It’s only after you break a bad habit that you realise just how bad it was for you. Like giving up smoking or voting Labour in Scotland. That’s been a vicious addiction that hundreds of thousands have given up, and which they have no intention of returning to – it’s been much easier than giving up smoking. Labour produces nasty bile and shortens your life span. Vote Labour and get cancer of the body politic.
That’s now over two weeks without a ciggie and I’m feeling increasingly confident that this time I’ve given up for good. From time to time I still think about how much I’d love a smoke, but the cravings are not strong and far less frequent than they used to be. I don’t ever think that I’d love to vote Labour, I never wistfully wonder what it would be like to have a wee sly drag on Jim Murphy just for old times sake. But Ed Miliband wants us to sook on Jim Murphy so he doesn’t have to. It’s a very easy temptation to resist, like the temptation to lick a turd or the temptation to have a wet dream about Ed Miliband.
Labour’s appalling polling figures continue to plunge to new depths. A poll for STV this week shows that they’d do even worse in a Holyrood election than the unprecedented thrashing they got in 2011. The poll showed that they’d get just 23% of the vote share, well down from the 31.7% they managed in 2011. By an eerie coincidence, 23% is also the proportion of Scottish adults who still smoke – and that’s falling too, although not quite as quickly as Labour’s vote share. Labour’s the fag-end party, the only thing left about it are doubts and a lingering smell. Their prospects of re-election have gone up in smoke.
Labour is increasingly resembling a Cheech and Chong movie, 1980s comedies beloved of those who are too stoned to notice that the jokes are rubbish and the plot is rehashed. If that’s not enough to drive you to drugs then probably nothing is. This is why the party organ is the Daily Record, with its reading age of seven. Labour has the concentration span of a goldfish on speed. The party would have to study for a week for a urine test, and they’d still fail. Now they want us to believe that reality is an illusion caused by a lack of Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale, this is because Labour is a gateway drug – that explains how it’s ended up in Narnia. However there is an essential difference between people who get stoned on a regular basis and Labour politicians. Labour politicians don’t inhale, they just suck.
What didn’t go up in smoke was an effigy of Alicsammin in Lewes in Sussex, in the heart of Toryukip Ingerland, as opposed to Lewis in the Western Isles. One of these places is barren, far from civilisation and inhabited by narrow minded bigots with 19th century attitudes, the other is an island off the West Coast of Scotland. Or maybe the effigy did go up in smoke, reports on the subject have been as confused as Labour’s attempts to find some coherent policies. Some people on Twitter and social media were claiming that at least one of the effigies was burned after all. Anyway, Lewes is somewhere that few in Scotland had heard about and even fewer cared about right up to the point where we heard that they were going to set fire to a papier mache effigy of Alicsammin and Nessie as part of their Guy Fawkes celebrations. Because burning Catholics just isn’t offensive enough.
It’s all just a bit of fun of course, and only humourless nats get offended by this sort of thing. I have no particular objection to burning an effigy of Alicsammin – it’s just a tasteless tradition which the non-PC residents of a town I’ve never visited and am never likely to visit indulge themselves in each year. They’re previously burned effigies of Angela Merkel and other European politicians as well as effigies of Cameron and Clegg. It’s a tradition not unlike the Catalan tradition of caganers, when every Christmas they exhibit an effigy of a public figure dropping a jobby. It’s supposed to be ‘naughty’, and to provoke a giggle in the likes of people who go to golf clubs in Sussex and vote UKIP. It’s a joke for the kind of people who think Jim Davidson is funny. And to be fair, those of us who voted Yes do want to bring down the Westminster Parliament – even though it’s in an entirely peaceful and democratic manner. We are modern Guy Fawkeses. We certainly put a rocket up the arse of the British establishment during the referendum campaign.
What is interesting however is the non-reciprocal nature of the humour. It’s always just a bit of harmless fun when the English indulge in offensive stereotyping of Scottish people. It’s not a bit of harmless fun when Scottish people indulge in offensive stereotyping of English people, because this points to something dark and evyle lurking at the very heart of the Scottish psyche. There is a persistent English racist stereotype that the sole definitive feature of Scottish culture is a hatred of English people. Being Scottish is all about the English, apparently. So it’s not the burning of an effigy of Alicsammin that annoys me. It’s the double standards. We saw it all the way through the referendum campaign, from Steve Bell’s cartoons to the hysterical editorials bewailing the anti-English racism that is supposed to stalk every street in Scotland.
Imagining the reaction if Scottish people burned an effigy of David Cameron isn’t quite a reasonable comparison, because if Yes voters had made a Guy Fawkes night effigy of Cameron, half the voters of England would have come to Scotland with matches – in fact half the Conservative party would have supplied cans of petrol and napalm. Instead – imagine the reaction from the anti-independence parties if Yes voters had burned effigies of Alistair Darling, Gordie Broon, and Jim Murphy. Would anyone be telling us then that it was just a joke and where’s yer sense of humour? The polis would have been called before anyone could say egg-flinger.
So the response from outraged Scots isn’t really about burning an effigy of Alicsammin – or even an effigy of Nessie – what’s outraging them is the fact that others are being indulged in behaviours which they can’t do in response. It’s the non-reciprocal nature of what is considered “harmless fun”. That’s what’s unfair, that’s what’s offensive, not the effigy of Alicsammin.