Kick Up The Tabloids


I’ve been touring Scotland’s distilleries this June, researching my Edinburgh Fringe show about whisky. It’s been a tough job, but it has given me an insight into the cosmopolitan nature of modern Scotland. The people of Edinburgh are of course used to American tourists. However, I watched the England v USA World Cup game in a pub in Clydebank. It was only when the USA equalised that I realised everyone in the pub was American. Over the next week, I watched the next England World Cup games in pub in various parts of the country, and hadn’t realised there were so many Algerians in Campbeltown, or Slovenians in Oban. I saw the knock-out game against Germany in Port Askaig in Islay and everyone in the pub was German. Actually, that’s not a joke, everyone in that pub apart from me actually was German.

There has been some criticism of Scots not supporting England but with David Cameron so proudly flying the St Georges Cross, why the hell should we? George Osbourne’s first budget has given us all a taste of the “new politics” being trumpeted by our new “progressive coalition” government. A rise in VAT to 20 per cent. In other words, a tax on the poor. And this is new, how ? It’s new because it’s now supported by Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, who were opposed to the idea as recently as two months ago. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this “new politics”. However, we cannot argue that we aren’t living in a significant period in history. 2010 will go down in history as being the first time ever that the “Don’t Knows” have won a general election. And of course, what the “new politics” means to Scotland is we are now landed with a government that none of us voted for. Not so much “new” as “eighties retro”. Complete with “on your bike” rhetoric from the powers-that-be. There are many of us with long memories who fondly think back to the good old days when voting Lib Dem was merely “a wasted vote”. Not any more, sadly.

The greatest irony is that the Lib Dems wield more power now than at any stage in the last hundred years after an election in which their share of the vote actually fell. Indeed, big question to emerge after the polls closed was what happened to the so- called “Lib Dem bounce”? Their vote appeared to collapse spectacularly from opinion polls which had earlier suggested they could have the largest share of the vote, but come election day they were down to 25 per cent and lost seats. The answer, of course,isthattherevotedidnotcollapse. Itwasnevertherein the first place. The reason for this is that people lie to opinion pollsters. People who are too ashamed to say to a stranger that they’re voting Conservative, but who in the privacy of the ballot box will do just that. Voting Tory is like domestic abuse. Nobody is ever going to admit to doing it, but statistics prove it does happen quite a lot.

Even for a party noted for its silly ideas, forming a pact with the Tories must go down as one of the Beard and Sandals Brigade’s daftest . I suspect that the cracks will appear sooner rather than later. Indeed, it emerged that there was some disquiet about the coalition from various influential grandees in the party. In particular, both Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campell were reported to have spoken against it. It shows the extent to which Clegg, Cable and company have lost the plot that the only voices of reason are those of an OAP and a guy with a drink problem. Some people will be willing to give the new Tory-Conservative coalition time to prove themselves. They have made some liberal-sounding noises about ID cards, and pretty much all of us will be in favour of the pledge to scrap them. Identity cards would never have been enforceable in Scotland and in large parts of the country would have been totally unnecessary. Anyone who lives north of Perth does not need an ID card. Everyone knows everyone else. After all, how could they be enforced by your average West Highland village bobby.

“Come on, John Angus, show me you identification card”

“Come on, now, Lachie, you’ve known me for years.”

“Aye, but you could be a terrorist.”

“You ken fine well I drove the school bus.”

“Exactly, what to stop you loading that thing full of explosives and driving onto the Cal-Mac ferry ? Think of the mayhem you could in a major centre of population like Stornoway.”