Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Poem for the White Paper

This weekend I have swithered about the subject of my blog. I could have written about the inadequacy of the debate on same sex marriage at Holyrood last week where a lightweight minister, unable to answer even the most obvious in advance questions, ended up, despite the best efforts of others on our side, delivering the only victory on the day in the actual vote.

Or, in the aftermath of confirmation that Yes Scotland's computers had not been hacked after all, I could have wondered about how the Nationalist cost/benefit analysis over whether to dump Blair Jenkins before or after Tuesday's White Paper launch would play out. But I feared stepping too easily into "tomorrow's chip paper" territory there.

Or I could have added to the almost universal opprobrium now attaching to an SNP Government's proposal (pace Kinnock, AN SNP GOVERNMENT!) to abolish corroboration, one of the most distinctive features of our independent legal system. I concluded however that I could not possibly hope to outdo our most senior judge, Lord Gill in his evidence to the Parliament this last week.

Or I could have, once again, directed readers to read the small print of the White Paper when it comes to who would control the date of the next Scottish Parliament Election in the event of a Yes vote. But I've done that before

Or finally indeed I could have reviewed David Torrance's book, which I've just finished reading. The recent history and scene setting is exceptionally well done. Even I as a real geek on these matters learned much that I didn't know or at least had forgotten. But I have to say I think it goes badly wrong when it comes to predicting the hypothetical future(s). His belief that there will be amicable resignation, motivated by enlightened self-interest, to the result, on either side and  in the event of either potential result, seems to me to be hopelessly optimistic. Rather I suspect the aftermath will be much more bloody than anything that has gone before with both Yes and No camps bitterly internally divided over how to react to (either) outcome. For that reason I will come back to this in the near future. Instant reaction is probably a mistake anyway.

So, in the end, I've rather run out of topics and as I often do on such occasions I've decided to give my readers a bit of culture. Not a painting this time but a poem. One of my favourites.

 I dedicate it to the SNP rank and file who have dragged Eck so far and so reluctantly to this point. 

The Charge of the Light Brigade. By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!
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