The Patron Saint of Cringe

St Andrew is crucified on a saltire. A Roman legionary says "He said a crucifix was too good for him", to which another replies "Christ Almighty!". An evil cherubic Britannia hovers over Andrew with a trident and Union-flag shield. Caption reads "The Patron Saint of Cringe."
The Patron Saint of Cringe. Cartoon for the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. Pen, ink & gouache.

Andrew: the patron saint of Scottish Cringe

This cartoon was created to accompany the Orkney News article in the November 2018 edition of iScot magazine. The article is about St Andrew’s Fair Saturday 2018, which is a day of events promoting positive social change throughout the world. It is a response to the unsustainable consumerism embodied by Black Friday.

According to Biblical legend, Roman senator Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus sentenced Andrew the Apostle to death by crucifixion in Achaea (Greece). Andrew supposedly didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus Christ, and the fair-minded Lucius had him bound to an X-shaped cross (crux decussata) instead.

Centuries later, Óengus mac Fergusa, King of the Picts, is said to have selected the saltire as the emblem of Scotland following a successful battle against the Angles (and a vision of the crux decussata in the sky).

Having its roots in a story about St. Andrew’s feelings of unworthiness, the saltire seems an appropriate symbol for a people afflicted by the ‘Scottish cringe‘. Many a self-proclaimed Proud Scot resists the idea the people of Scotland have the wit or resources to govern themselves

Cartoon: Tavish Scott and the PFI Ferry debacle

Tavish Scott and the PFI Ferry debacle

Pen and ink cartoon showing Tavish Scott and Nicola Sturgeon as Punch and Judy. Mr. Tavish is hitting Nicola with a newspaper and shouting about unfair ferry fares.
RET! RET! SNP Bad! Waaagh! – The Lib-Dem refrain.

 

This cartoon first appeared in the January 2018 edition of iScot magazine. It accompanies an article by Fiona Grahame of The Orkney News called “Owre the ferry tae the islands.” The subject of the article is the provision of lifeline ferry services in the Northern Isles, which has become a major issue at every election.

Ferry services are unceasingly used by the Lib-Dems as a stick with which to beat the SNP government. The term RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) is practically a catchphrase for them at this point. It has appeared regularly in letters and political columns in the local press, and in mountains of election material pushed through letter-boxes.

In fact, provision of an affordable ferry service with fares in line with the rest of Scotland is not something that is easily delivered. The Liberal Democrats themselves bear some responsibility for this – something they would no doubt rather people forget.

In 2005, Lib-Dem MSP for Shetland, Tavish Scott, was transport minister in the Labour/Lib-Dem coalition government which awarded the contract to Northlink to build new boats. Due to this PFI-style contract, the resulting ferries will end up costing the public £200 million – twice what they are worth. It seems the Royal Bank of Scotland gets to pocket the difference. To cap it off, the ferries are also inefficient and expensive to run.

According to the late Danus Skene, SNP candidate for Orkney & Shetland, a passenger travelling from Aberdeen to Lerwick is effectively subsidised by £300 – far more than the Western Isles. In addition, RET cannot be applied across the board to every ferry route in the Northern Isles. Some fares would go down, but others would go up.

This is still a live and somewhat controversial issue, but in October 2017 Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government minister for Transport and the Islands, announced that a fall in fares is coming in 2018.

On the 7th of February 2018, the RMT transport union will be holding talks with representatives from all political parties (except the Tories!) on the subject of nationalising the Northlink ferry routes.

Update 7th of February 2018: ferry fares were addressed in the recent Scottish Budget. For more information visit theorkneynews.scot

 

Photo of various election pamphlets received in the run-up to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Ferry fares feature prominently. One is a fake newspaper called the "Orkney Gazette."
A small selection of Lib-Dem leaflets received in the run-up to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Note the fake “Orkney Gazette” masquerading as a real newspaper.

 

I ken whaur ye bide, beuy

Pen & ink cartoon by Martin Scott Laird for iScot Magazine, showing some immigrant geese and a local shooter.
“I ken whaur ye bide, beuy.”

 

I ken whaur ye bide, beuy.

This cartoon was drawn to accompany Fiona Grahame’s The Orkney News column in iScot magazine for December 2017. The subject of the article is the problem of goose management in Orkney, but the cartoon has a different subtext. It was inspired by a recent incident of racial abuse in which an incomer to Orkney was ordered to leave the islands, along with his family. “I know where you live” is threatening in any dialect.

With a population approaching 22,000, Orkney is a still a relatively small place. The inhabitants like to think of themselves as good people and most of them are. However there does exist a xenophobic dark side which occasionally rears its ugly head. There will be few “ferry-loupers” living in Orkney that have not experienced some degree of intolerance in person, however slight.

Orkney has very high rates of fuel poverty and an average income below the Scottish average. On the other hand, 3.5% of houses are second homes, and 6.9% are empty. Demographics have shifted to the point that an Orcadian accent is virtually unheard on some islands. This does not excuse xenophobia or resentment of incomers, but may go some way towards explaining it.

Some Orcadians can trace their lineage back to late Norse times, but it’s worth remembering that the Vikings were themselves immigrants to the islands (and not peaceful ones).