Friday, May 09, 2008

The Senior Retainer, Mr Salmond And Ms Alexander Are Discussing The Future Of The Union With The Levity Of Children Arguing Over A Game Of Conkers.

I have never been fond of Mr Eric Miralles's architecture for the Scottish Parliament building. This Caledonian Casa Poporului looks, in my view, like a Surrealist car park, which is an altogether more interesting proposition than its actual function, which is to make the assembled cooncillors, party hacks, and accidental politicians feel important as they go about the business of not doing very much at all.
Certainly, the original plan had some symbolic merit, and I like to think that when a roof beam threatened to crush the Conservative desks (to call them benches would be altogether too grand), Mr Miralles was having a little psephological fun.
But yesterday, while watching the dim spectacle of First Minister's Questions, I noticed an unusual feature of the architecture. It is a matter of light. Whenever the Senior Retainer, Mr Alex Salmond, stood up to speak, his head was wrapped in a turban of bright sunshine. It wasn't a halo as such - the light was too diffuse - but it did administer a saintly glow to his physiognomy. This is a great benefit to the Nationalist leader, who has charisma but could not be described as bonnie. Yet, the fireball which illuminated his features gave him film star good looks: the film star being Wilson, the volleyball which upstaged Mr Tom Hanks in the film Castaway.
The leader of the New Socialists, Ms Wendy Alexander, had no such advantage. The grandiosity of the debating chamber - which I fancy is modelled on the banqueting hall at Ikea headquarters in Humlabaek, Denmark -has the effect of making the diminutive Ms Alexander resemble a wasp ingesting a sherbet dip-dab.
All of which would be unimportant, except that Mr Salmond and Ms Alexander were discussing the future of the Union with the levity of children arguing over a game of conkers. (Mr Salmond, you can be sure, adds vinegar, and hardens his chestnuts in the oven).
But do not be deceived. This is a brilliant piece of strategy by Ms Alexander. She is trying to overcome her perceived unpopularity by forcing Mr Salmond to have a vote on his core belief. Mr Salmond, of course, can do nothing and look statesmanlike, since his only policy is to appear more patriotic than everyone else. Ms Alexander would like to do nothing, but is now agitating for Mr Salmond to do something.
It is a plan, of sorts. But though Mr Salmond looks as if he might enjoy basting himself in beer-batter, he is not, I fancy, the sort of turkey who would agitate for Christmas.