Wee Michael Crick, political correspondent for Channel 4 news, could hardly contain himself. “This could be the most exciting by-election in my entire career as a political reporter,” he gushed, after a Tory MP bearing an alarming resemblance to Ann Widdecombe in man-drag announced he’d be leaving parliament.
There was nothing honourable in the honourable member’s announcement. Patrick Mercer, Eurosceptic MP for the constituency of Toryville in Toryshire, had been caught selling political influence to lobbyists and had been suspended from Westminster for six months in punishment. But he was going to fall on his sword, or rather, stick it into Davie Cameron, and provoke a potentially embarrassing by-election.
But that wasn’t the real dishonour casting shame and disgrace on the entire institution. The really dishonourable bit was that Patrick had got into all this bother for just a couple of thousand quid, and not for the promise of an extremely lucrative six figure career, a directorship and a consultancy. We already knew MPs whore themselves to commercial interests, but they’re not high class sex workers plying their trade in exclusive hotels, they’re dockside rent boys who’ll offer a knee trembler up an alley for a tenner. It’s not the thought that Westminster politicians sell themselves that’s so offensive. It’s that they’re so bloody cheap.
But what was getting Michael Crick all excited was that the by-election would be held shortly after the European elections and the local elections in England, when it’s expected that UKIP will perform strongly and could even become the leading party in terms of vote share in England. Michael thought likely that Nigel Farage, UKIP’s bawbag in chief, would stand for election and could become UKIP’s first MP, inflating the right wing populist bubble even more and increasing pressure on Davie Cameron to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership.
Torygasm upon torygasm, Michael mused about the possiblity that the Tories might respond by sending in the clowns, and put Boris Johnson forward as candidate. Boris wants Davie’s job, because the Tories think that the way to make up for the unpopularity of a posh rich Etonian PM is to choose another rich Etonian who’s even posher.
And that’s what could have been the most important and exciting by-election of Michael Crick’s career. A showdown between a rightwing Thatcherite bawbag and a rightwing Thatcherite clown. One wants to abolish the Scottish parliament and replace it with a glorified Commons committee, the other thinks that a pound of government spending is better spent in Croydon than in Strathclyde.
But by Wednesday morning Nige has announced that he’s not a bawbag, he’s a crapbag, and he won’t be standing in the by-election. It would be a distraction, Nigel said, and he’d look like a carpetbagger. Though why that should worry a man who looks like a spiv wasn’t explained.
The real reason of course is that Nige couldn’t be sure he’d win, the constituency has a huge Tory majority and UKIP would require an unprecedented swing of over 25% in order to take the seat. And if he stood and lost, he’d have burst his own bubble. Especially since Labour has no chance of winning and would not have campaigned too hard in order to give the Tory candidate a better chance, whereas the Lib Dems may not have stood at all. UKIP is a major threat to the interests of the established parties, and they’ll cheerfully plot together to keep them at bay – which is the only similarity between Nige’s inward looking little Englandism and the outward looking Scottish independence movement.
Other Tory commentators had mused that it’s too early for Boris to return to Westminster. Boris is waiting for the outcome of the Scottish referendum, if there’s a yes vote Davie will come under intense pressure to resign, then the blonde clown can do his Bonnie Prince Boris impression and return like the king over the watter.
But although the bawclown facedown isn’t going to happen, the episode is further illustration of both the vast gulf which has opened up between Scottish politics and the politics of England. What place does Scotland have in a Union whose politics are dominated by the Tory party and its mutant UKIP offspring.
Labour doesn’t have the answer, Labour voters are deserting Ed’s mini band for UKIP in ever increasing numbers. Labour is also forced to tack to the right, or more accurately even further to the right, in order to forestall the loss of its support Nige’s band of swivel eyed loons.
Still if nothing else, the weather forecast would be much more interesting if UKIP was in power. We’d have much more to hurl abuse at than a misshapen map. We’d be getting told there was a surge in sodomy in Shropshire leading to heavy showers, and an outbreak of oral sex in overcast Ongar.
But UKIP continues to gain in strength. And that’s not a joke.
They tell us they don’t want Scotland to become a foreign country. But by their own actions, their own politics, they show us that Scotland already is a foreign country. One they neither care about nor know much about.
Better together with this farago of farce? You’ve got to be joking. We’ve got to make our own plans for Nigel, and get away from this.