Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Our revolutions were never on the telly in the first place

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by zerox in four parts without commercial interruption,

The revolution will not be televised.

Gil Scott-Heron's dad was the first black player to sign for Celtic. Look it up. Whilst this is about the only notable connection this now sadly deceased (as of this weekend) exponent of the proto-hiphop underground Manhattan music scene had to Scotland, these lyrics could at full stretch have a message to those Parliamentarians who now find themselves on the opposition benches at Holyrood: Even if you hatch a plan for the fight back of the century, for the next 5 years it's going to be pretty chuffing hard to get anyone to write about it.

Staring down the barrel of the SNP super-majority, in mindfulness of the Soviet discipline of the SNP back benches will be daunting for every parliamentarian who doesn't sleep under the soft blanket of nationalism. All parties opposite will now have to embrace a new style of political warfare, and take such opportunities as they can to harry and challenge the SNP in any forum, presenting cogent and rational counter arguments, carefully picking battles and refraining from opposing just for opposing's sake. Persuading TV cameras or the print media to cover their guerrilla style insurgency will be a colossal undertaking.

Oddly though, for the Lib Dems this may have levelled the playing field.

If you half close your eyes and look at it in the right light, the opposition benches of the new Scottish Parliament are perfectly balanced and for the first time, Labour MSPs find themselves punching at exactly the same weight as the Lib Dems, the Tories, the Greens and Margo. In short we all command exactly the same ability to influence the legislative agenda, to amend bills and to change the narrative of the next 5 years and this amounts to precisely hee-haw.

My point is, that no matter how bad the Lib Dem result in May's election, apart from a few more appearances at First Ministers Questions we would exert as much influence in this parliament with 5 times as many MSPs as we have right now. Perversely the quick and streamlined way in which team Rennie have pulled themselves together, and got straight down to going after the SNP on issues of policy puts them at an advantage over Labour and the Tories, both of whom remain shell-shocked and effectively in neutral as they cast around their own battle-weary columns for a new Leader.

Even as recently as March, Iain Gray looked a dead-cert for Bute house and Labour could trade access and a glimpse of post election Labour controlled Scotland for column inches, similarly, the Tories could rely on the Hatty Jakes factor to pull the cameras. Being ignored is nothing new for Lib Dems in the Scottish Parliament, who have, for the past four years, operated against the back drop of media ambivalence, scorn and slight regard.

Until the others cowboy up and start making the most of what they've been left with, they leave the podium clear for the Greens, Margo and Willie Rennie's Famous Five to act, for a time at least, as the official opposition in this country.

When Labour and the Tories do find their respective voices and a blueprint for revolt against the SNP bull-dozer, the next shock to the system will come when they realise that nobody's watching.

1 comment:

  1. "Famous Five" - That'll keep me in laughs for the forseeable future Alex. Your optimism is admirable however. And the positive spin you can put on the dreadful result is comparable with the most accomplished and experienced of politicians. And for that, i salute you! - Alan