A wee update about flitting and fags

The fact I’m posting this ought to let you know that I’m back online again – whoo hoo. But this isn’t a post about the Smith Commission, the British Labour party, or any wit and wisdom about anything remotely political. It’s just a wee update to let you know what’s going on with the big flit.

The move went smoothly, and we managed to get everything over to the new flat without breaking anything. Although my uncle did point out a loose wire on a model train when he was looking at it. Every single time that man looks at a model train or tram, it gets broken. It’s not even his fault either. He hadn’t even touched the train. He’s just cursed. He is to model trains as Gordie Broon is to politics, come to think of it. Although in Broon’s case it generally is his fault. And you can’t fix the devolution settlement with a bit of solder, you’ll only get burned.

I’m now unpacking everything, and working my way through all the packing cases. I’ve got loads of lovely things that haven’t seen the light of day since we moved back from Spain. And a shitload of crap too.

I’ve not had a fag since 2.30am on Tuesday morning, when I finished the last of the baccy I’d found in a tin in a drawer in the old place. On Saturday while suffering a severe craving I distracted myself by clearing out rubbish – only to discover a wee bit of rolling tobacco hiding there. So that was the giving up smoking buggered for last weekend. Until I finished that very last little bit. I’ve not used nicotine patches, e-cigs, or thon boggin tasting chewing gum, I’ve just gone cold turkey – and to my surprise it’s working. And I’m not even eating lots of sweeties.

I don’t want to smoke in this new flat – and haven’t. Moving has made it easier to give up because I’ve changed my routine. I still sit and watch Pointless with a cuppa, just not with a fag any more. I’m watching it in a different house in a different place – and it feels sufficiently different that the craving for the ciggie is controllable. I am determined to do it this time.

I’m still getting cravings of course, but they’re bearable. When I was a teenager I used to bite my fingernails, but managed to stop that by playing with a wee lump of plasticene instead. Believe it or not I still have the original lump of plasticene – which is now a solid ball bearing very little resemblance to modelling clay. But it fits my hands perfectly, and when I get a craving for a ciggy I roll the ball between my hands. Fingers crossed it’s working, or rather I would cross my fingers but they’re occupied with a ball of plasticene.

I have no idea what’s going on in the news – but I’ll try and catch up with myself and all going well normal posting service will be resumed over the weekend.

 

 

How now Brown’s vow

The road to Hell, blog posts, and post-referendum vows is paved with good intentions. Or at least that holds true for two items on the list, whether there were ever any good intentions in the vow is very much a matter for debate. In fact, it’s debatable whether there ever was a vow in the first place, because it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that it only ever existed in the febrile minds of Gordie and the editor of the Daily Record. More a ciao than a vow then, as it meant we could say goodbye to any hopes of substantive extra powers for Holyrood.

In the Peanuts cartoon strip, there was a recurring gag when Charlie Brown attempted to kick a football, one of those oddly shaped ones like Gordie’s heid, held into place by his friend Lucy. Whenever Charlie Brown went to kick the baw, Lucy wheeched it away. Yet Charlie Brown fell for it every time. He’s clearly a close relative of Gordie. Lucy was never going to let Charlie Brown kick the baw, just like Westminster was never going to fulfil the vow that Gordie assured us was a done deal. Snoopy won’t be doing his happy dance.

The debates in Westminster this week were obstensibly about extra powers for Scotland and the implementation of the infamous vow, however the debate was taken up almost in its entirety with arguments over English devolution. Predictably, proceedings descended into Labour and the Tories arguing over what was best for their own party interests. The only person who seemed shocked by this turn of events was Charlie, sorry, Gordie. This is because if anyone is going to break their word but pretend that they haven’t, it will be Gordie, and he’s not happy that others have trodden on astroturf he regards as rightfully his.

Despite his much heralded intellect, Gordie suffers from a very special kind of stupid, the kind that only highly intelligent and deeply vain people suffer from, people whose IQs are the square root of their egos. Gordie may be highly intelligent in getting a PhD about the early history of the Labour party, but he has the social intelligence of monkey wrench. He is, quite literally, a tool. People like Gordie get used by those who may not partake in his impressively large ego, his intellectualosity, and his ability to come out with phrases like endogenous growth devolution, but who are far more politically and socially shrewd. Lenin called monkey wrenches like Gordie ‘useful idiots’. Gordie was played, brought down by his own ego and the mistaken belief that he can out-think everyone around him. It’s the arrogance of the small town boy who was always the brightest in his class at school, and who thinks this means he’s brighter than everyone on the planet.

If I was ever a telly interviewer, there’s a question I’d like to put to Gordie – I’d ask him to name one, just one, policy he had implemented because it was the right thing to do, even though it had damaged his party’s chances of election and his own career. Bet ye he couldn’t answer, and this is why I’ll never be a telly interviewer – I wouldn’t let it go. Gordie has never willingly put the greater good above the interests of Gordie and the British Labour party, because in Gordie’s eye the greater good always, by an eerie coincidence, just happens to be what’s good for Gordie. Spooky.

Yet this is the same Gordie who wanted voters to believe that he, and the rest of the misbegotten Westminster party leaders, would put aside personal and party interests in order to fulfil a vow to the people of Scotland. And Gordie, being the tool fool that he is, probably genuinely believed that Davie, Ed and Nick would go along with what was good for Gordie. Davie Cameron looked at Gordie’s proposal for a vow, and saw a monkey wrench to stick in the devo-works. It is below the belt to cast aspersions on a person’s mental health – but you do have to wonder whether Gordie is just a bit of a nutter. Actually no. You don’t need to wonder, it’s really quite certain that Gordie’s contact with reality is at best tangential.

On Friday Gordie published an article in the Guardian. The focus of his upset was not what happens to Scotland under Cameron’s proposals for devolution, but rather what happens to Scottish MPs. Or more specifically, to him and his British Labour co-conspirators. They will no longer be able to vote on “English only” matters. And by devolving all income tax, Cameron has ensured that’s going to include the budget. At a stroke, Gordie, the Smurph and St Dougie the Creeping Jesus will be denied the possibility of cabinet seats. That’s the second classness that really bothers Gordie, not the second class nature of a hauf arsed devolution proposal that includes a random selection of tax raising powers but doesn’t include much else, and certainly not the ability for Holyrood to set up a Scottish nation TV channel.

However Gordie doesn’t need to worry, because there may not be that many second class British Labour MPs in Scotland after the next General Election. They’re all third class runners up, and there won’t be that many of them. The latest polls show that British Labour is about to experience its very own version of lemmingdom. Since the referendum the party’s vote share in Scotland has fallen off a cliff. In the most recent YouGov poll, the Scottish subsample shows that British Labour is – almost unbelievably – returning a lower vote share than the Tories. The Tories poll 20%, British Labour a paltry 19%. “Others”, those small parties and regional parochial parties too insignificant for YouGov to notice, have been polling over 50%. That’ll be the SNP and the Greens then. Although other polls do show Labour ahead of the Tories in Scotland – although not by much – all agree that the SNP and the other pro-independence parties are well ahead, and UKIP, the BBC’s favourite “other party” is nowhere to be seen.

The BBC is doing all it can to rescue the situation, and has decided quite arbitrarily that the SNP, the Greens, and Plaid Cymru will be excluded from the leaders’ debates scheduled for before the next General Election. It’s all that stands between business as usual and the prospect that pro-independence MPs will hold a majority of Scottish Westminster seats. That will mean that Westminster’s devolution proposals will be unlikely to secure a democratic mandate within Scotland, and will instead have to be imposed by English votes. English Votes for Scottish Laws, it was ever thus.

Magrit Curran better hurry up with her consultation of pissed off East Enders then. The only thing I don’t like about my new hoose is that Magrit is my MP – although probably only until May. The seat fell to the SNP in the 2008 by-election. I’m still waiting for my invite to yer consultation Magrit, by the way. I’d be delighted to tell you at length and in colourful detail exactly where things have gone wrong for you, and why it’s far too late for you to do anything about it. All that’s left for Magrit is to consult under a rock along with Wullie Bain and Ian Davidson.

Many years ago I remarked that Scotland would become independent, not because it was the expressed and settled will of the voters of Scotland, but because the Westminster parties would be incapable of putting the continuation of the Union above narrow party interests. That’s one prediction that looks like coming true. If only I had the same success with lottery numbers.

There will not be any more blog posts this week. The big move is on Tuesday, and I am currently surrounded by packing cases and I won’t have internet access until everything is reconnected in the new house. And I’m trying to give up smoking. With limited success, so I am really, really tetchy right now.  Magrit, you have been warned.

 

 

Newton’s law of Y-fronts

When I’m not wondering why I have a waffle iron, and am still unclear on what a waffle iron is, never mind wondering why there’s one in the cupboard, I’ve been on the phone to utilities companies, insurance agents, and the rest of the practicalities required for a flitting. But the big day is looming, the removal van will appear at the door one week from today, and there’s still so much to do. Oh God. Panic panic. This is why you’re not getting so many blog posts of late, looking after a dementia sufferer was almost relaxing by comparison.

I’m drowning under a sea of packing cases, books, and a vast quantity of detritus that people sell on eBay as ‘collectables’, like a cracked old candle in the shape of Bugs Bunny dressed as Carmen Miranda that was given as a birthday present over 30 years ago and which will never be lit, it was much more recently joined by a stuffed toy Wee Ginger Dug made by a reader of this blog. However neither Bugs nor the wee dug will ever be sold on eBay. And probably neither will most of the rest of the crap that’s currently littering the living room carpet. It’s going to follow me around for the rest of my life like a stray dog that looks at you with big brown eyes and makes you feel guilty. He’s still following me around too, and is at this very moment giving one of his special accusatory stares, the kind he reserves for when he wants you to know that he’s not been out for a few hours …

Right, the dug has been walked now …

So, election debates, pure dead exciting innit. We can all shout at the telly that we don’t agree with Nick, and rather feel like taking Nick by the scruff of the neck and setting his pants on fire. In fact many of us want to do that with all of them. It would certainly make debates more interesting, and quicker, as party leaders rushed to explain their policies on taxation before the flames removed the last of their pubic hair. Although I don’t think anyone as shiny as Davie Cameron has any.

For the correct degree of gravitas with the gravy train arses, the programme should be presented by Dale Winton, who can ask the contestants, sorry – political leaders – for their opinions on the latest war in Iraq and whether they believe that Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout was a right cow after she left Zebedee in the lurch at the altar and ran off with Dylan to get stoned in a hippy commune near Brighton. Dale can emote in a dayglo orange while a clock ticks and the contestants will be tipped backwards into a big pool of goo if they get the answer wrong. The eventual winner gets to take home the key to Number 10, a new motor, unlimited foreign trips staying in the best hotels, and will become besties with the presenter of Top Gear – except Ed Miliband, who’ll get a dinner date with that guy with the teeth who used to be on Big Brother, or was it the X-Factor. Then Ed can learn from a master of being famous for being famous while having no appreciable talent at all. Ben Fogle wasn’t available.

All this would at least make the programme interesting for Scottish viewers, because our full range of democratic choices won’t be only display. The SNP and the Greens are not going to be invited to the debate, because they’re not important. Scotland isn’t important either, a proposition with which 55% of the country agreed last month, at least according to the broadcasters, so they don’t have to take us into account when deciding who’s going to goo with Dale. SNP voters can see a wee cute kitten stuck in a drain in Falkirk on Reporting Scotland instead, or if you’re a Green voter there may be a beardy folk singer on BBC Alba explaining renewable energy policy through the medium of jigs and reels.

Only the leaders of parties which could actually form the government of the UK are going to be invited to participate in the main debate. So that’s us telt then. The SNP are a mere provincial regional county parish party, and don’t even put up candidates in important places – which is anywhere within a 20 mile radius of the M25 in case you were wondering. That’s why Dale won’t deign to goo them. So naturally Davie Cameron and Ed Miliband get to come along, and Nick’s got to come too because he’s their governmental vaseline.

And Nigel needs to come along as well, because he’s got an MP now and it is entirely possible that large numbers of people in important places will consider voting for him and he could be swept into power, like it’s entirely possible that the atoms making up Nigel’s body could spontaneously rearrange themselves into a candle in the shape of Bugs Bunny dressed as Carmen Miranda. I’d set light to that one, so Nigel could drip all over Dale’s shag pile and melt away to nothing.

Fair enough, although the spontaneous rearrangement of Nigel Farage’s atoms is possible, it is vanishingly improbable, but there is a law of physics that says that exact thing can happen, Newton’s fifth law of incendiary Y-fronts. You can’t say that for the SNP. This is all detailed in the BBC’s top secret election debate manual, just after the chapter where it explains that the BBC is Nigel’s publicity agent and is contractually obliged to have him on the telly every day. He’s on Bargain Hunt all this week, looking for 1950’s social attitudes at a car boot sale in Colchester. Tim thinks it’s a bit orff.

None of this means that the spontaneous rearrangement of constituent parts is always improbable, since it’s already happened. I seem to recall that just a few short weeks ago, before a certain vote, Scotland was being told it was a much valued partner in the bestest union of nations in the universe ever, but now the UK has rearranged its constituent parts and we’re back in an over-centralised unitary state again. We must be, because it’s only in a centralised unitary state that major political parties representing one part of what some of us thought was supposed to be a union can be legitimately excluded from a UK election debate. Or perhaps I just misunderstood Gordie, like he apparently misunderstood Davie, Nick and Ed when they vowed to him it was a done deal about all that devosuperpowermax federalism stuff. Although it’s considerably more probable than the spontaneous rearrangement of constituent parts that Gordie just made it all up to suit himself, just like the BBC’s debate rules.

Oh God why did I ever think this was a good idea

I’m now at the “oh God why did I ever think this was a good idea” stage in the house flitting process, and am sitting here surrounded by packing cases and piles of assorted stuff all over the floor, under which – somewhere – is hiding a roll of parcel tape. It’s hiding on purpose, because it’s malevolent. The guy in Gordon’s Supplies, Lies and Trussing shop where I bought it swore blind that it was really good and would do exactly what I wanted, so it was only my own fault for believing a vow. See when someone tells you it’s a done deal, it means you’ve been done.

So what with arguing with recalcitrant packing tape, choosing wallpaper, spending hours on the phone to the electricity company, and packing stuff away – I’ve not really been keeping abreast of political developments of late or had much time to update the blog. But you don’t need to pay close attention to realise just how much trouble all three of the main Westminster parties are in. It’s a bit like watching an overhyped boxer fighting to the death with a plastic spatula, and the spatula is winning.

The simultaneous descent of all three main parties into direpute is quite a remarkable achievement in a First Past the Post electoral system where distaste for one party generally results in strengthening one of the others. But that’s just how rubbish our current crop of party leaders are – they’ve even broken a political system that was designed so that one or other of them would be in power for perpetuity, with or without the occasional Lib Dem dangleberry – they cling on so persistently. And it’s all the more remarkable when you consider that this is a system that was set up to cope with chinless wonders with stiff upper lips who never needed a spoon because they were already born with silver ones preinstalled in their gobs.

The Lib Dem conference was still going on for most of the week, although no one noticed. I think it was still going on yesterday, but like 99.99% of the population I couldn’t be bothered to find out. The remaining 0.01% is related to a Lib Dem MP and hears about it whether they like it or not. Usually not.

Meanwhile the realisation is dawning within the upper reaches of the British Labour hierarchy that in Ed Miliband they really did pick a plasticene Wallace as party leader but Ed Balls comes nowhere close to Grommit the dog in competence or likeability. With opinion poll ratings showing that Labour has thrown away its previous lead in the polls, it’s looking highly unlikely that the party will become the largest party in the next parliament, never mind the government.

The Tories on the other hand had a “good” conference. “Good” in this instance being defined as tearing up the European Human Rights treaty, tax cuts for the better off, putting a great big English votes for English laws fly in the devolution jam, and sawing off the legs of people on benefits so that golf club members in Surrey can run them down in a golf cart. This has made the Tories more popular with people who have Death Race 2000 on DVD and aspire to the membership of golf clubs in Surrey.

However the Tory feel good bounce, achieved by using a disabled person as a springboard, has been splattered due to a by-election in the previously Tory seat of Clacton which fell to UKIP and give the purple faced right wing populists their first directly elected MP. Douglas Carswell won with an embarrassingly large 60% of all votes cast. It was one of the biggest swings to any party since in decades. Nigel Farage, who permanently wears the smug expression of a late developer who has just discovered masturbation and thinks he’s got a special secret no one else knows, is going to have to buy in a bulk order of paper towels from the cash and carry.

Tory rumblings of discontent with Davie’s leadership were already rumbling before Clacton. Now the pressure on the Tories to tack even further to the right is going to be intense, and we can expect a lot more in the way of “fairness for England” as an excuse to delay Scottish devolution, and hyping up the anti-Europe rhetoric.

Labour’s woes have also taken on a deep purplish hue. The other by-election on Thursday was in the Heywood and Middleton constituency in Manchester. It was supposedly a safe Labour seat, as recently as 2001 Labour took 57.7% of all votes cast. But UKIP came within a tickle of making Nigel have to go and get a new supply of tissues again, and reduced Labour’s majority to just 617. A whole swathe of Labour seats in England suddenly became as vulnerable as a baw hair in a Brazilian waxing salon. There’s those plastic spatulas again. Turn out was a pathetically low 36%. There’s no apathy like British Labour engendered apathy. It’s one of the few things they’re very good at.

Although Labour held on to the seat, in some ways the result in Heywood was worse for them. In Clacton Douglas Carswell was the sitting MP before he switched to UKIP. He was, apparently, popular locally. I know. Go figure. No I don’t get it either, but there ye go. He had an established presence in the seat. Like one of those dents on your favourite chair that’s shaped itself into the perfect shape of your bum. In Clacton Carswell was the right arse. But in Heywood UKIP came from nowhere, and almost succeeded in planking their arse very firmly on a sofa that Labour has always thought it was its divine right to get on expenses from John Lewis.

Meanwhile in Scotland, British Labour is in a whole different set of bother. Those of you who voted Yes can go “muwahahahaha” at this juncture, like an evil supervillain. Go on, you know you want to. I’ve been practising my special “told you so” smug look.

The Lib Dems avoided humiliation, but only by securing the sole rights to ignominy, disgrace, and mortification. And made a strong bid for ridicule too, but were only saved by there being so much ridicule to go around these days. In Clacton they managed a paltry 483 votes, and a lost deposit of £500. They would have been better off bribing 483 voters a quid each and then they’d still have had enough left over for a curry.

UKIP have now proven that they can take votes from both Labour and the Tories, and the Lib Dems have been consigned to oblivion. They’ve done this because of rather than despite of the fact that they have no policies besides getting out of Europe, kicking Scotland, and hating immigrants. They’re the party for people who hate politicians, but who don’t have any real consensus yet on what they want to do about it.

That’s where Scotland is way ahead of the game. There is a whole ferment of ideas and new projects amongst the 45. Scotland is slowly reaching towards a new consensus on how this country should be governed, and who it should be governed for. They look to what’s happening down south, and many of those who voted No are now having “oh God why did I ever think this was a good idea” moments of their own.

We’re in for some very choppy waters along the way, but the current weak and discredited condition of the parties and institutions of the UK means that an organised mass movement can gain huge concessions. And we’ve had a two year long education in organising ourselves.

Sorry there have not been as many new posts of late, but until the flitting is done and dusted updates and new entries are going to be a bit erratic.

 

Garden gnomes and koalas

I was going to blog something about the Lib Dem conference which was held in Glasgow this weekend, but what’s the point? Does anyone actually give a toss what Vince Cable thinks? Even the rest of the Lib Dems don’t care. You do better blogging about the minutes of the last meeting of the Auchterarder Market Gardens and Allotments Association summer outing subcommittee, which unlike the Lib Dems has a purpose and is at least going somewhere. Other than serving as enablers so one or other of the twin Tory parties can continue to take buggin’s turn as the government of the day, the Lib Dems have no purpose, and most likely no future either.

But since the Auchterarder Market Gardens and Allotments Association are far too important and weighty and Scotland voted No so we aren’t allowed to talk about important stuff, the Lib Dems will have to do. Their conference can be summed up in three sentences: What a pointless waste of time. Can I get the last 48 hours of Danny’s Alexander’s life back please. I’d like to do something inventive with them.

The Lib Dems vie with Gordie Broon for the title of Biggest Suckers in British Politics. It is only Gordie’s recent masterclass performance in being taken for a mug that has pushed them out of pole position in the rankings. They can’t even win at being losers. Gordie has been vowed the trophy, which he achieved during the final days of the referendum campaign by turning the word ego into a verb, only to discover that he’d been strung along like an overpuffed balloon and then burst by Davie Cameron’s wee prick. It was the biggest explosion of a bag of noxious gas since Gordie mistakenly chose the beans during that fateful dinner with Tony Blair.

However Lib Dem party strategists have clearly decided to fight the General Election campaign on a platform of: We really hate the Tories too. No honestly. They’re beastly. We said so all along, under our breath while Michael Gove wasn’t listening. They bullied us into supporting them, they really did. It wasn’t our fault. We’ll support Labour if you like.

Despite the delusional nature of their self belief, the Lib Dems maintain a cheerful disposition, founded entirely upon the proposition that come 2015 everyone will forget that Danny Alexander has spent the past five years as George Osborne’s suppository. Danny has found his calling as the greasy slime which permits the smooth passage of Osborne’s parliamentary motions. And then there’s that vow that a lot of people are itching to pay them back for. No, not the Scottish one. The tuition fees one that lasted as long as it took to say ministerial motor. Though that wasn’t a vow, if memory serves it was only a solemn pledge signed in blood. Or in Menzies Campell’s case, formaldehyde.

But even the harshest critic would have to admit that the situation is not entirely dire. The Lib Dems have escaped most of the blame for Gordie’s disemvowment, but that’s only because we already have Nick Clegg’s tea oot for the student loans thing and being a second rate Tory when the original version was third rate to begin with.

Yesterday saw Wee Wullie Rennie and Alistair Carmichael launch into a fearsome attack on the SNP, like being savaged by an elderly and toothless Yorkie and its chew toy.

Wullie has given the SNP a wee test, because he’s learned how to do them after someone showed him how to put a wee tick in the multiple choice box. And if he got it right he got a smartie. That’s how he got the job as Lib Dem leader in Holyrood – well that and the fact there was no one else left.

Wullie said that the SNP and independence were like Gollum and his preciousssss, which he would know a lot about, since he had a non-speaking part in the fillum as a garden gnome. I always thought he was wasted in politics. Wullie has a face that you usually see in a DC Thompson cartoon, like the offspring of Daphne and Desperate Dan, and he could have a weekly series of misadventures and homespun philosophy with his pal Alistair the prissy Koala in the pull out section of the Sunday Post. It would at least add to the sum total of human happiness in a small but significant way.

Instead he’s wasting his enormous natural talent on making up a test for the SNP before he’ll let them play with the Smith Commission on further devolution. He’s helpfully provided only one option for the tick box, which is helpfully labelled ‘wrong answer’. Wullie thinks this is a cunning ruse and he’s set a very clever trap. Awwwww. Someone give him a smartie.

The test consists of a vow, there’s a lot of those going around just now. People must catch them in lifts, like Yes voters with a cold and other viruses of nationalism. The SNP have got to vow not to tell the Smith Commission they want an unstable form of devolution that will only lead to independence. Wullie doesn’t actually know what an unstable form of devolution is, seeing as how no one is very sure what a stable variety would look like, but he does know that unstable will be what the Lib Dems call absolutely any proposal put forward by the SNP.

Meanwhile the Koalamichael is getting agitated about another referendum, and wants the SNP to rule it out forever. Because if the people of Scotland are not told once and for all that they can never change their minds ever, not even if circumstances change, then it will be just like Quebec where they keep having new referendums. Then Edinburgh will turn into Montreal and this will be very bad for the banks because all the ATMs will be in French. The thrust of the argument being that the self-interest of the finance industry is more important than silly little things like democracy, or vows not being kept by balloons.

And this pretty much sums up the attitude of the Westminster parties, whether it’s the Blue Tories, the Red Tories, the Purple Raving Nigel Fan Club Tories, or the Yellow Greasy Enabling Tories – all of them believe that it’s only the populace which should be held to any sort of commitment, never their own party. All that’s left for us is to be lectured by a garden gnome and a stuffed toy koala on an entitlement kick.

Let’s kick them out.

 

 

Labour, wonga puppets, and the moral high ground

So it’s a final farewell to the poll tax. Well, I say “farewell”, when “consigned to the bin where it always belonged” is more appropriate. The Scottish Government has announced that local authorities can no longer chase up people for outstanding poll tax debts, debts which date back 25 years. It’s a wee ha ha get it up yese from a departing Alicsammin to the British Labour cooncillors who were rumoured to have been heard licking their lips as they relished the prospect of punishing the poor who had turned against them.

Labour cooncils are beelin, because they had decided to use the increased voter registration in order to penalise people who registered in order to vote in the referendum, despite the fact that everyone, their granny, their granny’s dug, and even their granny’s dug’s British Labour cooncillor, agrees that the poll tax was malign, unwanted, and unjust. It’s better for the party when people don’t bother to vote. British Labour understands this as contented aquiescence and not alienated despair. But now large numbers of people are once again engaging with politics, and this threatens to reveal just how hollow the party’s apparent dominance in Scottish Westminster seats really is.

Making the lives of the poorest even harder in order to punish them. It’s the typical small minded vindictiveness that we’ve come to know and love from the British Labour party as they complete their transition to a fully fledged right wing party, proponents of the belief that there can be no representation without taxation. They’ve become the party of net curtain twitchers, tutters, tskers, and the very worst small minded Presbyterian self-righteousness straight from the Victorian kailyaird. The British Labour party in Scotland has turned into the Sunday Post. It’s even got Daphne.

But that’s unfair. The Sunday Post had the graphic talents of that genius of ink, Dudley D Watkins. British Labour scrawls on the backs of fag packets. In lipstick, it appeals to women voters. Dudley D drew fantastic imagescapes of the Scottish imagination. Labour draws the blank look of Johann and the bankbook of Blair.

David O’Neill, president of Cosla, was raging about the poll tax soor grapes ban. There are fewer things more amusing to watch than a pursed lip in search of a pout. David ranted that it was “the oddest decision ever to come out of the Scottish government”. Odder than Jock McConnell’s decision to wear that kilt, odder than Jock’s decision to allow Westminster to keep its paws on £1.5 billion because he couldn’t think what to spend it on, odder even than North Ayrshire cooncil’s decision to sign contracts to spend almost £430 million in PPP payments for new schools that cost £88 million to build. David O’Neill, leader of North Ayrshire cooncil, has a peculiar definition of oddness, but then he’s a British Labour timeserver.

David moaned that no one had consulted him about it before the decision was announced. Because it’s only right and proper in the odd world of British Labour that when you want to slap down uppity wee gits who are on a bigger power trip than a car park attendant during a bus strike, you tell them about it beforehand in order to allow them to get their excuses in first so they can appear pre-pouted in the TV studio.

Naturally, this doesn’t hold if the car park attendant uses his or her awesome power to ban Audis, which is merely an act of social and moral responsibility. This is because Audi is German for “I have a very small penis and a need to over-compensate.”

The news about Labour’s shock and dismay at being refused the right to chase after ancient debts with the zeal of a witchfinder general came on the same day that pay day loan company Wonga announced that it was writing off £220 million in outstanding debts owed by thousands of clients who never had any realistic chance of repaying, and who never should have been given loans in the first place. Wonga has promised to change its business model and check clients’ ability to pay before authorising a loan, and has issued an apology for the distress its lending behaviour has caused. British Labour in Scotland has less of a social conscience than a pay day loan company. That’s jaw dropping, but admittedly only in a universe without Johann Lamont or Jim Murphy in it.

Our universe is far odder than that. We live in a universe where the puppets in the Wonga advert can lecture Labour from the moral high ground. And these are the people who claim to be the political heirs of Mary Barbour and the Glasgow rent strikes. Labour no longer believes in peacefully challenging authority in order to defeat an injustice. They believe they are the authority, and for a very long time they went unchallenged. That’s changed now.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve come to the distressing realisation that I loathe the British Labour party in Scotland even more than I despise the Tories, and it’s not because I’ve got any more right wing. It used to be common knowledge, by which is usually meant something that everyone believes because no one has ever bothered to contradict it, that people get more conservative as they get older. Apparently it’s something that occurs naturally to humans once they discover that they have a use for a nasal hair trimmer. However, this hasn’t happened to hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland, many of whom do have suspiciously hairy nostrils now that I come to think of it.

The Labour party hasn’t aged at all well. The British Labour party has suffered an explosive outburst of nasal hair which has propelled it rightwards more quickly than a missile over Baghdad. It’s the self-serving sneeze from those whose nasal hair is rooted in a nose in the trough.

During the referendum campaign independence supporters were lectured by certain supporters of the Union for our supposed fixation on the “narcissism of small differences”. Insisting that Scotland is a different political space to the rest of the UK is an example of such narcissism, they told us. But there is no greater example of the narcissism of small differences than is to be found in the British Labour party and its attempts to portray itself as something different from the Conservatives. The party has wholeheartedly adopted privatisations, PPP schemes, foreign wars, benefits caps, and austerity cuts. And now we have discovered that a pay day loan company has more of a conscience about the effects of aggressive debt pursuit on the poorest in society. I wonder what Mary Barbour would have said.

 

Upstaged by an autocue

I’ve been watching parts of the Tory party conference. Not much of it, as the human body is only so strong and watching the entire proceedings would take at least four packets of immodium and a ball gag to stop me screaming swerry wurds. Even, I’m ashamed to say, the one starting with c and ending with t. But that doesn’t feel strong enough, and Scottish lefty viewers of Conservative conferences are left with the appalling realisation that the English language is inadequate to the task. Davie Cameron is a fracking oleaginous clapped out bellend, and the only reason he’s not a wanker as well is because he’s so useless he’s incapable of doing anything for himself.

OK. I’ve got that out my system now. A detox session is vital after watching a selfishness of Tories – that’s the proper collective noun in case you were wondering. You get George Osborne announcing tax breaks for better off pensioners – Tory voters – telling us with his narrow lips that individuals are the best judges of how to spend their money. Vote for me, peasants. And then you get Iain Duncan Smith, the man who makes Lex Luthor seem like Mahatma Gandhi, saying that the poorest families on benefits will no longer get all their income in cash that they can be the best judges of how to spend. They’ll get prepaid cards that can only be used to purchase set items. Poor people who aren’t a core Tory voting group need to have their spending decisions made for them by Iain Duncan Smith.  Iain Duncan Smith is an anagram of ‘dun in maniac shit’. That’s probably significant.

On Wednesday we had Davie’s keynote speech. They’re called keynote because yer average Westminster politician could just sing through the musical scales repeatedly and impart the same information content. Conference pledges have the same relationship to reality as Gordie Broon. But what he did vow, because they’re all very keen on vows these days, was ‘English votes for English laws’. This is also a vow to unvow the vow that he vowed to Scotland, but vows made to non-Conservative voters don’t count, and no one is going to lose any sleep over losing the parliamentary support of David Mundell. It’s like the Rebel army losing an Ewok, only not as cutesy.

English votes for English laws is a slogan which has caught the headlines in a way its logical partner – Scottish votes for Scottish laws – never could. The prono papers have never troubled themselves over much with Scotland getting what it votes for. However England must always get what it votes for at all times and under all circumstances. This is only democratic. Scotland doesn’t get the same consideration. But hey, we voted No. So we get what we’re given and we lump it now that the option of leaving it has been taken off the table along with the cereal.

Labour has taken the humph, not so much because Davie’s entirely predictable move screws over the expectations of Scotland, but because it screws over the British Labour party. British Labour is not going to stand for that kind of affront, not to their own power and influence. What’s really bugging them is that a legal prohibition on Scottish MPs voting on English laws in effect creates two tiers of MP. Scottish MPs who cannot vote on key government policies which only affect England would be unlikely to hold any major offices of state. No more Scottish prime ministers. Anything that gets in the way of a British Labour MP and a career opportunity is terribly bad for democracy.

The worst of it is that one or other of this sorry bunch of shiny egos are going to be the next government.

The Sarah Smith Stardust Show had a detailed and incisive forensic examination of what all this means for the vow, which consisted of some shots of the Action Krankie at the Tory party conference looking smug because she got to sit next to Davie’s missus, followed by Jackson Carlaw assuring us that it was all just fine and not to worry our silly wee heids because the Conservatives are utterly committed to delivering loads and loads of devolution goodies. All of which was uttered with the same conviction and self belief as US Civil War general John Sedgewick, whose last words were allegedly an attempt to rouse his beleaguered troops into action by shouting “The Confederates couldn’t shoot an elephant from this dist…. “

It was that subatomic exploration of the issues that we’ve come to know and love from BBC Scotland. Like when scientists looked very closely at the structure of the atom and discovered that what seems to be solid consists largely of empty space and very little matter. So it was quite appropriate really. No wonder Pacific Quay management is so pleased with its referendum coverage.

This was followed by Newsnight for Grownups with a package from political editor Allegra Stratton giving a summary of all the important points to be taken from Davie’s speech. Allegra is concerned with the Big Picture, not that parochial subatomic stuff. She mentioned the UKIP problem, she mentioned the EU problem, she mentioned the promise to protect NHS spending, she spent an inordinate amount of time talking about Davie’s latest tax cut wheeze, and she even found time to point out the importance of the autocue and how Davie used it to avoid the oops I forgot that £1.5 trillion deficit faux pas Ed Miliband committed when he gave his keynote conference speech – the one with the bum notes. There was nae mention of any tartan related vow in wedding font lettering. Not even the English votes for English laws one never mind the Scottish one. And Gordie Broon’s petition doesn’t rate a mention anywhere, and neither does Gordie.

So it’s official. Scotland has less importance for UK party politics than an autocue. Probably that’s because autocues only say what they’re told to and someone else writes their script.

But here’s an ironic wee factoid. In 2007 when Gordie Broon launched his leadership campaign at the British Labour party conference, he managed to deliver the entire speech with the autocue obscuring his face. They do say history repeats itself, and for the second time in his life Gordie has been upstaged by an autocue.