by Paul Kavanagh
Just when we thought that Labour had scraped the bottom of the mockery barrel, Iain goes and does it again. Gray by name and grey by nature, Iain makes up for it by being a multicoloured dayglo satirical target the size of a Subway Sandwich shop all lit up in neon. Even the US Air Force couldn’t miss. On Wednesday Iain was running away from Alex Salmond in a supermarket in Ardrossan. What is it with this guy and food shops?
Iain likes to present himself as the Fearless Yin, Labour’s Captain Kirk boldly going where no Labour leader has gone before. He’s really the anonymous no hoper in the red shirt who gets killed by a Klingon within 30 seconds of beaming down. But the guy in the red shirt on Star Trek only gets killed the once. Iain gets slaughtered on a regular basis. His phaser is permanently set on stunned.
I wish he’d stop doing this. I need a day off from time to time, and there are other targets that need to be taken a pop at occasionally. Nicholas Witchell doesn’t parody himself you know … well OK, he does really. Him and Iain were made for each other in the risibility stakes, a match made in Subway Sandwiches wrapped up in a royal wedding commemorative napkin. But I digress.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Iain. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He only got the job as Labour leader at Holyrood because the back stabbing ferrets in the party knew he was ineffectual and wouldn’t rock too many boats or ask difficult questions about Glasgow Council or expenses payments. In the planning meetings for the election campaign he was assured it would be an easy gig. All he needed to do was smile and wave at the cameras occasionally like a royal en route to consumate his wedding with the adoring public. The instinctive Scottish Labour anti-Tory block vote and a tame media would do the rest.
Meanwhile back on planet Earth, Alex Salmond and umpteen news crews had beamed down to Asda in Ardrossan to meet the punters. Eck spent 40 minutes speaking to shop workers and anti-cuts protesters out to get their messages.
Unbeknown to Alex, Iain Gray popped into the store in an unannounced visit. He’d been in the town trying to salvage the wreckage of his campaign relaunch by taking inspiration from the Arran ferry. Caledonian MacBrayne do launches several times a day and Iain was impressed by the speed with which they accomplish a U turn. He’s thinking about a roll on roll off manifesto so policies can be changed more quickly.
After a tiring morning puffing up red balloons, the Fearless Yin just wanted to visit the lavvy and have a wee sit down and a nice cuppa and a chance to get his breath back. It was a deliberate attempt at a sandwich, honest. But Iain can’t even get a piece when he’s in a shop full of jam. So there’s no chance of jam for the rest of us.
Iain claimed that his entry to the establishment was thwarted by SNP moomin trolls who used their vast bulk to shield the SNP press call from his sight and protect His Eckness. Iain said Eck was hurriedly bundled off to safety between the baked bean display and the pie counter. Iain had brought porkie pies of his own.
Getting his retaliation in first, the Fearless Yin issued a press release claiming that Alex was hiding from him. Iain and his staff had entered the supermarket on the offchance that a Liberal Democrat voter might have been lurking inside. Iain wished to steer the poor soul away from Tavish Scott and any caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the off-sales department. Iain saves the world you see. It’s something he learned from Gordon Brown.
We’ll overlook the fact that if Iain didn’t know Eck was there, then how did he know that Eck had been bundled off into hiding. An occurrence which the assembled news cameras mysteriously failed to record. It must be that visionary thing of his again. We’ll also be kind and skip over the peculiar circumstance that Labour activists on the ground were unaware of a preplanned visit by His Eckness with entourage and telly cameras in tow. Perhaps there are no activists on the ground to warn him, as the local branches have atrophied under the dead weight of Labour’s Klingons.
Even ignoring these little wrinkles in the fabric of space time, the same ones that killed off the guy in the red shirt in the Star Trek episode Subway to Asda, the story rang as true as a Labour manifesto commitment. Most of us have witnessed what happens to Iain when he asks Alex questions. The poor battered remains of Iain’s credibility get trashed every week on FMQs. The notion that Eck was too feart to speak to Iain in front of an audience of Asda shoppers adds up as well as Andy Kerr’s arithmetic.
But Labour ploughed on, once a lie is started it has to be followed through. “It was hilarious. The SNP staffers were behaving like they were extras in the Thick Of It,” asserted Allan Wilson, Labour’s candidate for Cunninghame North, with the same degree of plausibility as a Glasgow Labour councillor’s expenses claims.
Being told by Labour that something is funny is like being told by Nicholas Witchell that the nation is united in joy and excitement about the royal wedding. The humourless grey suits of Labour would be incapable of raising a deliberate laugh if their balloons were filled with nitrous oxide and their clowns wore outsize shoes instead of red rosettes. Many of them already have red noses. They wouldn’t recognise a joke if one jumped up and bit them on the bum, which is pretty much what’s happening to them just now in this election campaign.
It didn’t take long for the truth to surface. Labour’s dinosaurs had just been struck by an Asdaroid. It’s a blow which may send them into extinction. We can but hope.
As the dust cloud rose into the stratosphere, Iain finally found a Subway Sandwich shop to hide in where no one could locate him. Johann Lamont, Iain Gray’s deputy, the Mr Spock to his Captain Kirk, was trotted before the cameras to castigate Alex Salmond for bringing politics into disrepute by failing to notice that Iain was there. Since most of the Labour party fails to acknowledge Iain’s existence, this was a trifle unfair. The only thing Ms Lamont has in common with Mr Spock is an inability to recognise when her party is being ridiculed, or indeed the capacity for shame or any other appropriate human emotional response.
Ms Lamont glared at the STV camera with a look that would fry a punn of mince halfway across the solar system. She was annoyed that she’d had to poke her head above the parapet, until now no one had even known Iain Gray had a deputy and for the sake of her career Johann would prefer it to remain that way. She was determined to make sure no one was going to blame her for the Labour campaign boldy going where no Labour campaign has gone before, down the toilet pan in Asda Ardrossan.
But by then the story was out. A camera caught Iain in flagrante as he entered the shop, realised the SNP were there and nipped into the lavvy to hide. Then having pissed on the strained credulity of the Scottish electorate he scuttled out again before he could be waylaid by a pro-independence pensioner from Saltcoats. Unfortunately the first door he tried to exit was blocked by a placard waving anti-cuts protestor in league with a Rwandan warlord and in the sharpest U turn he’s ever executed Iain had to do a swift about face and leave the other way, hoping to find a taxi and a sympathetic BBC politics correspondent.
“Are ye no gaunie hing aboot?” a punter cried.
No past May 5th he’ll no.