There is a convention in politics that I used to find vaguely nauseating, and it was one of the things about the whole gig that I never quite got a grip of and never wanted to participate in. There is so much of politics that is phony, but I always thought that the way leaders pay tribute to one another when they step down was entirely fake.
And yet, over time I came to realise, mostly by watching politicians from the Tory Party of the 90’s talking about Brexit and the national interest, that any failure to do it is extraordinarily petty, and not just because it has become such a standard response.
It is a mark of respect for their public service even if you disagree profoundly with every decision that a person has made. The whole nature of politics is about working on behalf of other people, and even when I’ve not liked political leaders I appreciate that about them.
There are a handful – like Trump, like Thatcher – who are so destructive and cruel that they don’t merit that. But unless someone is of that ilk, unless someone is particularly loathsome, I wholly understand why politicians, who are uniquely aware of the job and its pressures, go out of their way to say nice things to, and about, one another at the end.
Today, Nicola Sturgeon resigned and whatever your personal thoughts about her are, there is zero doubt that she loves her country and worked tirelessly on its behalf, and especially during COVID when I will always be grateful that we had a person in charge here who was not just serious minded but humane and decent and who sweated blood every minute over the awesome, mind-bending responsibility of having millions of lives in her charge.
If you know anything about how the UK government in Westminster behaved at that time – I’m sure you do – you’ll know that she was far and away the most competent and disciplined and serious person in a leadership positon on either side of the border.
The tributes are flowery enough when a person leaves because they had no choice, but she’s stepping down of her own volition – a lot of people don’t believe that, of course, and that’s fair enough – and talking very candidly about how exhausting the job is and how stressful. That’s something everyone can relate to and understand.
And so the tributes are especially effusive today from just about every corner of the political spectrum, and although the media will do its job and dig to find out if there’s another reason for her departure – and they should, that’s their job – friends, colleagues and even rivals can relate to what she’s said today and wish her well.
Everyone except for Douglas Ross, who made a statement which was bitchy, snide, arrogant, divisive and selfish. Rishi Sunak delivered a fine tribute, praising her for her hard work and integrity; the leader of the Scottish Tories released a bitter, vindictive, small-man’s statement which proves, as if there were evidence required, that he’s a political pygmy even by modern standards, a guy vastly out of his depth in a job that doesn’t really have many requirements.
I’ve seen shit politicians in every party. I think Labour in Scotland has over-promoted a real shower of mediocrities over the years, including Kezia Dugdale who was an astonishingly poor leader, though not as bad as Johann Lamont or the hilariously ineffective Jim Murphy, whose personality cult collapsed like the Colossus of Rhodes virtually overnight when he oversaw the electoral annihilation which many of us predicted on the day he got the gig.
I’m still laughing about that to this day, if I’m being honest.
But I do believe that even accounting for the shrieking Willie Rennie, who every fibre of my being cringed against when he opened his gob, that Douglas Ross is the worst, the most ineffectual, the more embarrassingly awful and clueless individual I’ve ever seen elevated to lead a party in this country in all my years of watching them.
I wouldn’t even attempt to list his litany of embarrassments and reversals and U-turns and gaffes and so it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that he’s so awfully partisan on a day like today, on a day when he’s utterly misjudged the moment and released something so crass, so thoughtless, so self-centred and stupid. He’s a joke and this confirms him as a bad one, a Jimmy Tarbuck special, which his party should have sensibly retired long ago.
What does amaze me is that he’s done that, and gone personal and gone low on a day when tributes are flowing, at the same time as he’s whining like a little bitch about a banner that Celtic fans put up at the weekend, and that his fellow refs – totally without the least self-awareness of what pitiful specimens they also sound – are wailing with him.
If he doesn’t have the thick skin to get over a banner like that he’s in the wrong jobs, both of them, and I’m particularly amazed he’s lasted this long in politics, especially when I’ve seen Sturgeon slap him all over the chamber on repeated occasions. The business is just way too brutal for a sensitive soul like him. To borrow an expression from the right, a snowflake.
In truth, of course, this is just another excuse to attack Celtic and its fans, and I find the refs standing by their man to be particularly ridiculous and short-sighted. These people really do think they are special, and shouldn’t be subjected to criticism or scrutiny.
But Ross wasn’t the target of that banner because he’s a bad official. He is a bad official, a honking bad one, with an easy to recognise bias. He was the target of that because he’s the Scottish leader of a corrupt, stinking, reeking party which has waged class war since the moment it took office in 2010, and which has inflicted upon this country not just economic hardship and social chaos, but an unprecedented level of lying and deceit from the very highest offices in the land.
And you know what? The rest of the refs can piss off. They want it dealt with? How? Points deductions? They’ve been doing their level best to accomplish that since the start of this campaign, and frankly I’m not in the least bit impressed by them.
I’ll tell you though, at a time when they are making this much noise about our club and our fans I hope people inside Celtic Park are paying attention to their foot stamping and drum banging because that could have repercussions for us, as I don’t trust them, any of them, not to hold it against us and act accordingly.
Still, for all that, there’s no reason for us to be in the least bit remorseful for pricking the balloon of his ego a wee bit. Ross proved himself today with his press release on Sturgeon that he’s utterly deserving of that particular appellation and several others that I’m too polite to bestow on this blog.