Alex Salmond advises Nicola Sturgeon on tactics for indyref2
I had a colleague once who went to a conference in Liverpool, where an interlude after the conference dinner was provided by comedian Ken Dodd. He’d apparently been booked to do 45 minutes between coffee and the serious business of networking (and drinking) by the assembled suits. After an hour and a half of manic entertainment the chair of the organising committee was delegated to approach him and ask respectfully if he’d mind winding up. Dodd turned to him and said words to the effect ‘Oh no, you get the full three hours, everyone does.’
I was reminded of that incident the other week when I saw the excellent Fred Macaulay’s latest stand-up show. He also referred to Dodd’s fearsome reputation for giving, er, full value for money, and assured us he’d be out after a strict one and a half hours, no nonsense about encores.
Fred was true to his word and also wisely steered away from any attempt to engage us on the serious business of politics, only slipping in one ironic ‘Our Nicola’ (Lord, how I despise that phrase). But taken together these details coalesced in my mind into the serious business of how the SNP is not that far removed from Ken Dodd and his stage persona.
First, there’s the man himself, although since Nicola Sturgeon became leader, we’d have to say the person themselves. Once they’re on, and the same applies to the whole SNP, you can’t get rid of them. They’re going to give you the full three hours (for which read two referendums in much less than a generation) whether you want it or not. The majority of the audience don’t. But never mind, the main act’s going to pile on regardless.
And pile on she does. Here the Flemish prime minister. There, a quick side trip to Gibraltar followed by a longer twenty-four hours to Brussels and a photo opp with anyone who’ll pose with her. There again, a holiday snap with all the EU consul-generals in Scotland, one said to be a rat catcher from Paisley (did I dream this one??? I’ve been away for a week and social media seems full of it as I return). And of course, in the Royal (get that!) box at Wimbledon looking miserable as sin watching Andy trounce a hapless Canadian in three sets. At least she didn’t have the ill grace to whip out a saltire to wave when Murray won, unlike her predecessor. What was his name? Hubby did however tweet a snap of two white vapour trails crossing each other in a blue sky over Wimbledon in which he saw a premonition of … oh, I can’t be bothered, you finish it.
Then there’s the rest of the cast. Like Ken and his diddy men and Mrs Thatcher and her all-male cabinet, Nicola bestrides the SNP like a colossus. And like the diddy men and Mrs T’s cabinet (at least in their Spitting Image incarnations) they all seem like wee puppets by comparison. John who? Angus who? Never heard of them. They don’t even break cover to give us a chorus of ‘We are the Diddymen’ although Messrs Hosie and MacNeil could perhaps render a duet of ‘The Nicky Nocky Noo Song.’
Finally, of course, there’s the famous tickling sticks (see below). Like Dodd, the SNP habitually sport two. One lulls the faithful into a comatose state of contented gurgles with all the promises of a better future. The other irritates the hell out of everyone else, driving them to cries of ‘Stop it. Get off!’ as they’re poked repeatedly with the sharp end.
Well, I did use the phrase ‘summer nonsense’ in the title of this post and why not? It’s no more nonsensical than the summer review of policy and wooing of No voters that was promised and didn’t happen. Never mind, there’s always strawberries and cream at Wimbledon and another madcap escapade to keep the groundlings in a state of high agitation.
The red, white and blue tickling sticks that led to nationalist complaints against Dodd and demands that when appearing in Scotland he replace them with yellow and black versions