A homage to catatonia


by Paul Kavanagh

The Union has had to deal with many things being thrown at it over the years.  It survived Wendy Wood throwing herself at it bodily, which was no mean feat.  It survived Mel Gibson who painted himself blue without an appreciable sense of irony or the slightest intention of participating in a post-modern musical show.  It even survived the discovery of oil in the North Sea by the simple expedient of lying through its teeth.

But those were simpler days, when the Krankies were never off the telly and Scottish independence supporters were easily batted away by applying a dose of “too wee, too poor, too stupid” in a handy aerosol spray full of environmentally damaging CFCs – Condescending Fibs for Caledonians.  

But the internet created a new ecosystem and wee beasties began to emerge that were strangely resistant to Westminster’s paraquat.  The Union can’t survive hordes of cybernats, devouring it like a cloud of midgies descending on a hapless London banker up on the moors for a spot of grouse shooting.  You can’t buy cybernat repellent, not even when you class it as UK national expenditure and promise to station it at Coulport.  

The ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ mantra doesn’t work against cybernats.  The failsafe weapon of the Unionists has transformed into their greatest weakness.  Now it only acts as bait.  It no longer drives away the Scottish menace, it just makes the Scottish menance even more miffed.  It’s like Lex Luthor discovering that Kryptonite gives Superman extra powers.  

The Unionist parties give us so much to mock.  They think it’s not fair.  But why build a deep-sea platform off the coast of the Western Isles in order to extract a few jokes about John Mason when you’ve got the motherlode exposing itself on the surface of Edinburgh in the shape of Wullie ‘It wis ma day aff’ Rennie and a steaming pile of camel dung?  And George Foulkes is a whole TV sketch show all by himself, at least two series worth of prat-falls and a taxi-driver special, co-starring Michael Martin.  For decades to come we’ll still be laughing at the reruns on a post-independence comedy channel, UK Gold.  

Unionism is the gift that keeps on giving, it’s the great renewable resource of Scottish piss-taking.  The internet let it loose.  If only the Unionists could find a way of bottling it they could privatise it, spend the proceeds on the London Olympics and a high speed railway between London and Birmingham, then claim it was another reason for Scotland being too poor to govern itself.

But apparently laughing at the ridiculous posturing of Unionist politicians is a bad thing.  It upsets them.  Bad cybernats, bad.  It’s not big and it’s not clever to respond with mockery to the patronising insults of second rate careerists who’d struggle to locate the contents page in a book called Logic for Dummies but are oddly expert in the intricacies of the House of Commons Expenses rule book.  Although to be honest if they did find the mockery big and clever then it wouldn’t be mockery.

Being neither big nor clever we can then point out that the new Scottish Conservative leaderene bears a unsettling resemblance to Janette Krankie’s evil twin.  Ruth’s the all new Action Krankie, whose great plan to renew the Tories involves transforming them into a cheesy 1970s children’s telly show with extra abseiling, kick-boxing and a lot more shouting and trying harder.  Telling childlike tales in a 1970s ambience is the party’s natural home after all.  David ‘Bungle’ Mundell has his own teddy bear costume, but the party is struggling to find a stand in for George the loveable pink hippo as there’s no one left in the party who is remotely likeable, never mind cuddly.  Murdo Fraser has already been Zippied.

Not even an Action Krankie can kick-start their kryptonite again.  And it’s simply impolite to point out that David ‘Respect Agenda’ Cameron, the man who’s not the Action Krankie’s boss she just happens to do everything he says by sheer coincidence, exhibits some slight confusion between the terms “respect” and “snide contemptuous derision”.  

Dave told the House of Commons that a report by Peter Atherton of Citigroup had claimed Scotland’s renewable industry was sputtering and coughing its way into an early grave because we were even thinking about independence.  Mr Atherton believes we depend on Unionist MPs to provide all the wind and are in danger of choking off the supply.

However although George Foulkes is large and inflated enough to have his own gravity field and an orbiting satellite called Planetoid Dougdale, we don’t actually rely on him to create the tides.  The moon does that for us, although in Peter Atherton’s analysis the moon will stop working after Scottish independence because the nation will be thrown out of the Lunar Union and will have to reapply.  A House of Commons Committee is already preparing a separate report on the constitutional and ethical implications of lunar arrangements, but initial indications are that lunacy is a matter reserved for Westminster.

Course Mr Atherton had cheerfully admitted to the House of Commons some months earlier that he knew as much about renewable energy as he did about competitive erotic Fair Isle knitting, but Dave and the BBC forgot to mention that bit.  A couple of days later Mr Atherton’s report was trashed by just about every scientific body that’s actually heard of a wind turbine.  Screeds of long scientifically phrased formulas and calculations could be summed up in the simple phrase – Peter’s talking pish.  Dave and the BBC forgot to mention that bit as well.  Probably they were being respectful.

If Dave was serious about his respect agenda, he would take his advice on the Scottish renewable energy industry from a urologist.  It would still be the same old pish, but at least they’d be able to assure us he was talking to an expert.  

We were then treated to more respect from George Osborne, Michael Moore and Danny Alexander, aided and abetted by Labour’s Wullie “I’m jist steyin’ wi ma maw” Bain.  All claimed that businesses were being put off investing in Scotland because of the independence referendum.  None were willing to name names or figures or mention anything that might count as a fact.  It was all just a bit of idle gossip and speculation while they wait for the positive case for the Union to come along and save their political skins.  

The Positive Case for the Union™ is still nowhere to be seen even though the True Believers predict its arrival any day now.  Rumour has it that it was spotted lurking the Holistic Healing section in WH Smiths with the Tooth Fairy.  She’s helping it come to terms with being a fictional character with an intensive course of crystal healing and the promise of a visit Legoland where it can build a United Kingdom all of its own.  But the most serious difficulty in dealing with any self-destructive addictive behaviour is when you’re surrounded by enablers who encourage your delusions of power.  Michael Moore and Danny Alexander have been sent self-help leaflets, but they’re still too excited about the ministerial cars that Santa gave them for Christmas.

So now we have the spectacle of the Unionist parties not only failing to deliver their long-promised Positive Case for the Union™, they can’t even make a negative case either.  The negative case is a series of some-guy-in-a-pub anecdotes from the same people who told us that having oil would make us poor and weren’t we lucky to have them to look after it for us.  The people who say we’re damaging Scotland’s interests by wanting to control our own affairs are the very people who are causing real damage to our interests.  The sort of damage you can quantify and put numbers to as opposed to self-serving and unsourced gossip.  And they wonder why they’ve lost credibility.  

The Unionists are really upset with cybernats because before the internet happened all they had to deal with was a compliant Scottish media which was dependent on them for the inside goss, while they depended on the media for all their spinning needs.  It was a cosy wee luvvies’ self promotion club, where the only criticism any of them was expected to face was “Iain daaarling!  You were faaaaabulous.”  The key to advancement was the ability to sook up to well-connected idiots, as the inhabitants of Planetoid Dougdale know all too well. Instead of searing insightful political analysis, we got Reporting Scotland and a homage to catatonia in the land of fitba and murrdurrs.

The Scottish mainstream media has been noticeably slow to adapt to the online world.  BBC Scotland has now given up the ghost entirely, and no longer permits comments on its Scottish political and economic stories.  We were supposed to share the enthusiasm for sooking up to well-connected idiots.  To the collective horror of the Unionist establishment, we didn’t.  Instead of a chorus of “Iain daaaarling! You were faaaaaabulous”-es they got irate punters wanting to know why we were being treated like fools.

But there was another strange and unexpected turn in the new cyber unioniverse.  There were no cyber-unionists other than a handful of frenzied posters who were suspiciously au fait with the latest Labour press release.  Despite being told for decades that the vast majority of Scots were committed to the Union, very few were committed enough to say so.  A poor valiant handful of party hacks were left to spray a Westminster’s worth of Tartan DDT – Diminutive, Destitute, Thick – against vast hordes of irate punters, many of whom were considerably better informed.  

So a new Unionist myth was born.  The myth that the Scottish public is uniquely vicious and is taking part in an orchestrated campaign to be nasty to Unionist politicians, all directed from Cybernat Central.  You’d expect that sort of accusation from the party that employed Damien McBride, Derek Draper and John McTernan.  But it’s all to no avail.  We just laugh at the accusation and wear the label with pride.

Now they’ve just made us into a movement.  I’m a cybernat.  And so’s ma dug.