CommonSpace columnist Jock Thamson-Bairn kicks off the week by taking a look at last week
IT was the week when Jim Murphy was rebuked publicly by his head office. He was ‘put in his place’, ‘slapped down’, ‘humiliated’, ‘shown up’, ‘caught telling porkies’.
After repeating the same mantra of ‘no cuts after 2016’ like a parrot on tranquilisers, one of Jim’s many bosses in London appeared on live television and stated simply that this wasn’t the case. When pressed, Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna could not have been clearer: yes, the cuts would go on after 2016; yes, it included Scotland; and no, Jim Murphy didn’t have any say in it whatsoever.
Jim was an ex-parrot. His Irn Bru crate had been pulled from underneath him; he was pushing up the thistles. He’d been ‘telt’, on live telly. This Scottish blue was, in political terms, ‘deceased’.
After repeating the same mantra of ‘no cuts after 2016’ like a parrot on tranquilisers, one of Jim’s many bosses in London appeared on live TV and stated simply that this wasn’t the case.
All agreed. Well, almost all. Those of you who still tune into BBC Scotland (why?) will have seen another interpretation. Brian Taylor came on the news and described this crystal clear contradiction as a ‘presentational issue’.
Sorry, Brian? A presentational issue? Surely that would imply that the two parties concerned – the Labour Party and the Jim Murphy Party – had agreed, but put the same point across in different ways? That is not what happened. And everyone knew.
This is where the Dead Parrot sketch moved into Father Ted territory. Jim’s credibility had not been shot down in flames then put in a crusher before being lowered into a bath of acid to disappear forever. No, according to Brian, Murphy’s credibility was merely ‘resting in another account’.
Actually, from what I observe, the only ‘presentational issue’ is that people in Scotland are getting fed up with the ‘presenters’ on the BBC.
To be fair, Brian was not alone in his surreal interpretations. Malcolm Bruce, the retiring, but not shy, MP for Gordon told anyone who still listens to the Lib Dems that a clean sweep for the SNP in Scotland would leave people unrepresented. Ponder that one.
His leader, Nick Clegg also struggles with the concept of democracy when he declares that the elected representatives of the people in Scotland shouldn’t be involved in the decision-making process of the country he begged them to stay part of.
Still, I wouldn’t spend any time listening to a man whose closing speech at his party’s conference should have been: “Go back to your homes and constituencies and, er, stay there.”
And we had more debates. By jings we had. Personally, I don’t watch X Factor or Strictly or any of that type. I’ve found a good rule is ‘don’t watch any programme that puts telephone numbers on the screen’. So, I have nothing to compare the debates with.
What I do find amusing is Ed Miliband. At the same time as Thunderbirds comes back on the screens but without the strings, Ed has shown us that the art of puppetry is still alive. You can almost see the string that pulls his head round to gaze into the camera. You can almost hear him counting ‘8, 9, 10, turn, look straight at camera, smile, look statesmanlike’.
I genuinely never noticed that David Cameron wasn’t at the debate – perhaps because between Miliband and Farage all of Cameron’s policies were given an airing anyway.
He has made huge progress, though – he no longer looks down repeatedly to make sure his Y-fronts are indeed back inside his trousers after pretending to be Superman at home.
The only other thing worth saying about the debate was that I genuinely never noticed that David Cameron wasn’t there until it was pointed out after the programme. Perhaps that was because between Miliband and Farage all of Cameron’s policies were given an airing anyway.
And finally, a word of advice to the sometimes funny and always likeable Eddie Izzard. I admire his refusal to bow to convention regarding his choice of clothing. I look forward to the day when I and others see no need to pass remark on it.
However, I do object to people traipsing round with dead creatures as a fashion accessory, so I say this to Eddie: please don’t ever go swanning round the East End of Glasgow with Jim Murphy hanging round you like a glassy-eyed fox fur.
Picture courtesy of Downing Street