Fluffy Mundell, the original Scottish political panda, was proving as evasive as the fluffy black and white variety on Wednesday as he avoided giving a straight answer to a simple question. His attempts to avoid the question were clear to anyone who listened, because Fluffy is not exactly as sharp as a pin, he’s more a parp in a bin. Paddington Mundell thinks sleight of hand means waving a roof tile, so he’s having very little success in deflecting awkward questions about his role in the infamous memo leak. He’s standing on the roof and looking like a target.
So far Fluffy has managed to avoid questions by being invisible, but he couldn’t avoid the cameras on the day of the Queens Speech, what with him being the only government MP in all of Scotland. It’s a lonely job at the Scotland Office when all he’s got are his teddy bears for company. Asked whether he knew anything about the infamous memo leaking, Bumfluffy replied that the enquiry said it was all down to Aliestair. He didn’t say “No, I knew nothing about it”, which is what you might expect a person who knew nothing about it to say.
Ali and Fluff have been playing Scotland Office tag team for the past five years, and it’s not like it’s an enormous office with thousands of staff and a hugely demanding work load. By all accounts the pair sat opposite one another in the same office. What Ali knew, Fluffy would have known too – unless he was taking the bin out at the time. But Fluffy stuck to his repetitious line that the enquiry had only found Aliestair to be at fault, which was a bit like Ronnie Kray saying that the courts had only found Reggie guilty. Fluffy shifted uncomfortably and the Scotland Office bin lid visibly lifted as the faint whiff off lie-fart was released.
Scotland is famously or infamously the land where I kent his faither, the traditional way of saying that in Scotland we don’t have six degrees of separation, it’s more like one or two. I don’t ken Aliestair Carmichael’s faither, but I know someone who did, someone who has known Aliestair since he was a wee stuffed teddy. This friend says that they were shocked by the leak and smear and Aliestair’s role in it, because it’s so out of character for him. I believe my friend.
My friend also said that they couldn’t understand why Aliestair had done it, since he didn’t stand to gain personally from it. And this is true – out of all the Lib Dem MPs in the UK, it was widely believed by one and all that if the Lib Dems would cling on anywhere, it would be in Orkney and Shetland. Despite an SNP tsunami that was even greater than the SNP had hoped or the Lib Dems and Labour had feared, Aliestair did indeed cling on to his seat. He could have avoided any smearing and underhand behaviour, and he’d currently be a respected figure, the noble survivor like the last of the Mohicans. Instead he’s hounded and hiding and his career may not survive.
So why did he do it? Did someone put him up to it, and what was he promised for doing it? Did he really put his career on the line in order to save Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson’s skin without there being anything in it for him? The enquiry restricted itself to identifying the source of the leak, and our mainstream media shows no great appetite for getting to the bottom of these questions so it’s unlikely we will ever know. We only know that the guy who looks like the creepy janitor did it, but we’ll never know who put him up to it. It’s not a very satisfying conclusion to a cartoon, even if we do manage to get him to stand down. Where’s Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc. when you need them?
The UK media is occupied with far weightier issues than trying to find out who tried to pauchle a democratic election and piss off the French. The SNP clapped in the House of Commons, and the massed ranks of Daily Mailesque commentaries are showing their chagrin. Clapping is unparliamentary behaviour and only goes to show that Scottish people can’t be trusted off a Unionist leash. Next thing you know they’ll be being stereotypical on Dennis Skinner’s bench. You can lie, you can smear, you can abuse public office for party gain, you can cause a diplomatic incident, you can pauchle your expenses, you can cover up the activities of well connected paedophiles, you can cheat, you can start an illegal war that causes the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Just don’t clap, because that’s beyond the pale.
In the House of Commons the approved means of showing approval is to bray like a public schooldonkey by uttering a strangulated heeyah heeyah. The House of Commons likes strangulated because that’s how they treat dissent. But there are no laws which say that upon being elected to the House of Commons you have to forget the social norms of the people who elected you and start acting like you’re a privately educated person from Rightupyerainarseshire. It’s merely a social convention, and the really interesting thing about a social convention is that if you break it often enough and persistently enough, then the social convention gets quietly rewritten.
So the SNP should continue to clap when they want to show approval. They should continue to act like normal people, like the people who elected them. Then they will rewrite the social conventions of Westminster so that they represent the people who put those MPs there instead of those MPs becoming bent out of shape by the norms of Westminster. I want an MP who will force Westminster to be representative of the people, not an MP who becomes representative of Westminster. I want an MP who knows that it’s OK to clap, it’s not OK to lie, cheat, smear, pauchle expenses or start illegal wars.
I know which is more offensive, and it sure as hell isn’t clapping.
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