Monday 11 June 2012

Pot, kettle...

I’m not one of the Independent’s regular readers, but I do pick up a copy from time to time.  On Saturday, Rhondda’s MP, Chris Bryant, writes a column for the paper, and here is last Saturday’s effort, in which he holds forth on four different issues of the week.
In the first two, he gives us his views on why ‘nationalism’ is such a bad thing, saying
“All of which makes me realise that I'm no nationalist. I detest the exaggerated belief in one's own cultural heritage, the puffed-up, arbitrary and unmerited self-confidence, the swift denunciation of all that is alien or foreign, the desperate desire to support anyone from the home team, however lazy or hideous. Nationalism is a nasty creed and the path from well-meaning nationalism to xenophobia and racism is slippier than the luge track in the Winter Olympics.  It's the scourge of politics around the globe.”
“I don't care for nationalism here in the UK either. UK nationalism and Welsh and Scottish nationalism repel me equally. No, British isn't always best. I love the NHS but other national health services perform just as well. Shelley is just as dull (or poignant, take your pick) as Pushkin, or Goethe, or Neruda. Welsh cakes are very moreish, but paella and tabbouleh are equally delicious and there's a reason hummus and pizza have invaded our fridges. I'm Welsh, but the very thought of Shirley Bassey, … Tom Jones, Bryn Terfel and the Stereophonics played on a permanent loop makes me ill.”
After reading such strong condemnation of that which he defines nationalism to be – a definition which most nationalists would not recognise – he goes on to his third story with gusto in his attack on Louise Mensch’s claim that “Labour never liked business success”.  According to Bryant, “This is Aunt Sally politics. You pretend your opponent holds ludicrous views and attack them for it. But it's so dishonest.”.
See what he did there?  I agree with him that ‘pretending your opponent holds ludicrous views and then attacking them for it’ is dishonest.  But it isn’t only dishonest when it comes from one side of any debate.


Anonymous said...

He, also, confusingly, goes on in the column to say that Lebanon needs a dose of 'nation building' ... that would be nationalism by another name!

So 'nation building' is a 'good thing' (see 'nation building during Jubilee, Olympics, NHS etc). 'Nation building' or, to give it another term, 'nationism' is done by the dominant ethnic or political group within an already defined state. That's good.

'Nationalism' is exactly the same thing but done by a nation or community which isn't fortunate to have it's own state. That's bad.

And as for Bryants talk of eating Welsh cakes and listening to Tom Jones all day - is this man real? Who the hell does that?

Unknown said...

". . . the exaggerated belief in one's own cultural heritage, the puffed-up, arbitrary and unmerited self-confidence, the swift denunciation of all that is alien or foreign. . ."

That rings a bell. It reminds me of someone. Ahh, that's it! It is Chris Bryant!

Peter Freeman said...

I read the article in the Independent and I can't help but wonder, does the paper choose representatives of a party who will write this kind of self-contradictory foolishness as a ploy to encourage people to vote elsewhere?
So his trip to Lebanon convinced him that nation building in Lebanon is necessary but nation building in Wales is abhorrent?
There is one thing I would like to thank Chris for. The phrase "Aunt Sally Politics" I've never heard that before and it fits the scene in America so well. The candidate who can buy the most television and advertising space is free to engage in these kinds of accusations while the opponent is pressed to refute them.
I will definitely be using that phrase a lot over here.