Monday. 100 days of campaigning to go…..
The sun rose to the monstrous crowing of the Unionists’ pet parrot, The Herald, announcing that the three main Westminster parties were really, absolutely for certain, on the brink of getting round to talking about fixing a date to make a pact to consider jointly “guaranteeing” the Scottish Parliament more powers.
Naturally, they couldn’t tell Scottish voters in advance what these powers would be, though we were welcome to check with any friends who happened to own a Tardis. Otherwise we’d have to wait for each party’s version of the powers to be a nice surprise in its 2015 UK General Election manifesto, like finding a fluffy Werther’s Original on an otherwise nondescript carpet. The general message was clear: they think some folk will swallow anything.
Just down the road, Better Together staff were complaining about some tired old busker churning through a limited repertoire and making it impossible for them to concentrate. Unfortunately, this turned out to be Alistair Darling, plucked from the naughty step to re-launch BT’s "100 Lies in 100 Days" initiative after the original choice, a hotdog salesman made out of Lego, had unexpectedly been forced to cancel. Coincidentally, it was BT’s annual “Bring A Friend To Work, Using Threats Or Blackmail If Necessary” day, so there was a good crowd once the TV companies had sussed where to place their cameras.
Darling may be Horlicks on legs, but no amount of sleepiness could obscure the true message of his speech, which ran along the lines of, “I compared Salmond to Kim Jong Il, for pity’s sake! What do I have to do to get sacked from this damn campaign? I could be hoovering up directorships in the City, courtesy of all the complete bastards I forgot to regulate properly, so why do I need this hassle?”
It soon transpired that, in a daring attempt to snaffle the moral high ground, Better Together had adopted the tactic of politeness, replacing their usual gruff “Naw” with a perfectly behaved “No Thanks”, as if you’d offered them one cucumber sandwich too many. Apparently the Saatchi agency’s original suggestions, “Regrettably Too Wee, Too Poor, Too Stupid” and “I’m Most Awfully Sorry, But Salmond Is A Big Fat Expletive Deleted”, hadn’t fitted on the wee flags they were handing out.
But scarcely had the first flag been waved in the face of a passing TV crew than the whole “No, Thanks” shtick was turned on its head. Yes supporters on Twitter swiftly observed that a #NoThanks hashtag could equally be applied to the bedroom tax, Trident, biased broadcasters, unelected governments and every other foul whiff emanating from Westminster. Once their keyboards started clattering, a full-scale Twitter drubbing was inevitable. Sorry, BT, it’s #NoThanks to negativity, even if you express it like a maiden aunt.
Meanwhile, a sack of potatoes which had previously appeared to be sulking in a corner turned out to be Gordon Brown, who’s treating the referendum debate as some form of Hokey Cokey. Reliable mathematicians, none of whom worked for the Treasury on his watch, estimate that he’s now on his 49th “decisive entry” into the No campaign. Since what he says about pensions shows no grasp whatsoever of reality, and he’s so off-message he might as well be speaking in pictograms, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that he’s doing this just to piss off Alistair Darling.
The journalist chosen as the conduit for Gordon’s world-view was Sky’s Eamonn Holmes, who duly questioned him with all the rigour of a fuzzy-felt cannon firing cotton wool balls. You don’t want to annoy Gordon, who is fairly handy with a Blackberry from ten yards, but it turned out that Alex Salmond had earned his wrath by unfurling a Saltire to celebrate Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon. It made Scotland seem small, reckoned Mr Brown. Goodness knows what he thinks when he sees the BBC weather map. Or, indeed, the shockingly low life expectancy in parts of Glasgow after 13 years of farting about by the Blair and Brown administrations.
However, the conversation became juicier when Gordy turned his thunderous glare on the Better Together campaign, which he lambasted - just as normal people might! - for being negative, patronising and bullying. Coming from him, that’s sufficient provocation to send the Darling blood pressure skywards until the poor man erupts in a shower of phlegm and rivets.
Finally, having left muddy footprints all over the hearthrug, Gordy proceeded to piss on the Sunday roast by suggesting that David Cameron should debate with Alex Salmond. Number 10 instantly dismissed the idea with casual loftiness, making it obvious that in secret the PM and his advisers were chewing the carpet. Meanwhile, a high-pitched squeal reported in the Blythswood Square area was identified as air escaping from Better Together’s news management strategy. Or Blair McDougall having a tantrum. Or both.
What can it all mean? Has Mr Brown, in his own eyes something of a super-hero, now concluded that the lesser beings can’t cope with the referendum, so he must take on the mantle of The Man Who Saved The Union? If so, the campaign could become very interesting. For, before he can save something, he must first destroy it….