Monday 15 November 2004

Another boring week in Scottish politics

Everyone's heard about the recent attack on Scottish property rights. I can't really say that I was surprised that smoking in "public places" (mainly private actually) is to be banned. After all, banning things is what turns MSPs on and how they must have revelled in last week's worldwide publicity over the onward march of the Scottish Nanny. But even I couldn't have foreseen what would happen next.

On the same day as voting to ban smoking in a whole range of private premises a Liberal Democrat MSP was caught smoking a cigar in a no smoking zone inside the hallowed portals of the Scottish parliament building itself. In an almost Clintonesque explanation, Mr Purvis said:

"It wasn't in the office, it was out of a window in the MSP block."
Aha! Well that's all right then, but how the Scottish people, smokers and non-smokers alike, laughed.

Next we heard the extraordinary news that Tommy Sheridan was no longer leader of the Scottish Socialists. I am finding it difficult to keep up with the changing rumours about whether the Great Prole resigned or was fired by the other comrades but it does seem that he is to spend more time with his family. On to the next story.

Almost all of the 129 MSPs, together with assorted hacks (but sadly not yours truly), spent Thursday evening at the Scottish Politician of the Year event at the Prestonfield House hotel in Edinburgh. No doubt strong drink was consumed, and nothing wrong with that. At around two in the morning a curtain caught fire in the hotel's foyer. Shortly afterwards another curtain was on fire in another room. Then we read this extraordinary news item:

Lord Watson of Invergowrie, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, was arrested following claims that a curtain was set on fire at the five-star Prestonfield House Hotel during a parliamentary awards ceremony attended by the First Minister and a host of Scottish politicians.

I have no idea of whether or not Watson did set fire to the curtains - and where was Holmes when he's needed, one asks. Is it not possible that Watson crept away from the crowd to have a quick smoke behind the curtains? Smoking's not yet illegal in bars but it wouldn't look too good to light up in front of the press a few days after voting to ban the very same activity. Perhaps Mike had a little accident with his matches. As the Sun would put it, you couldn't make it up.

I am sure that the whole Scottish nation is giving thanks that our lawmakers didn't perish in some terrible conflagration. This providential deliverance must be properly commemorated in years to come. We already celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th of November. Scotland must hold its own devolved bonfire night on November 12th each year. We can all let off fireworks (blue and white of course) and burn effigies of the failed Prestonfield pyrotechnician. Whoever he or she may turn out to be.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Neil Craig
"It wasn't in the office, it was out of a window in the MSP block." 
Surely he should have been standing outside the front door like a normal office worker or MSP.

16 November 2004, 20:23:23 GMT
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Yes, the MSPs are making a rather good go at out-shining some of the "scandal" down south.

16 November 2004, 00:02:13 GMT
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Mr Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, 25, of Mayfair had this to say on the topic of private property rights: 
”I don't know if it has ever occurred to you, but to the thoughtful cove there is something dashed reassuring in all the reports of burglaries you read in the papers. I mean, if you're keen on Great Britain maintaining her prestige and all that. I mean, there can't be much wrong with the morale of a country whose sons go in to such a large extent for housebreaking, because you can take it from me that the job requires a nerve of the most cast-iron description. I suppose I was walking up and down in front of that house for half an hour before I could bring myself to dash in at the front gate and slide round to the side where the study window was. And even then I stood for about ten minutes cowering against the wall and listening for police-whistles.” 
PG Wodehouse 
”Carry On, Jeeves” 
I do not concur, but you must admire young Wooster's individualistic view of the world.

15 November 2004, 16:11:56 GMT
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It has indeed been a very eventful week. Thank goodness - the old place was becoming a bit boring. 
Sheridans resignation/sacking seemed a bit unecessary. As far as I understand it all he did was have an affair ten years ago. So what? The SSP will struggle now: good news for Labour, the SNP and the SGP. 
The smoking ban has indeed garnered much international attention, overwhelmingly positive from what I have read. Should boost tourism figures. 
I can only recall being told-off once for smoking in public, by a mature American couple at the bar of the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh. Me and my boisterous Scots and Irish companions were celebrating a successful wedding with cigars and strong spirits when the furious little man upbraided me. I was so surprised and taken aback that I meekly complied with his command. 
It would not surprise me if many US visitors will love their new right to fresh Scots air. 
"Lord" Watson is a sad little man. But opponents of Labour, myself included, should not be too gleeful. Remember the McLeish scandal: Labour voters often let their party off with murder.

15 November 2004, 10:41:10 GMT