Hauding wur wheesht and keeping calm

Hauding wur wheesht and keeping calm

by Eben Wilson
article from Thursday 7, July, 2016

WE ARE in a period of high political drama; but thank goodness for the common people and their interests. And what a contrast to the flounderings of the politicians and other commentariat. 

Scottish taxpayers continue get up every morning, go to work, do their business, earn their taxed income, spend their taxed money, put aside a bit for their taxed savings, and then flop in the sofa to goggle at England losing at football matches while Wales win. 

And those that their taxes are paid to? Hammering lumps out of each other. Making mince of objective debate. Stramash, rammy, squabble and feud – at our cost.

We are bolstered by a pair of axioms from political science. 

First, that those in politics have “discretion without knowledge”. In the same way that during the Referendum there were no real “facts” offered; there are, post-vote, no “facts” – the future is largely unknowable. Hence the spinnings of equity markets. 

Politics has its central role in the expression of values, not facts; and the EU exit introduces a huge clash of values between factions. We all now have to re-assess our opinions and design a new future. 

Second, that the interest of the mass media is for “a fix” to any issue; someone is always to blame, something should always be done immediately, and it is implied that it is possible to come up with a better way of doing things – quickly. 

This is simply politics as melodrama, with all the structure of theatre; set up, conflict, resolution contracted into a few hours of news cycle. Actually, progress in political economy takes years if not decades and involves sequences of trial, error and muddle with backtracking, contradictions and sheer stupidity thrown in. A liberal economist would add that it is impossible to “run an economy” and we should not expect either the media or politicians to be able to do such a thing. 

It is well known that politicians and journalists come very low down in polls about respectability; their biggest achievement at the moment is to spend a lot of our money successfully reinforcing that opinion. The teams of clever minds being put together to work out how Brexit can or cannot happen are going to cost us all a fortune. 

But as the common people, we have a role too. To haud wur wheesht in Scotland and keep our calm in rUK; to adopt the great British talent at “being steady” on the basis that the end of the world is rarely nigh, and roofs do not easily fall in. One of the great advantages of living in a country where freedom has induced affluence and the rule of law trumps arbitrary political rule is that we do not have to accept politicisation as a way of life. 

During the EU referendum, Ms Sturgeon made a speech to the Resolution Foundation in which she said: “Given the opportunity to truly engage in the issues, and realise the potential impact, good or bad, on their own day to day lives, then it is possible to generate a thriving democratic debate that leaves a positive legacy”.

We think she is wrong on this. It is a tenet of the left, and an expectation, that a constant blether about politics is a normal part of daily life. The life stories of Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn both have this as a central feature – a continual focus on politics. 

As Nigel Farrage, with characteristic venom combined with insight, told the European Parliament last week, the people have rejected “big politics”. We neither need nor want to become politicised. In Scotland, we should continue to haud wur wheesht. We can be sure that the English will always keep calm. We are The People and we have the ultimate power over what values are used to govern us. Knowledge and discretion take time to mature. 

Pay your taxes, turn off the radio and hug the kids.

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