So here we are at the start of 2018, and not only is Theresa May somehow still Prime Minister of the UK, but world peace has somehow managed to survive the first year of a Trump presidency. If anyone had gone to a bookies last June to place bets on May being in power at Christmas, Trump not launching a nuclear strike on North Korea before the end of the year and Celtic’s unbeaten run coming to an end in December with a 4-0 defeat by Hearts, there is little doubt that the third of those three punts would have been quoted the longest odds. The only bet that would have attracted longer odds would have been Kezia Dugdale winning ‘I’m a Celebrity! Get Me Out Of Here!’, or indeed Kezia Dugdale winning any vote of any description.
As long ago as last July, I was filming an improvised comedy show for BBC Scotland. I was cast in the role of a fanatical pro-independence campaigner, but was actually left to make up the words myself. On the first take, my character went on a long rant about Theresa May. The director called for a cut in filming, and asked me not mention Theresa May on the second take. When I complained about this being heavy-handed censorship, the director then explained: ‘No, it’s not that we don’t agree with what you’re saying, it’s just that this isn’t scheduled to be broadcast until January and we can’t certain she’ll still be around by then.’
Let’s give credit where it’s due to the PM, as she has pulled off a couple of fairly remarkable tricks during her eighteen months in office. Firstly, she has managed to look both evil and incompetent, which is quite a unique achievement. She almost appears to have been assembled in some Frankenstein-esque manner from the parts of previous Tory leaders. It’s as if the heart and compassion of Margaret Thatcher have been allied to the personality of John Major, the wit and humour of Iain Duncan-Smith and the political nous of Michael Howard.
Secondly, she has against all the odds stumbled on in power, like a marathon runner who has hit the wall at fifteen miles and wobbled their way over the finish line with all four limbs flailing in opposite directions. In truth, she has probably hung on because no one else wants the job, but few captains have stayed so long at the wheel of such a sinking, rudderless ship with so many rats either leaving or being pushed off, in a storm of sleaze, dodgy business deals, sexual harassment, porn on work computers and the like.
Some Tories tried to switch the focus of the Damian Green scandal by bleating about police misconduct in the Damian Green case. This kind of misses the really important point in this particular case. Namely, that any minister’s position becomes untenable when the public cannot look at him without imagining him masturbating in the office.
Speaking of which, Boris Johnson has somehow also managed to avoid losing his job, almost certainly because May is scared of sacking him. Only through the British class system could such an educationally-challenged moron end up as Foreign Secretary, due to his parents paying to send him to the right school. One can only imagine what kind of a job, if any, Boris Johnson would be doing had he been educated in a state school, but it certainly would not entail protecting the rights of British citizens wrongly imprisoned abroad.
Looking back over 2017, one is left with many abiding comic images of this slapstick government, but sadly the best image of all never happened. At the very last minute, Theresa May and Phillip Hammond were persuaded by their PR team not to go ahead with a planned photo opportunity where they were to take a trip in a driverless car. What a shame that photo never made the front pages, as I can think of few more appropriate metaphors for this current government than two people driving off into the middle of nowhere with nobody in control – which is pretty much how many of us feel as we drive off into the future. Happy New Year and good luck for 2018! I think we may just need it!
Vladimir McTavish will be appearing at Yes Bar in Glasgow on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 January 2018 and in a Burns Night Comedy Show at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh on Wednesday 24 January.