Aberdeen was enveloped in an unexpected heatwave over the weekend, as literally several Scottish Liberal Democrats appeared on the scene, bringing with them their new “sunshine strategy”.
Leader Wullie Rennie, who will be claiming credit for the strategy if it works, but will otherwise be a speck of dust on the horizon, peeped out from behind a huge smiley mask to comment. “We’re just thrilled to celebrate being in Britain, in government and indistinguishable from the Tories. And what a wonderful platform Aberdeen is for us, with the Lib Dems having such a great record of delivery in the North East. Like Domino Pizza, but with more limp cheesiness.”
What about the critics’ charge that this outpouring of manic jollity is a cynically engineered ploy to disguise the moral vacuum at the party’s heart? “Ha ha, well, if you’ve heard me speak at Holyrood, you’ll know I have no chance of understanding what you’ve just said. But look, we’re not at home to Mr Sourpuss. People say we’re faking, but our position on the Union is something you couldn’t make up. The whole conference hall has a song in its heart and a smile on its lips, and the laughing gas we’ve been feeding through the air-con is just a precaution.”
The highlight of the proceedings was the keynote speech by David Cameron’s personal valet, Nick Clegg, the possessor of a fine old Scottish surname meaning “bloodsucking insect”. Mr Clegg, who is fluent in five languages but chose to address the audience in his mother tongue of Bollocks, was unwavering in his support for the No campaign’s frantic attempts to discover a positive case for Scotland staying in the Union.
“The SNP and UKIP are very similar,” declared Mr Clegg, “All right, they fundamentally disagree on the EU and immigration, and only the SNP actually has any policies apart from that. But otherwise they’re like identical twins. Both of them end with the letter P, both are far more popular than the Lib Dems and both have a leader who can kick my arse in a debate. Sorry, uncomfortable memories, so I’ll simply leave the comparison there for everyone to mull over, and move swiftly on.
“This referendum is about capturing imaginations. It’s easy to wear a Grim Reaper costume and come out with doom-laden claptrap you’ve just made up, as you’ll find out when Danny Alexander does that later. But Scotland doesn’t seem to have fallen for it, so we also need to take people’s imaginations into the wild blue yonder, the universe filled with unicorns, pixies and fairy dust where everything is made of chocolate and diabetes is unknown.
“In an uncertain world, there’s strength in numbers. Some numbers are a bit frightening, such as 1.3 trillion, but, if you imagine that the UK debt is a big fluffy snowman and George Osborne has a magic blowtorch, you can put the worry straight out of your mind. By contrast, 50 is a nice number: that’s the number of years we expect to have North Sea taxes available to camouflage the UK’s Ponzi economy. Another nice number is 0, which is the number of nuclear warheads currently stationed in Surrey. Er, sorry, this line of argument isn’t working, is it? Time to move on.
“Scotland has an 8.3% decibel share in the UK’s loud voice in the G8, or the G7, as it’s called now that Putin’s been suspended for taking the results of a referendum way too seriously. Imagine the results of that influence! A bottle of Highland Spring in front of each delegate, apart from Monsieur Hollande, who needs to have Perrier or he’ll set fire to some tyres. The Prime Minister lightening the atmosphere during carbon emission negotiations with his hilarious impression of Billy Connolly discussing farts. Can Scotland afford to lose that impact at the top table, even though it exists only in my head?
“Speaking of the G7, look at the UK’s growth, now showing the highest dead cat bounce of any of them! Yes, it’s all founded on an out-of-control London property boom, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes pop and subsides with a squeaky hiss. But just imagine if God had a cosmic joke with us, and it kept going? We’d be the largest economy in Europe by 2030, as long as all the other governments inexplicably decided to pursue rubbish policies. Imagine Scotland missing out on that, while the rest of us linked hands on Hadrian’s Wall, or an alternative northern landmark not yet destroyed by fracking, and chanted “losers, looo-sers” in a northerly direction! Um… I’m afraid this is getting a bit negative again. Sorry….
“Tell you what, I’ll scrap the Bedroom Tax! Only joking, that’s well above my pay grade. But I’ll undertake to speak to the Prime Minister, if I can find some space in his diary, and ask him if he’ll let you spend more of your pocket money on alleviating its effects. I imagine that’s almost as good as independence. Isn’t it?
“Actually, we’d offer you and the rest of the provinces Home Rule in a federal UK, which is what we’ve been banging on about ever since Ming Campbell first proposed the idea 100 years ago. But we can’t imagine what it would actually involve, although Ming suggests giving everyone a free cardigan and a Werther’s Original might be nice. Frankly, it’s pretty academic, because after the debacle of the last four years there’s no way the electorate will ever touch the Lib Dems with a bargepole again.
“Sorry. I’m so very sorry…..”
At this point a giant shepherd’s crook was deployed to assist Mr Clegg off stage. As he was being sedated, Wullie Rennie entertained the dwindling audience with a hastily improvised tap-dance.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats will meet again this time next year, probably in a bus shelter in Cardenden.