Elsewhere in this edition, you will have read a number of articles of the theme of Scotland on the cusp of big challenges. Writing this from Australia, while performing at the Adelaide Fringe, it would appear that the entire world is on the cusp.
While at home we may be concerned about our faltering economy, a potential Brexit after the EU referendum, and the possibility of that leading to a second independence referendum, over here Australians are concerned with their faltering economy, the uninspiring choices faced by them at their upcoming general election and potential global calamity that would ensue if the USA were to elect a President Trump.
Back in the UK, we had the sight of David Cameron coming back from Brussels, claiming to have cut ‘the best deal for Britain’ when all of Britain knows he’s actually changed bugger all. In terms of meaningless deals, it’s possibly the most meaningless since Neville Chamberlain came back from Germany in 1939, waving a piece of paper which promised ‘peace in our time’. The only difference today is that Cameron’s piece of paper promises endless war in the Conservative Party.
One of the worst-kept secrets in politics was finally broken when Boris Johnston came out on the side of the Brexit campaign, thus positioning himself to be the next party leader, and potentially the next Prime Minister. So instead of Stay v Leave, In v Out, or Yes v No, we have Boris v Dave.
How utterly ludicrous that Britain’s future in Europe should be used to settle some old argument from the sixth-form common room at Eton! Or perhaps the bad blood between them goes back to their days at Oxford. Maybe Boris is still jealous that Dave got the first go at the pig’s head.
As polls suggest most Scottish others appear to be pro-European, there is no doubt that the big guns of the ‘Leave’ campaign will be sent up here to drum up support. The fact that Boris Johnston is the most acceptable of their number should be enough to convey how the rest constitute a parade of the utterly unacceptable. Expect to see Nigel Farage up here before May, if for no other reason than it gives him the opportunity to hide in a pub when chased down the street.
Worse still, we will doubtless be treated to repeated sightings of the odious, corpulent figure of UKIP’s only elected representative in Scotland, Davis Coburn, a man whose opinions are even more disgusting than his appearance. The homophobic, anti-Scottish, virulently anti-European party of UKIP seems a strange home for a gay, Scottish member of the European Parliament. He must really hate himself.
On the other side of the coin, of course, there is the clear danger that Eddie Izzard will do another pre-referendum tour of Scotland. Another dose of his smug, patronising uttering would be enough to turn many pro-European Scots into voting to leave.
And, it cannot be denied that many Yes-voting, pro-European Scots are hoping that North of the Border we vote to stay, while the English vote to leave, thereby giving Nicola Sturgeon a golden opportunity to demand a second independence referendum.
While a tempting scenario to many of us, it could lead to a degree of voter fatigue, not to mention voter confusion. In a matter of a few years, we could have crammed in the independence referendum, a Westminster election, a Holyrood election, a European referendum, and another independence referendum.
As well as the confusion of ‘What’s it we’re voting for this time?’ and ‘Are we voting for an MP, an MSP, a councillor, someone on a party list, freedom from Britain, freedom from Europe?’, it will be more confusing still for 16-18-year olds who could vote in the indyref but not in the European referendum, for Holyrood but not Westminster. There is the fear that some people might get a bit tired of the whole carry-on and not turn up.
Here in Australia, voting is compulsory. I’m not sure how they punish non-voters, maybe pack them off to Britain on a boat. This is far from ideal, however, as at the last election it gave the country Tony Abbott as its Prime Minister. If you are unfamiliar with the man, imagine Nigel Farage sober – which is a seriously scary picture. In time-honoured Aussie fashion, he was kicked out of the job by his own party as was his Labour predecessor, Julia Gillard.
Most Australians I talk to are pretty uninspired about the choices likely to be offered to them in their election, but in common with most Scots are appalled at the prospect of the US giving the world President Trump. All apart from one guy I talked to who said that he could understand why Americans might vote for Trump given his familiarity to the public, as they see him so frequently on TV. I did point out to him that Rolf Harris had be on television, but that few Australians would be inclined to vote for him. ‘I don’t, mate’, he said ‘I reckon he’d be better than Tony Abbott!’
A turbulent spring faces Scotland and Britain. Hopefully, we can all view it with a similar sense of humour.
Vladimir McTavish will be performing his solo show ‘Scotland: 45 Events That Shaped a Nation’ at Yes Bar, Glasgow on Sunday 27th March at 7.15pm as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival