Courtesy New York Zoological Society, via Wikipedia
More than once I’ve voiced the thought that if you look hard enough you can find anything you want on the web. This time it seems to have been stumped by my search for a definition of grievance monkey although in practice the meaning’s clear enough. I first encountered it on Twitter as shorthand for Scottish nationalists who constantly seek grievances about the UK, perhaps sometimes real but more often imagined or manufactured. And a useful shorthand it is too.
It came to mind yesterday when I saw yet another example of a grievance. I think it was a re-work of that nationalist favourite, the betrayal of ‘The Vow.’ I say I think because to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to it. The grievances pour out so thick (an appropriate adjective) and fast that it’s difficult to keep track of them.
The estimable Alex Massie had an article in The Spectator blog recently about the Vow and once you’ve read my excellent take on it cited above, read his even more excellent update. Amongst his other perceptive comments is this:
So what are the SNP up to? Apart from making it up as they go along, that is. Well, we’re back to our old friend the narrative. This time the story is a simple one, all the better for instructing the tender-brained and under-age.
Scotland, dear old Scotland, you see, is being betrayed again …
And to feed the betrayal you need that constant flow of invented grievances.
In the absence of an authoritative statement, this got me thinking about what the origin of the phrase ‘grievance monkey’ might be.
I find it difficult to believe it’s related to the cheerful ‘Cheeky monkey!’ of dimly-remembered North of England comedians directed at a naughty child, probably Jimmy Clitheroe. That usually came with a wink and smile that’s a million miles from these particular monkeys.
I wondered if it might be related to those primates who have bright red bottoms and point them rudely through their cage bars at gawping visitors, although these monkeys would have yellow bottoms. But I wouldn’t want to encourage the notion that they’re in captivity. Indeed, I sometimes feel I’m in the nationalists’ cage with them pointing their bottoms at me from outside.
The other image that came to mind was a sort of reverse of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. These particular monkeys see every evil, hear every evil and speak every evil, even when those evils are a figment of their imagination.
But the metaphor that on balance seemed most satisfactory was the old cliché most of us probably learnt at school: if you set enough monkeys tapping away at keyboards (in my day it was typewriters) for long enough they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. The seeming infinity of SNP monkeys (well, 100,000 of them) are hard at work at their keyboards but, unlike the statistical chance of their Shakespearian progenitors, they generate an endless avalanche of random grievance rather than a work of world-beating drama .
I’d go so far as to assert that their grievance factory is productive enough for the army of unthinking apes to be able to invent at least one brand new grievance every day.
As if to prove my point and having started this post yesterday, I switched on my radio this morning to discover the betrayal of the Vow was indeed yesterday’s news. Today it’s the UK government cutting short its subsidy to onshore wind energy. The problem? Yes, you’ve guessed. It’s unfair to Scotland, or more accurately to our SNP government, who have invested so much (including the UK taxpayer’s money) in sustainability. Never mind the fact that the Conservatives put this in their 2015 general election manifesto.
What’s especially galling about this particular SNP bleat from the sidelines is that for the last four (yes, four) years they have failed to meet their own greenhouse gas emissions targets. Perhaps, after all, my image of the primates waving their rear ends at the rest of us is the best to exemplify how the grievance factory works. It’s certainly bare-arsed cheek in this case.
As Alex Massie says, the betrayal narrative is a simple story, all the better for instructing the tender-brained and under-age.
In the meantime, how about The Nationalist Grievance of the Day? I might just start a list [20 June 2015 – now done]. It won’t be difficult. I’m sure I could add at least one new gripe every day until the SNP disappear off the face of the earth, clutching their keyboards and waving their bright yellow bums as they disappear over the horizon.