Cameron finally agrees to meet Salmond head-on
After months of goading from the Scottish First Minister and the Yes campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron has finally agreed to meet Alex Salmond head to head.
Insiders believe that Mr Cameron had approved the meeting in principle last year, but that there has been several months of behind-the-scenes haggling over what format the live TV clash should take.
While Mr Salmond's team has been pushing for a two-man debate on the BBC hosted by Radio 4 sex symbol Jim Naughtie, Mr Cameron's advisers have been reluctant to let him anywhere near that kind of situation.
'It's understandable,' said Dr Shackleton, speaking to me this morning from his office on the 98th floor of the spectacular Burj Salmond in the heart of Glasgow's financial sector.
'Why would Cameron go on TV in Scotland? Virtually everyone north of the border believes he was cloned in the early 80s from a malignant cell plucked from the burned remains of Thatcher's heart. Every time he opens his mouth, a No voter's soul turns to dust.'
After rejecting various other formats, including a Question Time Special with the leaders of all the main parties, and a hustings type debate with Salmond and Cameron taking questions from the floor, the two sides have finally settled on a best-of-five Mario Kart challenge.
Friends of political insiders understand that the breakthrough came some weeks ago, and that the delay since then has been down to wrangling over who gets to be Donkey Kong.
'Whatever anyone says, this is bang on,' added Dr Shackleton. 'If western society was a computer game, it'd be Mario Kart. It captures the zeitgeist of these hedonistic, frivolous, crapulent, wasteful times to perfection.'
As the referendum debate moves towards its extraordinary climax and voters are whipped into a frenzy of excitement, TV executives are known to be considering many more banner prime time events, including:
• Johann Lamont & Gordon Brown v Nicola Sturgeon & Alex Salmond in a mixed naked mud wrestling contest over 15 rounds.
• Come Dine With Me Referendum Special, with Alistair Darling, Ruth Davidson, Lord Robertson and Frankie Boyle
• At rugby, a full Scotland XV versus an rUK sevens side
• A Who Do You Think You Are? special with David Cameron, wherein he discovers his great great great great great grandfather set out for Scotland once, but turned back at Watford
• I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! with the likes of Malcolm Rifkind, Eddi Reader, Kenny MacAskill and Eddie Izzard marooned on a remote Scottish island and made to eat deep fried sheep's testicles
'One thing's for sure,' said Shackleton. 'We'll be seeing a lot more of all these politicians over the next few months. The public can't get enough of them. Isn't it great?'
Other Referendum News From The Past Week
Sunday April 13:
Speaking to the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen, Alex Salmond has blasted the No campaign as being the "most miserable, negative, depressing and thoroughly boring campaign in modern political history, modelled on Craig Levein's tactics against the Czech Republic in Prague".
Arguing that the No campaign better up their game or else Scotland is going to become independent and "I'm going to brick myself", Mr Salmond said that listening to an endless stream of Piccadilly Scots bad-mouth the old country was driving countless undecided voters into the Yes camp.
'The No Campaign is like watching Craig Levein multiplied by Craig Brown,' continued Salmond. 'You try to make sure you don't lose, and then you lose. At least with us you'll get a bit of Ally McLeod.'
Dr Shackleton believes it a bold move from the SNP leader. 'It's ballsy, there's no question. It's one thing to slag off your opponent, that's what politicians do. But to give them a report card, pointing out what they're doing wrong, so that they can change their game plan and bring people off the bench... Curious. Salmond must be really worried he's going to win.'
In other news from the SNP conference, Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon defended the demolition of Ibrox Stadium as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
'It's had a good run,' she told conference-goers, 'but it's about time it was put out its misery.'
Thursday April 10:
Lord Robertson's Five Worst Things That Will Happen As A Result Of A Yes Vote
5. There will be a worldwide blight on wheat crops, meaning no flour, there will be no batter for deep frying, and therefore NO FISH SUPPERS.
4. Russia will annex Caithness, Nato will send in troops under the command of Baron Münchausen of Port Ellen, and Scotland will become the bloody battlefield that is the prelude to World War III.
3. Scotland will become Syria multiplied by Bosnia, there will be ethnic and tribal division, the country will splinter into a hundred fiefdoms, and rivers will run red with blood.
2. Baroness Thatcher will rise from the dead and feast on the charred flesh of barbecued children.
1. There will be ethnic cleansing of gingers.
Tuesday April 8:
Chancellor,Gideon Osborne sought to draw a line under the row over Treasury recommendations that an independent Scotland should not be allowed to use the pound by admitting on Newsnight that 'of course a currency union would be fine, but who cares, man? They want out? Fine, on you go suckers, leave, but don't expect to be able to come home and use the bathroom, that's all I'm saying.'
Confirming SNP claims that the No campaign were bigging up the potential economic pitfalls of Scottish independence, Mr Osborne continued: 'Yes, we make shit up. OMG! The Pope's a Catholic, bears shit in the woods, and politicians will say anything in the name of political expediency. Big deal. Well, I'm telling you the truth now: we lied.'
Commentators, analysts and crazy people on the internet were surprised by this outburst of honesty, but Dr Shackleton believes it heralds a new openness in the debate over Scottish independence, and throughout British politics in general.
In other political developments, as truth-telling broke out across the entire political spectrum:
• Alex Salmond revealed that he already had a currency Plan B, but was saving his Scottish Imperial Shekel proposal until after the vote
• Boris Johnson admitted he's never even heard of Scotland. He also acknowledged that he's desperate to be Prime Minister and is intent on launching internecine strife within the Conservative Party, which will see Osborne, Gove and Cameron dead and their heads on spikes outside Party HQ as a warning to others
• David Miliband says he's actively trying to have his brother assassinated
• Alistair Darling admitted he never wanted to be a politician anyway, and that he's always wanted to be a lumberjack.