Sunday, 19 September 2010

CLASSIC RAB McNEIL

Sketch: Stairheid rammie fuelled by decaffeinated bile

September 17, 2010 by Robert McNeil · 14 Comments



The nation’s stateless leaders were absent from parliament yesterday. Eck was with Fudd, Annabel and Tavish at Holyrood Palace. What a comical crew. The Pope must have thought they were the entertainment: “I am zo looking forward to ze Tory lady dancing. Yum-yum!”

Back in the national nuthouse across the road, undertakers committed suicide, clowns wept and children hid, as Johann Lamont (Lab) creaked forward, like someone from a Tim Burton horror animation. Johann is so grim she makes the sun cry. Goths fear her, and a team of cosmetic surgeons armed with road-drills and pick-axes would struggle to put a smile on her coupon.

She was standing in for towering statesman Elmer Fudd as Labour leader. But, really, you can’t have someone like that leading things. It’s not just the grimness. Johann belongs with Margaret Curran, now an MP (no wonder Buddhists say the world is not real; on this evidence, it can’t be), standing with crossed arms and their hair in curlers, having a stairheid rammie.

She really ought to have had a fag hanging out of her mouth as she blamed unemployment in Scotland on what she called with Tolstoyan literary genius “the Salmond Slump”. Unbelievable. Let’s be objectively clear about this: if you believe the economic woes of Scotland are the result of the powerless SNP Government, you really need to up your dosage. Only a moron, hypocrite or liar would swallow this crap (hello, and we’ve just been joined in the studio by the Scottish electorate).

It’s such monstrous, economically illiterate, democratically disingenuous tripe. It’s risible beyond reason, a porkie so fat that it bursts the gut and protrudes over the trousers. It is clear, objective and shameless nonsense.

And yet the psephologically suicidal SNP government does little to rebut it, wedded as it seems to be to showing everyone that it is in charge. Memo to the Nats: you’re not in charge. They won’t let you be in charge. The jannie has just hurriedly handed you his brush – and is now blaming you for the mucky floors.

Nicola Sturgeon was standing in for the First Eck, and she did a good job in remaining calm and airily dismissive of La Lamont’s moon-pulled fol-de-rols. But she insisted on acting as if the Nats had much influence over the economy, boasting about more jobs being created. This news just in, Nicola: that hasn’t got much to do with you either. These forces are largely beyond your control. If the bad news isn’t your fault, the good news isn’t either.

As an afterthought, at least, she did point out the massive cuts that had been planned by Labour, and called for full fiscal responsibility. But that should be at the front of the independence-minded brain not the back.

Johann hunched bitterly, and the clown buttons on her Tory-blue jaickit birled roond and roond, as she prepared for another intellectually acrobatic leap, this time accusing Nicola personally of cancelling “Garrul”, the Glaswegian cause celebre and hugely expensive rail link that Labour wants at a time of cuts.

Nicola brushed off this rhetorical spittle, though her half-heartedly repeated call for full economic powers did raise a problem for First Ministers or their deputies: what do you do when questions are so dumb that you can hardly be bothered answering them? There’s a sense in which these efforts can bring everyone down, and the trick must be to rise above it and pretend your opponent is a worthy foe.

Tory Murdo Fraser, standing in for Annabel Goldie, is at least one such. Bright, humourous and seemingly free of bitterness, he painted the following word-picture: “Deputy presiding orifice, as we speak, the pipes and drums are playing, the crowds are lining Princes Street, Saltires are waving in the air.” Lovely stuff, and here came the punchline: “I do hope the First Minister will not be too disappointed when he learns they’re not there for him.”

Boom, as it were, boom. Great stuff. And at least Murdo doesn’t have that horror of the Saltire that former leader David “Union Flag forever” McLetchie forever betrays.

Murdo’s question was about the rising cost of quangos, to which Nicola dissembled about how the Nats had cut ministerial posts and top civil service salaries. Fair points. Didn’t quite answer the question, though.

Mike Rumbles was standing in for Tavish Scott as Lib Dem leader, prompting a mad rush for the exits. Mike is really one of these guys best sitting at the back shouting inanities.

With soothing indulgence, Nicola promised to mention “an issue close to Mike Rumbles’s heart: dentistry”. Mike flashed a toothy grin, which was anatomically reassuring since his question had given the impression he was talking out of his arse. He wanted Nicola to give Eck marks out of ten for all his administration had done for the North-East of Scotia.

Nicola wisely resisted the temptation and averred: “In the spirit of humility for which we are renowned, we will continue to appreciate that there will always be more we can do.”

“Why wasn’t the North-East taken seriously?” Mike asked seriously.

Nicola retorted: “Mike Rumbles has come to the chamber today with the clear objective of making his leader look good.” And, she averred, he’d succeeded.

In answer to a question from Nat back-bencher Brian Adam, Nicola took the opportunity to point that two out of every three pounds of the coming cuts had been planned by Labour. She seemed more annoyed about it now, adding: “Johann Lamont would do well to remember that.” Fat chance.

However, it was Labour’s ludicrous confusion over alcohol policy that finally reduced them to the gutter yesterday. As everyone knows, they opposed the Nats’ minimum pricing policy merely out of tribal spite and have desperately been trying to cobble together credible alternatives ever since. Their latest ploy has identified caffeinated alcohol as the real problem about which something should be done. Everyone else says: “But it’s all alcohol, you donkeys, caffeinated or otherwise.” It’s enough to drive Scotland to drink.

Nicola reminded floundering Richard Simpson (Lab) that Strathclyde Police Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton had told the health committee earlier: “We don’t attend many violent disturbances outside coffee shops. It’s the alcohol consumption – of whatever brand or make – that gives us the greatest concern.”

It seems obvious, but Labour clearly have a caffeine fixation. Nicola repeated, as if addressing a particularly dimwitted child: “It’s the alcohol. And it’s about time that Labour, and in particular Richard Simpson, who – as a doctor – should know better, woke up to that fact.”

Of course, you don’t need alcohol to foment a disturbance, as FMQs proves every week. But I thought deputy presiding orifice Trish Godman’s policy of naming MSPs in rebukes worked well. I’d like to see admirable presiding orifice Alex “Hercules” Fergusson resume this practice when Big Eck returns next week, and the Labour bile flows once more like torrents of decaffeinated Buckie.


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