As we enter a New Year, and as we look forward to 2016, it is inevitable that we also look back on the previous twelve months. While a New Year always offers hope for change, Hogmanay is often a time for reminiscence. This is ironic in itself, as by the time the bells have sounded midnight, many of us have difficulty in remembering our own names, and come New Year’s Day itself, our memories of Hogmanay are sketchy at best.
Scots do revel in nostalgia at this time of year. Indeed, as 2015 drew to a close, many people’s memories drifted back to more exciting times. Some cast their minds back to the inspiring events of May’s SNP landslide, others further back to the heady days of September 2014. This is partly because by the end of 2015, many Scots had resorted to the old concerns of complaining about the weather, getting depressed about the state of the national football and looking for someone to blame for a bridge having to shut.
For the first time ever, people in Edinburgh were heard to complain that they could not get to Dundee. The irony of this was not lost on Dundonians either. Having overwhelming voted in the autumn of the previous year for Scotland to be independent from the UK, they suddenly found themselves in a situation fifteen months later where they were effectively independent from the rest of Scotland.
For me personally, coming as it did at the height of the festive season, the closure of the Forth Road Bridge was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. We normally are subjected to a visit from my church-going Better Together activist cousin, Lena, and her Tory-voting husband, Norrie, who have established their own traditional on calling on us on the last Sunday before Christmas at the kind of time of the morning when only Christians are awake. Thankfully, they couldn’t come this year because they live in Kinghorn.
However, a remarkable thing happened when they phoned to say they were not coming. I found myself agreeing with Norrie about politics. We were both disgusted by Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims.. But for different reasons, of course! In my opinion, Trump’s remarks were not only racist and inflammatory, but damaging to global peace given that they came from the mouth of a man who aspires to be President of the USA. Norrie was more worried that ‘it might mean the Open Championship doesn’t come to Turnberry’.
Well done to the Scottish Government for taking away Trump’s business ambassador status, and withdrawing him from the Global Scot network, but it doesn’t really go far enough. If it is serious about letting Trump know what it thinks about him, it should build a wind farm and a mosque on the nearest available land to his Turnberry golf complex!
Likewise, while one commends Robert Gordon University for stripping him of his honorary degree, it’s hardly likely to alter his behaviour. A few years ago, Edinburgh University took away an honorary degree they had conferred on Robert Mugabe, as if he would be less likely to commit genocide his own people, due to no longer holding some bogus academic qualification.
It’s all very reminiscent of how Fred Goodwin’s crimes were handled. The government, who by then owned RBS stripped him of his knighthood, but allowed him to keep all of his bonuses, which totalled in the region of forty million pounds. In effect, all he had to do to hang on to the money was to change his name very slightly, from Sir Fred Goodwin to Mr Fred Goodwin. There are few people alive who would turn down that kind of money if all that was required was a change of name. In fact, if anyone offered me as comparatively little as ten million quid on condition that I moved to Gloucester and changed my name to Fred West, I’d bite their hand off. However, I’d want a hell of a lot more dosh before I considered changing my name to Donald Trump.
Finally, hats off to a group of true Scottish heroes, those hardy souls who have set up camp outside Holyrood, and are not going to move until Scotland becomes independent. I suspect they may be there for quite some time. Let’s hope it’s a mild winter, and wish them all the best for 2016.
Vladimir McTavish, Keir McAllister and Mark Nelson will be appearing in The Stand Comedy Club’s monthly satirical show TOPICAL STORM at the Edinburgh Stand on Wednesday 20 January and the Glasgow Stand on Monday 25 January, both shows start 8.30pm