Sometimes trivial matters are actually less trivial than they seem. They can be revealing. Thus Bill Clinton’s habit of cheerfully cheating while playing golf was more significant than you might at first think. It told you something – even if only a little something – about him.
The great thing about non-trivial, trivial indicators is that you can find them everywhere. The grow, like weeds, in even the most unpromising locations. An ordinary person, for instance, might not reckon the BBC weather map a matter of significant controversy but then an ordinary person probably hasn’t thought these matters through.
Mercifully, Paul Monaghan – sorry, Dr Paul Monaghan – the SNP MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross is not an ordinary person. To wit:
— Dr Paul Monaghan MP (@_PaulMonaghan) March 4, 2016
So. Much. Disrespekt. [Sic]
Dr Monaghan, who among his many other virtues offers further proof that doctors who neither teach nor practice medicine yet insist on being called doctors are invariably less than sound, is not alone. Here’s Ronnie Cowan, SNP MP for Inverclyde:
And here is Angus Brendan MacNeil, SNP MP for the Western Isles:
The agenda-media! Mr MacNeil has been worrying about the pro-Cornwall, anti-Scottish perspective of the BBC’s weather map for more than a decade now. Think on that.
As you know, three examples constitute a trend and since Chris Law, SNP MP for Dundee West, favourited and retweeted Dr Monaghan’s initial observation we may, I think, add him to the list. I have not trawled through the whole list of Dr Monaghan’s retweeters (there being nearly 600 of them) to see how many other SNP MPs have endorsed his complaint (a retweet from such a person being, in this instance, reasonable evidence of endorsement) but even as matters stand 7 percent of the SNP’s Westminster group belong in the Map Truther camp. There are probably more of them out there than that.
Now you may think this reflects a certain lack of perspective. Even, also, an unawareness that perspective even exists. The curvature of the earth may also remain a mystery to flat-earth nationalists.
The Weather Underground is strong, however. They know what the BBC is up to here. I mean:
The converse is also, obviously, true. Every fule knows that Scotland is neither too stupid nor too poor to be independent but it’s no surprise that the BBC wants you to believe Scotland’s too wee to cope as an independent state.
And, look, this is no laughing matter. It might even be a question of life and death. Oh yes:
It is easy to laugh at these people and right to do so too. But there is a more serious point to be made as well, not least because it is always useful to be reminded that on any given question ten percent of people can be relied upon to believe in absolutely anything.
Now you might think that these SNP MPs, these tribunes of the new Scotland, are joking. But I am afraid they are not. Their deadly earnestness might almost be endearing if it weren’t also so jaw-droppingly ludicrous.
It comes from the top too. When Alex Salmond complains that the BBC is a ‘national disgrace‘ or writes that the corporation is ‘guilty of sustained bias against the national cause’ he feeds the fever swamps. The Map Truthers, then, receive some measure of encouragement from people who should, you might hope, know better. The paranoia exists on a spectrum and some are just more grievously afflicted than others.
Never-ever under-estimate a Scotsman’s ability to manufacture a grievance, however. And while that is true of all my compatriots it is doubly true of my nationalist brethren. The grievance-monkeys are endlessly creative, capable of discovering a slight, an agenda, another piece of disrespekt (sic) from even the humblest or least promising set of circumstances.
So too, of course, are plenty of other people. Frothing eccentricity is by no means confined to the SNP benches at Westminster. Even so it is always useful to be reminded just how deep these waters run. There is a luminous quality to nationalist loopiness that is simultaneously a matter for great merriment and heid-in-hands despair.
Sensible nationalists – and that is, despite some appearances, most of them – know this only too well. But there is no shame in pointing out, from time to time, just how many nationalists are far beyond barking. Every day in Scotland is an amazing day and the great thing is you never know what conspiracy will be unmasked next.
As I say, it is all very trivial but also revealing in a very non-trivial way.