Friday, 29 May 2015

Archive Hour: The Talented Mr Blatter


Jings! I've just come across this piece I wrote in May 2011, on a long-defunct blog, back when I were a whippersnapper.  Goes to show that scandal and corruption are all part of a giant merry-go-round, doesn't it?  I was probably quite hard on the SFA, but they were different times...

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“Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football."
Albert Camus

That is just so true, innit?   I dunno why Camus bothered doing any more philosophical writing after that.  It should have won him the Nobel Prize on its own.  It’s a volley into the top corner, sweet as a nut.    Which is pretty unusual when you consider that he played as a goalkeeper, although that does explain the nuttiness.

‘Cos football is a metaphor for life, obviously.   Haven’t we all felt isolated in life’s midfield, with the ball sailing constantly over our heads or being passed rhythmically around us by pint-sized guys with foreign accents?   Or been on the verge of scoring a brilliant individual goal with the girl of our dreams, only to balloon it over the bar by allowing her to witness us trying to eat a bowl of spaghetti? And who, unexpectedly bereft of a Kleenex, hasn’t publicly honked a nostril-ful of mucus into the nearest available piece of turf?  They can’t all be just me, surely?

And if football is the medium through which philosophers make sense of life, then FIFA panjandrum Sepp Blatter must be some sort of philosopher-king.  Of course, he’s not the sort of philosopher to drink hemlock and not the sort of king to put up with dissent, especially from a rabble of journalists bent on trouble.  He gazes serenely down from his sedan chair at the torrents of sewage gurgling by and perceives a minor plumbing issue rather than a cholera outbreak.  You might ask him how this could have happened on his watch, but the only thing he can see on his watch is Mickey Mouse pointing to time for you to shut up.

To be fair to Sepp, he has hit on a wizard solution to the bribery and corruption surrounding FIFA elections.  Simply accept him as the one and only candidate for the top job, from now until his death and even beyond.  Death won’t be the end for Sepp;  he’ll just prise himself off the toasting fork and do a deal with Satan for the World Cup Finals of 2026 to take place in Hell.  It’s only a few degrees hotter than Qatar, after all.

In Sepp’s view, we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads with muck-raking, because this is just a minor series of difficulties within the FIFA family.   He’s right about the “family” part:  they’re riddled with mutual hatred, badmouth each other at every opportunity and squabble like rats in a sack when it looks like there’s money up for grabs.   If they moved in next to you, before you’d had time to throw together a welcoming lemon drizzle cake they’d have got your children hooked on crack, set their Rottweiler on Uncle Albert and turned the estate into a no-go area for the police.  

But as head of the family, Sepp’s in control.  Give him untrammelled power and he’ll sort them out.   Into the FIFA Council meeting he’ll go, baseball bat in hand like Robert de Niro in The Untouchables.  You give me no respect?  Blatt.  You got no sense of fair play?  Blatt.   You got a bad attitude?   Blatt.  Is that a camera in your hand?  Blatt.  Blatt.  Blatt.  

So if FIFA are playing the role of a problem family, who’s playing the role of Haringey Social Services, tut-tutting from a distance and not showing up at the front door for fear of being eaten?   Step forward, England’s very own Football Association, with their Scottish counterparts tucked neatly into their shirt pocket.   They’re such perfect enemies for Sepp that you’d think he actually bribed them to oppose him.

Just look at the FA’s jaw-droppingly na├»ve 2018 World Cup hosting bid.   What a team!  David Cameron, sucking up to everyone from the outset while Putin stayed at home until the decision was in the bag.  David Beckham, wandering distractedly from cupboard to cupboard wondering why no-one else was turning up to meetings.  And Prince William, ‘cos the foreigners will be impressed by a bit of royalty, won’t they?  They’d have been better sending Kate, or preferably that sister of hers with the cute bum. 

Everyone they spoke to asked for a bribe of some sort, but they just laughed it off because they were too dim to realize that people were being serious.  They got a derisory two votes, and even that was only because their own representative’s vote for a country called “Ingerland” was allowed to stand.

As for the SFA, after a Scottish football season pock-marked by touchline mayhem, referees’ revolts, sectarian hatred and death threats to managers, you’d have thought they might just want to stay out of the limelight for a while.  They make the Keystone Cops look like the SAS.

So Sepp Blatter continues to rule supreme.  Who can stop him?  FA and Sweet FA.

They think it’s all over.  It will be shortly.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Karma Carmichael


Welcome, seekers of coruscating wit and effervescent humour.  Hope you’ve brought a fiendish Sudoku and a packed lunch with you, because I’m finding it tricky to write decent jokes with steam coming out of my ears and my frenetic hammering turning the keyboard into a pile of melted marshmallows.

“These things happen.”  A statement of stultifying complacency that we now realise was the casual malice of a mugger gloating over his victim.  So, as Alistair Carmichael eases his buttocks snugly on to a Commons bench, smirking all over his jammy fizzog, what things are going to happen next?  Unless the UK establishment is forced to change the record and stop being a refuge for smug, double-dealing fartbags, nothing. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

It’s difficult to think of anything more galling over the next five years than Carmichael serenely drifting along as one of the new Lib Dem leader’s Seven Dwarves, stirring his carcass only to lob pat-a-cake Scottish Questions at his fully-washable-knitwear successor Mr Mundell, while the 56 SNP MPs get pilloried for every damn thing they say or do. Ooh, took oath in Gaelic, that’s subversive, may have sneaked in a terrorist sub-text.  Ooh, took it in Scots, that’s primitive, is it even a language?  Ooh, missed out ‘Queen’, better watch that one in case she puts laxatives in the punch-bowl at the next garden party.

First things first.  This is like volunteering to have toothache, but Carmichael’s admission has led to the same old lorryload of drivel being tipped over us again, implying that Nicola really did talk out of turn.  So I need to set out the facts once more, in the hope that the cloth-eared media and the Scottish Labour Trolling Ragtime Band will stop sucking their thumbs and pay attention this time.

The Cabinet Office Enquiry report does not say that the leaked memo was accurate.  It says that the civil servant who wrote it thought it was accurate, but left open a thundering great possibility that he might have got the part about Nicola‘s comments wrong.  And the two people who took part in the actual conversation, plus the French Consul General, who was also present and became the source of the civil servant’s information, have confirmed that he indeed got it wrong. He reported in good faith, only to have the Secretary of State kick him in the teeth by feeding his confidential document into the Telegraph’s whirly-splat propaganda muck-spreader.  But, as his own antennae suggested, Nicola simply didn’t express the words and opinions he attributed to her.

One other initial observation.  The memo only got into Carmichael’s clammy paws, indeed was only written at all, because of Westminster’s inability to mind its own bleedin’ business.  I wonder if, once Mr Cameron’s finished making Scotland the most powerful devolved administration this side of Alpha Centauri, our First Minister will be allowed to have grown-up discussions with foreign diplomats without the Scotland Office peering creepily over her shoulder?

Anyway, imagine this memo, potentially embarrassing for the SNP but with a caveat so huge you could wrap a double-decker bus in it, landing with a dull thud on the desk of Carmichael’s teenage sidekick. In any operation that wasn’t either Toytown or a shameless front for dirty tricks, it shouldn’t have crossed anyone’s mind to leak it for any reason - especially poxy, intelligence-insulting bilge such as “public interest”, which our lords and masters keep shoving at us, presumably to show how much they despise us.

Carmichael says he “should have stopped it”, as if it’s all his wicked assistant’s fault and his error was in not paying attention until it was too late. Sure, that looks likely:  the assistant standing in the doorway asking “Well, boss, should I grossly abuse protocol by leaking this unlikely-looking, easily disprovable smear that will totally piss off the French, just because our polling figures look like crap?” and Carmichael, with his gob full of chocolate cake and his mind on a game of Candy Crush Saga, mumbling “Yeah, whatever.”

Or does “should have stopped it” have a different meaning?  Is Carmichael, who if the tools in the box were assessed for sharpness would be on a par with an ice lolly stick, being set up as a fall guy for a wider conspiracy?  Did the boys in the Better Together band decide to re-unite for one final cacophonous gig?  Finding gap-toothed marvel Willie Rennie wandering the streets at just the right time to provide a quote may have been coincidence, but the uncanny speed with which several Scottish Labour luminaries opened up with small-arms fire on Twitter suggests either a degree of orchestration or a lot of sad people with nothing to do on a Friday night.

But let’s return to the man of the moment, and another stunning quote:  it was an “error of judgment”.  I’m sure Carmichael would never foist on us the politician’s trick of confusing moral lapses with travelling the wrong way down a one-way street, so obviously the “judgment” was that he wouldn’t get caught. This turned out to be erroneous on a Michael Fish “don’t worry, ma’am, no hurricane” scale, since all Sir Jeremy Heywood had to do was identify the source of the calls to the Telegraph as the assistant’s mobile, and there was Carmichael bang to rights, trousers round ankles, hands red as a pillar box and face to match.

In passing, sorry to be narky, and I do humbly appreciate the silky-smooth thoroughness of the UK Civil Service, but, since even Inspector Clouseau would have found this case un morceau de gateau, why by all the toasting forks in Hades did it take Sir Jeremy and his team of razor-sharp intellects 48 days and a reputed £1.4 million of taxpayers’ money to nail it?  The voters of Orkney and Shetland, who by any rational analysis have been blatantly conned, might consider a straight answer to this to be in the public interest.

Which brings us to the real elephant, not just in the room, but splayed on the sofa sipping a Pina Colada and hogging the remote.  When Carmichael was interviewed on Channel 4 the day after the leak, and maintained the first he’d heard of the whole thing was in a phone call from the Telegraph the previous afternoon, he was plainly and simply lying to us all.  No ifs, no buts, no Clintonesque micro-tweaking of language, no “cor, guv, it just slipped my mind”; he lied like a silly schoolboy, his little Zebedee head nodding and grinning manically, with not the faintest notion of how pathetic he looked.

Now that the horse is cantering over the horizon with the stable door swinging in the breeze, Carmichael blithely asserts that if he’d still been in the job he’d have “tendered his resignation”.  And he’s graciously “declined” his severance pay.   Blimey, must get down to Poundland to buy a bag of party poppers.

Look, mate, you used Government resources to smear the leader of your electoral opponents, then by lying about it you effectively stood for election under false pretences. For that, you shouldn’t have the option of resigning; a burly bloke from Security should be frogmarching you out of the building, while your personal effects get chucked out of the window in a bin bag.  Your “severance pay” should be a down payment on the £1.4 million you owe us for wasting everyone’s time. But most of all, the voters of Orkney and Shetland deserve an opportunity to decide whether they really want to be represented by a proven - and so far unapologetic - liar.

The clueless Lib Dems have said they’ll take no action against Carmichael.  Yes, a party that contributed a perjurer and an expenses cheat to the last UK Cabinet, and gave an alleged serial groper the benefit of the doubt over the complaints of four different women, has learned the square root of diddly-squat from its election cull.  Looks as if we’ll need to get the extra-strength Domestos out again in 2020.

Elsewhere, it’s heartening to see some moves afoot to hold Carmichael to account.  The mainstream media can envelop this in whatever blanket of smart-arsery, smokescreen or silence they like.  The internet age has taken us long past the time when the establishment could fiddle about until scandals simply blew over; now we’re as mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it any more.  Let’s write, shout, protest, agitate and petition until cheats like this are driven from public life and we never hear the words “just one of these things” again.

There may be revelations to come, and these shenanigans may run deeper than we suspect. But let's not hang around in eager anticipation.  It's time to make a start on cleaning the place up.

Carmichael must go.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The SNP's Fun Fortnight


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….?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Benefits Street

Woo hoo! The Tories are back, and so is poverty porn...

On Benefits Street it’s freak show time,
Observe and salivate
As indolence, drugs and petty crime
Leech off the Welfare State!

We don’t cover those who scrimp and save
And play it by the rules;
It’s glittering BAFTAs that we crave,
D’you think we’re bloody fools?

No mention for working poor who earn
A pittance answering phones;
You only make headlines if you learn
To piss off Owen Jones.

Our cameras shun disabled folk
At whom assessors scowl,
We’d rather see Twitter up in smoke,
And hear the lynch mobs howl.

So caricatures we’ve put on screen,
Condemned by their own lips
As feckless, corrupt, weak-willed, unclean,
With great shoplifting tips.

“Community spirit” we profess
As central to our tale;
Our cast even boasts a shared address
When they’re hauled off to jail.

Though poverty comes in many forms,
It’s sexier on TV
To indicate that the welfare norm’s
Dysfunctionality.

When residents whine to Channel Four,
Our answer’s short and sweet:
Collateral damage we abhor,
But our CVs look neat!

On Benefits Street they’re well pissed off,
But we’re cool with the flak,
Protected by rules that let you scoff
At those who can’t hit back.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Wow, Just Wow

Shan't detain you with protracted musings today, readers.  I've only had three hours' sleep and my herd feels like a rhinoceros herd is holding a tap-dancing convention in it.

So this is just to say that To September And Beyond - and isn't the "Beyond" so much more exciting than the September? - will be back early next week, once the dust has settled.  That's how long I have to think up jokes for a whole new cast of characters, many of the existing ones having been consigned to the scrap-heap by the admirable Scottish electorate yesterday.

Fluffy Mundell - this could be your moment.  And, of course, we have Jim and Kezia, still clinging to the life-raft as it drifts inexorably towards the whirlpool.

And we have a majority Tory government.  Seriously, English voters - what in wildfire petrol-fuelled blazes were you thinking?  You had one job, one job....

Enjoy the weekend, folks.  Then come back with all of your friends and let's get tore into the next five years.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Terminological Inexactivity


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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

William tired.  William sleep now.

Wednesday

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….