I went to visit a friend last night, who insisted that she had to watch her favourite telly show – Celebrity Big Brother. Katie Hopkins is in it, taking refuge from that part of the Scottish population which is overcome with the urge to force feed her a Mars bar deep fried in ebola. Which is to say about 5 million of us. But don’t let it be said that you cannot learn something from a telly show which is to intellectual insight as a Labour party manifesto is to political philosophy. I learned that there really are people on this planet who are more vacuous and attention seeking than Katie Hopkins, and not all of them are elected representatives of the Labour party in Scotland like Mr High Jumpy. Although to be fair, he’s still way more inflated than anything put into Katie Price by a plastic surgeon.
But after a wee while I could feel neurones in my brain giving up and taking early advantage of the Scottish Parliament’s proposals for assisted suicide. I’d not felt my IQ drop so rapidly since having the immense misfortune to watch Prime Minister’s Questions earlier in the week. This week’s Parliamentary bonfire of the synapses consisted of Davie Cameron and Ed Miliband each telling the other that they were either a chicken or were feart. Or rather ‘frit’ in Westminsterspeak, because they’ve always got everything Rs-first over elbow.
The topic of the yah-booh suckery being Davie telling Ed that he wasn’t going to take part in any televised debates before the election unless Caroline Lucas of the English and Welsh Green party got a chance to trade insults too. Ed said that this made Davie a free-market chicken, and Davie retorted that Ed was a chicken fritter, and another little bit of British democracy died along with a few tens of thousands of synapses. Westminster Parliamentary debates are even less satisfying than that wee pang of disappointment which you get when you take a swig from your mug of tea only to discover that you’d already finished it.
This development has nothing to do with Davie’s pre 2010 electoral commitment to be the greenest government ever, a commitment which went much the same way as the commitment of the Lib Dems not to raise student fees – and buggered off in the same ministerial motor. Davie’s new-found fondness for fecund Greenery has a lot more to do with countering the disadvantage he feels at being out-reactionaried by the grinning mug of Nigel to his right. So Davie wants the Lib Dems and Labour to have to deal with a leftish party which does actually possess some principles. It’s not so much that this will make Davie’s lack of principles look any more like he might actually have some principles, as it will help to drag Nick and Ed down into the murky depths of unprincipled Tory-dom alongside the other bottom feeders.
The only surprising thing about any of this being that Davie was worried that other people might have a high opinion of Ed or Nick that needed to be brought down a bit in public estimation. But then none of them ever spend much time in the company of normal human beings and naturally their views about what normal people think are about as accurate as Magrit Curran’s views on what constitutes a good telephone voice.
Naturally none of the parties involved really give a toss about the inclusivity of our political process. Neither do they much care about ensuring that the electorate is fully informed of the range of democratic choices before them. But mostly they were fully in agreement that that Nicla shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the proceedings. We’ll be having none of that nasty Scottish separatism spoiling a perfectly yah boo debate with that being principled stuff. Besides, they’ve heard how during the independence referendum she shredded a couple of Scottish secretaries and met Johann Lamont full on in stairheid rammying, and would, if pressed and received cast iron assurances that it was deffo off the record, confess in private that they wet their pants a wee bit at the thought of the prospect. And not in a sexy way.
But Nicla isn’t going to be allowed anyway, because despite the No vote in the indy referendum, being Scottish isn’t quite British enough. You can be the biggest party in Scotland, you can be the only party in Scotland, but unless you stand for election somewhere that people who write for the politics pages of the Daily Mail can actually pronounce, then you’re not properly British. Middlesbrough or Melton Mowbray yes, Milngave or Mauchline no.
The debates and the pointless point-scoring it generates only highlights the problem of a media which still thinks it’s the media of a centralised state. Yet Scotland is one of the constituent parts of Britain is it not – the BBC said so. An equal partner in the most successful union of nations in the history of anything narrated by Simon Schama.
But if there was a Scottish national broadcaster then the issue would be less politically toxic, because then we could have equal airtime given to the parties that people here are plausibly going to vote for. But the Scottish broadcast media is as toothless and senile as the Labour party which was its first and only true love and the Tories who constitute the official pantomime villains.
And this is why we are in the most peculiar state of affairs that no one finds it peculiar that the heid bummer of BBC Scotland hasn’t made it known that the leaders of leading political parties in Scotland ought to have the same right to representation in a British political debate as do leaders of purplish parties voted for by people in Purley or Penge. A whole lot of pee there, but then we are talking about UKIP and BBC Scotland. BBC Scotland is in fact exactly like the Scottish Labour party it fawns over so desperately. Neither of them actually exist.
So it turns out that the topic that has most bothered our political masters this week is the question of whether an imaginary broadcaster should host imaginary debates for imaginary political parties so that newspapers that no one reads can spin the proceedings in imaginary ways. And then they wonder why people are turned off and want to build a new political system from scratch. Even the brain dead denizens of Celebrity Big Brother aren’t that removed from the real world. Whoops, there go some more neurones.