Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Monday In Edinburgh, Another Day Of Destiny For The Long-Suffering Scottish People Whose Destiny It Is To Endure Many More Days Like This

Mr Salmond, left, in happier times, with Sir Sean
Connery (centre) and Mr Donald Trump
To paraphrase a great Scot, whose greatness and Scottishness are matters of dispute and denial, I felt the hand of history on my balaclava this afternoon, as I reflected on yet another momentous day in our nation's history. The Rt Hon David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Mr Alex Salmond, the Senior Retainer, signed a joint document which gives Scotland the ability, and the permission, to ask itself a question relating to its destiny as a nation. The exact wording of the question is yet to be determined, but my friends in the lobby of the Palatul Parlamentulu in Holyrood assure me that it will be clear in its language - a necessity, given that teenagers are being given the vote and are likely to need all their powers of concentration to daub an "X" on a ballot rather than "texting" their preference, or telephoning it in on a premium-rate line.
The negotations, I'm told, were fraught, due to the conflicting agendas in Westminster and Dumbiedykes. Mr Cameron, it seems, was badly briefed by his special advisers on the exact nature of the Scottish Question, and originally proposed the question "salt  or sauce?", not realising that this chip-related query was both the punchline to a joke told at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1999 by the comedian Mr Greg Proops, and the answer to the "West Lothian Question" posed by the sage of Linlithgow, Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th  Baronet.
Mr Salmond's original text was subtly different, and was ruled out by Westminster mandarins on the grounds that it was more of a statement than a question. According to the draft document, it read as follows:
"Lower your flags and march straight back to England, stopping at every home you pass by to beg forgiveness for three hundred years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today." 
There is, you may have noticed, a considerable difference between the two positions, but I understand that an agreement is close, if civil servants can iron out a few nuances.
What is not in dispute is the fact that the electorate will only be given two options on the ballot paper, "Yes" or "No", despite polls showing that a majority of Scots hold neither of these positions, and would prefer to vote for what is known as the Kenny Dalglish option, "Mibbes 'aye', mibbe 'naw'".
To paraphrase my mother, Mrs Elder (or Ma'am), there will be many turns of the spurtle before anyone can enjoy this pot of porridge.