This week’s edited transcripts of my contribution to Michael Greenwell’s excellent “Polling Station” podcast, which you can find here.
Sadly, the daily podcasting won’t continue after the election, because we’d all be knackered if we carried on that pace, but don’t worry, the world will hear from us again. But you'll definitely continue to hear from me on this blog, and maybe - just maybe - I’ll be undertaking further adventures in sound in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, vote early, vote enthusiastically, vote often, and I’ll see you on the other side.
As that sage of Scottish politics Jim Murphy would say, it’s fundilymundily important that we take the opportichancety to discuss Full Fiscal Autonomy: that is, Scotland directly raising and spending its own tax revenues and paying an agreed sum to Westminster for warmongering activities and stocking embassies with Ferrero Rocher. It’s provoked a lot of shouty-woutiness from the confederation of Unionist foghorns, despite not appearing in the SNP manifesto until nearly the end, in the section that should have been titled “Ach Well, We Can Dream”.
Actually, it doesn’t even appear under the name FFA. Perhaps that was too close to what Westminster will actually permit, which is FA. Instead, it’s called Full Financial Responsibility, which is essentially the same thing with a few drapes and soft furnishings added.
The name change has been serenaded with sarcastic yowling from the usual suspects, but it’s just a minor tweak compared to regular Establishment rebrandings. What about the Department of Work and Pensions promoting the term “flexible hours contracts” as a touchy-feely replacement for “zero hours”, not to mention “Universal Credit” being the euphemistic title for “utter chaos presided over by a pathological liar”?
Of course, Full Finansical Responsibilitonomy has created its own cross-border terminological shimmy, where a “deficit” for the rest of the UK magically becomes a “black hole” for Scotland. The responsibility for this lies with the IFS, an independent body employed by the Government to crush ordinary people’s hopes and dreams like grapes.
When it criticises other parties’ plans the IFS is a shower of ivory-tower propeller-heads who should get out more, but when it criticises the SNP it’s incredibly perceptive and far-sighted. So when it calculated that, if Scotland were fiscally autonomous now, which it isn’t, there’d be a £7.6 billion funding gap, this was immediately trumpeted by the Nawbag chorus as evidence that if we vote for the SNP we’ll soon be living in mud huts and foraging for scraps on rubbish tips.
The truth is that (1) autonomy ain’t gonna happen in the foreseeable future, hell no, and (2) if it did, and we were still in deficit, we’d borrow to bridge the gap, just like the UK and - well - every other country on the freakin’ planet. Full Fiscal Autonomy isn’t about numbers, it’s about having the freedom to run our economy - including sorting out the deficit - in a way that suits us.
And, let’s face it, the alternative is to leave things to the likes of George ‘Nosferatu’ Osborne or Edward ‘Scissorhands’ Balls. Would you buy a used Treasury bill from either of these spivs?
I rest my case.
I rest my case.
William tired. William sleep now.
If you were caught up in the madness in St Enoch Square on Monday, I hope you’ve been able to arrange counselling. I hear it was the biggest rammy since the Abdication!
Boots, fists and elbows flying in all directions in a rolling tide of rage and sweary words. Police with riot shields defending themselves against a volley of eggs and Irn Bru cans. Jim Murphy holed up in a Subway phoning Iain Gray for advice. Eddie Izzard fleeing the scene on a hastily commandeered unicycle….. It was “absolute chaos”, tweeted the BBC’s James Cook, mysteriously failing to add, “almost as bad as the leaders’ debate I chaired”.
Right, my brain’s about to self-combust, so that’s enough drivel. Time to look at Izzard-Gate without hyper-ventilating.
I was at home enjoying a glass of warm milk, so I’m open to being corrected, but the rammy, such as it was, centred around four protesters, well-known bamsticks who are notorious for disrupting political events. Two of them were SNP members, who frankly should have had a size 10 imprint on their backsides aeons ago, but better late than never – and, by the way, how is that Ian Smart enquiry motoring along, Kezia?
It wasn’t edifying TV, and I can see why your Auntie Senga covered the budgie’s cage with a sheet. Shoving a placard in people’s faces and megaphoning them from point-blank range is the act of a ned, and, whilst a witty heckle is a joy forever, freedom of speech can’t include the freedom to shout someone else down, even if it’s Jim Murphy. Yeah, I know Jim’s got a turbo-charged gob of his own, and once went at Pete Wishart so fiercely he almost ate him, but we have to be better than that.
However, that’s all there was to it. It wasn’t tea and cucumber sandwiches, but it wasn’t a riot. It wasn’t chaos. It wasn’t violence, apart from some pantomime shoving. It wasn’t even unusual in the history of electioneering, which has always had untidy exchanges going on at the fringes.
Winston Churchill, campaigning in Dundee in 1909, didn’t make it to the end of the beginning of his speech before before he was raucously taken down by suffragettes. John Major, in his days as a beige Spitting Image caricature and not the sexy beast he later became, regularly had Labour activists trying to harangue him off his soapbox. And there’s now a commemorative plaque on the spot where, three elections ago, Slugger Prescott’s ferocious reaction to being hit with an egg made Floyd Mayweather look like Tinky Winky.
So, BBC Scotland, Labour propaganda unit - those are two separate entities, I hasten to add - and gentlemen of the press, let’s get rid of the hyperbole and on with this election. After which - who knows? - perhaps there really will be chaos….