We have the opportunity, there’s a lifeboat attached to the good ship UK that’s heading for that Brexit iceberg – it’s called Scottish independence. Let’s get on board that lifeboat, let’s row as fast as possible.
– Pete Wishart MP, quoted in The Scotsman
Never the master of metaphor, Pete Wishart SNP MP chose a stark comparison to enliven his talk at an SNP conference fringe meeting yesterday organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). I don’t know if anyone told Pete what brand of economics the IEA stands for but, trust me, it doesn’t fit with the cuddly progressive image the party chooses to cultivate.
In an idle moment over my breakfast rowie, his words had me musing that being marooned in a lifeboat with some of the SNP’s prominent figures might be one of my visions of hell. Perhaps not in the best of taste (but we are talking Wishart here and he started it), his words reminded me of the photo above of one of the lifeboats of the Titanic, its occupants about to be rescued by another ship – itself a useful extension of Pete’s metaphor since the one thing we can be sure of in an independent Scotland run by the SNP is that its economy would need rescuing by someone else.
Anyhow, in my nightmare of lifeboat hell, I was struggling to think who my fellow occupants might be. Who would take charge? Who’d be navigating? Which horny-handed sons of toil would bend to the oars and ‘row as fast as possible’? Was there a mutineer on board? Would someone sacrifice themselves for the greater good by jumping overboard in the dead of night? Who would huddle whimpering in the bilges terrified of the journey ahead?
Luckily The Scotsman has a report on the disaster in its edition dated 31 May 2019.
A month after Brexit and the disappearance in a River Clyde tragedy of the MV SNP, Royal Navy frigate HMS Glasgow yesterday located the vessel’s drifting lifeboat West of St Kilda, flying a tattered ‘Yes’ saltire.
‘It was a pathetic sight,’ said frigate Captain Philip Jones. ‘The crew had all survived but they were in an emaciated state. Shortage of supplies had led to all sorts of problems on the boat.’
When asked to elaborate on the ‘problems’ Capt. Jones declined to comment. But following an investigation by Scotsman reporters grim details of the disastrous voyage emerged.
‘The fundamental problem,’ said one informant who declined to give their name, ‘was that we had plenty of people with a vision of where we were heading and who were willing to take charge but no-one prepared to do the hard work of rowing.’
In off-the-record comments, details emerged of a stand-up row between Alex S. and Nicola S. about the direction and speed of travel that nearly ended in a disastrous capsize.
Many of the crew, according to our informant, turned out to be unfit and incapable of physical activity. In one case it required two seamen to pull on one oar, junior crew members Angus McN. and Stewart H. ‘Even though they were doubling up,’ said our informant, ‘that seemed to lead to constant arguments. No-one could understand why.’
Meantime, shorter and shorter shifts had to be devised for overweight crew members who could row. One elderly crew member, Jim S., proved enthusiastic and willing but had to be removed from duty as he persistently rowed in the wrong direction.
Long-serving second in command John S. attempted to organise training in basic skills but rowing performance declined throughout the ordeal.
Asked why they had ended up somewhere West of St Kilda, coxswain Derek M., in charge of navigation, said, ‘I used a calculator. What more could I do?’
In the most shocking incident, it was revealed that some un-named survivors had attempted to push good-natured musician Pete W. off the boat. ‘It was horrifying,’ said our informant, ‘the guy had only been trying to keep spirits up by singing a beautiful song called “Going Home.” I’m afraid the endless dirge-like repetition just made some comrades snap.’
The crew are now recovering in a naval hospital at Faslane on the Clyde where HMS Glasgow landed them earlier today. They are said to be shaken by their ordeal and not sure if they will go to sea again.
[Ed. – names have been withheld to protect the anonymity of survivors]