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By Michael T Aker

Sunday, July  26, 2020

No doubt SNP chief executive Peter IM Murrell thought it a brilliant wheeze to commission a designer range of face masks emblazoned with the party's logo. But I wonder if he took the precaution of consulting first with his boss, who also happens to be his missus. There's no masking the fact that manufacturing chic face coverings with pretty Nat insignia hardly sits well with Wee Nic's oft-repeated plea to desist from using the coronavirus crisis as a political campaigning tool. It's rumoured that Wee Pete was willing to risk his other half's ire because the face mask range is not only Nat natty, but could also help to swell party coffers from which he draws his generous salary. As well as the party's logo, the follow up range of masks will apparently also carry indy ref-2 slogans, Yes insignia and Saltires. How long before before one has: 'This is not a mask. This is freedom'?

Sunday, July 26,2020

Don't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the hapless Transport Minstrel Grunt Schnapps. As one of the chief architects of the two-week quarantine rule when you get home from a holiday in sunny Espana, he must have been relieved when BoJo told him it was OK to lift the lockdown restriction. So much so, that Schnapps decided immediately to take himself and family off to the Costas for a wee break. Unluckily for Grunt, no sooner had he arrived in Spain and donned his Bermudas than a spike in Covid cases forced BoJo to reimpose the two-week quarantine for returning Brits. Ironic eh? Actually, when we say we don't know whether to laugh or cry for poor old Grunt, that's not entirely true. Hahahahaha.

Monday, July 6, 2020 

The Braveheart Brigade is on the march again, bouyed by a poll in The Sunday Times which puts support for Scottish independence at 54%. 'Another referendum now,' is the battle cry. But it's not the kind of figure that is likely to have Wee Nic slapping on the Mel Gibson-style woad just yet. She can be pretty sure she'll romp home to decisive victory at next year's Scottish Parliament elections, probably with an increased majority. But that says less about the prowess of the SNP and more about the dreadful calibre of the opposition. Undoubtedly, the UK Government's mishandling of the Coronavirus crisis has helped swell support for the Nats. But we can pretty much guarantee that if this was a referendum and not just another poll, there is no way support for separation would reach anywhere close to 54%. Why not? Because as Bill Clinton's strategist James Carville famously once said: 'It's the economy stupid.' If Wee Nic thought she had a hard job trying to persuade the majority of voters in 2014 that Scotland was strong enough economically to go it alone, that will seem like  a walk in the park  compared to the task now. Bravehearts becalmed. Your time, if it ever comes, is certainly not now or any time soon.

Monday, June 29,2020

Wee Nicola is surely having a laugh. At her daily Coronavirus update, she makes an earnest (?) plea to the media to desist from framing anything she and her Minstrels say about the public health crisis through a party political or constitutional lens. Then she promptly hands over to her Finance Secretary Kate 'Our Mate' Forbes who immediately starts moaning that Westminster is denying her the powers she needs to rescue Scotland from economic meltdown. No party politicking or constitutional sabre-rattling going on there then? Wee Nic is not normally known for her sense of humour. Maybe she's the only one who found this particular joke funny. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

There's an expression that has become increasingly popular in the Scots colloquial lexicon which is far too rude to be re-iterated here. But it has to do with smell and a bodily function common to us all. The phrase perfectly suits the controversy surrounding Housing Minister Robert Jenrick [left] and his dealings with former Daily Express owner Richard Desmond. Jenrick's approval of Desmond's massive housing development in London's east end, despite it being refused by the local council and a planning inspector, has sparked claims of a 'cash for favours' row. Jenrick says everything he did was totally above board and insists he had no knowledge of Desmond's £12,000 donation to the Tory Party after the project was given the ministerial green light. BoJo is standing by his man - for now. But the smell is starting to become overpowering. Jenrick escaped the chop when it was alleged he had flouted lockdown rules by debunking from his London townhouse to his country pile. His chances of escaping this time are becoming slimmer by the hour.

Monday, June 22, 2020

If ever you wanted a forensic, no-nonsense analysis of what BoJo is really like, ask a former Supreme Court judge. Enter Jonathan Sumption who sums up Johnson thus: 'The Prime Minister, who in practice makes most of the decisions, has low political cunning but no governmental skills whatever. He is incapable of studying a complex problem in depth. He thinks as he speaks - in slogans.' Ouch! And as for Boris's inner circle: 'You have to go back to the early 1930s to find a British Cabinet as devoid of talent as this one.' Ouch again! We shudder to think what His Lordship might have to say about Wee Nicola and her team of Minstrals.

Friday, June 12, 2020

So farewell Basil Fawlty - gone with the wind. (Oh, and farewell Gone with the Wind too). One of the best known episodes of Fawlty Towers - 'The Germans' - has suddenly disappeared from UKTV, the BBC streaming service. At the same time, the multi-Oscar winning 1939 classic starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh has been banished by the US streaming giant HBO. The ever-expanding mob of the perennially offended is celebrating an infamous victory. It seems nothing escapes the moralising, politically-correct attention of the Angry-About-Everything brigade who, not content with airbrushing history by vandalising statues, also want to reinterpret what was once universally accepted as amusing and entertaining. So, if you are one of the millions who have laughed at Fawlty Towers, or one of the hundreds of millions who have laughed and cried watching Gone with the Wind, you should be ashamed of yourselves. And whatever you do, don't mention the war.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Morning TV presenter Susanna Reid bemoans the fact that some of her friends are ignoring social distancing regulations and asks: 'Am I the only person still following the Covid rules?' She adds: 'I've noticed a growing horde of people who consider lockdown pretty much over. Skipping over to the neighbours, a nod to social distancing by not hugging, before cracking open a bottle of rose and thinking, "what the heck, we're all in it together." Susanna steadfastly refuses to join in. But then she asks: 'How does it make sense that I can go into a TV studio four days a week and sit two metres from my co-host and four metres from four camera operators, but I can't leave Television Centre and walk down the road to my best friend's family kitchen?' No Susanna. What really doesn't make sense is why you going to a TV studio is considered 'essential work'. Then again, if you weren't we might have to put up with Piers Morgan on his own. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

It was good that Wee Nicola remembered Scotland's hard-pressed farmers when she announced they could get back to work as part of her 'route map' out of lockdown. The only problem is that farmers have never stopped working since the coronavirus crisis began - which is why the country has been kept in vittles throughout lockdown. Reassuring to know that Wee Nic and her team of Minstrals have their eyes on the ball.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

NEWSFLASH: Culture crusaders are demanding the removal of the statue in Edinburgh of Greyfriars Bobby, the 19th century Skye terrier who is said to have devotedly spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner John Gray before the pooch himself passed away in 1872. Campaigners say history must be obliterated or at least re-written to dispel the myth that Bobby was a kind and gentle 'super-dog'. They say they have evidence that Bobby was in reality a 'yappie, flea-ridden mutt' who barked and snapped at other dogs, especially poodles of colour, clearly demonstrating his racist tendencies. 'The statue is an insult and utterly offensive to all law-abiding, morally-upstanding doggies who have never bitten or barked at anyone, ever,' said Iris Righteous Mogg, chair of BAM (Barking And Mad).

Monday, June 8, 2020

Scotland's beleaguered Health Secretary Jeane Freeman looks more like a rabbit caught in the headlights of the coronavirus juggernaut with each passing day. The woman who speak in 500-word mainly incoherent sentences - a sure sign of somebody out of their depth and in a panic - clearly has lost her grip on her brief. That is, if she ever a grip in the first place. The admission that she has no clue when the pledge will be met to have all NHS and care staff routinely and regularly tested for the virus is just the latest in a lengthening list of failures and blunders. Were it not for the fact that we remain in the midst of a public health crisis, the robotic Freeman would long ago have been consigned to the political scrapyard.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Is there no end to the depth of Trumpton's stupidity? Stupid question, we know. So, he thinks it's smart to retweet a video of somebody saying George Floyd - the man whose killing has sparked mass protests across the UK as well as the US - was 'not a good person'. From that, we can deduce that Trumpton thinks that somehow justifies his death. Not only is Trumpton stupid, he's dangerous. Let's just hope America is not stupid enough to re-elect him in November. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Of all the questionable government pronouncements since the coronavirus crisis began, Home Secretary Priti Patel's two-week quarantine rule for everybody entering the UK - including returning holidaymakers - is surely the most bonkers of all. Never mind the estimated £20 billion it will cost the tourism and travel industry. How, when the UK has one of the highest infection rates in Europe, does it make sense to dissuade Brits holidaying abroad? Provided they maintain social distancing discipline, surely there is less chance of catching the disease in countries with lower infection rates than there is here? It's clear that BoJo thinks its bonkers too. Time to reel in your Home Sec Boris and Priti quickly before summer's over.


That said, it's clear that common sense is not that common in these strange times. Social distancing is beginning to lose ground rapidly in the public consciousness. Cue, for example, the group of 30 nutters who travelled by train from Glasgow to Largs for a jolly to the beach. The mixed and somewhat watery messaging from governments both north and south of the border doesn't help. So Barbed Wire offers some advice that both Holyrood and Westminster might consider adopting: 1] Regard every person as if they are potentially infectious. 2] Accept that coronavirus can kill you. 3] Realise that if you catch it and pass it on you might kill somebody else. Clear enough?

Monday, June 1, 2020

With immaculate timing, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate 'Our Mate' Forbes announces inflation-busting pay hikes of up to 12% for senior civil servants. With thousands of private sector workers in furlough or facing the dole, and hundreds of businesses struggling to survive because of lockdown, C-grade Holyrood officials on £54,500 a year are being bumped up to £61,000 while government mandarins currently earning £67,000 are going up to £74,000. Never mind that the economy is in meltdown and that some of our NHS workers - the much-applauded heroes of the Covid crisis - are earning less than £10 an hour. Nothing like getting your priorities right, eh Kate? After all, we are all in this together. Aren't we?   

Thursday. May 28, 2020

¶ Just like the virus and the Cummings-and-Going's affair, the controversy over the Scottish Government's cover-up of the Nike conference outbreak back in February has not gone away. Nor will it. Wee Nic concedes she's no public health expert but she has complete faith in the 'experts' whose job it was to track and trace people who had been in close contact with those delegates who, it seems clear, were carrying the disease and may well have unwittingly spread it. One of those close contacts was kilt fitter Gillian Russell. She helped fix up 10 of the Nike delegates with Highland dress before she became ill herself with flu-like symptoms. Ms Russell later spent time with elderly relatives, went to a retirement party and went on holiday to Portugal, unaware that she might also be spreading the virus. Yet she has never been contacted by track-and-trace officials. Wee Nic says that if they didn't think it was necessary to contact Ms Russell that's good enough for her. Really? It's hard to believe that Nic has not asked why Ms Russell was not contacted. It's not good enough to say this will all come out in the wash at a public inquiry when the crisis is over. Who knows what that will be? If Wee Nic means what she says about being open and transparent, she needs to prove it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

¶ It matters not whether you think Cummings-and-Goings broke lockdown rules or acted responsibly and legally when he took off from London to Durham with is sick wife and four-year-old son. It matters not whether he was being honest when he claimed he was testing his eyesight when he took a 60-mile round road trip on Easter Sunday which just happened to be his wife's birthday. The law of the political jungle is that when you're a government official at the heart of a storm for more than three consecutive days, you're dead meat. As a former journalist, BoJo must know that. Love him or loathe him, Cummings-and-Goings is headed for the Number Ten exit - whether sooner or later.

Monday, May 25, 2020

¶ Downing Street sources tell us that the half-hour delay in starting Dum Cummings-and-Goings press conference was a furious row with advisers about what T-shirt he should have hanging over this trousers when he ambled into the Rose Garden to deliver the 'accurate' version of events about his trip to Durham during lockdown. It is said that Dum wanted to wear a bright yellow number with the letters FUME emblazoned on the front, the M standing for 'Media' and the E for 'Ersatz' which Donald Trump knows is another word for 'fakes'. It is not clear what the F and the U stand for. In the end Duminic uncharacteristically agreed to wear a plain off-white shirt but only on the proviso that he was allowed to have it hanging over this belt and definitely no tie. Despite his dodgy eyesight, Dum managed to deliver the longest non-resignation speech in British political history without the use of his specs. He truly is amazing. Incredible really. He handled most of the media's questions pretty deftly, it has to be said. When asked why he didn't tell Boris that he was debunking to Durham, Dum confessed he didn't really know. Perhaps he should have, he confessed. Might be, of course, that had he told his boss he was planning to break the lockdown Boris might have thought it not the best idea his chief adviser had ever had?

Monday, May 25, 2020

¶ The blind party allegiances that have turned UK politics into a basket case have never been so luridly apparent as they are over the Dum Cummings-and-Going's debacle. When the normally pro-Tory Daily Mail's banner headline screams WHAT PLANET ARE THEY ON? - referring to Bojo and his embattled chief aide - you might think it would give even the most loyal of Boris's minstrels pause for careful reflection. Or better still, running for the hills. Not so. It was Edukashun head honcho Gavin Gobbledegook Williamson's turn to act as Number 10 cannon fodder and to robotically repeat his boss's ludicrous assessment that Dum had acted 'instinctively' and 'legally, responsibly and with integrity' when he broke the lockdown rules. Thinking instinctively Gav, you are a twerp.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

¶ Questions, questions, questions. Everybody's got questions about Duminic Cummings-and-Goings, chief dispenser of wisdom and weirdness to the White Honourable BoJo PM. Here's some of our own: 1] Will His Whiteness have the good grace to face the music at this afternoon's coronavirus propaganda briefing (Sunday, May 24)? 2] If he does, will any media bright spark ask had Duminic, on his journey north to Durham during lockdown, been stopped by police, fined and told to turnaround, would he still be not guilty of any wrong-doing? 3] Were that the scenario, would BoJo and squirming minstrels like Grunt Schnapps still be saying that Dum broke no rules and should be allowed to star in his own version of Carry On Regardless? 4] What family does Mrs Cummings-and-Goings have and where do they live? Watch this space...……

¶ …...At least BoJo turned up. Might have been better if he hadn't bothered. More questions, questions, questions (though few of the right kind). Not many answers. Here's how it goes now: The PM continues to stick by Cummings-and-Goings, maybe for another day or two, perhaps a week. Then Cummings-and-Goings quits, citing the fact that he has become the story and too much of a distraction for His Whiteness and the Government. Some things will never change.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

¶ Is it the end of the London-to-Durham road for BoJo's chief special adviser Duminic Cummings-and-Goings? He is, of course, not the first high-ranking figure to cynically presume lockdown laws apply only to mere mortals and not invincible demi-gods like him. Remember Wee Nic's chief medical officer Cathy 'Oh I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside' Calderwood? Or Coronavirus model aeroplane designer Professor Neil Ferguson? Dum, as he is infectiously known, thought it fine to drive his family to his elderly parents' home in Durham even after his wife had developed symptoms of the virus and several days after his boss had imposed lockdown. Then again, it was Dum-Dum's seriously unconsidered opinion that we should just all get out there and take our chances in a great herd immunity lottery. Dum's logic seeming to be: Let's all die now so we don't have to die later. We can only hope it's Bye-Bye Dum-Dum. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

¶ So, transport head honcho Grunt Schnapps has confirmed that anybody travelling to the UK will have to go into a two-week quarantine - and that includes holidaymakers returning from a week or two in the sun. And that's about as many - one or two - who are likely to go along with it. But is there method to Schnapps's madness? With the British tourism industry facing disaster, maybe Grunt has just found a way to make sure most of us take our summer vacation here in the UK. And why not? But we can't wait to see how many of our political masters decide to suck up the two-week quarantine and venture overseas for a well-earned break. At least it might give the rest of us an extra fortnight's break from them.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

¶ The grandiose sculpture marking Alex the Salmon's famous free student tuition promise is looking for a new home after Heriot-Watt University said it no longer wanted it. The big boulder bears the former First Minister's Burnsian quote: 'The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scotland's students.' Given the meltdown in Scotland's finances thanks to Covid-19, maybe The Salmon will have to eat his own words before anybody steps up to give the boulder a new berth. Mind your teeth Alex! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

¶ Nobody will surely be surprised by The Donald's latest bizarre revelation that he is popping an anti-malarial pill because he has a tremendous feeling that it will protect him from Covid-19. The only thing we're surprised about, given he says 'oranges' when he means 'origins', is that he can actually pronounce 'hydroxychloroquine'. Tremendous! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

¶ Hats off to BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith who has apologised to Wee Nic for suggesting the FM was 'enjoying' ploughing her own Cornonavirus furlough - sorry, furrow - rather than following BoJo's lockdown escape plan. Smithy, daughter of the late Labour leader John Smith, had, of course, meant to say 'embracing' rather than 'enjoying'. An understandable slip of the tongue? Wee Nic says she's not enjoying or embracing anything. But she has had the good grace to accept Smithy's apology. As far as Wee Nic is concerned the matter is now closed. It won't, of course, be closed to the cybernats who have been frothing at the mouth over Smith's verbal faux pas. But there's something Wee Nic should learn from this little spat - when you get it wrong, admit it and admit it fast. Then make a swift apology. It's amazing what people will forgive when you accept your mistakes and say sorry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

¶ Delighted to hear that Captain Tom is to be rewarded for his amazing fund-raising efforts for the NHS with a knighthood. Curious though, isn't it, that his elevation is announced on the same day that the Government releases the first proper and shameful death toll in our care homes. The buriers of bad news have been working overtime.   

Monday, May 18, 2020

¶ If the bookies were open right now, we'd wager you'd get decent odds on the UK Health Secretary Matt 'Give-me-a-Break' Hancock and his Holyrood counterpart Jean 'Never-Knowingly-Briefed' Freeman being promptly axed as soon as we're over the worst of the Coronavirus crisis. Neither has exactly covered themselves in glory with their ham-fisted handling of their governments' epidemic responses. Is it really any surprise? Wee Matt is brainy enough, having degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge. But what he knows about health you could cram into the skull cap of one of his mortar boards. Jeanie can't quite compete with Matt on the academic scale. Her after-school education consists of a few years at the Glasgow School of Technology. But she does have the accolade of being the first woman to chair the National Union of Students as a fully paid up member of the Communist Party. After defecting to Labour, she then defected to the Nats and became one of Wee Nic's chosen few almost as soon as she was elected to Holyrood in 2016. What Jeanie knows about health would probably fit into one of Lenin's flat caps. But, hey, when you're simply following what the scientists tell you, you can't really be blamed when things go wrong. Can we?


¶ Labour leadership hopeful Jess 'I'm-a-Brummie-and Proud' Phillips is 9/1 third favourite to inherit Jezbollah Corbyn's crown of thorns. But we fear Jess's odds are in danger of lengthening with her pitch for what must be the least sought-after job in British politics right now. The former women's refuge worker, who once told Jezbollah's former beau Diane Abbot to f*** off, says if she gets the job she'll fight to take Britain back into the European Union. Even though Jessie represents a pro-Brexit seat, she still believes Leave voters got it wrong. It should come as no surprise when the votes comes in if the Labour membership tell Jess to f*** off. ¶


¶ Wait though. Maybe Jess's prospects have just been given an unexpected boost, courtesy of leadership rival Rebecca Longface Bailey. In her first interview since confirming her candidacy, RLB was asked what marks out of ten she would award Jezbollah for his leadership performance. 'Ten,' she replied, apparently without laughing. Full marks for the man who led Labour to its worst electoral defeat since 1935. Good luck with that one, Beccy!

¶ Oh how Wee Nic must be secretly fuming over the political re-emergence of former Justice Secretary Aye Ken MacAskill who has come back to life as a Westminster MP. The bold MacAskill, who was fired by Wee Nic, has been less than loyal to her Holyrood Highness with a fast-flowing deluge of sideline snipes and snivels about her IndyRef2 monologue.

Now, as the reincarnated Honourable Member for East Lothian, Aye Ken shows no sign of giving Wee Nic any kind of break. Not only will there be no second indy ref this year, there shouldn't be one in any case, he declares. Why? Because, Aye Ken asserts, it would be lost. Curious, isn't it, that within Nat ranks Aye Ken appears to be something of a lone voice (apart from the maverick Jim Sillars who has been uttering something very similar). Except, of course, that there is no shortage of fellow dissidents within the Braveheart Brigade, led by Joanna Pip Pip Cherry. It's just that, unlike Aye Ken, they either don't want to upset Wee Nic,or they fear the backlash if they dare speak up. It will be interesting to see how SNP Westminster leader Ian 'I'm just doon frae the Isle o' Skye' Blackford deals with the outspoken MacAskill. We suspect Aye Ken might be spoken to and possibly spoken about. But a spokesman for anything he most certainly will not be.¶


¶ Wee Ruth The Truth was always going to be a hard act to follow. But we can't help thinking that her successor-elect as leader of the Scottish Tories may be something of an iffy option. Former motor trader Jackson Carwash seems like a nice man and he's certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to taking on Wee Nic.

But after the youthful dynamism of Ruthie, he does seem a bit old school fuddy-duddyish and in politics its all about perception, stupid. We must hope, too, that he has more good fortune as a political leader than he did during his 25 years in the car sales business. Carwash was joint head of the First-Ford dealership in the West of Scotland until it went bust in 2002. He was also a director of Wylies Automative until it folded the following year. The Scottish Tories must be hoping Jackson's imminent elevation is not a car crash waiting to happen.¶