionist Scots who like to patronise nationalist Scots (the ones who believe their country should be independent, like most other democratic countries across the globe). It is used to justify reaction to near-racist abuse – vitriol passed off as humour.
For the delightful ‘Plum’ (P.G. Wodehouse) – the least racist of men, despite his unfortunate wartime experience with the Nazis, caused by his naivety – it was just another keen observation of human character and character types.
I have long realised and commented on what I call the politics of insult, and its power to create a reaction and galvanise opinion. I can track it from reactions to my YouTube videos, tweets and blogs. In fact, one of the factors that converted me to nationalism in the first place was the systematic patronising and insulting of nationalist Scots, and indeed Scots in general by Westminster.
Of course, there are many who feel it is an over-reaction and demonstrates a lack of humour to react. My feeling is they don’t know their history in respect of racial and political ‘humour’, especially of colonial Britain, of Ireland, and of that fermenting decade, the 1930s, especially in continental Europe.
Last night's ‘joke’ by a member of the Lancaster Question Time audience, and the audience’s reaction to it is a recent example – a clip post less than 24 hours ago is currently running at over 3100 hits, and has provoked a torrent of comments. Here it is, plus just a few from my collection – there are many more …