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Stuff the magic dragon.. it's all smoke & no fire; The REAL voice of Scottish politics.

Byline: Mackenna

CRIKEY. I wobbled. I swooned. For a whole 30 seconds - I seriously considered voting SNP. Why? Because Duncan Bannatyne told me - not to.

Yes not to. Who is Duncan Bannatyne? Some guy who made money out of gyms and somehow thinks that makes him influential in the political arena.

You'll recognise him. He postures his way through that awful Dragons' Den programme in a style that sometimes veers dangerously close to the creepy. Yuk.

Stick to the jock-straps Mr Bannatyne. I can make my own mind up.

And while I am doing that I won't be concerning myself too much at the prospect of some gyms closing in the, extremely unlikely event, that Scotland goes independent.

And neither will anyone else I suspect. Bannatyne was top of a tired list of people warning we're all doomed. I could be wrong but did the list not include people such as Sir Bart Trumpington-Windbag, former governor of the Bank of Morningside, Mr Cheesy Aulgit, who was once big-ish in the, harrumph, royal - and a whole host of other complete never-heard-ofs who are pro-Union?

Now I know some poor Labour researcher spent days phoning hundreds of people to get them to sign up for this stunt. And I'm sure it was terribly hard work, especially with Big Gordo breathing down his neck. But really, is this the best New Labour can do? Bore the voters into the Nationalists' arms?

The strange thing is this is actually a traditional SNP stunt.

Normally, at this time in the campaign, the Nationalists trot out someone who is, um, tenth economist at the National Linen Bank, and who, ooh, is definitely, not one of Alex Salmond's mates. No really.

And he claims independence will work. And everyone gives him a kicking. And then we all yawn and go back to sleep. I think the Nationalists have done it again this year - and we all ignored it.

Far better surely, for New Labour to concentrate on the key points. As they briefly did this week. Like this one: why is the leader of the party that wants Scottish independence based in London?

Why did Alex Salmond go to Westminster all those years ago? Why didn't he stay in the country he allegedly loves so much? And, hey, just who is Nicola Sturgeon?

Oh, all right. Some issues would be good. Some passion. Some fire to the campaign that is not solely based on the fact Gordon Brown's coat is on a very shoogly peg down south if the Nats do well. Or that Mr Tony Blair has got nothing else to do but try to convince us he's a really good guy.

Maybe I'm asking for too much. But come on. There are serious issues.

Not least, how come Salmond is not coming across nearly as smug and smarmy as he normally does? And how come the creepy guys are suddenly in the Labour camp? If I was Brown that's what would be worrying me. Not where we are all going to exercise in the New Scotland...

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NOT FIT: Bannatyne
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2007
Words:516
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