A positive case for the Union


by Paul Kavanagh

A couple of weeks ago, amidst fanfares, choruses of innocent cherubic faced weans and dancing hippos, Danatello Alexander and Michael Moore announced they’d be going on the offensive and making a positive case for the Union.  Well OK maybe there weren’t any dancing hippos, although David Mundell is certainly very light on his feet.  There weren’t many choruses of innocent cherubic faced weans either.  Danatello may be a baby-faced wean but he’s not going to convince anyone that he’s innocent.  And the fanfare was provided by a bored looking BBC news reporter in his big brother’s suit.

Even so it was all a bit of a let down when the positive case for the Union turned out to be the usual auld guff about how Scotland would be a bankrupt basket case.  Danatello trotted out the tired stereotypes about oil running out and how Scotland would owe everyone for everything and not have enough left over for a fish supper.  The Tory Mutant Ninja Turtle is making such a good job of making a prize fool of himself that it’s almost churlish to point it out.  Even innocent cherubic faced weans get the joke.  Danatello should take note.

Of the positive case for the Union there is still not a sign.  The Unionist parties with their positive case for the Union have become like the American televangelist preachers that students watch on for a laugh on obscure satellite channels late at night when they’re really stoned.

Holy Scripture, otherwise known as the Labour party rule book and whatever self-justifying excuses the Tories have thought up this week, is infallible, and it clearly tells us that the positive case for the Union is just around the corner.  There are omens and portents, like all those editorials in the Telegraph by John McTernan and a wummin in Methil who cut open a potato to discover a miraculous image of St Jim Murphy the Invisible.  At first everyone thought she’d discovered where Jim has been hiding, but it turned out to be a fungal blight.  

In fundamentalist Unionism we are living in the End Times, the last days.  Soon those nasty nationalists will face Judgement Day when the positive case for the Union descends to Earth in a blaze of glory accompanied by the Archangel Michael Forsyth.  And yea verily Alex Salmond shalt tremble before Him as true believers in the Union are blessèd and the SNP are cast into the darkness of Paisley on a day all the pubs are shut.  Praise the Union!

But the positive case for the Union is like the Second Coming which the American TV evangelists tell us is going to arrive on Tuesday at 3.30pm.  No, it will be a week on Wednesday at 8.  Ah, sorry, it’s been delayed again, leaves on the tram line.  It will definitely arrive the week after next, possibly on the Friday if Menzies Campbell has had his appointment at the embalmers.  

Meanwhile just keep those oil donations coming in folks!  For the price of a few Trident missiles and the London Olympics you can keep the Union Rapture Show on air and save 5 million souls for Britishness, call 0800 PARCELOROGUES.  All major credit cards and cash in brown envelopes accepted.

The positive case for the Union is always imminent, it just never gets here.  The Unionist parties have predicted its imminent arrival so often now that we’ve given up all hope of it ever arriving, and have instead switched over to the Discovery Channel to watch a documentary about the great difficulties pandas experience mating.  That David Mundell’s never off the telly is he.

But when the positive case for the Union does arrive, as they keep telling us it will, then the entire Scottish people will see the light of Britishness.  With a collective slap on the forehead we will realise why all along it really was better for us to agree to everything Westminster wants.  Once we’ve heard the positive case for the Union we will know why it was very silly of us to imagine that asking for self-government should be anything other than a stupid question, as David Cameron so helpfully pointed out.  Everyone in Westminster knows that Scotland is best governed by a random group of people from a different country entirely who know bugger all about us and really don’t care anyway.  Us Scots will feel so foolish when the positive case for the Union comes along.

It’s time the Unionist parties were honest with themselves.  If there really was a positive case for the Union they’d have worked out what it was by now and made sure the rest of us knew all about it.  

If there really was a positive case for the Union Glenn Campbell would have done a TV series all about it which would have been broadcast at prime time every night for 3 months.  He’d have interviewed half of America by this time.   The programme would be repeated on BBC 2, 3 and 4 and dubbed into Gaelic on BBC Alba just in case you missed it.  There would be special full colour pull-out-n-keep supplements in the middle of the Herald and Scotsman and a special “Unionism rocks” edition of the Labour Heavy Metal Fanclub newsletter.  There would be smug Tories giving interviews saying, “Well, I told you so.”  The penguins in Edinburgh zoo would be painstakingly trained in choreography to spell the message out every time they sniffed a mackrel.   And Jim Murphy would actually be visible within the part of the light spectrum detectable by the human eye, at least occasionally.

It’s not like the Unionist parties aren’t motivated to find a positive case for the Union.  If there really was a positive case for the Union the world would be a much cosier place for them.  Billy Connolly could be funny about something other than fart jokes.  Kevin McKenna would be a serious and respected commentator on Scottish affairs.  Sally Magnusson could report on elections without looking like she’s sitting in a patch of jaggy nettles.  Johann Lamont might even crack a smile occasionally, though that’s probably too big an ask.

So where is it then?  Telling us they’re going to deliver a positive case for the Union is a bit like foreplay, eventually they have to deliver the main event or we’ll lose interest.  But it’s already too late.  The Scottish electorate is now like a bored girlfriend who’s given up and is chatting up independence on Facebook while her Unionist boyfriend bangs away below.  She keeps saying “left a bit” but the boyfriend’s not listening.

The real positive case for the Union is a case they don’t want to make to us at all.  The only positive case for the Union is that it allows zombies to come back from the dead.  

Michael Forsyth presided over the Scottish Conservatives when they went down to their worst electoral defeat ever.  They were wiped out.  The party lost every single seat they had and have since maintained themselves on the artificial life support of an electoral system that Michael Forsyth fought tooth and claw to prevent.  In footballing terms, Michael was the manager, coach and star player for a Premier League team which not only got relegated, it was consigned to play in the Morningside Under 8’s five-a-side indoor league for special children who haven’t learned how to share.  And it still gets gubbed by the other teams.

In any normal country Count Forsythula’s political career would have ended there and then, and he’d be spending the rest of his life in disgrace, or possibly in a nice wee villa on the south coast of Spain where none of his neighbours recognised him and he could nip out of a morning for his copy of the Daily Mail without anyone sniggering at him.  Forsyth is notable only for the mismatch between his estimation of himself and what he actually achieved.

So just what did it require to tell this guy that we rejected his political message?  Les Conservatives, null points.  Even Eurovision Song Contest boybands like Jedward can grasp that concept.  But not Michael.  Thanks to special Back from Beyond the Grave Zombie Unionist Juice, he’s esconced in the ermine robes of the Union undead and has the gall to alter Scotland’s contitutional status in favour of his discredited team of Under 8s with behavioural difficulties.  Zombie Unionist Juice is a far worse social blight than the Buckie.  

Politically the Unionist parties are in terminal decay.  Half the Scottish Tories have recognised that the gemme’s a bogey and are considering abolishing themselves while the other half insist on maintaining a stiff upper lip and carrying on as though nothing has happened.  Labour descends into further chaos, infighting and sleaze in a catastrophic leaderless shambles, legal writs and allegations of criminality flying around right, right and centre.  (There is no left in the Labour party any more.)  Meanwhile the Lib Dems are evaporating like dug pee on a lamppost in the afternoon sun, leaving only a faint yellow stain and a malodorous whiff behind them.  

The only hope any of them have of saving themselves is declaring UDI from their London masters and becoming Scottish and independent.  Oh the delicious irony.

Zombie Unionist Juice is all that’s keeping the show on the road.  That’s the real positive case for the Union.  No matter how inept, how corrupt, how self-serving or incompetent a Scottish Unionist politician may be, they can always rely on the Union to keep them safely cushioned on a big fat pad of expenses claims where they can continue to wield power from beyond the political grave.  

It’s the British way after all.  Halleluiah, praise the Union!