Monday, July 07, 2008

Nicol Stephen: An Obituary

So. Farewell then,

Nicol Stephen,

Lib Dem leader.

You’ve gone now,

And I can’t remember

What you

Sounded like.


It’s not like

Anyone ever

Made the mistake

Of switching your

First and last name

And that you were too

Polite to correct them…


When great statesmen retire, it’s usually like listening to Nessun Dorma. There are waves of emotion and drama and everyone gets all misty-eyed. Commentators reminisce; old women get just a wee bit wet… (cos they’re still human…) Old men wish they HAD BEEN… him… Even the enemies, usually, say how much they enjoyed the ripostes they had, which is nice.

When a Lib-Dem goes, it rarely rates much of a reaction. Nicol, of course, is no different. He, apparently, was a nice guy. Woo hoo. Hope the family are cool an ‘at…

For a millisecond I wondered if there may be some Spooks-style premise where a bunch of Spies, watching a Glasgow Hotel for potential Al Qaeda operatives, had to untie Wendy and Nicol from the same auto-erotic escapade gone wrong that we all know happened to Michael Hutchence and then forced them to cover it all up by inconveniently quitting at the same time for different reasons. I have to concede though: this may not have been the case.

Between Wendy and Nicol, and M & S apparently going down the tubes, this is well turning out to be Lemming Thursday for the Brits. The economy is going to hell, the Unionists charged with messing up Alex and Nicola’s cunning plans have all decided that they’d rather be somewhere else. And if all that weren’t crappy enough, the best chance the Housewives of Sussex had in Wimbledon was some guy who said that he’d rather support anyone but the English Football team.

I should, of course, either be lamenting or crowing the passing of Nicol. I have no particular angle on Nicol, though, except that like most Liberals, I’ve never believed for one minute he spoke from his fucking heart. When Pauline McNeill went postal during the night on May 3rd slagging off the SNP, I absolutely loathed that. But, I DID respect it, because it was genuine emotions. When Socialists at various counts wanted to make their feelings known about what they’d like to insert into the BNP candidate, where and just how often: I respected that brutal honesty. And when Annabel Goldie, is being coy and hilariously good in Parliament: I can respect that. I don’t need to agree, but I can at least respect certain things despite basking in their inevitable wrongness.

Here’s the problem with his resignation: he left because he wuvs his famiwy. Aw the nice. It may well be true, for all I know, but that’s like saying you didn’t pay a bill because it got lost in the post. No-one believes you, and you would at least get some respect for making something up. Here’s my rewrite of Nicol’s departure as it should have been:

“My fellow Liberals. I’d just like to say that these however-long-it’s-been months have, basically, rocked like fuck. Menzies… Ma runnin’ dawg! *points to audience where Menzies Campbell nods approvingly* Mikey… Mr Rockin’ Rumbles! Take this party, and those other puppies in the parly to the cleaners pal!

“So why am I leaving? I’ve… had a dream. It wasn’t about going to a mountain, and reaching the promised land. But that IS in this queue. Behind what I’m about to confess.

“I am pleased to announce that I have been cast as ‘Macavity, the Mystery Cat’ in Cats, the musical… Oh no, Mikey, not in the West End! Brothers and Sisters: Nicol Stephen is off to Broadway!” And then he stomps off the stage.

It would be even better if simply DID (after making the above statement) just leave politics for his family. It would perplex the hell out of the press and would, frankly, be the most interesting thing to happen in Scottish Politics since we all heard why Nicola Sturgeon got the nickname “Gnasher”.

Politicians, when they leave, can be witty and interesting and speak from the heart. I forgave the Tory Michael Forsyth when he arrived late at the Scottish Office, to hand over to Donald Dewar, grumbled about the traffic to the watching press and media and wryly said: “I blame the government.” THAT is at least being gracious in defeat.

I mean… to get angry for a bit… It’s not like there’s much competition. 12 idiots in a secret televised house in London where the collective IQ adds up to one of the Cans of Irn Bru you’ll get from a Scottish Parly vending machine. Either that or some horny, hormonal, forgettable flake from Eastenders / Corrie / X factor… There IS NO competition here. AND they don’t have an excuse. Ordinary people are great, and fascinating. No… really… you are. It’s the only reason I travel on Public Transport. Whether it’s those badly-dye-jobbed single mothers using their buggies to create an unsolvable maze to negotiate trying to get off; or the shy-to-the-point-of-autism being badgered by someone so extroverted they’ve probably sang “Shang-a-lang” at Simon Cowell at the Glasgow Auditions…

Politicians are intentionally dull because they don’t want to offend anyone. When has that EVER worked in Scotland? It’s what we do best. Late at night, in Glasgow, coming out of the Blue Lagoon underneath the Heilanman’s Apron, it was something of a ritual to stumble past a group of neds who thought it funny to bat the fish supper from underneath to see how many chips they could misplace. Or that one tragic occasion when a group of Irish Students passing the Park Bar in Glasgow, see me and my mates in kilts returning from an Arbroath rally, start making flute band impersonations and wondering just why my crazy friend was trying to explain to him, in the loudest possible terms, that he should sort his blinking life out.

My theory is that politicians are trying to dumb us all down. The reason that the Socialists want Cannabis legalised is because they want easier access. The reason that the Liberals want it is because they want us all to be as boring, tedious and navel-gaspingly shallow as their own party is.

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