Even Carlsberg, if they made brilliant weeks, would struggle to emulate the humdingin’ fortnight the SNP has just had. What a spine-tingling send-off we witnessed at South Queensferry, now officially the second-sexiest photoshoot location in the world, the first being “anywhere where Nicola Sturgeon is and someone has a phone”.
And what a beacon of hope the appellation “Team 56” is: a massive advance on “the 45”, and perhaps a staging post for “the 67”, which could - place your bets, punters – turn out to be the two-thirds Yes majority at the next referendum. (Heh heh, only kiddin’. I know that wasn’t in the manifesto; I just wanted to see Alan Cochrane melting down in a frenzy of facial fuzz and phlegm.)
As you may suspect, the special occasions on which I allow myself to feel schadenfreude include any day with a “Y” in it. So, as I surveyed the ranks of Insturgents framed by the Forth Bridge, my thoughts turned to the soor-faced SNPouters and their diddy tactical-voting wheel of misfortune, whose humiliated convenience-candidates I could picture being smuggled out of town on decrepit farm trucks, hidden under mounds of manure. It’s a bugger being defined by what you hate, isn’t it, chaps? Here’s a couple of Gaviscon; enjoy digesting the will of the Scottish electorate.
The fun continued over the next few days, as the SNP newbies were introduced to the Sir Jolyon Bumfeatures Book of Parliamentary Etiquette. Needless to say, they made a frightful hash of things, including a disgraceful outburst of clapping when the correct procedure is to bray like a farmyard animal, using nipple clamps to heighten the effect if necessary. Taking photographs in the chamber is also a bit naughty, unless you’ve got Black Rod’s special permission countersigned by five grandparents. An unregulated snapshot, taken in the wrong light with a particular shutter speed, might accidentally reveal which honourable members are actually shape-shifting lizards, and then where would we be?
Meanwhile, Mhairi Black - indisputably the party's top communicator with 926,747 published diary entries, of which at least one probably wasn’t a spoof - had flunkies reaching for the smelling salts when she addressed the kitchen staff without using a horsewhip, something Pitt the Younger would never have contemplated. As for her lunchtime gourmet selection of “chip butty with cola bottles for afters” - oh, Paisley, what have you done? Douglas Alexander may have been a talentless mealy-mouthed twonk, but I bet he had a proper respect for Lobster Thermidor. Especially if taxpayer-subsidised.
The bad news, which hit post-election celebrations like the contents of an 18th century Edinburgh chamber-pot, is that while we were busy making our thunderous electoral statement Middle England casually awarded the Tories an overall majority. “All the SNP’s fault for getting too many seats!” screeched certain commentators who can’t count above 10 because they don’t know how to take their socks off. “It was fear of the SNP that drove voters back from UKIP to the Tories!” hollered others, although anyone idiotic enough to fall for scary pickpocket posters would only have ended up drawing a cock and balls on their ballot paper.
Anyway, Team 56 will have its work cut out. If you think challenging Dennis Skinner to a game of musical chairs was pretty hardball, watch what comes next. The scrapping of the Human Rights Act is lurching towards us like a runaway juggernaut, with Michael “Oh God, Is He Still Here?” Gove at the wheel. Last time I checked with the Department of Transport, Mike’s trademark smart-arse superiority and pettifogging authoritarianism weren’t listed as driving skills, so I reckon it’ll be both carriageways closed and debris all over the shop until 2020.
It’s unfair, of course, to say that the Tories don’t give a gerbil’s bum-cheek for our rights. As long as we’re self-centred plutocrats, or no-questions-asked party donors, or Prince Charles scrawling an addle-pated note of advice, we have the right to do or say whatever we like. And there’s even one oppressed group for whose rights the Tories are prepared to fight: sadistic tosspots in scarlet finery who get a thrill from chasing terrified animals, using overwhelming force to tear them apart and parading their body parts as a badge of perverted honour.
Life’s been no fun for those poor darlings since 2004 (and even longer in spoilsport Scotland), but now relief is at hand. With the economy deflating, the Middle East smouldering, Greece teetering and food banks proliferating, it’s the repeal of the fox-hunting ban that has suddenly popped up in press leaks as the Tories’ priority. That’s obviously great news for bastards, but why now? Call me a boggle-eyed conspiracy freak, but could it possibly be a fiendishly cunning trap for the SNP?
Fox-hunting being a devolved matter, this piece of suck-it-up-plebs triumphalism affects only England and Wales. Unless the Government plans to offer bribes to householders to compensate for their prize gladioli being trampled by a pack of ravening beasts, not to mention the hounds allegedly under their control, there’s no financial impact, so no effect on the Barnett bawbees. It’s therefore a classic case - good grief, Nicola’s even on record using it as an example - of English-only legislation, on which the time-honoured, oft-quoted SNP policy is to abstain.
Of course, if they do abstain, all hell will break loose. Half of their supporters will condemn them as cold-hearted, morally bankrupt and… gasp… disappointing, just like all the other politicians. The Tories will smirk annoyingly, like the execrable lickspittles of Beelzebub they are, and Scottish Labour trolls will bore everyone to death with opportunistic jeering. If they don’t abstain, the other half of their supporters will savage them for hypocrisy, the Tories will fast-track English Votes for English Laws amidst snippy “untrustworthy Jocks” sound-bites, and Scottish Labour trolls will bore everyone to death with opportunistic jeering.
I’ve been swithering all day, to the point where my moral compass made a weird whistling noise and went on fire. The SNP will take a pounding whatever happens, so there’s a case for doing the decent thing and voting to uphold the ban. After all, aren’t their MPs entitled to a free vote, just like everyone else, and won’t Bruiser Carmichael, Fluffy Mundell and Stickers Murray be sashaying through one lobby or the other? And if there’s massive popular support for the ban, particularly in England, couldn’t they claim it as an example of “leading the UK, not leaving it”, if they stretched the knicker-elastic of truth a wee bit further…?
No. Sorry, folks, it may feel like being force-fed a bowlful of pencil shavings, but the only viable option is to abstain. The principle of not voting on matters irrelevant to Scotland is there for a good reason; Alex Salmond didn’t just come across it in a fortune cookie at the Lucky Flower, Strichen. Abandoning it the very first time it’s blow-torched by controversy doesn’t make you a savvy politician, it just makes you a photocopy of Nick Clegg.
The Tories, lest we forget, are lynx-eyed, ruthless sociopaths who’ll use Team 56’s entrails as skipping ropes at the slightest hint of inconsistency. EVEL will no doubt be rammed into the body politic at eye-watering speed whatever happens, but, for the SNP to oppose it credibly, its principles need to be firm and intact rather than shredded into bargain-basement muesli. God knows, the next five years’ onslaught from the guttersnipes at the Mail and Telegraph will be messy enough without our side gifting them a high-pressure hosepipe.
There’s nothing, of course, to stop the SNP speaking up in the debate, to convince English and Welsh members of the wisdom of continuing to follow Scotland’s example. The odds of being heard might improve a tad now that there’s 50 more of them and 50 fewer obstreperous hooligans. They should consider it a moral imperative to denounce fox-hunting in the most eloquent, and newsworthy, terms they can muster.
In the unlikely event that they require additional lexical oomph, I’ve got a thesaurus full of cracking words right here - yeah, who’d have guessed? - and I’m happy to post it down to "Jockalypse House" for as long as necessary. I’m not looking for much in return, guys, but do you think Mhairi could spare a couple of packets of cola bottles….?