Saturday, 26 April 2014

Confederation Of Blithering Idiots

“It’s really very simple,” explained CBI director-general Sir John Cringeland.  “We only meant to put our left leg in to the referendum debate, shake it about a bit and take it out again.  Unfortunately, an over-enthusiastic tea boy, in the grip of a sugar rush from too many Viennese Whirls, faxed an application form to the Electoral Commission asking if we could put our whole selves in.

“Well, it’s only bloody Scotland, we thought, so we decided to let it go.  We’d no reason to believe that “Donald Duck” wasn’t an authorised signatory, and anyway a junior clerk had shredded the only copy of our signatory list to make bedding for his hamster.  It looked as if registration would help us to comply with campaign spending rules, since we’d lined up Alistair Darling to speak at our annual fund-raising dinner, and he generally charges £20,000 just to fart the National Anthem.

“Of course, consulting our members has been a grey area ever since our last IT upgrade, during which our former preferred supplier accidentally translated our records into Japanese.  But I sounded out some decent chaps at my club, and they were all in favour of registration, not to mention giving that upstart Salmond a damn good thrashing.  So we thought our Scottish members, whoever they might turn out to be, would meekly fall into line.

“Imagine our surprise when some of them resigned because they wanted to stay neutral!  I mean, how can you stay neutral when, each time someone is persuaded to vote Yes, a kitten dies?  And who’d have thought that Scotland had so many universities?  Anyway, we consulted Professor John Curtice via his coin-operated interface, and he repeatedly advised us that, despite mounting evidence, nothing had really changed.  That was fine until last night, when I inadvertently turned into a dark alleyway and found myself confronted with the Prime Minister and the Director General of the BBC, both carrying baseball bats.

“As a result of that discussion, the CBI would like to retract its registration with the Electoral Commission.  We will do so by invoking the “Old Boy Network Get Out Of Jail Free” scheme, which allows us to carry on as if nothing has happened and vilify anyone who objects as a frothing Cybernat.  We remain committed to total bias in the referendum debate, but now intend to pursue this in an underhand fashion, in line with the values of the most successful union the galaxy has ever known.

“Mistakes have been made, but the good news is that I am not responsible for any of them.  For the benefit of the House of Lords wardrobe department, my size is ‘medium’ and I look forward to making your acquaintance shortly.”

A cat-burglar with a rucksack full of Tipp-Ex was later found in a crumpled heap outside the offices of the Electoral Commission.  "Bloody anti-climb paint," he was heard to moan while being wheeled away.

In response to Sir John’s statement, the Institute of Stable Door Manufacturers issued guidance stating that its products are best used when the horse is inside the stable, and less effective when it has already completed a season in pantomime and entered itself in the Cheltenham Festival.

Meanwhile, the BBC announced an exciting new venture with the CBI, which will result in all of its Scottish referendum coverage being broadcast on a jointly-owned channel aimed specifically at the gullible.  This will be called CBeebies. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Cataclysmic Aberration

The Scottish referendum debate took another lurch into Bizarro World this week, as Labour's campaign co-ordinator Anas Sarwar revealed the first of his “Dad’s Army” group of clapped-out zombie politicians from the Blair era to try to stick a fork in the toaster of the Yes campaign.

This turned out to be Lord George Robertson, a small brain in a big head whose utter mediocrity somehow hasn’t prevented him scuttling up the ladder of success, where in a just world he would have landed painfully on the part of his anatomy he reserves for talking.  You wouldn’t normally trust George to run a bath, far less an organisation possessing 45% of the world’s nuclear weapons, but it so happened that in 1999 Tony Blair, itching to get started on making poverty history by bombing the poor, urgently needed a glove puppet as Secretary-General of NATO.

Already the recipient of several “Useless Lickspittle of the Month” awards during his tenure as Defence Secretary, wee George was the obvious candidate.  His five carnage-strewn years in the role made him the man he is today:  patrolling the outer reaches of sanity, ever vigilant for threats to Western security, US hegemony or job offers from companies specialising in ways of blowing people up.

So it was that the other night George found himself being trundled on stage, with a short fuse fizzing fiercely, in Washington DC.  By complete coincidence, a gilt-edged invitation from prestigious think tank the Brookings Institution had come fluttering through the letter box of his fallout shelter asking him to speak at the very time Alex Salmond would be at “Tartan Week” in New York.  Alex, ever the showman, was working hard for Scottish interests, or, as Johann Lamont would put it, “wasting taxpayers’ money staying in hotels when, if it was me, I’d be sleeping in ditches and living off the kindness of strangers.” 

In the interests of balance, it was only fair that someone should be given the opportunity to trash Scotland’s reputation.  Rising to the challenge, George, who’s rubbed shoulders with the elite, albeit mostly against their midriffs, decided he’d do so in true Presidential style.  Unfortunately, the tools he chose were Nixon’s paranoia, Reagan’s reality deficit and Dubya’s all-round dumbness.  The resulting speech was the equivalent of screaming at the top of his voice for forty-five minutes before being led away in a straitjacket.

Better Together’s translation service remarked, “Lord Robertson’s masterful address, carrying echoes of Dr Martin Luther King, merely pointed out how Scotland’s pig-headed insistence on breaking away from the UK will result in the destruction of all life on earth.  With NATO torn apart because no-one wants to take Trident, a Russian-Chinese alliance will conquer the world and, as a result, Starfleet will never be formed.  The Klingon Empire will consequently meet no opposition when they come to vaporise the planet in the year 2156.  These are facts that the Yes campaign has never denied, and Scottish voters need to take account of them.”

In their heart of hearts, Better Together probably wished that the forces of darkness would kidnap George and haul him off to a dungeon in Mordor, never to be seen again.  Even the Unionist press was struggling to report the speech without using the words “complete diddy”.  The Herald called it “powerful”, possibly referring to its stench rather than its vigour.  And the pain continued, as George manifested himself again on Newsnight Scotland, assuring startled hedgehog Gordon Brewer that his speech made perfect sense because he’d looked up “cataclysmic” in the dictionary.

But, even as they eat their socks with embarrassment, Unionists need not be entirely downhearted.  Comedy gold it may have been, but the debacle did achieve three interesting goals:
  • Completely upstaging Alex Salmond.  Finally broadcasters had a good excuse to ignore any statesmanlike remarks he made about constitutions, enlightened self-interest and other dangerous rabble-rousing topics.  Previously this week Scotland Tonight’s justification for not presenting the Yes case had been reduced to “Ooh look, a rat’s just chewed through this cable.”
  • Advancing an argument so mind-bendingly stupid that it’s impossible to counter it without sounding dismissive and insulting.  Nicola Sturgeon has to be commended for not yelling, “Aw, come on, do you expect me to take this pish seriously?” but wee George was still able to accuse her of playing the man, not the ball.  This will have gone down a storm in the Better Together tactics truck.
  • Making Alistair Darling, who flew out to Washington at taxpayer expense on Tuesday to deliver the usual cliché-encrusted claptrap to selected audiences, seem like the voice of reason.  Anyone who watched his hag-ridden performance on last Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show would have considered that beyond the scope of human endeavour.  Of course, it may not be of long-term benefit to his public speaking career, where his remuneration depends on how much his audience is prepared to pay for him to shut up.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Barack Obama commented, “Yeah, the Scotch can pretty much do what they like in their vote.  Remind me, are they the ones with castles, monsters and leprechauns?”

Friday, 4 April 2014

Cybernats Ate My Hamster

Should No campaigners venture out into the streets without body armour?  That’s the question currently being posed by self-styled influential commentators after a study by IBM (Incredibly Biased Media) revealed that Cybernat rudeness is reaching epidemic proportions.

“It was bad enough when Cybernats were confined to their bedrooms,” said one political figure, wearing a paper bag over his head for anonymity.  “Having the word PISH tweeted at you isn’t very agreeable when your Scottish cringe is normally greeted with nods of approval in the House of Lords.  But at least they used to be out of sight, unless one of them accidentally managed to Skype you, so you didn’t have to gaze with horror upon their sweaty countenances and grubby semmits.

“Now we’ve let them get hold of iPhones, so they’re able to go outdoors, meet up in huge gangs and go on…. on…. sticker rampages.”  The last two words came out in a scarcely audible whisper, and he needed a nice cup of camomile tea before he could continue.

“Did you read about what they did to Ian Murray’s constituency office?” he sobbed. “Ian takes great pride in its appearance, taking pains to ensure it projects just the right amount of soul-sucking negativity.  And those… those vandals…. came along and allegedly stuck at least one and possibly more Yes stickers on the window, in full view of his core vote! 

“We all know how dangerous Yes stickers are.  With the light blocked out and the office in darkness, a staff member banged his knee against the corner of a desk, and unleashed a volley of swearing that sent two colleagues home in tears.  So the job of removing the stickers fell to the not-very-bright intern, who accidentally swallowed the sponge he was using and had to be rushed to hospital.  Meanwhile, several people walked under his ladder and will have bad luck for the next seven years.”

I asked Police Scotland about this vile hooliganism, but unfortunately they didn’t have the faintest idea what I was talking about.  However, journalists who had been amongst the first emergency services on the scene were happy to provide corroboration, although their emotions were understandably too raw for them to agree on all, or indeed any, of the facts.

Meanwhile, inevitably in a country as dreich as ours, indoor Cybernattery continues unabated.  I was contacted by “Bill”, founder and patriarch of the holiday company Bawheid Travel, who explained how devastating an impact it can have on businesses innocently trying to railroad staff.

“All I did was e-mail my employees saying that after independence the firm would be buggered, because European law would immediately impose a 500-year ban on us offering anything more than weekend breaks in Millport.  I told the staff it was basically up to them, but if they voted Yes I would have them fed to giant mutant cockroaches while I sprayed them with tomato sauce.

“Well, you should have seen the abuse I got!  And that was before the e-mail even went public.  After that, we started trending on Twitter, and not in a good way, as Cybernats piled in saying that they’d rather hack out their spleen with a potato-peeler than do business with us.  Not that it really mattered by then, because most of the staff had gone off in the huff and I’d had to sack the rest for insubordination.”

Was it possible, I enquired, that people weren’t doing business with Bill’s company not because of his pro-Union views, but because it was run by a complete idiot?  His rejoinder, an unoriginal but forceful combination of sex and travel, suggested a possible future for him in the 18-30 holiday market.

I had to know more.  Fortunately, in an entirely unlikely scenario I’ve just made up, one of The Scotsman’s senior journalists agreed to speak to me, with the proviso that he could keep his face hidden behind a large yucca plant.  His diagnosis was stark.

“This ‘independence’ notion may seem a clever idea to Alex Salmond as he sits in a champagne bath in his luxurious American hotel suite, but it’s incredibly divisive.  Look at the places in the world that have recently experienced civil war, and you’ll see they’re all independent countries.  What does that tell you?

“This toxic debate will ruin friendships, tear apart families and have people smashing mirrors in an attempt to throttle their own reflections.  It’s like the worst excesses of Nazism, Communism and the French Revolution rolled into one.  Someone may even get hurt before long, which would be a blessing in disguise because then we’d have a reason to call the whole silly thing off.”

Blimey!  Was this the official view of Better Together, I wondered?  I dialled their 666 hotline number and, after 45 minutes on hold listening to Land Of Hope and Glory over and over again, I became so irritable that I was easily able to convince them that I was Alistair Darling.  A senior manager, “Blair”, agreed to meet me at a local coffee shop on condition that I bought him several doughnuts.

“Cybernats have got no respect,” he whined. “You wouldn’t believe their potty mouths when they’re online!  Half a dozen of the GCHQ listening staff had to be referred to trauma counsellors, and most of the rest don’t understand the meaning of the words used.  Although it is fair to say that Alistair Carmichael resembles some of the body parts quoted, if observed in a slightly dim light.

“They’re everywhere now, handing out saltires in the street, fixing us with quizzical stares and meeting in groups of more than one.  You can’t trust any of them:  the old women have unexpectedly pointy elbows and can do you a real mischief with a shopping trolley, the pensioners can fire their false teeth with deadly accuracy at any target within twenty-five paces, and even the uninterested-looking youngsters can unleash sarcasm on you at the slightest provocation.  Some of the younger ones are even able to deliver inspiring speeches! What's the point of infiltrating the teachers’ unions if that’s going to happen?

“It’s just the problem you get when you’re dealing with a mass movement of people.  We don’t have any human beings in Better Together, so we’ve gone with politicians instead.  We’re convinced it will come right eventually, since no-one will believe the depths of depravity to which our mouthpieces are actually prepared to stoop.”

I’d heard enough.  “I don’t agree with you, since I still have some moral fibre,” I said, “but thank you for your honesty.”

I shook his hand, and he immediately grasped his head and went down like a footballer in the penalty box.  “Help, police!” he yelled.  “Cybernat attack!”

As I was led away by an uncomfortably swift gathering of officers, two thoughts forced themselves to the front of my brain.

Firstly, would there be a PC in the prison library to enable me to continue blogging?

Secondly, would they let me wear my one and only, slightly grubby semmit, as long as I promised not to use Skype?


I was halfway through writing today's blog post when I heard about the death of Margo MacDonald.  It was sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest influences in Scottish politics in the last 40 years and more. Whatever the shape of the new Scotland after September, Margo will have played a major part in bringing it about.  It's a great shame that she will not live to see the results of her life's work.

Like those of many people today, my thoughts are with Jim Sillars, Margo's husband, and with her family.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Cuckoos In The Nest

Pundits last night described themselves as “flabbergasted” by the latest unexpected turn in the Scottish referendum debate, as the No campaign sensationally re-branded itself as Better Together for Independence.

“It was the focus groups,” declared Alistair Darling to a slack-jawed press conference.  “When we showed them our campaign literature, those who weren’t too traumatised to speak insisted it was far too negative.  We’d been hearing the same from Charles Kennedy and David Steel, but we’d ignored them, because that’s just what you do with Liberal Democrats.

“So we sat down with the stakeholders and asked ourselves, well, what sort of idea is it that’s really resonating in a positive way with voters?  And, when we looked at the momentum in the polls, we could see that it was obviously independence.”

The thrust of the campaign will change immediately, as multi-million pound efforts are thrown into getting the White Paper out to a wider audience.  “The Scottish Government has really dropped the ball on this,” said Darling. “They simply haven’t put enough money into distribution, and with only five months left we’re going to have to ramp things up fast.” 

BTI, as the organisation will henceforth be known, has commandeered a fleet of ice-cream vans, and is currently fitting them with miniature cannons which will fire the document at households.  “We’re hoping the jolly music will cause people to open their windows,” remarked Darling, “but, just in case, we’re advising Edinburgh investment firms to buy shares in glazing companies.”  As a sideline, a loyalty scheme will entitle purchasers of 10 ice cream wafers to an autographed copy of the McCrone Report.

The organisation will now start accepting invitations to referendum debates, where it intends to criticise pro-independence campaigners for not being ambitious enough.  It has also introduced its own range of “Yes” badges, bigger and shinier than everyone else’s, and will ask employers to circulate e-mails threatening their staff with the sack if they don’t wear at least five.  “It’s a clear business opportunity,” maintained Darling, who himself has a sports version with a built-in camera for taking selfies on people’s doorsteps.  The burgeoning collectors’ market is already identifying favourites, such as the Star Trek (“Affirmative”), the Vicky Pollard (“Yehbutnobutyehbut”) and the Ann Summers (“Yes Yes Oh YESSSS!”). 

BTI now acknowledges that Westminster is “too big, too rich and too clever by half” to be in partnership with Scotland, but the organisation’s position on post-independence negotiations is rock-solid.  “If George Osborne doesn’t agree to currency union,” asserted Darling, “I’m going down to London to give him a piece of my mind.  I used to live in his house, so I know all the hiding places.”

On the question of Europe, with Mr Barroso now the subject of an arrest warrant on the grounds of his being a “complete tosser”, things are looking fairly rosy.  Just in case, however, BTI has arranged for Spanish fishermen to hold a candlelit vigil outside the European Parliament until Scotland’s position is resolved.  “If that doesn’t work,” said Darling, “Alastair Carmichael has had a quiet word, and, if called upon, Mr Putin is prepared to annexe Orkney and Shetland.  That should make fast-track EU membership for the rest of Scotland a formality.”

Spin-off organisations are already beginning to proliferate.  Bastards for Scotland, a cartel of several big banks, has announced that its members will shortly be moving their head offices to Scotland and paying huge bonuses to randomly selected psychopaths.  Meanwhile, National Corrective, a grass-roots movement of people who mistakenly believe they can write, paint and sing, is planning a series of concerts at which the erroneous views of members of the audience will be mercilessly ridiculed in rhyming couplets.

Wings Over Scotland, the enfant terrible of the independence movement, will be purchased by the BBC in a multi-million pound deal and, in Darling’s words, “we’ll get some proper journalists in to write it”.  Its founder, Rev Stuart Campbell, will be promoted to Lifetime President, but will have a less hands-on role as more and more of his time is mysteriously taken up by issues such as rodent control.  “We have no shortage of rats in our organisation,” commented Darling. 

The centrepiece of the revamped Wings will be its serialisation of Alan Cochrane’s six-part biography of Alex Salmond, titled I Admit It, He’s A Genius.  “It’s been hell for Alan all these years,” said Darling, “writing poisonous drivel about Alex every week in the Daily Telegraph, when all he really wanted to do was give him a big hug.”  A huge promotional campaign is planned for Glasgow Underground, where any advertisements not supporting independence have now been banned.

At Holyrood, it’s been confirmed that Johann Lamont’s opening question on Thursday will be, “What is the First Minister’s favourite colour?”  Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie are reported to have asked Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick if it’s all right not to ask a question, but instead to scatter rose petals in Mr Salmond’s path and lead the chamber in a chorus of For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.  Darling, meanwhile, described rumours that SNP members will continue to pose questions about hospitals and the dualling of the A9 as “not helpful”.

Professor John Curtice, who attended last night’s press conference by virtue of his general omnipresence, was asked about the impact of the evening’s announcements on the public’s voting intentions.  He examined his tea-leaves carefully for a few moments, then pronounced, “Good heavens, quite astonishing! The No campaign has suddenly shot ahead by fifty points!”

“Mission accomplished,” murmured Darling.