The age of the Scot is over


Kenneth Roy

We have over-reached wurselves.
We have taken for granted the good nature of the English. We are done for….

Kenneth Roy

It would be utterly hilarious if, after an election expected to engineer his removal, and despite his painful social awkwardness, the disloyalty of his closest colleagues, the ceaseless efforts of Iron Man Cam, his advancing years, Mrs Duffy’s loaf, his disobliging remarks about poor Sue, missing the cut in all the TV debates, the ingratitude of the Liberal Democrats, the disdain of the media, Uncle Lord Mandy and all, if in the face of these many obstacles it was Gordon Brown who stood before the cameras outside 10 Downing Street on Friday afternoon and announced four more glorious weeks of Labour government pending the formation of a great progressive alliance sweeping Britain into and beyond the 22nd century. I think that may be the longest sentence I have ever written, but it is a model of concision compared with the campaign waffle we have endured for the last four weeks. Tedious and Brief? If only.
     The touching scene I have just described, Gordon giving a fair impression of Lazarus while Sarah sends her latest tweet, would be the funniest thing to have hit Britain since the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special of 1973. Nor is it quite beyond the realms of plausibility.
     Yet a terrible price would have to be extracted for the continuing survival of our lame-duck prime minister (as he would be instantly known). Under the usual anti-terrorism legislation, he would be fitted with an electronic tag and one of Mr Murdoch’s nifty surveillance mics, enabling every outburst to be recorded for the new reality TV hit, ‘Gordon’s Gaffes’ – all in the public interest, naturally.

Irresistible as this prospect undoubtedly is, in my heart I know it will never happen. By Friday afternoon, Gordon and Sarah will have packed their little bags, not forgetting the Raith Rovers scarf, and be heading back to North Queensferry to a life of decent obscurity.
     The real reason for his imminent departure from British public life, and his forthcoming appointment to the vice-chancellorship of a Scottish university at slightly less than the going rate of £300,000, in other words a life of decent obscurity, is a story as yet untold, a bitter truth as yet unconfronted, a hidden agenda as yet unrevealed. There is a sense (as the BBC’s political editor would put it) in which our friends in the south have simply had us up to here. Infuriatingly reasonable as they are about most things, Johnnie Foreigner apart, the English wish to be left alone for the indefinite future to recover slowly from all the wasted years of Scottish rule. Can we really blame them? The age of the Scot is over.
     The history books may show, as history books do, the chronology of our decline and fall. That cheery cove, John Smith, was more than tolerated. The melancholy Donald Dewar barely crossed a southen radar. Robin Cook is vaguely remembered as a fierce, bearded little chap. John Reid is remembered not at all and now runs an unsuccesssful football club somewhere in the east end of Glasgow, yet in his brief day was a power in the land, quite the Glasgow hard man. To all of these, the English gave a guarded welcome, presuming them innocent until, as occasionally happened, they were proved guilty. Which prompts the question: whatever happened to nice Alistair Darling? Is he bricked up somewhere, perchance?
     Even when the invasion began to pervade other aspects of English life, hackles remained mostly unraised. There was the not disagreeable burr of James Naughtie in the early morning, the smooth-talking Ken Bruce until it was time for lunch, Eddie Mair in the afternoon, the handsome features of Andrew Neil at the midnight hour; there then ensued a short respite from the Scots while the nation slept. On Saturday, an anonymous cacophony of Glaswegian football voices assailed every airwave, followed by chirpy Andrew Marr with the Sunday papers and Sally Magnusson at evensong. By claiming to be Icelandic, she might well escape the forthcoming purge; there is little hope for the others. And this is just broadcasting. Add to that the press, sport, administration – all heavily dominated by Scots – and the position becomes clear. We have over-reached wurselves. We have taken for granted the good nature of the English. We are done for.
     I believe the rot set in with Sir Fred, the man who nearly brought down the whole economy; we have David Cameron’s word for that. The conjunction of Shred and Gordo was too much, particularly when the Treasury inquisition was chaired by John McFall. The English could not be trusted even to conduct Shred’s interrogation. It had to be done by a Scot too.

These things are essentially cyclical. We must be patient and hope that our time will come again. Meanwhile, it will be odd to hear two posh English lads, Dave and Georgie, give us the good news about the IMF bail-out. The only Scottish voices permitted for the next five years will be little Michael Gove, whose exciting plans for education will not affect us, and, in the all too likely eventuality of war, Liam Fox, the man who recently cancelled a press conference because his house had been burgled. No wonder the Iranians are so terrified at the prospect of a Conservative government.
     You may be wondering about the four chaps at the top of the page. I was wondering about them myself until our caricaturist, Bob Smith, enlightened me. They are known as Scottish leaders, heaven help us, and it seems they took part in a televised debate on Sunday night when most sensible people were in bed resting before the rigours of Bank Holiday Monday. The jowls on the left look vaguely familiar. Of the others I can tell you very little except that they are members of that endangered species, the Scots. But I expect you will have worked that out for yourself.

Read Kenneth Roy in the Scottish Review,

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