Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A Week Of Shock And Awe

I’m sure we’d have preferred a nice bunch of flowers and a candlelit dinner, but a Westminster Establishment schooled in the ways of the military-industrial complex was never going to waste time on that malarkey.  Instead the wooing of Scotland has turned out to be a half-arsed re-run of Operation Shock and Awe, leaving our ears buzzing and the landscape glowing eerily like Dalgety Bay at twilight.

Until YouGov accidentally, or perhaps conveniently, snuck out its poll result showing Yes nosing ahead, the London-based media were roughly as familiar with campaign developments as a rhinoceros is with differential calculus.  This knowledge gap allowed a skip-load of debunked scare stories to be unleashed on us again in zombie form, with broomsticks strategically inserted to prevent them collapsing in a squidgy heap. 

One of these was the beguiling notion that, at the first sign of 5.3 million Scots taking charge of their own affairs, financial institutions would with a screech of brakes vanish south of the border, replace their Scottish employees with more expensive London ones and cheerfully start paying Corporation Tax 3% higher than they needed to.  BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, temporarily manifesting himself in Edinburgh like a peripatetic haemorrhoid, was the principal mouthpiece for this. 

Nick shares with the Prime Minister, and indeed many of our imperial masters, the distinction of a PPE degree from Oxford, and is therefore a man of unimpeachable probity.  So clearly there was no collusion when the Treasury inadvertently e-mailed him the outcome of a Royal Bank of Scotland board meeting that hadn’t yet finished, and no impropriety when he inaccurately pimped it on the airwaves before the stock market had even opened. Purple-faced RBS investors, spitting out toast and marmalade as they surveyed the share price in free fall, simply had to accept the sacrifice for the good of the nation.

The truth, which was that a name-plate might move but jobs would be unaffected, was no fun at all.  So, with a rush of blood to the head that somehow missed his brain, Nick decided he’d better muddy the waters by heckling Alex Salmond at that day’s press conference. This was, sadly, tantamount to taking on a master swordsman armed only with a plastic knife and fork.  The embarrassing rout that ensued, to chortles of appreciation from the international press corps, is - as you might imagine - unavailable on BBC iPlayer, and will be fully expunged from history just as soon as Nick discovers how to un-invent the Internet. 

In the media's fantasy world, threatening to move name-plates southwards soon became the hot new craze. Birds, bees and educated fleas were all reported to be in Peckham, checking out cut-price Brasso suppliers. Lloyds Bank was allegedly fired up and ready to go, until tiresome pedants pointed out that its head office was already in London.

Equally gung-ho was Standard Life, although - without wishing to be churlish - we’d heard the same thing from them back in March.  And in 1997, before the devolution referendum.  And, to be honest, any time in the last 189 years when the dreich weather had been getting on their tits, or the locals hadn’t been giving them enough cringing respect, or they’d thought someone was looking at them in a funny way.

A new, more blood-curdling threat was obviously needed.  Step forward Deutsche Bank, recently fined £4.7 million for inaccurate reporting of past events, but now touted by the media as somehow able to predict the future without its audience busting a gut laughing.  It turned out that the bank’s previous analysis of Scotland, in May 2014, had failed to take account of one crucial fact:  that UK Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid, previously a Deutsche Bank board member, desperately needed a favour from his old chums.

To the sound of principles crackling merrily on a bonfire, the bank now fast-tracked a re-evaluation of Scotland’s prospects that was a tad more pessimistic.  It seemed they’d analysed all the stupid things it was possible to do, including microwaving your private parts, reversing a petrol tanker off Beachy Head and skinny-dipping with a school of piranha fish, and reached the inescapable conclusion that Scottish independence was the daftest of the lot.  With absolutely nothing going for it but significant wealth, outstanding natural resources, a highly-skilled population and a reservoir of international goodwill, all a fledgling Scotland could look forward to was another Great Depression, so the German equivalent of “yah boo sucks” to the lot of us.

Meanwhile, Asda, John Lewis and M & S were reported as saying that was all fine, but could they possibly introduce a bit of hyper-inflation too?  “Scottish wheelbarrows will buckle under the weight of people’s everyday cash needs!” lamented No campaigners from a carefully-prepared script, as the Morning Call switchboard burst into flames. “Alex Salmond has no Plan B for mass-manufacturing reinforced axles!”

To add to the apocalyptic mood, Glasgow experienced a sudden plague of Labour MPs, trolley-cases laden with bankrupt ideas, parading out of Central Station and up Buchanan Street.  They coalesced into one giant doughnut round the statue of Donald Dewar, obediently chanted “Naw” as their soon-to-be-former leader Ed Miliband cranked the platitude generator up to 11, and then, er, slunk away again.  The BBC, naturally, found the experience so awe-inspiring that they vowed never to film on that spot again, no matter how many Yes campaigners turned up.

The day-trip will be especially remembered for the visitors’ piss-taking welcome from a guy in a rickshaw, who serenaded their miserable crocodile step by step with an amplified blast of the Star Wars Imperial March.  This rib-tickling episode highlighted the value of music in politics, if only as a means of preserving the public’s sanity.  

Any appearance by Cameron and Clegg would surely be much improved if accompanied by the Laurel and Hardy theme. Lugubrious wind turbine Jim Murphy, nabob of the expenses claim, deserves to have his harangues framed by a chorus of Money, Money, Money.  And, particularly if Scotland votes Yes on Thursday, shouldn’t Johann Lamont be permanently identified with Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now?

And so to the climactic payload of the week’s bombardment, which arrived with an almighty squelch on the front page of Tuesday’s Record.  This was the three main Westminster party leaders’ galactic, ground-breaking, oh-for-Pete’s-sake-not-again “VOW” to festoon Scotland with sparkly but useless trinkets if we Do the Decent Thing. 

Where to begin? Apart from the fact that the document is signed by Nick Clegg, and therefore inherently risible, there’s the itsy-bitsy problem that not a single MP outside Scotland has been consulted about it.  Westminster is already awash with the sound of knuckledusters being polished, and by the time the three stooges’ Sellotaped-together proposals come up for debate the atmosphere will be like a Wild West saloon waiting for the first chair to be broken over someone’s head.  I Predict A Riot.

So here we are, folks.  The clock is ticking ever more loudly, and there’s no further outrageous propaganda tarted up as humour I can sling at you.  It's now up to you.  Vote once, vote wisely, and be proud of the choice you make.

See you on the other side.


  1. jim murphy


    meanwhile back in the real world

    empire biscuit,rickshaw(spartacus couldn't of done better)

    radio report on bbc as I drove my car--"some nutter playing loud music as Glasgow MPs walk down main street"

  2. People will make careers trying to figure out how it all went wrong. For me the key events were.

    Alistair Darlings opening salvo which cast Scotland as being so enfeebled, that it could not do anything for it self, from Sport, Business and appreciation of culture.

    Osbornes ill judged speech in Scotland that reduced the Union to a 300 year old act of charity.

    The daily fear. An endless spewing of hate filled anti-scottish bile from just about every MSM outlet north and south of the border.

    Love bombs - even the name is idiotic. But to try this on while the fear bombs were still dropping, just made these people look massively dishonest.

    In the end. It seems that all the energy is with YES. The poor old no campaign is suffering from old unionist blues, looking backwards to a vision of a jolly Britain that never existed. Unable to see the present, much less the future for what it is.

    Despite all the crud. Despite absolutely no support whatsoever from the MSM. We have done the impossible. We have shook the foundations of their ivory tower and scared them shitless.
    That makes us mighty.

    They could have said how that the Union was a success because of Scotland. But they chose to sell the union as a giro cheque. History will not be kind to them and I find myself having little sympathy for them.