This weekend it’s the Lib Dems’ Scottish conference. Had anyone noticed? Does Scotland care? At least these questions have answers, which are “damn few” and “dae we feck” respectively. And these are also the answers to the questions “Who’s going to vote Lib Dem?” and “Does Scotland trust any promise made by Nick Clegg?” There is however no answer to the question – where is this positive case for the Union then hmm?
Fresh from getting his arse kicked by Nigel the Bawbag of UKIP in a debate about Europe, Nick Clegg’s speech to the conference will be used to make a call for a positive and “thrilling” case for remaining in the UK. The Lib Dems and thrilling are not two concepts which are usually found in the same sentence, and most people will be struggling to comprehend what a thrill from a Lib Dem might consist of. Perhaps using Danny Alexander as a human cannonball and shooting him over the Thames would do it. Especially without a safety net. Danny’s made it his career to rip up the safety net for the poor and low paid, so it would only be fair.
Not that Nick’s making a positive case for the Union himself mind, he’s just asking someone else, anyone else, to do it – even Nigel the Bawbag would do. But the only public figure that’s attempted it recently is Kermit the Frog, and his heart wasn’t really in it. And I’m not even going to make the obvious joke about how it’s only a muppet that will speak up for the Union. Only I just did. But if Nick can say one thing and then do the exact opposite, it’s only fair if we can too. So aye Nick – I‘m going to make a solemn vow to vote no, and will trot along to a university and sign it in front of a load of students.
We can be kind, and let Nick off from providing a “thrilling” case for the Union, a positive case would suffice. We’ve already seen what the UK has on offer in terms of emotional excitement, there’s the edge of yer seat tension of a televisual diet of Great British Scone Baking and Great British Macrame competitions, the soap opera of Willnkate, the drama of near constant wars in far off lands, the tasteless celebrations of the start of a world war, and the vertiginous thrill of plunging towards economic ruin every time the UK’s cycle of London property booms hits bust. And a tiny number get very very rich, which is extremely exciting for them, while millions struggle in poverty and low pay, which is also extremely exciting but not in a good way. These are thrills which most people, whether living in Scotland or outwith Scotland, could do without.
Charlie Kennedy and David Steele, Nick’s predecessors as leader of the Lib Dems, made a similar call the other week. But they didn’t make the positive case themselves either. Unionist politicians are like schoolweans who haven’t done their homework, each pushing someone else to the front of the queue to see the teacher while they desperately jot crib notes on their shirt cuffs. But all they can think to scribble down is “Mummy, help me” and the recipe for Mary Berry’s jam sponge cake they saw the previous evening on the Great British Bake Off. Sadly the tuck shop is out of jam, and has been as long as anyone can remember.
Since they don’t have a real positive case, Unionist politicians have been reduced to claiming that threats and scare stories count. They are well versed in telling us that black is white, up is down, and austerity is economic success, so it’s not too much of a stretch to make out that the claim that an independent Scotland would be a bankrupt basket case is actually a glowing recommendation of the benefits of Westminster rule. This is why any speech in which a Unionist sets out to make the positive case for the Union ends up in a litany of scare stories from the Project Fear song book.
But Cleggie wants Better Together to set out proof that Scotland “will have new and exciting opportunities if they vote against independence”. That would be a new opportunity like a zero-hours contract, or the excitement of waiting to see if ATOS have rejected your claim for disability benefits. Then there’s the thrilling excitement of going off and making a new life down in London or further afield because there’s no work back home. UK elections are also far more exciting than anything an independent Scotland could offer. In an independent Scotland the people will, boringly and predictably, get the government they vote for, only the Union can offer the high-stakes risk and thrill of gambling your future on the voting decisions of people who think that Nigel the Bawbag is worth listening to. Pity the odds are stacked against us then. In Westminster the bawbags always win.
The Tories, the Lib Dems, and Labour all promise the same thrills, the same circus of victims being devoured by the ravenous beasts of the City of London. So aye, the Union is dead thrilling, destruction and devastation often is when you’re viewing it in safety from a political sinecure. Roman Emperors were experts in providing thrills too. But I don’t want thrills from my government. I want decent government and accountability. I want political parties which make manifesto commitments that they keep. Cleggie isn’t going to give us that, and neither are any of the rest of them. Under Westminster, there’s bugger all we can do about it.
So no Nick. The thrill of the Union has long gone. And very shortly, so will you. There is no positive case for the Union. If there was we’d have heard it a long time ago. All you have to offer are scare stories and threats dressed up in lies. We’ve had enough of them, we’ve had enough of you. In September we can wave bye bye to you, to Danny, and to Nigel the Bawbag. You won’t be missed.