Friday, 3 May 2013

Susan Calman

First of all; who-she?

Susan Calman is a comedienne who was on the radio last weekend, a radio 4 topical news quiz as it happens. Of course I wasn't listening because I'm far to young for BBC Radio 4. Radio 2 is more my speed, although not when jazz is being played - if ever a form of music had its head up its arse - its jazz.

Susan is a Scottish lass, some think she's quite funny, some not so much so but then that goes with the territory. What's all the fuss? On the news show she said this:

"Initially Alex Salmond said, ‘It is definitely the euro. It is going to be totally the euro.’ And then Europe said ‘naw’ and then he said, ‘It is totally the pound. It is going to be the pound.’ But this wee Osborne and Danny Alexander – flying in like a ginger Supergran – said, ‘Naw, you’re not getting the pound.’ And Alex was like: ‘Haud on, what if we want the pound?’.”
“The problem is that whenever Conservative ministers tell us about independence, to some Scottish people it sounds like the teacher in Charlie Brown – just going wah…wah…wah.”
“It is really difficult because with things getting a bit closer, we kind of need to know what’s happening if people do vote for independence. At the moment, it is just two people shouting, ‘Aye, we will have it’ and someone going ‘No, we won’t’.”

So far so funny? It's entirely subjective. The comments above have attracted a fair amount of media attention, not in-and-of themselves but because of the alleged reaction from cybernats who roam the internet like unruly coyotes looking for a unionist out after dark. Susan tells us in her blog:

"Turns out a lot of people got really angry about what I said. Turns out I’m edgier than I thought I was.
“I’ve been told that someone has written a blog which is pretty abusive towards me after my performance.
“I haven’t looked for it, and won’t. It’s not worth it. Sadly for those abusing me I’ve had much worse in my time. Try growing up gay in Glasgow in the 1980s.
“Scottish people are meant to have a tremendous sense of humour. We do. Except when it comes to the referendum it seems. I learnt so much about politics through comedy when I was growing up, and I think it’s crucial that comedy plays it’s part in the process that’s happening now.
“No-one ever says that English comedians shouldn’t be negative about English politicians. There would be little comedy left if that was the case.
“Why should there be a reverence towards any politicians in Scotland? Labour, SNP, Tory, Green whoever. All should be open to lampoon. That’s what satire does. And when satire is done well it’s because there’s something there to laugh at.
“I will keep talking about Scottish Politics. I’ll keep laughing about Scottish Politics. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disappointed that people are being horrific towards me. Of course I am. But I’m also pretty convinced it means I’m doing the right thing.”

The thing is, what she said would have been funny if the premise was accurate. When the Euro looked good the SNP wanted to adopt it as the currency in an independent Scotland, that changed when it bombed in 2007-8. At that point, they reasonably said, they'd stick with Sterling - it's our currency after all so why not?

For clarity, the EU never said no to Scotland adopting the Euro, I don't think any one from the Scottish government asked and frankly, if they did; the head of the European Bank would probably fall of his chair. George Osborne never said no to Scotland using Sterling either for the very simple reason - he can't. He said it would be complicated, something tells me though, those complications would wither with a Yes vote in 2014 - the rest of the UK desperately needs the Scottish economy to maintain UK Balance of Payments and Scotland needs the stability of staying in a currency union until we find our feet.

The Scotsman reports:

"COMIC Susan Calman has called for the end of “name-calling, swearing and death threats” marring the independence debate after her satirical contribution to a radio show triggered an onslaught of online abuse."

One thing you have to understand about the Scotsman is; it is rabidly anti-independence. Like any newspaper it also likes to paraphrase and extrapolate; no one can find any death threats leveled at Susan Calman and the abuse doesn't seem to go beyond the normal hurly burly of online political discourse. Prominent bloggers across the internet spent entire days trying to find these death threats to no avail, all there is is the Scotsman telling us they exist; not even they can source them.

Here's the thing though, this is a common ploy used by media, you'll notice - 'name-calling, swearing and death threats' are in 'quotes'. The Scotsman, Herald etc do this almost every day; a headline appears which alleges and activity, it's then quietly pulled because actually - it never happened at all - they were just paraphrasing but the meme has started. Other papers repeat it, TV latches on then the usual litany of MP's & MSP's get on the band wagon (Douglas Alexander is up today telling us to be nice online.)

Meanwhile, the sum total of fuck all actually happened. Undoubtedly there will have been some name calling (boo hoo) - I dare say someone may actually have sworn, (fuck me!) As for the death threat? No, I don't think Susan said there were death threats. I suspect she got a hard time for what she said, cybernats can be overly sensitive to inaccuracy aimed at the indyref argument. But listen, they do it because there is no - repeat absolutely no - redress anywhere else.

Susan Calman is human, so prone to making the odd mistake. I doubt any one will make their mind up in Sept 2014 based on her comedy. The real villain here is emphatically not her - it's the main stream press. Ever keen to sell copy (The Scotsman has been in terminal decline for years now - this blog has a higher reader ship than does The Scotsman.) The Scotsman and others will stoop lower than a snakes belly to do down the Independence cause because they're part of the establishment that will be changed radically after a Yes vote in 2014.

Beyond that, main stream commentators bemoan the existence of the cybernat. If the mainstream press was balanced, if the BBC gave as much air to the mistakes and infractions of Better Together as it did to those imagined into existence for the Yes side; we would have no need for the cybernat. They don't though so the cybernats will keep on highlighting then debunking the wilder imaginings that appear in the media on behalf of the Union.

For what its worth? I am a cybernat, I'll continue to be so until we get our Yes vote in Sept 2014 or the media start behaving in a balanced manner.


  1. I always thought that Susan Calman was reasonably funny. But I thought that this was a poor attempt at comedy because she openly lied about what happened without it having any comedic effect.

    She could have got a laugh out of Salmond changing his mind about the Euro. There was no need to lie about the EU saying no. After all, aren't they always telling us that we will be forced to take the Euro if we join the EU.

    Surely there is comedy in Eck's U-turn on the currency. I certainly have no objection to him, or the SNP, the nationalist movement or the YES campaign being satirised. Au contraire. It should try to be a bit funny though.

    She did get a few laughs out of Osborne, the posh boy, coming to Scotland, and that was OK.

    A for her death threats, then I think that the police should be looking into that.

    She might also like to explain why she called Rev Stu (said blogger with a bigger circulation that the Scotsman), the vilest person, particularly in a week when rapes and paeophilia are once again in the headlines. Seems a little OTT. But then, it was revealed that she is a twitter mate of Ruth Davidson, so maybe that explains it.

    I just wish that the BBC in London would remember sometimes that they get a sizeable chunk of their income from Scotland, (and don't spend anything like that here, so once again Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK). And that if they allowed people to say things about Germans or Pakistanis as they allow them to say about Scots, they would be prosecuted.

    Some Jazz is really quite cool... although not the weirdest stuff, or trad jazz!

  2. Oddly enough, I sit near to some one who was pals with Susan Calman, there are reasons why this is going the way it is for her.

    With a little knowledge about her as a person, I can sort of understand why she's reacting as she is, it's a very human thing and i can't condemn her for it.

    Curiously, she's been described as a perfectionist and someone who will succeed at most things through sheer effort and ability but as you say; she got it wrong on the radio show.

    She said in her response that she had no idea she was so 'edgy', she does seem edgy; although not necessarily in her comedy.

    Like many perfectionists, they become quite discomfited if they get it wrong, perhaps that explains some of her reaction? The rest (death threats etc) i think is purely down to the Scotsman being daft.

  3. I suppose that could be the answer.

    Perhaps she has that insecurity that performers often have...

    But surely the notion that the Scotsman is being daft is a matter wholly down to your fertile imagination.... :)


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?