Friday, April 20, 2007
To Paraphrase Mrs Thatcher's Willie, The Senior Retainer, Mr Jack McConnell, Is Guilty Of Stirring Up Apathy
The other morning, as I was laying down the Spam and the tins of Marvel in the coal hole, in anticipation of the calamity which will follow independence, I found myself puzzling over the logic of the current election. There is, you may have heard, an election campaign underway in Scotland, although I have not, as yet, set eyes on a candidate, or been able to attend a public meeting, as elections these days are "virtual" affairs in which all attention is focused on the personality of the leader, or - as in the case of the Senior Retainer, Mr McConnell - its absence.
Mr McConnell, in my view, has never recovered from the "reddie" he got from wearing a pinstriped kilt to a social event in the United States; a mistake that it is hard to imagine being made by the Father of the Nation, the Great Gannet, Mr Donald Dewar, who preferred antiquarian books to clothes, and was unwilling to invest in an overcoat when his funds could be invested instead in a slightly-foxed hardback.
But, even with the failings of the Senior Retainer in mind, I find the rush towards independence slightly perverse. As I understand it, the logic is as follows: devolution has been a failure, because it has not been able to stop the American-led invasion of Iraq, Mr McConnell's kilt, or the entertaining humiliation of the suntanned firebrand, Mr Tommy Sheridan. In its early months, the Executive was powerless to stop the decline of the Scottish football team under the command of the German, Herr Berti Vogts. The broadcasts of Mr Fred Macaulay have continued unabashed on Radio Scotland. The manufacture of Hillman Imps has not resumed at Linwood.
In short, the parliamentarians have been unable to live up to the grandeur of the parliament building, which is compared by its supporters to the Sydney Opera House, and by its detractors to the Palatul Parlamentului in Bucharest. (In fact, it resembles the regional outpost of a Gardening Supplies Company.) The one big achievement of the Parliament, is the ban on smoking in public places, which has had the effect of forcing people to smoke in even more public places, and has caused many bars and restaurants to install patio furniture in the mistaken belief that Scotland is a suburb of Benalmadena. It would not surprise me if the health benefits of the decline in cigarette smoking have been offset by a corresponding increase in hypothermia.
There are, I'm sure, many other issues of concern, but the great achievement of the Parliament is its promotion of a sense of stasis. The Conservatives' main contribution to Parliamentary affairs may be related to the production of taxi receipts, but the blue corner may take some satisfaction from the fact that the Executive seems to have adopted as its manifesto the phrase used by Baroness Thatcher's "Willie", Lord Whitelaw, who famously accused Mr Harold Wilson of "stirring up apathy".