The SNP’s New MPs 180

There is a good and balanced article in the Guardian on the SNP MPs by Carole Cadwalladr. Thank goodness Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks must have been unavailable. I am struck that of those she chose to interview, Tommy Sheppard (my MP), Mhairi Black, Chris Law, Michelle Thomson, John Nicolson, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh are all people I am on first name terms with and almost all of whom I have shared platforms with. It is quite a small community (though until the selection panel I hadn’t seen John Nicolson for 30 years).

Cadwalladr’s worry that the MPs will become seduced by Westminster has worried me too. But I don’t think it will happen. These are exceptionally strong characters and there is a self-reinforcing group of them, and they have a very active base of supporters with eagle eyes.

Naturally Cadwalladr’s article relays as fact ludicrous Labour claims that the SNP in Scotland does not implement progressive social policies (ignoring no tuition fees, free prescriptions, free geriatric personal care, land reform etc). Given it’s lack of control of fiscal and benefits policy, they could hardly do more. But the general tone of the Cadwalladr article is so far away from the simplistic “SNP evil” line which we normally see from the Guardian, that I shall hope for a while that the departure of the Blair-worshipping clown Rusbridger and his wig may see the paper return to some kind of journalistic values.

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180 thoughts on “The SNP’s New MPs

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  • glenn

    RD: A proportion of boys will have their penis functionally destroyed by this procedure. Many more might not be exactly happy that it was done. Who benefits from it? There’s nothing “Brave New World” about requiring informed consent before undertaking surgical cosmetic surgery of highly dubious benefit.

    The burden really is on you to say why you’re so keen to allow it.

  • Dave Hansell


    I have responded to this question on a previous discussion thread on this site some time back.

    I don’t wish to re bore other contributors with a rehash. Get in touch in with Craig and ask him to provide you with my email and sad dress, he has my permission, and I will respond to your reasonable and ski dressed valid question.

  • Daniel

    Dave, I won’t do that. I suspect it’s because he’s got a few quid and you haven’t. I wonder where that puts ‘multiple houses’ Meacher.

  • Dave Hansell

    Bloody predictive text.

    and sad dress = address, apparently.

    ski dressed? Don’t know where that came from, a totally superfluous computer generated addition. Ignore that bit.

    I wouldn’t mind but the bloody thing has started generating it’s own jokes as well. The other day I typed in the words Ulster Unionists in a discussion comment on another site and it changed it to Ulterior Unionists.

  • Dave Hansell


    Nowhere near. Totally cold on that score.

    Personal experience and resulting logical conclusion.

    Offer still stands.

  • Resident Dissident


    I’m not keen to allow it – I just think a little judgement is required before the State interferes with what are deeply felt beliefs (which I don’t hold myself incidentally). I think you have to make a case for the extent of the damage caused. Adults shouting at and chastising their children can also be damaging (and my guess is that it leads to far greater long term problems than circumcision), would you want to install listening devices in everyone’s houses to make sure that it doesn’t happen? Children seeing their parents drink to excess can also be harmful – so would you ration the amount of alcohol that could be sold to parents?

    You really haven’t made any case whatsoever as to where the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable interference in state in the role of parents.

  • glenn

    RD: So the burden is on me again, all of a sudden? My my! The situation is quite simple, which I’ve stated several times, but let me do so again since you must have missed it: No cosmetic surgery on anyone but informed, consenting adults. That isn’t good enough for you, it appears.

    Your opening position was that children are the property of parents, and they can do what they like (unless harm is “proven”, which is itself another bag of worms).

    How about tattoos on children – say a political slogan, or a religious position? Heck, that’s more reversible than a circumcision.

    No – I shouldn’t have to prove damage caused. Besides, you’ve totally ignored the fact that damage is absolutely caused on a percentage of children as a result of this arbitrary surgery.

    Can I chop off your little toe on each foot, unless you can prove harm? Can I do that to my children, or yours?

    Come on, answer a couple of straightforward points instead of sneaking around them like this. Selling alcohol to a parent does not imply they will force it on a child. Taking the child for surgery most definitely does imply something being forced on a child. Stop blowing smoke.

  • Jon

    Hmm, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Did anyone see the write-up in Private Eye a couple of months ago? It’s the only place I’ve heard of her, and it wasn’t entirely complimentary. It claimed she’s been a member of several parties. Ba’al says she’s done time in Labour, and Wikipedia has her done as having been in the Scottish Conservatives as well. Says the PE author: all she needs now is the Lib Dems for the full set!

    I like the SNP for what they’ve done for independence, but I have to say I am sometimes suspicious of people who travel the political compass so widely and frequently. The likes of Melanie Philips comes to mind – has Tasmina done the reverse?

  • Resident Dissident

    “Your opening position was that children are the property of parents, and they can do what they like”

    This is of course not my position – parents are responsible for their children they do not own them and I never said they can do what they like. What I was arguing about was the role of the State when it came to the parent’s responsibilities.

    Of course one needs to ask why you need to create such a ridiculous straw man in order to support your position. I’m afraid it is just a repeat of the usual arrogance as exhibited by King of whatever and others whereby you think only your viewpoint can be correct and any contrary viewpoints can be dismissed as incorrect, all the evidence points in one direction (yours) , everything is black and white and shades of grey are impossible, everyone either has to either with or against you. To use the words of your anti-hero “there is no alternative”.

    Getting back to the argument – while I’m sure that you believe that circumcision is harmful – the reality is that many parents also believe that they have a responsibility to bring their children up within their religion and they are prepared to weigh what they see as potential benefits for their children of doing so with the potential risks. You may not wish to accept their argument, and neither would I personally given I place such religious rituals on a level with voodoo and witchcraft. However, where I differ from you is that I can accept that they have the right to make their argument and whatsmore I can tolerate their position. If you want to change it you are free to do so by convincing people that the harm arising from circumcision outweighs the benefits of religious freedom and the State not interfering unjustly in family life (though I suspect some of you friends will just want to use the opportunity to indulge in a little bit of casual anti-Semitism) – just as was done with FGM and other forms of child abuse.

  • glenn

    RD: It speaks well of one if they take the strongest element of another’s argument, and work on that. You have done the exact opposite. But I’ll get back to that particular argument you saw as the easy option, since it’s a side-issue.

    You ignored every point that might have been awkward, such as:

    – Should political/religious slogans be allowed to be tattooed on an infant/child?
    – Should arbitrary, and unnecessary cosmetic surgery be allowed on an infant/child?
    – Should the cutting off of the little toe on each foot be allowed?
    – Why should this be allowed on your own children, and not others’ children, if your religious belief demands it?

    I understand, of course – it’s much easier to attack a tangential point (and of course the character of the person making the points), than to get at the heart of the issue. Particularly when you know you’re wrong. Why aren’t you voicing outrage at the first of these – prohibition on tattoos for <18yo's, for example – shouldn't religious parents be allowed to tattoo their young? Come on – have a go at that, at least.

    The closest you get is conceding a point about the risks, where you generously allow that the parents "are prepared to weigh what they see as potential benefits for their children of doing so with the potential risks.

    That’s awfully big of them – brave, indeed. Who’s taking the risk, again?

    I’d suggest the parents are taking a risk, merely a social one of course, should they not abide by the custom. But the biggest, life-changing risk is taken by a person who never even understood the choice. But RD is prepared to see that risk being taken on their behalf. Sweet.


    By the way, the only people I’ve ever known to defend this practice of circumcision are (a) those who are circumcised, and particularly (b) those who have inflicted this on their child. Would you happen to fall into either category?


    Getting back to that point about ownership. Recall you said, “Surely there has to be some proven damage before you start interfering in what people do to their own or their children’s bodies… ”

    I put it to you that peoples’ children’s bodies are not theirs to do with as they wish, in equal measure to that of their own. Those are your words above, and it’s pretty clear that’s what you meant.

    No. Wrong. Whatever you “do to” someone else’s body, requires informed consent or medical necessity, no matter what your delusion might be.

    Isn’t it time you changed your handle? “Resident Dissident” – seriously? Your stated views are entirely conformist.

  • Clark

    Grievous bodily harm (often abbreviated to GBH) is a technical term used in English criminal law which has become synonymous with the offences that are created by sections 18 and 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
    The offence under section 18 is variously referred to as “wounding with intent” or “causing grievous bodily harm with intent”.[1] The words “with intent” refer to the specific intent required for this offence.
    The offence is the most serious form of assault anyone can commit.


    For this purpose, a wound is an injury that breaks the continuity of the skin.[5] There must be a division of the whole skin and not merely a division of the cuticle or upper layer.[6]

    A single drop of blood is sufficient, but it must fall outside the body.

    Resident Dissident, are you opposed to smacking?

    I personally suffered serious psychologically damage due to religious indoctrination in childhood. I’m glad they didn’t cut any bits off me.

  • Clark

    I can find no warrant for giving the words ‘grievous bodily harm’ a meaning other than that which the words convey in their ordinary natural meaning. ‘Bodily harm’ needs no explanation, and ‘grievous’ means no more and no less than ‘really serious’.
    We consider that the same is true of the phrase “actual bodily harm”. These are three words of the English language that receive no elaboration and in the ordinary course should not receive any. The word “harm” is a synonym for injury. The word “actual” indicates that the injury (although there is no need for it to be permanent) should not be so trivial as to be wholly insignificant.

  • glenn

    Clark: I’m also very glad I never had bits chopped off me.

    Had my parents seen fit to do so, when I was in no position to weigh up the various (supposed!) benefits and give informed consent, I would respect them a lot less. If my penis had been ruined because my parents were craven enough to mutilate me through religious subservience, I would hate them for it.

    RD – however – is brave enough to consider it a risk worth perpetrating on some hapless individual. How entirely noble. Now just when is RD going to get on the campaign to allow the tattooing of babies? Or at the least, say whether such tattooing should be allowed.

    // Sound of crickets //

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)


    I wonder why you’ve let yourself get dragged into this exchange on male circumcision.

    You’ve been on here for long enough to know that the issue of male circumcision is routinely raised every time FGM is mentioned.

    The fact that male circumcision is always referred to here in relation to the Jewish religion (despite the fact that it is also practised by Muslims and Christians)should give you a clue as to why it’s raised every time FGM crops up.

    Why are you allowing yourself to be used as a dupe? Most reasonable people agree the stitching up a young girl’s vulva and/or effecting a clitorectomy or trimming is mutilation whereas male circumcision is not. At least, if the word “mutilation” means anything at all.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Now just when is RD going to get on the campaign to allow the tattooing of babies? Or at the least, say whether such tattooing should be allowed.”

    Yet another straw man – it is illegal to tattoo under 18 year olds and I can see no demand to change the law apart from 16 year olds who cannot wait – though I daresay if they were to be allowed to vote they would also gain the right to tattoo as well.

    I’ll address the rest later.

  • glenn

    RD: “Yet another straw man – it is illegal to tattoo under 18 year olds…

    Please don’t be such a sap. I most obviously was not asking you whether it was illegal or not. Please don’t play the fool like that.

  • glenn

    Habbabkuk: This is nothing to do with being Jewish (why drag that into the discussion?). A huge proportion of Americans are not Jewish, for instance, yet it appears more than half of males have this procedure as infants.

    FGM is such a horror that it should not require any debate whatsoever – just severe punishment for anyone involved in such barbaric practice. I disagree that “most” reasonable people would agree, surely all would.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)


    “Habbabkuk: This is nothing to do with being Jewish (why drag that into the discussion?).”

    It should not have and I know that’s not your intention. But do you not find it curious that whenever the subject is raised it is always as a response to someone else mentioning FGM? And raised by individuals whose other poss often give off a certain ant-Jewish smell?


    “I disagree that “most” reasonable people would agree, surely all would.”

    You are right and I was going to write that. But then I remembered the presence of certain dingbats on here about whom I wouldn’t be too sure (people like Giyane, for instance)

  • Clark

    Call it what you will, imposed genital modification of anyone is an incredibly creepy thing. Try translating into behaviour between people of equal power. I care for my friend so much that I slip a drug into his or her tea to induce unconsciousness, take him/her to a compliant surgical team and have some genital skin removed. True loving friendship I think not.

    I doubt the time is yet right for legislation, but we could make a start by strongly disapproving and frowning upon of the practice against infants.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident and Habbabkuk, I care for your immortal souls and future wellbeing so much that I drug your tea etc…

  • Clark

    If states and societies were to disapprove and discourage the practice, parents considering inflicting the procedure would at least have a countervailing authority against the perceived authority of the custom or religion urging them to do so; they would have opposing viewpoints to weigh up. Parents become victims in this as well by suffering some degree of guilt, albeit unconscious, from having inflicted such a procedure upon utterly helpless infants.

    Nothing and no one gains from the procedure except the meme or tradition of genital modification itself.

  • Clark

    It’s similar to the situation I endured as a child being indoctrinated in Jehovah’s Witlessism. That religion famously rejects blood transfusions. As a child I tried to pretend I would be brave and reject any transfusion – the alternative being exclusion from everlasting life by God. I knew that the state would intervene and save my normal, mortal life, but at least I felt that God would forgive me as the matter had been taken out of my hands.

    All such religious nonsense should be discouraged, opposed and eventually legislated against.

  • KingOfWelshNoir

    Habbabkuk and RD

    I get the impression that your stance in support of male circumcision here is partly inspired by the feeling that if there is a consensus against it on this forum then it must be due to anti-semitism or some malicious political stance. In this, I think you are mistaken and the consensus here represents—on this issue at least—more a reflection of the zeitgeist. The world has moved on and many right-thinking people now no longer accept that cutting a baby’s foreskin off can be justified on religious and cultural grounds. It was uncontroversial previously but the tide of history moves on and male circumcision is being consigned to the same dustbin of history as corporal punishment, bear baiting, bosses pinching their secretaries’ bottoms, mother-in-law jokes, casual misogyny in ads etc. We used to laugh at the black and white minstrels, now we look aghast and can’t quite believe we behaved like that only a few decades ago. Similarly, I think in the not too distant future we will be amazed that we ever considered male circumcision an acceptable thing to do to a baby.

  • glenn

    Habbabkuk: Indeed, but since Muslims also always have this procedure too (on males), it would be a weak retort indeed to arguments against FGM. It’s a shame so many discussions circle back to Judaism.

    As for “most” people – Giyane notwithstanding – I’d still say that no reasonable person could argue in favour of FGM. Again, it could only be those on which it has been inflicted, or those that have inflicted it on their own girls, that could possibly defend the practice – and then only by way of internalising, self-justification.

  • Clark

    Habbabkuk, 6:59 am, and to RD (rhetorical):

    “Most reasonable people agree [… specifically:] trimming is mutilation whereas male circumcision is not”

    Oh I don’t know, surely some of the labia could be trimmed off with no more change to sensitivity and sexual pleasure than that caused by male genital “trimming”? After all, we’re supposed to support sexual equality these days aren’t we? Some adult women pay for this procedure; having it imposed in childhood would save them money and having to deliberate over it.

    KingOfWelshNoir, 1:28 pm (not rhetorical); strong agreement from me.

  • glenn

    That should have read “… Muslims almost always have this procedure too …”, not “also”.

  • glenn

    Clark: Interesting notion about the meme of circumcision. Just getting to the last chapter of Dawkins’ “Climbing Mount Improbable”, in which he talks about viruses of various kinds, and DNA, who’s only real function of existence is to say “COPY ME!”

    With genital mutilation of any traditional kind, male or female, the only reason it’s done is because the parents had it done (and their parents before them), and because it’s “our custom”. In other words, don’t question it – because to do so is to question the wisdom of the practice which was clearly good enough for everyone who came before us.

    Therefore, it must be good enough for us, and for those who come after us too. All sorts of silly justifications arise to try to substantiate the position already taken.


    KoWN: Very good points. What beats me is the widespread practice in countries like the US, where it is not done for any religious reason (or any other particular reason) on the whole, but simply “because”. I have known men who had this done, and were not particularly happy about it, and didn’t want it performed on their new-born when it came along. But then their wife sneaked off and had it done anyway – often at the prompting of in-laws. These fellows were mightily pissed off, but it was already done now. What’s the point in making a deal of it?

    Same thing appears to happen with FGM. The fathers know how bad it is for their wives, and don’t want it for their daughters. But the mother-in-law will sneak the daughter off for the butchery first chance she gets.

  • Clark

    Glenn, I’m very much in agreement with Dawkins’ arguments in The God Delusion about children needing protection from, or at least adequate limitation of and balance to imposition of parents’ religious beliefs and practices, and the utter wrongheadedness of referring to children as being “of” some religion or another.

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