Nemo me impune lacessit

Not content with lazily retreading a creative concept with its front cover (see the original version here), the Economist also decided to invoke that most stereotypical, historical example of Scottish economic folly, the Darien scheme.  Yawn.

The thrust of the Economist’s article is that Scotland, if independent, risks becoming “one of Europe’s vulnerable, marginal economies” and weaves together a slew of tired old arguments to justify the claim.

We’re just too wee and too stupid.  We just don’t have enough of anything to stand on our own two feet and to do so without plunging our economy and society into decades of penury and poverty.  Conveniently forgetting in the process, all that Scotland has gifted to the world in the past.

For years, in my grandparents’ house, there was a cheap and cheerful banner hanging on the kitchen wall, listing many of Scotland’s greatest innovations and inventions.  I wish I’d kept it, though Wikipedia does the job just as well.  Some, of course, are not without controversy…. but taken together, they show clearly that oor wee nation more than punches above its weight.  Apparently, though, we’d be incapable of this kind of thing if we were an independent nation.

There is a humorous (sic) version of this list of inventions that has done the rounds for many years in the form of teatowels and postcards.  And sadly is still available.

But for your delectation and titillation and to serve as a poke in the eye to the Economist, the Wha’s like us “joke” is repeated here. Which is not to say I believe all that it says, nor support its anti-English overtones.  But really it’s to make a point.  We too can be as petty, lazy and stereotypical as they can.  For the most part, though, we choose not to be.

A wee warning – if we think this is as bad it can get, actually they are only warming up.   Fear is what drives the vested interests with most to lose from Scotland choosing independence and fear, in its most basic and nastiest forms, is what will imbue the anti-independence campaign.   We just have to rise above it.  And when we cannot, there’s always this:

Wha’s Like Us – Damn Few And They’re A’ Deid

A typical Englishman finishes his breakfast of toast and marmalade invented by Mrs Keller of Dundee, Scotland, and slips into his raincoat, patented by Charles Mackintosh from Glasgow, Scotland. He then walks to his office along an English – tarmac surfaced – lane, invented by John Loudon MacAdam of Ayr, Scotland. Or he arrives in his car, which is fitted with pneumatic tyres patented by John Boyd Dunlop, of Dreghorn, Scotland.

Before he had a car he used to travel by train, which was powered by a steam engine, invented by James Watt of Greenock, Scotland.

In his office he deals with the mail bearing adhesive stamps invented by John Chalmers of Dundee, Scotland, and makes frequent use of the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At home in the evening, he dines on his favourite Roast beef from Aberdeen Angus, raised in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  He then watches some television – an invention of Scotsman John Logie Baird, of Helensbourgh, Scotland – about John Paul Jones, father of the United States navy, born in Kirkbean, Scotland.  The Englishman’s son prefers to read Treasure Island, written by famous Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson, from Edinburgh, Scotland.  Whilst his daughter prefers to play in the garden with her bicycle, invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, of Thornhill, Scotland.

It is impossible for an Englishman to escape the ingenuity of the Scots!

In desperation he turns to the bible only to find that the first person mentioned is a Scotsman King James VI, who authorised the translation. He could – of course – turn to drink, but Scotland makes the finest whisky in the world.

At the end of his tether he uplifts a rifle to end it all, but Captain Patrick Ferguson, of Pitfours, Scotland invented the Breech-loading-rifle! If the Englishman escapes death by the rifle, he would find himself being injected with penicillin discovered by Scottish Bacteriologist, Sir Alexander Fleming, of Darvel, Scotland – or he might be given Chloroform, am anaesthetic first used by Sir James Young Simpson, of Bathgate, Scotland.

Out of the anaesthetic, the Englishman’s mood would not be improved if the doctor told him that his condition was as safe as the bank of England, which was founded by William Paterson, of Dumfries, Scotland.

Perhaps in order to get some peace, he could request a transfusion o guid Scottish blood so that he to could be entitled to ask Wha’s like us….

And in case, you think we’re all taking this too seriously?  Damn right.  Though I’ll confess to chuckling at a few of the invented place names in Skintland….



17 thoughts on “Nemo me impune lacessit

  1. The Economist is read worldwide from Sydney to Singapore, from Washington to Wellington, from Beijing to Buenos Aires. This “Skintland” tag will have a negative impact on how Scotland will be perceived internationally. Scots have been damned by an influential magazine as basically a worthless people. It will make it much more difficult for Scots to conduct business overseas and for attracting inward investment to Scotland. Business and jobs will be lost, damage will be done to Scotland’s economy irrespective of whether Scotland becomes independent or not. The Economist editors would have known this from the outset and that is why it is no laughing matter. In this new Age-Of-Austerity this is that last thing we need.

  2. Burd

    I also thought the Economist cover was funny, not overly so, but funny nevertheless. The reaction elicited by some our fellow countrymen is not. A bit depressing really.

    Here’s a quote from a study carried out in America recently:

    “being able to laugh at oneself is not only a distinct trait, but is also linked with having an upbeat personality and good mood and may be the foundation for a good sense of humor.”

    I liked the fact that you finished the article saying you had a laugh at the invented place names: “Grumpians” just about hit the nail on the head concerning this stooshy in a teacup.

  3. Insulting?


    This is hysterical nonsense.

    The Economist’s front page was a fairly clumsy attempt at humour (a huge mistake because everybody knows that the English middle classes have no sense of humour. Or irony) which has been given far too much importance by the hysterical, humourless, pompous and entirely cynical reaction from the first minister

    He actually tried to claim that every Scot had been traduced by that front page. I suggest that every Scot is being insulted and embarrassed by his continued buffoonery. Our first minister, in a bid to deflect from the substantive issues raised in The Economist’s articles, is conducting himself like a wee drunk man birling about a pub accusing everybody of spilling his pint.

    The wailing and gnashing of teeth from the semi-detached loons over at NewsNetScotland is only to be expected – why only a few days ago they were furiously winding themselves up into an incandescent rage over something a character in The Simpsons said – however Mr Salmond and his ministers really need to raise their game.

  4. OK it’s quite insulting. Even I can see that but I’ll reserve judgement on the content until I’ve read the article. Perhaps they have a point, perhaps they have some new revelation. But I doubt it.

    I would tactfully suggest that an appropriate response is a demolition of any associated “facts” rather than casting up shit Scots invented over a hundred years ago – but hey why depart from a losing formula… After all if it sells tea towels then it is certainly appropriate for a political blog!

    In reply to the comment above – yes, that’s right The Economist is saying that Scotland is the only country in the world that is incapable of looking after itself.
    With the possible exception of Myanmar.
    And N Korea.
    And Iceland.
    And the Republic of Ireland
    And Greece.
    And Spain.
    (look have I made my point or do I need to continue listing countries that The Economist considers could be run better?)

    • I will blog properly on it – just couldn’t resist being as puerile and facile as them… I shall hang my head in shame. Maybe.

    • The comment *below*. Not above.

      Oh great. Now I look like an idiot who doesn’t know their up from down.

    • Ireland and Iceland have indeed hit hard times, but not so hard that they don’t both feature higher in the OECD list of prosperity than the UK does. Greece and Spain are large countries, so don’t count, and N Korea is unique. So what was your oint again?

      • The OP said:
        “This is about pompous gits in London telling us that we’re the only country in the world that is incapable of looking after ourselves”

        Iceland was subject to an IMF led bailout. That is relevant to the post, its OECD stranding is not.
        Greece is only twice the size of Scotland, and the OP does not reference country size in his statement. It is being led by technocrats.

        My point was, and remains, that there are many countries in the world who the IMF considers to be unable to look after themselves, let alone namesless “gits” in London.

        I hope that has made it clearer.

  5. One of the invented names is presumably Helensbourgh?

  6. I have a list somewhere in my archives of Scots inventions, and probably blogged something in my early attempts.

    But not much good these days inventing things if you can’t manufacture them, or get sufficient government support, something the UK has certainly been guilty of.

    Just remember though, we also gave the world Gordon Brown…….

  7. The difference is that list is actually pretty funny, and at least it’s all true (if selective).

    We’ve had all the unionist party leaders trying to claim that they’re not saying Scotland is too wee and too poor by saying “of course Scotland could survive as an independent country, but…”. But here we see the mask slipping off and the true thoughts of the London elite coming to the fore.

    This front cover was really quite ugly. I’m not one to fly into a rage at a little bit of tongue-in-cheek jostling, but this is just plain insulting. It’s compounded by unionist Scots trying to claim this is just a case of nationalists looking for an excuse to moan about something. The same people who claim to be proud Scots but are also proud of being British. Well I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe them. You can’t be proud of your heritage and also take no offence at such a blatant attempt to belittle your country.

    I’ve seen people saying “oh so now it’s an offence to criticise the SNP?”, but this is nothing to do with the SNP. This is about pompous gits in London telling us that we’re the only country in the world that is incapable of looking after ourselves. The fact that socialists and Greens on the internet have also criticised this cover shows it is about more than the SNP. These apologist fools would do well to bear that in mind.

  8. The selective use of polygraphs by corrupt FBI officials must stop! No one is above the law, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, who conspired to cover up the Pan Am Flight 103 incident. Google “the selective use of polygraphs”

  9. Guess the nationality of the person who founded The Economist in 1843?

    Oooooh the irony!

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