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The Shackleton Report: Issue 18

We come to it at last, the great political debate of our time - Heroclidius

Frost/Nixon. Ali/Foreman. Murrow/McCarthy. Montgomery/Rommel. Disraeli/Gladstone. Now, to that pantheon of greatness, will be added Salmond/Darling.

The Commonwealth Games are over, the summer in Scotland has ground to a halt on the back of endless rains sweeping in from the polar north, the referendum that the whole world has been talking about for the last two years is almost upon us, and now, before a worldwide television audience of over two billion, it gets serious.

All the bickering, all the negativity, all the preening and the absurdity, from the SNP's intention to introduce the Scottish Imperial Shekel to the sight of David Cameron and George Galloway embracing topless on the same platform, has led to this moment. The battle of giants. The clash of Titans. The meeting of intellectual and political behemoths. Professor X and Magneto. Goliath and Goliath.

'For sure,' said Dr Ian Shackleton, of the Glasgow School of Politics and Football, 'the SNP were unhappy that David Cameron refused to step up to the mike, but what was the PM supposed to do? The last living Conservative voter in Scotland died late last year. When a Scottish voter looks at David Cameron, they see the zombie love child of Dick Dastardly and Lizzie Borden.'

Looking across the golden spires of the city from his 98th floor office in the city's magnificent new Usain Bolt The S*** Tower, Shackleton reflected on the man who has been chosen to replace the Prime Minister in the most highly anticipated political debate since the time of the ancient city states of Greece.

'The Prime Minister may be gone, but in his place we have this man who's been a political hero to a generation,' said Shackleton. 'Sure, some people think Alistair Darling is the bad guy in an episode of Scooby Doo, before he takes his mask off. But show me a political heavyweight and I'll show you the contempt of the unworthy.'

Both First Minister Salmond, and Better Together ├╝bereyebrowspitzenreiter Darling are known to have been locked together with advisors for the last two weeks, twenty hours a day, practicing. Tension in both camps is running high, with some reports indicating that Mr Salmond alone has worked his way through seventeen practice opponents, many of whom are thought to have been psychologically crushed, with at least two likely to never speak again.

'These two men are coiled springs,' said Professor Malcolm Connery of the Glasgow Institute of Special Things. 'Every argument, every political point, every nuance of every topic is at their fingertips. This is going to be Borg/McEnroe times a thousand.'

Nevertheless, this great debate is about to be conducted in the shadow of the most tumultuous period in world affairs since the end of the Second World War, and political analysts, as well as friends of political analysts, foresee inherent troubles for the First Minister in the litany of horror in recent events.

For two years now Better Together have attempted to play on the uncertainty of independence. Now, almost as though it has been planned, the world suddenly seems like a much more uncertain place than it was at the start of the year. Every week that goes by seems to add a new outrage threatening to engulf us all, be it the spread of the Ebola virus, Cold War II leading to total Armageddon, or all Scottish teams being eliminated from Europe by the middle of August.

'Suddenly life seems terribly fragile,' says Dr Shackleton. 'Sure, independence might work. Things might be better, and maybe every single one of those arguments that the Yes campaign have been making are bang on. Maybe there really is the biggest oil field in the known universe off the coast of Millport. But if the Russians are just about to invade, or there's to be a super tsunami or we're all going to die of Ebola, it doesn't take much to see that the problems of Scotland's independence don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.'

To counter the unforeseen drama of world events, Yes campaigners are thought to be pursuing a conspiracy theory agenda, suggesting that everything bad happening in the world today is as a result of Westminster manipulation.

'Wouldn't put anything past those b*****ds,' said a source close to an SNP spin doctor. 'Look at history, look at the Opium Wars, that was one of theirs. All this stuff that's filling the news, can you honestly say you don't detect the black hand of Westminster behind it all?'

Nevertheless, a friend of an unnamed source close to an SNP insider is known to have suggested that the party leadership were wrong to have been so insistent on the removal of Trident. With nuclear war shaping up to be slotted into the world's agenda some time in the next fourteen to eighteen months, people are beginning to ask if Scotland really wants to be left without a nuclear option.

'If everyone on the planet is going to be vaporised or burned horribly to death in screaming agony, Scotland can't just be on the sidelines,' said one Conservative Party insider. 'We have to retain the capacity to be at the heart of that kind of f**k-witted stupidity.'

Much remains to be made clear, and tomorrow night, as the world watches in wonder at the pinnacle of political debate, all will be revealed. The pieces are falling into place. At last the bitter taste of the Lamont/Sturgeon debacle will be banished. Scotland stands on the precipice. History will be made. A king will be crowned.

Or maybe you just want to watch Rangers v Hibs on the BBC.

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