Craig Wilson outlines his predictions for how the next 12 months of political campaigning, poll gathering and media reporting will play out.
The year begins with the deepening of the EU renegotiation row, as José Manuel Barroso confirms that an independent Scotland and the rUK will have to compete for the one remaining slot in the European Union. Adding that “we can’t be bothered thinking of a more pragmatic solution,” Barroso begins drafting plans for a series of sporting events between the two countries’ politicians. After much huffing and puffing, David Cameron and Alex Salmond eventually sign the contract for the feast of political sport at a neutral location on the remote North Atlantic outpost of Rockall. With the ‘Rockall Agreement’ officially signed, The Sun mocks up an offensive picture of Eric Pickles sumo wrestling Salmond to the ground, while noting that “proud and patriotic Scots everywhere will be rooting for Pickles.”
In a live Scotland Tonight debate, Nicola Sturgeon decimates new Scottish Secretary Michael Gove with a string of accusations of Tory-implemented policies punishing innocent Scots who never voted for them. At one point Gove is heard to turn to presenter Rona Dougall and whimper, “I want my mummy,” prompting Wings Over Scotland to get #RONAIWANTMYMUMMY trending on Twitter. The STV judging panel rule the verbal joust to be a draw, for reasons never revealed.
In a hideous attempt to court controversy, Miley Cyrus stands in central Glasgow with a cone on her head. Alistair Darling notes that without the strength and security of the UK, Alex Salmond will have free rein to deport both Cyrus and the cone, adding sombrely that “we can’t take that risk”. In a sodden Buchanan Street, Cyrus points out that she is “absolutely desperate” to avoid losing interest and starts dancing with the Duke of Wellington instead.
In a keynote speech at the launch of Better Together Rannoch Moor, Johann Lamont argues that Scotland cannot be the “only ‘something for nothing’ country in the world”. Angrily banging her fist on the desk, Lamont rages that the Scots just expect offshore hydrological engineers to bring all the oil onshore, proclaiming that “this is
the sort of laziness we’ve come to expect from you Jocks… I mean, us Jocks”. The Scottish Labour leader outlines a plan to force anyone earning less than £31,675 to personally swim across the North Sea anytime they want some petrol for their car in future, adding menacingly, “and remember, vote Labour in 2015 or the pipelines get it”. The speech mysteriously disappears from the Labour website hours after appearing.
In a live Scotland Tonight debate, Nicola Sturgeon destroys new Scottish Secretary George Galloway with a prolific rundown of the benefits of an independent Scotland for those seeking a socialist democracy. After being cornered with the dawning realisation that Holyrood is far more likely to fund childcare and welfare than nuclear warheads, Galloway resorts to his patented Plan B, dressing up as a series of animals during each advert break. The final costume, featuring the Respect leader dressed as a seagull attempting to flee an offshore windfarm, draws stifled laughs from the STV judging panel, who adjudge the contest to be a draw. #WOULDYOULIKEMETOBETHESEAGULL trends on Twitter.
No campaign director Blair McDougall reacts furiously to a new Panelbase/Wings Over Scotland poll that reveals he is now only recognised by 29% of Scots, quitting Twitter and going on a weekend-long booze up with BBC Scotland staff. Along the way, he meets Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, who is similarly disgruntled at only 27% of the electorate knowing who he is. The pair decide to form a double act, McDougall & Rennie, touring the country in an attempt to gain visibility and simultaneously stop the people of Scotland governing themselves. Reporting Scotland and the entire Scottish/UK media offer their full support, while the Sunday Herald and STV release a joint statement asking, “Who the hell are you two?”
The No campaign launch a hit ITV gameshow to highlight the volatility of Scotland’s oil resources. The show, ‘The Oil Price Is Right’, is hosted by an energetic Alistair Darling as hapless contestants struggle to calculate the value of a potential post-independence oil fund. After asking the audience for their input and being met with a
barrage of calls for “HIGHER, HIGHER, HIGHER” estimates, Darling’s catchphrase is to turn to the camera and smirk: “I think they said ‘LOWER’!!!” Ratings for the show are estimated by the IFS to reach a record 97 million viewers.
The advert break during The Oil Price Is Right features Johann Lamont attempting to sell sofas for knockdown prices. Using the same techniques as Dougie Donnelly twenty years previously, Lamont urges the viewer to “come on down to Tillicoultry near Stirling, and get your settees half-price before all companies flee Scotland after separation”. Lamont fails to give any coherent reason for the threat of mass retail panic, but ends the advert on a high by standing in front of two cream lampshades and declaring: “These gorgeous light shades are now 2 for 1, so you can get something for nothing – today!”
The first sporting contest for the remaining EU position pits Transport Secretary Keith Brown against Business Secretary Vince Cable in a game of snooker. The hushed Crucible watches in amazement as Cable rattles off a stunning 147 maximum break to take the final frame and the match. Better Together’s website describes the break as “somewhere in the region of 350”, while inventing match-fixing allegations against Brown. Outside the historic Sheffield venue, local MP Nick Clegg is pelted with flowers, rhododendrons and undergrowth by local yobs, before wiping his face and sighing, “they must all be SNP plants.”
In a live Scotland Tonight debate, Nicola Sturgeon skewers new Scottish Secretary John McCririck by pointing out the radically different political skews of Scotland and the UK. McCririck has no answer to Sturgeon’s razor sharp dissection of the failure of UKIP to pick up a single deposit north of the border, and attempts to diffuse the situation with an electoral deposit/house deposit joke, but to no avail. Sensing annihilation, McCririck screeches, “Oh away and pick up your benefits woman!” before asking Rona Dougall for a good taxi company in Glasgow and fleeing the podium. #GETMEATAXIRONA trends nationwide, as the STV judging panel declare the contest a draw.
McDougall and Rennie’s Scottish tour is a damp squib, after National Collective book nearby venues and draw ten times the audience every night. With inspiration fading, the duo approach the BBC with an idea for a serial drama. ‘McDougall & Rennie’ sees the pair cast as detectives who have to search far and wide for any examples of Scotland being a bit rubbish. The pilot episode, airing just after The One Show on primetime, features McDougall watching Scotland lose a cricket match to Yorkshire, while Rennie heads to North Uist to see just how cold, wet, and driech it gets up in the Highlands. Whenever the duo have to get together and solve crimes, their signature catchphrase is to throw their pens on the desk in hopeless desparation and sigh, “Ach, we cannae dae it!”
In a live Scotland Tonight debate, Nicola Sturgeon tears new Scottish Secretary Kelvin MacKenzie limb from limb with a stream of irrefutable facts. The revelation that Scotland sends an annual £2-3bn subsidy to Westminster causes MacKenzie’s face to contort with pain, while the former Sun editor is visibly apoplectic as the Deputy First Minister points out Scotland’s lower-than-average benefits bill. In a shocking twist, the anti-Scottish press baron attempts to throw the podium at Sturgeon, who sidesteps the onslaught and watches it land with a
crashing thud. “Gotcha!”, she winks. #GOTCHA trends across Scotland, but the STV judging panel declare the contest a tie. MacKenzie celebrates with a slap-up meal of deep fried Mars bars and unlimited vinegar in Renfield Street.
The EU sports fest continues with an engrossing Davis Cup-style tournament at Wimbledon, as the mixed doubles team of Roseanna Cunningham and John Swinney take on Theresa May and George Osborne. In a pre-match interview, Osborne is asked what sort of service game he expects, but misunderstands the question, instinctively replying: “Now let’s be clear – we will cut services as and where is necessary.” The match eventually falls the way of the SNP Government, when Theresa May spots a non-white member of the audience and pursues them with her tennis racket. Sadly, the presentation ceremony with Sue Barker is marred when Swinney is hit by a white substance from the sky. Looking up, he sees a seagull flying away with haste. “Bloody Galloway,” he mutters, to hearty laugher on Centre Court.
McDougall and Rennie finally strike gold with an infectious hit single that takes the world by storm. ‘Blurred Pipelines’ is intended as a humorous satire on the UK Government’s historical attempts to block oil exploration in the Firth of Clyde. The controversial video features McDougall and Rennie dancing around a team of offshore hydrological surveyors, before wafting fake £1m notes in a tartan-clad Scotsman’s face and singing euphorically, “I know you want it!” The viral smash hit achieves the rare feat of uniting Yes and No campaigners in rhythmic dancing, with Limmy remarking on Twitter that the song is the ‘Sound of the Summer’. However, 86% of Scots admit they have still never heard of either McDougall or Rennie.
In a live Scotland Tonight debate, Nicola Sturgeon discombobulates new Scottish Secretaries One Direction with a host of winning arguments “You’re obviously nice guys,” Sturgeon levels with the group, “but you’ve been placed in the farcical position of having to come to Scotland and defend right wing policies and ideologies that our country has voted against for an entire generation”. Sturgeon also notes that with Niall’s Irish roots, if anything the band is a symbol of people from different political states “working in tandem to achieve effective results”. “Do you wanna hear our new single though?”, asks Liam. #OMGHARRYURSOHOT and #HANDSOFFNICOLATHEYREMINE trend on Twitter, while the STV judging panel are undecided on who is the ‘fittest’ member of the group, eventually calling it a draw.
The EU sporting contest moves to football, with the SNP and ConDem Governments permitted to invite some friends from the Yes/No campaigns to make up the numbers. At Hampden, a stunning run of three goals from Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie leaves the Scottish press notably awed, with the Daily Record dubbing him ‘Hattrick Harvie’. Eventually Scotland run out 7-3 winners after Nick Griffin is sent off for punching Colin Fox in the thigh, while Nigel Farage picks up a second bookable offence for goose-stepping in the run up to a free kick. In the studio, Alan Hansen argues that he felt a draw would have been a fair result.
With the historic vote only days away, opinion polls suggest the Yes campaign has edged into a slender but consistent lead. A frantic press conference is called at Better Together HQ, with Alistair Darling struggling to contain his emotion as he reels through a list of threats to the people of Scotland. Among them is the assertion that all 282 Munros will suddenly wither away following a Yes victory, without the “strength and security” of the UK’s mantle crust sustaining them. Darling eyeballs the assembled journalists and cameras, visibly close to tears, and asks, “What sort of legacy will we leave our children if Scafell Pike becomes the highest mountain in
Britain?” A rogue reporter from the Wings Over Wales website points out that Mount Snowdon is a good 100m higher, before successfully crowdfunding £50,000 to start rebuilding the Munros after independence.
Late on polling night, word breaks that the UK Government has lost the all important USB stick on a
train near Lowestoft. Margaret Curran uses the mishap to point out that “the ESSENNPEE are really really bad and racist people,” while the Daily Record argues that Alex Salmond’s attempts to blame the Coalition for losing their own data are “typical diversionary tactics from a delusional oaf”. After a frantic search by the few Coastguard employees lucky enough to have survived the Coalition’s cuts, the search area is eventually narrowed down to 100 square miles in the North Sea. Salmond scoffs at the irony.
With the nation(s) in a state of flux, legendary wrestling promoter Vince McMahon organises a tag-team Hell In A Cell match for the ongoing EU-entry sporting competition. Around 200 people on Twitter remark that, “this must be the ‘and then they come to fight you’ stage”. The sold out crowd at the SSE Hydro is split between supporting their own government and the government that looks after bankers in London, eventually running with dualling
“YES!/NO!” and “Let’s Go Salmond!/Salmond Sucks!” chants. The titanic and bloody bout ends when Eric Pickles chokeslams Humza Yousaf through the cell roof, allowing the weasly Danny Alexander to pick up the pinfall victory and scarper from the Hydro. In a post-match interview with Bernard Ponsonby, Alexander notes that, “this is what
happens when the Lib Dems and Conservatives put aside their differences for the good of the country,” before adding coyly that, “if you ain’t down with that, we got two words for ya – NUCLEAR WEAPONS!”
Tension is unbearable in the North Sea as the search intensifies for the lost USB stick containing the referendum results. David Cameron devises a crooked scheme to snare any Scot brave enough to dive in and search for the stick, noting that in the result of a Yes vote, Scotland will be de facto independent, leaving the patriotic
swimmers at the mercy of a hostile Royal Navy attack from all four sides. Most worrying of all is Cameron’s cackling threat that, “you’ll have to be rescued by the nearest cruise ship… and we’ll make sure Steve Brookstein’s on it!” An IPSOS-MORI poll reveals that only 39% of Scots have heard of Brookstein, although he is still marginally more recognisable than McDougall or Rennie.
Scotland is, literally this time, on pause. The country waits with bated breath for the referendum results to be announced, leaving just enough time for the decisive EU sporting contest between the Scottish and UK Governments. Alex Salmond invites the Coalition to the Trump International Scotch Golf Links, while the prospect of landing some birdies tempts Boris Johnson north from London. Salmond uses his insider knowledge of the Trump course to card a record 62, with Boris dismissing the First Minister’s scorecard as “absolute bloody piffle”, before falling into a bunker. A joyous SNP Government wins the last remaining EU position for Scotland, but with the referendum still in the balance, uncertainty hangs in the air over Aberdeen. #HELPUSRONA trends worldwide on Twitter.
After an agonising wait, the missing USB stick is finally found when a costumed George Galloway performs a classic seagull dive into the North Sea, picking up the pen drive in his fake teeth and swooping to the nearest oil rig. The USB is taken to Edinburgh to dry out, while Galloway flies around the Scottish coastline to Rockall for the next leg of his ‘Just Say Naw’ tour. In a fiesty FMQ at Holyrood, Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson both blame Alex Salmond for Britain being surrounded by sea, with a fearsome Lamont arguing that “no man is an island, but Dictator Salmond seems to think otherwise!” Davidson manages to slip in a salmon/Salmond fish gag, because no one’s ever heard one of them before.
As Christmas approaches, the United Kingdom waits and waits for the historic result to be announced. In London, a pensive John Terry sits in the Chelsea dressing room with a medal round his neck, desperate to know which side he can celebrate with at the trophy presentation. A tipsy David Cameron interrupts his latest pro-austerity golden throne dinner to “say a few words about the Jocks,” before bursting into a cringeworthy medley of ‘Forget You’ and ‘I Will Survive’.
In Bute House, a forlorn Alex Salmond watches a spider try unsuccessfully to spin a web, and lets out an exasperated sigh. In a brief moment, he doubts the result. The gates of hell will be unleashed on Scotland after a No vote – the end of the Barnett Formula, communities and lives destroyed by welfare cuts, the death of a nation’s self respect, and all so the next Cameron or Blair can go cavorting with a giant nuke in the Clyde. He feels sick. At the final attempt, the spider suddenly strikes gold, completing the web and spinning around in a state of ecstasy. Salmond rises from his chair in wide-eyed amazement, as a “YES!” chant is heard floating through the air outside.
This is the moment, he realises. It’s finally going to happen. Scotland is going to take control of its own future at long last, drawing a line under three centuries of Westminster mismanagement and forging a new path, where all Scots unite as one to take their place in the global network of nations! Salmond scrambles for the remote and switches on the TV, in both hope and expectation. The results are in.
‘Undecided’ wins the referendum.