Friday 12 August 2005

From Jenny Geddes to nuclear button?

I was outside St Giles' today for part of the Robin Cook funeral. All (except one) of Labour's high heid yins were there together with various Tories, Nationalists and LibDems. Gordon Brown arrived on foot from the direction of the City Chambers. Other cabinet ministers arrived by car, with John Reid having what looked like a sizable security escort.

An elderly lady wearing a Livingston FC scarf pressed in front of me and then tied her scarf to the railings opposite the Cathedral. She complained to the news photographer next to her that Blair wasn't present. "Working on his sun tan, hen," replied the photographer. "Fake, like everything else about him," I commented. Everyone agreed.

I then saw the arrival of Kinnock, Straw, Darling, Blunkett and Prescott. When the latter was on the point of entering St Giles', he paused for a while and waited for a sidekick to catch up with his cabinet box. No other minister had one. Surely he's not going to work on his papers during the funeral, I thought. Then I realised: in the absence of the Sun King, Prescott's in charge. Did his case contain the nuclear button? I then had frantic visions of the most intelligent member of the government jumping on the red box and accidentally setting off something Jenny Geddes could not have imagined.

And who was Jenny Geddes, some of you may be asking.

She was a parishioner of St Giles' in the old days:

The legendary Jenny Geddes famously threw her stool at the head of the minister in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, beginning a riot which led to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms that included the English Civil War.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Fascinating post on Scotland's dying fishing industry, Sandy P. It seems that the UK Executive is sacrificing the Scottish economy - perhaps in exchange for benefits from the EU.  
But regional economies are used to unfair treatment (

19 August 2005, 12:37:15 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Well McCririk is known for being outspoken so it would hardly come as a shock now would it. I am willing to bet that comment got the funeral more coverage that it would have had normally. BTW it was a bit brash but I think Cook would have appreciated it.

14 August 2005, 19:22:14 GMT+01:00
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Sandy P
OT: I still use this post and now can add to it, via EU Referendum: 
--It looks as though EU plans could result in the Scottish fishing industry being wiped out at a cost of 20,000 jobs. In an earlier report in Tuesday's Daily Mail, I read that EU proposals for deep-sea fishing off our North-West coast would give France 80% of the quota, another 18% split between Ireland and Spain leaving 2% for Scottish fishermen. And Scottish taxpayers would have to fund the policing of this arrangement which covers areas that are entirely within UK territorial waters. Will our politicians do anything about this? Of course not. 
Mark my words. It's only a matter of time before the EU lays claim to North Sea oil.-- 
Booker then takes the story further, noting how the Scots are also learning how heavily they have paid for handing over to Brussels the deep-water fisheries off their western coastline. In 2002 the Scottish fishermen were horrified when Brussels gave them only 2 per cent of the catching quota for these waters, most of the rest being awarded to France. 
Since then, as Fishing News has reported, two thirds of the Scottish deep-water fleet has been driven out of business. Further savage cuts mean that the seven remaining purpose-built Scottish trawlers have already exhausted their measly quota for 2005, and are having to move over to the North Sea to compete for cod and haddock with the beleaguered Scottish whitefish fleet, itself reduced by two thirds since 2001. 
The final blow came last year, after enlargement, when Brussels revised the quotas for Scotland's deep waters: Polish and other Baltic fleets were awarded quotas four times larger those given to the Scottish boats. So far as the SNP's erstwhile love-affair with "Europe" is concerned, the McChickens are rather coming home to roost. 
You had to join it, eh?

14 August 2005, 06:33:13 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

The Scots in the British Labourite Party really never have a day off, do they?  
A colleague you didn't exchange glances with for 30 years dies? Use the pulpit at his funeral as a self-promotional opportunity. 
Someone criticises His Tonyness? Decry the funeral you have just attended as being less important than the main event to come in London town. (Even grieving and mourning are centralised in today's UK it seems). 
I know that JM Barrie once said that there was no more impressive sight than that of a Scotsman on the make, but this lot elevate it to indecent extremes.

14 August 2005, 03:04:14 GMT+01:00
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Hector Maclean
I thought McCriricks comments were totally inappropriate, a mans funeral is not the time and place for such outbursts. It should have been about Cook, not Blair. 
Whether Blair’s non attendance was a mistake on his part is open to debate, but what about Gordon Browns attendance? It is well known he hated Cook, and hated him for several decades dating back to when they were both young whippersnappers in Edinburgh (and that kind of feuding is one of the reasons why I would not be keen on a Prime Minister Brown).  
It is also well known that they had a reconciliation of sorts (and hence all the talk of a likely cabinet return in a future Brown government), but does that excuse Brown turning Cook’s funeral into a part political broadcast of the worst kind?  
It was big on rhetoric and little else, and sounded like it would have been more appropriate at the TUC. I also found the self righteous tone - and Gordon is a true son of the manse - distasteful too.  
May Cookie now truly R.I.P.

13 August 2005, 10:17:33 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
"Labour peer Lord Foulkes said: "I just think it was a pity it was spoiled by John McCririck. 
"What he said was inappropriate for a funeral service. 
"He was also wrong in what he said. Tony Blair will lead tributes to Robin Cook in London which will be an even bigger occasion than this." 
Why will the London service be "even bigger" than the man's own funeral service? Just because that insufferable twat Blair will be there? 
Thank you George Foulkes and Jim Devine, for reminding me why I detest the British Labourite Party.

12 August 2005, 21:00:30 GMT+01:00