by Paul Kavanagh
Scientists have warned of an outbreak of the potentially devastating profollia bacteria at John Smith House, Labour’s Scottish headquarters in Glasgow. According to researchers from the Edinburgh Epidemiological Joint Institute of Technology and Science, the bacterium has been incubating in storage cupboards in the building amongst abandoned piles of electoral materials rendered useless after fresh instructions were received from Labour HQ in London. A chemical reaction between the ink in the glossy leaflets and years of tobacco smoke mixed with human sweat and fat from takeaway food creates the perfect breeding ground for the bug.
Research into the disease caused by the bacterium has been led by an American-Japanese team of psychiatrists and neurologists. Speaking for the group, Professor Saki Hoffwitz said: “Profollia infection is a distressing condition which affects the central nervous system. The first symptoms cause sufferers to make self-contradictory statements and lose all sense of perspective. They develop symptoms of paranoia and begin to think everyone is plotting against them. The symptoms get worse over time. Victims of the infection come to believe that they are entitled to anything that takes their fancy and react viciously when challenged. Left untreated it develops into a form of megalomania.”
The condition is serious and blights lives. One recent case described in the medical literature is a case study of an infected individual who insisted on dressing up in silk stockings and breeches and demanded that everyone refer to him as your lordship. He even had his name changed legally. Speaking of the case study, Prof. Hoffwitz said: “He’d go out all the time to eat in expensive restaurants and drink expensive wines, but after the meals he demanded that the other diners should pay for his dinner because it was only his due, and then got into fights with taxi drivers. When the authorities arrived he’d keep demanding answers to a series of pointless questions. It was tragic.”
The condition cannot be cured, and there is no antibiotic which is effective against it. Victims must undergo many hours of therapy where they are encouraged to take a long hard look at themselves.
But health workers admit it’s an uphill struggle. A psychiatric nurse with many years experience of dealing with patients with the illness said: “The problem is they don’t think there is anything wrong with them. Everyone is at fault but themselves. Getting them to recognise they need help is the hardest step. We had one patient who ordered mahogany bookshelving and a 60 inch plasma TV for his room and tried to charge them to the hospital, another wanted to privatise the tea trolley so his his cousin could run it.”
Speaking anonymously, the wife of a sufferer said: “It’s been a nightmare. We first started to suspect something was wrong when he began to claim everyone at work was conspiring against him to stop him getting a promotion. But then he got the promotion and we all breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that things could only get better. But things only got worse. Soon he’d maxed out all the credit cards, was posting embarrassing videos of himself on Youtube and telling anyone who’d listen that he’d saved the world.”
Wiping away a tear, she continued: “There’s no cure. All we can do now is keep him locked in a quiet room watching a video of the 2007 Labour party conference on permanent loop on the DVD player. It seems to soothe him for some reason. And we make sure we keep him away from sharp objects, cameras and ATM machines.”
But there is a glimmer of hope. Sufferers have set up a self-help group which meets occasionally in the basement of a public house in Livingston.
A spokesman for the independent think tank Mental Labour which tries to raise funds for sufferers said: “It’s outrageous. All this is the fault of the SNP. Not once have they brought this terrible illness to public attention. Nicola Sturgeon should resign. Now, about my expenses for this interview … can you sign this invoice?”
Although there is no cure, the bacteria can be stopped in its tracks by scrubbing down infected areas with strong disinfectant. Scientists have discovered that household bleach mixed with extract from the common thistle plant is highly effective at keeping the bug at bay.
In an attempt to calm public fears of an epidemic outbreak Labour has denied there is any problem at John Smith House, but yesterday eye witnesses reported seeing men in white coats enter the building then leave with Jackie Baillie.
Last night Ms Baillie could not be contacted for comment.