There was strong competition over the weekend for the most farcical performance from a British politician. As ever, Willie Rennie was a strong contender. He challenged the field with his insistence that the Scottish Government isn’t really the Scottish Government because three-legged zebras rarely juggle custard thimbles (or something like that, I wasn’t really listening).
It could have been worse. He could have spouted this insult to logic, reality and respectable tea-pot impersonators in public. Instead, he chose the seclusion of the Scottishesque Liberal Democrat’s conference-like assembly in a disused curling broom storage cupboard at the Dewars Centre in Perth. But word of Willie’s gibbering was leaked by The Herald’s North British political correspondent who stumbled on the gathering while he was researching a piece on Nicola Sturgeon’s personal responsibility for the crisis in Scotland’s curling broom storage facilities. Much Twitter-based hilarity ensued.
Willie Rennie might have been upstaged by a great effort from British Labour in Scotland (BLiS), who found themselves faced with a serious dilemma. Should they agree with their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who says he’s “fine” with Scotland having another independence referendum. Or should they side with the clean-shaven half of the Tories’ tartan team, Ruth Davidson, who is very far from “fine” with the people of Scotland being permitted to exercise their democratic right of self-determination.
Unfortunately, the BLiS performance lacked the essential element of surprise, as they followed their natural inclination to meekly fall into line behind their Tory allies. Corbyn may be their boss, but Davidson is the Queen of the British nationalists. When she pumps out those red, white and blue pheromones, Dugdale buckles at the knees.
So, it’s another win for Willie Wanka. And another sad loss for Scottish politics. Just when folk were starting to take it seriously, here we have the British parties doing their utmost to turn it all into a clumsy circus.
Happily, this week sees the start of the SNP’s Spring Conference in Aberdeen, and a chance to enjoy political theatre of a more uplifting variety.
Meanwhile, we are left with one rather intriguing mystery. If the British parties in Scotland are as fervently opposed to a new independence referendum as they make out, why are they not calling for Westminster to prohibit it? When they are prepared to make complete fools of themselves in a hapless effort to delegitimise the SNP administration at Holyrood, and suffer the public humiliation of favouring their rival party’s leaders over their own, it’s difficult to understand why they would baulk at the additional embarrassment of formally requesting that a Westminster government the people of Scotland rejected imperiously overrule the government those people elected.
Maybe they’re saving that for the finale.
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