For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Saturday, 1 February 2020

Not a good day

I replied yesterday to another blogger's post and the following is a slightly revised version.

There are endless pros and cons about Brexit but here I just want to express my personal thoughts in a particular context on this sad day.

We were alone in 1939. I recently watched an offering: The Darkest Hour on Netflix; not one of their best efforts. But it brought home how very much alone we were at the time of Dunkirk left with no really effective army, and meagre and inferior armaments and as near as dammit defenceless and not a willing friend in the world. We were frighteningly vulnerable and if an attack had been pressed home it could so easily have been a different story.


Let us remember peace in Europe has now lasted 75 years.

From my own experiences in France I feel that I will not be able to visit again with that sense of travelling freely and inclusion, and without the likelihood of attitudes of disdain prevailing.

I similarly have a strong affinity to Scotland having climbed 282 of their mountains where I have always been received with hospitality and friendliness, and whilst I admire their current independence of character and culture the thought of them becoming detached from the UK if they gain Independence and/or re-join the EU and me having to cross the border and show a passport, and again sense that I may also be regarded there with disdain is abhorrent.

I feel shame.


  1. Sir Hugh - I share your views on leaving the EU.
    As for Scotland, I hope we never leave the UK but if this were to happen I don’t think you’d find the welcome here any different from now. There will always be a few idiots of course but for the majority of those who want independence it’s not an anti-English sentiment. I can understand your worry though, because I have the same concerns about visiting the Lake District even at present since all Nicola Sturgeon ever talks about is independence. Marches ‘demanding’ independence seem to occur seemingly every weekend so I fear those in England think that all us Scots want independence. What most of us want is the SNP government to get on with what we pay them for. And stop raising our taxes!

    A hard border isn’t coming any time soon.

  2. Oh dear. Omit ‘seem’ or ‘seemingly’ as you prefer.

  3. I agree, it is a very sad day, and there may be even sadder days to come when the anticipated economic downsides start to bite. Let's just hope that it does lead to the promised land, or that we can reapply when we come to our collective senses.

  4. Maybe you will have your wish when 'they' realise that the one-track journey to superstatedom is not what the mass of the people of europe want - and that leaving the 'EU' now is probably the 'best thing' not only for ourselves but also for the other peoples of europe: this strange phrase 'leaving europe' is of course as unrealistic as it is geological, geographical, strategic, philosophical and historical nonsense - we have left the galloping bureaucratic moloch of a self-perpetuating self-proclaimed elite (no self-respecting organisation could ever have chosen the new 'president of the commission' either in the way that they did or the person they did - marked out for the job both by utter failure at home and by blindness to the mood of the peoples of europe) - as ever 'saving ourselves by our exertions and all europe by our example'.
    There are now welcome signs that Macron - and some others - seem, slowly, to be beginning to perceive this truth.
    If they (and their predecessors) had listened, it might never have come to this.
    One does not have to be very old to remember zooming about all over europe long before we joined the EEC, with no obstruction or difficulty, and, inevitably, the same will continue - and you will wonder why people got so concerned or what the fuss was about. Peoples don't change much or quickly - ideologies and doctrines come and go, but basic human feelings move only with historical slowness. And they will still welcome your pounds.
    With Scotland, we all hope 'afoot' has it right: the talk and parading is a smokescreen for failings: so similar to other well-remembered 'popular movements' but for the colour of the flags. Samuel Johnson made one of the more telling comments some two and half centuries ago - 'the brightest prospect in a young (Scots) man's eye is the high road to England !' I bet I'm not the only person who suspects that that would be one of inevitable consequence of independence - they would find EU membership a chimera: at present they are protected from the worst by the counterweight of the rest of the UK - without that, naked to the conference chamber - what hope then for the fishermen! Let's hope the truth will be perceived by the scottish people in good time to save themselves!

  5. So much certainty, Gimmer. So much fierce expression. There have to be some doubts, surely. If all this were the case why wasn't the referendum 99% for leave and 1% (poor me) for remain?

    Were you equally certain when a Tory prime miniuster worked hard (against grievous rebuffs and humiliations) to take us into the EEC? And were your certainties confirmed when another prime minister (alas, not a true blue) held a referendum that said - my memory isn't what it was - stay, by a ratio of two to one?

    The economic arguments for Brexit will eventually play out but - in the way of economic arguments - nothing will be clear. A leader who lied monstrously to get elected is certainly capable of lying again to stay in power.

    Mine is a hopeless case. The reasons are cultural and you know what Goering said about culture. For forty years I have taken private lessons to learn French; the French (who are kinder than many Brits let on) have said I speak good French but I shrug - in a Gallic way - and say softly: "I cannot speak French but I can communicate in French." This seems to satisfy them but then they do favour indirect modes of speech.

    My hopelessness increases. Four years ago, aged eighty, I decided to take private lessons in singing. My musical tastes I know correspond with yours. Inevitably I found myself singing much stuff in German (in which my competence is vestigial) and relishing the insights it provided.

    I am not able to go in for the physical pursuits with which Sir Hugh staves off old age. Mine are, in the main, indoor pursuits as befits my decaying body. Speaking (and reading) French and singing (often) in German have had collateral (you may say: delusional) effects. I feel close to those two countries and membership of the EU helped sustain that feeling.

    Just the sort of forlorn and wimpish argument you might expect of an uncertain leftie who (Gawd help us) belonged to a trade union for several decades.

    One tiny plea. A line space between paras would strengthen the gravamen of your comments. Many thanks for the increase in capital letters.

  6. Afoot and Kendal Grufties - Thanks to you both for your thoughtful comments. The problem with these issues (Brexit and Independence) is that they are so complex. So complex in fact that I reckon many of the politicians and highly qualified civil servants haven't got a grasp of the whole picture. With the politicians our democratic system has them torn between party loyalty, the good of the planet, looking after their constituencies and getting re-elected. All this means that eventually compromise has to come into play

    Leaving the decisions to the population the largest percentage of which have no education in economics, history, migration, social economics, nuclear defence, military deployment and political democracy etc. ad infinitum... is akin to asking your plumber to undertake brain surgery.


    gimmer - you make a strong case starting with an unsourced statement. " not what the mass of the people of Europe want ." I know there is unrest in other EU countries, but there is an alternative if they are aggrieved at the "track" being taken. That is to exert influence within to make changes.

    Perhaps if we had taken a more emphatic role from the beginning of our entry things may have been different and I think our governments of both parties should take some blame for not doing that. It is like the role of management - it is easy enough to give orders - the vital thing is to monitor and make sure they are carried out.

    By the way I do remember there was a point long ago when you were on the remain side and I suspect with your dedication to politics in general and your educated intellect you have since researched and secured more grasp of the subjects I listed in my comment above with their relevance to the EU problem.

    Let's hope that the promised benefits will now materialise, but there is no system in the world that will provide an acceptable outcome for all.

  7. Gimmer - I obviously don’t agree with you on leaving the EU and unfortunately your Samuel Johnson quote is as outdated as oats supporting the people. In a modern context it is also quite offensive and just the sort of opinion that would convert some ‘don't knows’ on independence to Yes voters. Fear of the economic consequences of leaving the EU didn’t work during the Brexit campaign, unlike the lies told by the Leave side, and it won’t work in any independence campaign in Scotland.

    My stance on independence is not one tased on economics but Sir Hugh’s blog is not the place for such a discussion so I’ll leave that there.

    I know there are some, perhaps many, south of the border who would like Scotland to go its own way and I think some day they will get their wish. But I won’t be helping to break up the UK unless it is clear that a majority in England share your view of us.

  8. My point on the EU and 'Europe', in essence, is that they are not the same - and the matter is political and cultural - with economics a camp-follower - we risk harmony and cohesion if we forget that. The EU is an institution - not deeply loved by many. Whereas historical and cultural ties and feelings are.
    The point about Johnson (S) was that a not dis-similar effect might be the result of Scotland joining the EU as a small independent state, not that of becoming independent in itself - which, as you say - and as you would expect me to say - and that I agree with wholeheartedly - should, in the end, as with europe, be a political and cultural matter.
    During the previous 'Indyref', my feeling, merely as a distant observer, was that too little seemed to be being placed on that by the 'remain' side and too much on economic 'scares' - and thus made the result less robust than if based on those more fundamental issues.
    But back to the EU , 'le sujet du jour', one might say - I don't think I am alone in suggesting that peace (or perhaps absence of hot war) in western Europe for 75 years might just be more to do with the people's wishes, marshalled, supported and reinforced by US money and arms, than the EU institutions. Hitler himself commented that the people themselves never want war, they have to be made to support it - by fear - and propaganda: Churchill's dictum 'trust the people' is, I think, the surest guide. Even though that might, at times, be difficult to swallow, as he himself said !

  9. Afoot and Gimmer - Thanks for this extended discussion. I think we have all aired our views and as is always the case not one is going to persuade another to some conversion. The best one can hope for is that one or more of us have become a bit more enlightened and understanding about the view from the other side. In a recent post of mine the possibility of me being beatified as Sir Hugh the Second was raised. When I consulted Internet I learned that the original Sir Hugh was known for his peace making abilities - so be it.