I thought I knew Scotland fairly well and loved it mightily. But some of my new twitter penpals tell me I am in fact a clueless nobody who needs to learn some facts. So I did - from their helpful profiles. What an education! Here are 3 things, oddly, I didn't know about Scotland:
1) Apparently, Scotland is actually a banana republic, far more corrupt than Mexico, much more communist than China and even more authoritarian than North Korea. On the plus side, I would venture to add: also more imaginative than the far-away realm of Cloud Cuckooland...
2) One of the few freedoms left to my new penpals in their Scottish gulag, it seems, is to tweet and retweet conspiracy theories about climate change, viral pandemics, public health lockdowns and EU protocols. Poor soulless miseries! Shovelling snow would surely be an improvement
3) It is a manly custom, I see, to engage in robust banter with anyone who suggests there is even a hint of misogyny in the campaign to remove Nicola Sturgeon (who, I also assume, doesn't mind all the gender-specific nicknames or fantasies about her suffering some painful demise)
I would say thanks to my new penpals for helping me become less of a clueless nobody. Maybe even fascinate them with my own insights, about their delightful cultural commonalities with freaks and fascists in many other countries. But I accidentally blocked them. Tragic, huh.

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More from @mdouganlpool

15 Mar
Amid the howls of Brexitist outrage about the EU's commencement of enforcement action against the UK for latter's clear breach of its international legal obligations (there's no "alleged" about it...) - let's recall a couple of basic but rather important facts:
Protocol = fundamental compromise. UK accepted [ie Johnson proposed] border down Irish Sea, in order to deliver Hard Brexit demanded by Tory Leave Extremists. EU agreed [a major concession, made for sake of peace in Ireland] that a 3rd country would police its external frontier.
So HMG's actions aren't just an affront to rules-based international order & destabilising intervention in already tense situation in NI - though they are both those things. HMG's actions also directly abuse trust vested in UK, to act as a responsible guardian of EU's own border.
Read 4 tweets
13 Mar
Twitter’s great for slagging off Brexit. But even better when you learn something new. Especially from collective wisdom. As I did from responses to yesterday’s thread on the EU’s “existential challenge”. So: quick follow-up with some reflections, inspired by replies/comments:
1) Worth clarifying: idea of “existential reflex” is not that large numbers of people want their MS to leave EU, or for EU to cease existing. [Though if don’t mind me saying: seems bit complacent to say “noone thinks like that in my MS"; let alone forget there are other MSs too!]
2) Instead, idea behind "existential reflex" is whether significant numbers of citizens have really *internalised* what it means to be a Member State of the EU, in the same way as they take for granted the institutions / roles / powers of their own state.
Read 13 tweets
12 Mar
Just been asked an interesting question: what’s the biggest challenge facing the EU over the coming years? Pretty wide-ranging, huh?! But good to get thinking. So here was my instinctive response, in a short thread:
1) Would be easy to pick one from long list of current problems: post-pandemic economic recovery, climate crisis, digital transformation, threat to basic values posed by Hungary / Poland, how to tackle global instability & its consequences, eg for mass migration etc etc
2) But for me, EU faces more long term & underpinning challenge, which (for the EU as such) is arguably at least as serious as any one of those (still considerable) current & specific problems. Let’s call it the challenge of the “existential reflex”. By which I mean:
Read 11 tweets
10 Mar
Johnson Regime claims its unilateral action re NI is not in breach of Protocol, it's just a pragmatic delay of checks, to give more time to prepare, as part of a border regime that was only ever meant to be light touch anyway. Utter rubbish on every front. To be more precise:
1) if UK needed more time to prepare, could easily have had it: Withdrawal Agreement allowed for extension of transition. But Johnson ruled that out, regardless of consquences for NI. Worse: actively misled public / business about what was coming. Problem= entirely created by HMG
2) UK having refused extension, Protocol system came into force. Its rules are crystal clear. As is fact that UK is now breaking them. Those rules can be altered, but only by mutual agreement. As EU & UK did in Dec 2020. But this time, UK isn't seeking to act in concert with EU.
Read 6 tweets
9 Mar
Plenty to ponder in the new Joint Declaration concerning the "Conference on the Future of Europe" - intended to provide momentum for next "big round" of EU reflection, debate and reform. Just a few quick thoughts from me:
1) Political scientists will evaluate this new exercise in deliberative democracy: its benefits / limits. But 1 group whose input isn't specifically flagged up: millions of citizens who reside outside EU territory (migrants or national minorities). How will their voice be heard?
2) agenda is very broadbrush. But striking difference, eg from previous Commission reflection papers? No talk about differentiated integration / two speed Europe etc. Instead: declaration stresses "European solidarity"... Has Brexit dulled taste for "core + periphery" membership?
Read 4 tweets
4 Mar
Good question: should European Parliament veto Trade & Cooperation Agreement with UK, in protest at Johnson Regime's latest contempt for obligations freely undertaken under NI Protocol?

Tricky calculation. No clear answer. But on balance, I'd advise "no", for following reasons:
Job of EU in general, and EP in particular, is to uphold European values & defend European interests. Often a complex, difficult task. Especially when principled values & pragmatic interests might pull in different directions. As arguably they do here. Though only arguably.
One hand: EU knows current UK regime is untrustworthy, if not actively antagonistic, even a direct threat to foundations of European cooperation. Punishing disregard of law sends important signal in defence of rules-based international order - even if it comes with a price.
Read 7 tweets

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