57 days of campaigning to go.
2 days to John Barrowman live at Celtic Park.
As if the Commonwealth Games norovirus hadn’t been a stark enough health scare for the authorities, Monday evening brought widespread reports of people suffering a severe pain in the rectum. This turned out to be Tony Blair, now bereft of the illusory charm that once befuddled the electorate and revealed as he truly is, a billowing methane cloud of evil surrounding a massive set of teeth.
Tony was addressing Progress, a sarcastically-named Labour think tank, on the general subject of his brilliance. I suppose we should be grateful he wasn’t personally loading rockets into launchers, but it was somewhat jarring to find a so-called Middle East Peace Envoy lapping up applause in a Grade II listed building in London while hospitals in Gaza were going up in flames. Maybe he thinks it’ll take him only 45 minutes to pop over there if either side develops a need for sanctimonious claptrap.
It’s 20 years since the man dubbed “Mrs Thatcher’s greatest creation” assumed the leadership of the Labour Party, and set about “modernising” it by dynamiting its foundations and watching its principles slide out of the upper windows as it began to tilt. So the speech was mostly a collage of self-congratulatory tosh, with a bit of back-seat driving to annoy Ed Miliband and a conspicuous absence of words such as “dodgy dossier” and “warmongering”.
For anyone but his coterie of delusional sycophants, Tony’s approval is the endorsement from Hell. He doesn’t come cheap, so the No campaign had zero chance of bribing him to keep quiet about independence without breaching Electoral Commission spending rules. Sadly for them, with a Telegraph scribbler lurking and a question-and-answer session looming, the topic was bound to come up.
While travelling the world preaching the gospel according to J P Morgan, Tony’s probably not had much time to read up on Scottish politics. It’s debatable whether he gives a hoot about Scotland at all, except as an opportunity to add one or two castles to his property portfolio. That’s the most charitable explanation for the bizarre response he gave to the Telegraph’s question, which was that “Better Together’s arguments have got stronger as time has gone on”. Unless, of course, he was talking about the smell.
It wasn’t exactly a compelling sound-bite, and it was done and dusted in ten seconds, which rather sent a herd of elephants through the bouncy castle of the Telegraph’s potential scoop. Clearly Tony had far sexier subjects to occupy his lie-generating software, though disappointingly these didn’t include the question, “Why the hell are you here and not in The Hague?”
Campaigners on the No side were far from anxious to draw attention to Tony’s mini-intervention, preferring to rock gently back and forth with their heads in their hands, moaning softly. It was as if an embarrassing uncle had suddenly gate-crashed a family party, thrown up on the rug, pissed in the fireplace and exited through a plate glass window, while everyone else tried to pretend nothing had happened.
And so the episode shuffles off to a shelf in the curiosity shop of history. But it does illustrate a growing problem with defunct politicians coming back to haunt us. Previous generations didn’t have to worry about this sort of thing, since outgoing Prime Ministers didn’t have foundations, money-spinning lecture tours and glamorous international sinecures to keep them in our faces, but could instead be relied upon to retire to their country estates to grow vegetables, develop syphilis, and never bother us again.
Perhaps we need an incentive scheme to make sure it’s goodbye and not au revoir. In Tony’s case, could we not play on his massive ego and make him the first Ambassador to the Klingon Empire, blasting off from one of the six potential Scottish space-ports identified by the Civil Aviation Authority? We’d need to put together a dossier to make it look convincing, but, given his proven lack of critical faculties, some old Star Trek scripts and a bit of Tipp-Ex would probably do the trick. The crowd-funding might be a challenge, but if money’s tight we needn't make it a return trip.
Meanwhile, Tony is off to Africa next week to see what “progress” he can inflict there. He won’t be hanging around for the Commonwealth Games. He doesn't have a problem with games, especially if they involve acquiring wealth, it’s just the “common” bit he’s not so keen on.