Saturday, September 23, 2006
For whom the Bell tolls
Thanks to the wonders of the DVD recorder, it is possible these days to imagine yourself in two places at once. If you are a Liberal Democrat, you can be in three, four, and sometimes more political locations simultaneously, watching yourself coming and going.
On one screen yesterday afternoon, I had Menzies Campbell entertaining the faithful down in Brighton with an excoriating dismissal of New Labour.
Wealth inequalities, public services, the environment, civil liberties; "a foreign policy which is neither ethical nor effective": failed, failed, failed. Who could possibly work with such people?
Then the picture flickered slightly. Suddenly Ming the Merciful was heaping praise on Nicol Stephen, his Scottish leader, a "driving force behind progressive politics", what with the "abolition" of tuition fees and the like. (Small digression: will I eventually have to cough up fees for the student of the house, or will I not?)
But how did Nicol achieve such breakthroughs? Was it thanks to the massed ranks of LibDem MSPs, or could it be - say it ain't so - that the leader of Ming's Scottish legion of decency has been supping with the Labour devil, like his predecessor before him?
It amounts to a favourite old Liberal slogan slightly amended: go back to your constituencies and prepare for coalition. Just don't let on to the voters.
Mr Stephen may believe sincerely that he will lead Scotland's largest party next May. I believe in little green men.
Zark and Booj-Booj left the coalition talks confident that Nicol would allow the scrapping of all life on earth