Cairnland Episode 5

By 4th September 2018Cairnland

The United Cairndom is Coming!

Well, we keep thinking that each Cairnland instalment is going to be the last, but as the Brexit fiasco continues to scale new heights of absurdity, we once again find ourselves struggling to compete! However, we nevertheless feel that we can still rise to the increasing challenge. We are therefore pleased to announce that we now have a sure-fire scheme to stop Brexit in its tracks. Read on to find out how we are going to do this!

For those among you who have been sufficiently fortunate to have missed the previous four episodes (first, second, third, fourth) of our increasingly improbable saga, we should explain that Cairn owns a 70 acre farm just outside Faversham in Kent, and in order to remain in the EU after Brexit, we have seceded from the UK to become the independent republic of Cairnland.  While this means that we shall avoid the ravages that are expected to sweep the UK as Brexit kicks in, we do still have some emotional ties to the old country, so we have decided that we cannot stand idly by. Instead, for the future wellbeing of our many friends across the border, we have now decided to invade and annex the UK. The new nation thus formed will be formally known as the United Republic of Cairnland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but for everyday use, we suggest the abbreviated name of the “United Cairndom”. By virtue of Cairnland’s continuing membership of the European Union, this new jurisdiction will thereby ensure the continuing membership of the old United Kingdom countries in spite of their daft Brexit vote.

But how can our currently tiny nation emerge victorious over our much larger neighbour?

Actually, that’s going to be all too easy! The British government is so consumed by the increasingly impossible task of deciding what sort of Brexit they can agree on, that they are in a state of total paralysis, so we should just be able to walk in and take over. In any case, we expect that the current administration will be rather relieved to pass the business of proper government to some other authority, so it should actually suit everyone pretty well.

Of course, there will have to be a few other changes as the UK comes under Cairnland control, but we think at least some of these will be quite popular. But first, we are pleased to give our assurances concerning the British royal family, who by virtue of the new nation becoming a republic, will no longer need to do anything at all. Although some may say that might suit some of them rather well (which is a matter on which we could not possibly comment), they will have nothing to fear from us, especially if we can take over their nice London house for our own residential purposes. They can all go and live in that weird Poundbury place in Dorset. However, that is more than can be said about one or two other people whose names we shall not stoop to mention here. For them, we’ll have something else in store, the nature of which you should be able to guess from the previous Cairnland episode. But if, like us, you hate these people’s guts, it will be perfectly acceptable for you to leave them on the side of your plate.

As for the process of government itself, we don’t want to be too disruptive, but nevertheless some things will need to be done. A proper proportional representation system is clearly a must, and experience suggests that anyone who has had what we quaintly call a “public school” (i.e. private school) education should be disbarred from standing for election. And if Parliament nevertheless persists in trying to do stupid things, it can always be overruled by the Cairnland Executive. This will act in a similar way to the current system of Royal Assent, except that we may actually be prepared to say “no” if need be.

This brings us to general constitutional issues

As already explained in the first two instalments of this series, the official language of Cairnland is Cairnish, so this will also become the official language of the new republic. However, the somewhat limited nature of its grammar and vocabulary (most words in Cairnish are restricted to just four letters, and usually need to be accompanied by vigorous hand and upper body movements in order to make their meaning clearer), and especially the lack of a consistent written form of the language, mean that in practice English will continue to be the preferred language for normal daily use. Cairnish will nevertheless be very useful for many governmental purposes, as it will allow agreements to be reached fairly readily on a wide range of matters, because nobody will ever be sure about what has actually been agreed to. This is clearly much more sensible than having teams of lawyers arguing for weeks over matters of abstruse technical detail – in Cairnish there just can’t be any!

As for general policy, the UK prior to our takeover has clearly become an unacceptably unequal place. We will therefore introduce legislation to the effect that any private organisation that pays its senior executives more than ten times the average wage of its employees will be nationalised without any compensation to its shareholders. That should bring salaries into line pretty quickly, while at the same time providing a very useful source of revenue by assuming ownership of those that don’t. And companies that base their operation in more expensive regions of the old UK – especially London – will pay a higher rate of business and corporation taxes, which will be used to correspondingly lower the tax rates for those based elsewhere. Over time, that should bring about a more equal geographic distribution of business activity. Property developers will also be forced to live in some of the houses that they are building, which should ensure that they are now built to a decent size and to an acceptable quality.  Isn’t it amazing how simple and effective government can be if you just think about it the right way?

We now come to Cairn’s area of particular expertise, namely that of scientific research and development. The science budget will of course immediately be doubled, but this will be accompanied by significant procedural changes in order for the money to be more effectively spent. First, the funds will be awarded directly to the individual researchers. They will be free to use the facilities of their host institution to administer the money if they so wish, but will not be obliged to do so. This should, for example, put an immediate end to all the time and money that is currently being wasted by cumbersome tendering processes. Second, and following on from this, they will be able to order anything they need from anyone they want to. Just to be serious for a moment, there seems to be an increasing tendency for institutions to insist that orders can only be placed with “approved suppliers”, and this strikes us as being an accident waiting to happen in respect of potential misuse of such a system. Even if naughty things don’t go on, it places start up companies at a significant disadvantage to the established players, and that simply cannot be good for the health of the sector as a whole. Stop it now!

These changes should ensure that allocated funds are spent to better overall effect, but we intend to go further. In particular, we need to halt the tendency to construct increasingly cathedral-like research buildings with such massive internal spaces that the useable areas have to be crammed into a thin layer just inside the outer walls. They may look impressive, but clearly represent very poor value for money. Also, as especially with the Crick Institute in London, these “flagship buildings” tend to be constructed in “flagship areas” which are too expensive for their employees to live anywhere nearby. This can force them to waste many hours commuting, which itself is horribly expensive – not just in financial terms, but also in respect of their creative output.  What a waste!

The new United Cairndom government will therefore convert all such buildings into “luxury apartments”, which will then be flogged off. Although this crazy property bubble must eventually burst, we think there should still be time to get away with this one. At present there still seems to be a pretty insatiable demand for “executive living”, or whatever one wishes to call this type of accommodation, especially as in practice nobody does actually live in such places (just count the number of lights in the windows in the evenings), but they presumably just buy them in the hope that in future even bigger fools will come along to pay even more money for them. Who knows, in spite of the vast amounts of money spent on such buildings in the first place, we might even be able to turn a profit here! We will then use the proceeds to construct a possibly quite large number of more practical buildings at more affordable locations throughout our new country. This should simultaneously make our researchers more productive, better off, and (dare we say?) much happier. What is there not to like?

Our further education system is also crying out for a complete overhaul

Universities will revert to being proper places of learning, rather than trying (or being forced) to run as businesses that charge students a fortune for degree courses of frequently mediocre quality and questionable market value. This will allow whole layers of overpaid administrators to be dispensed with, and for their increasing obsession with “intellectual property” to be brought to an immediate end. Instead, any commercial benefits from the research will be sensibly shared between the researchers and whoever funded them. If this happens to make any researchers seriously rich, then a more progressive taxation system will ensure that a reasonable proportion of their extra income will be used to benefit society as a whole. In fact, such a taxation system should allow the Universities to be run from central funds, and for their services to be free to the students. The same will apply to a proper apprenticeship system for people who prefer a more practical type of education. In our opinion, the general benefits to the economy of a well-educated citizenry should be more than sufficient for the state rather than the students to pick up the bill.

So, with ideas like these just for a start, people will have nothing to fear from their new masters. Of course, the only problem is that this is just pure fantasy from the warped brain of Cairn’s founder, who has had a bit of spare time from setting up our fluorescence system at this year’s Cell Physiology workshop at Plymouth.