Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, or Nικολα Oξύρρυγχος as we should perhaps henceforth call her, is in London today. She’s on one of those ‘be nice to the neighbours’ trips that her predecessor often seemed impelled to undertake, combining so skilfully the sweet murmurings of love with a little finger wagging and tut-tutting.
Appropriate really, because it’s St Valentine’s Day later this week. The patron saint of lovers. Not much is known of his origins except that he was Roman, not Greek, which is a shame because it would make a neat connection to Nικολα.
Even before it’s delivered, the text of the speech she is to give seems to be available to the media and she’s been interviewed about it on the morning news shows. Her chosen venue is the august institution of which I am an alumnus, University College London, famous for the stuffed waxwork of its founder Jeremy Bentham, who gazes balefully at passing visitors when his closed cabinet is opened for their curiosity. It’s a fine reminder of human mortality as well as utilitarianism. I hope they show it to her.
Oh yes, the Greek connection. You’ve probably guessed.
The thing is, Nικολα’ς speech is about the ‘comprehensive failure’ of ‘austerity economics.’ And if I had a fiver to spare, I’d wager she’s been emboldened to go this next step in the SNP’s fantasy economics by the, let’s be charitable, perceived success so far of Greece’s anti-austerity government and its prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Never mind that the present UK government’s unpopular policies in challenging times have delivered an economy more robust than most in Europe, let alone the basket case that is the Greek economy. Never mind, either, that Scotland performs well economically compared with most other areas of the UK.
The truth is that if the SNP is about to embark on a love affair with the anti-austerity economics of Greece it will only be the latest in a whole series of infatuations.
First, the one the SNP hate to hear: their pre-war flirtation with, I’m trying to be discreet, right-wing nationalism and socialism. Oh damn, let’s say it – Nazism. Of course that was only for some of their members and only a passing fancy, albeit one the party has never wholly repudiated.
Then there was their discovery of the voluptuous delights of oil in the ’70s. Like jealous lovers everywhere they said ‘She’s ours’ and didn’t want to share her. The affair went off the boil for a long time, only to be rekindled when the referendum came along. Strangely, it was to be only a brief second fling as they discovered she was no longer a $100 gal but could be bought cheaply for a mere $50.
For a while the party gazed longingly westward at the one they called ‘the Celtic Tiger’ a big girl and growing stronger daily. Alas, the tiger turned out to be a bankrupt pussy cat and was spurned rapidly when she let them down.
Never let it be said the party doesn’t have a feminine side, for then along came a whole series of sugar daddies, big men with big wallets – news mogul Uncle Rupert; The Donald (mmm so strong, so manly); and the wealthiest of all, fabulous ‘Sir’ Fred with his Royal connections. But like sugar daddies everywhere their interest was fleeting. Success turns them on but after a while if they don’t get their hands on what they want they’re off to find a more productive relationship.
They’re up some for exotica too, not least a sentimental though temporary attachment to Quebec and what she could teach them (not a lot it turned out). And as if having to learn French wasn’t enough they struggled with Catalan and the delights of a Ryanair flight to Barcelona (the Edinburgh of the south). To be honest they probably broke both affairs off because each side could only communicate in the language of the oppressor, English in their case, French and Spanish for their would-be partners.
And now, of course, after many years they’ve discovered the delights of decent ordinary lassies (and lads), at least they have since they worked out who seemed to vote for them in the Scotland’s Got Talent referendum.
Which brings us back full circle to Nικολα and her discovery of the Greek alternative to austerity. I don’t expect it’ll be too long before kids in playgrounds throughout Scotland are chanting ‘Alexis and Nicola sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.’ And I can hear Demis Roussos even now – ‘Forever and ever you’ll be the one.’ Feel the luurve, people.
But don’t worry. It won’t last. It never does. Because there is only one true object of their desire, spotless and pure above all others. Lovely girl. Goes by various names, not least Caledonia and Alba. But her affair with them is fickle, a bit of an on-off thing. And until she shows them the undying devotion they believe they deserve they’ll keep searching for love elsewhere.
A happy Valentine’s day to you all when it comes.