07 May 2008

Bear with me on this one

Once upon a time, I had a cheap, crappy joystick attached to one of my previous computers, the one (obviously) with the game port that came with my soundcard. The joystick was a bit rubbish, quite frankly, but it did the job. It was plugged in, the computer recognised it and it worked on all the games I wanted to use it on.

One of those games was FIFA 97, and I duly instructed it to use the joystick. Until I got bored with the game - as, sadly, is my way; I am a fickle thing when it comes to computer games - and decided to play Transport Tycoon or something.

Then, of course, I went to Uni, and took the computer with me. Though I decided that the joystick was taking up box space that could be used for RF signal booster and 5,000 SCART cables that I took up to Edinburgh with me. I have to be honest: I did not initially miss the joystick.

But one day, I was going through the Start Menu, and remembered that I still had FIFA 97. So I decided to run it, to pass the time.

Disaster! I could load the menus, and start a game, but for some reason, I simply couldn't control the virtual players. They were running around like digitised headless chickens, bumping into one another, unable to respond to any instruction I issued, from either the keyboard or mouse.

Then I realised. The game was still working on the basis that I was using a joystick. The joystick wasn't there. It was seeking commands from a controller whose absence it wasn't prepared for.

In the past few days, Gordon Brown has been too busy with Labour's embrassment in the local polls - and I maintain that it's not the meltdown it's perceived to be - the 10% tax row and detention without trial (to name just three things in his in tray) to get down and dirty with the complexities of Scottish Labour. This weekend, the joystick was, in effect, disconnected from the party.

Then someone decided to load Wendy Alexander and click "Run"...

I think I've got the details of how things have progressed since Sunday, but I fear I may have lost track. From what I can tell, she said she wanted a referendum to spook the SNP on Sunday morning, as I blogged before she went on the Politics Show. Then, I thought it was the stupidest thing she could do.

Then she said she wanted the SNP to get their arses in gear and publish their proposals ASAP. This was the dangerous bit: goading the SNP, daring them. And, perhaps, saying something that some SNP supporters might agree with, albeit for different reasons. Could she have cottoned on to something?

Then momentum gathered, and Wendy was going to put forward her own proposals for law. And yes, she absolutely had Brown's backing.

Then a Downing Street press spokesman started distancing Numer 10 from her idea.

And Brown appeared to believe that "We want an independence referendum" means "We want to hang around and wait for the Calman Commission to report back, then we'll have a think". Which is actually a completely different sentiment though probably the most sensible one for Labour, who, through Wendy, have now severely pissed on their chips in terms of Tory and LibDem support.

Thn someone checked the Parliamentary rule book, and found that if the Government intends to legislate on an issue, there ain't no Member's Bill. And if an MSP can't get at least one other party for support on an issue, then there ain't no Member's Bill. And seeing as 1) the Government do intend to propose legislation, and 2) a Wendy Alexander Member's Bill on the matter wouldn't secure support from any party except her own, her plans were pretty much dead.

Now they are appearing to claim that it was all just a wheeze to throw eggs at the SNP. Which is probably the truth, but it's confused a lot of people - not least a certain Mr. J. G. Brown of Downing Street, London.

So where do we all stand? For one brief period, the SNP had won the support of the main opposition party for its main policy: an independence referendum. Then the Labour approach seemed to turn from a concrete policy proposal into political blancmange. The Tories can accuse Gordon Brown of not knowing what Wendy Alexander is doing (how can he, when she clearly hasn't exactly got an A1 grasp of that herself?) and judging on his apparent unawareness of precisely what she said, they have a point. Meanwhile, the SNP can point to Wendy Alexander being slapped down by Gordon Brown, citing her return to the old mantra: "The prime minister and I are agreed". They clearly are not, and Brown has said and done nothing to support a referendum - he could arrange one through Westminster if he wanted to - even in the past 48 hours. Therefore, if the two are agreed, Alexander has been forced to backtrack. So to English anti-Labour audiences, Brown looks even more like a blundering oaf who can't even work out what's going on in his own backyard. To Scottish anti-Labour audiences, Alexander looks like a puppet whose strings have got tangled, forcing the PM to take control again.

And all because Scottish Labour's joystick wasn't plugged in.


Jim said...

Excellent analysis! I particularly like the joysyick analogy.

Ted Harvey said...

JA when I clicked on what I thought was your link to the Politics Show it took me to your original bit on the Sunday Mail (what a scoop for them). All weel and good but it does highlight an oddity that I have already posted on Ewan's blog about.

When I tried his link to a Newsnight Scotland feature on the them, I was informed ‘sorry Newsnight Scotland is not available for download’. This could just be part of the Paxamist Newsnight distain for all things Scottish and reflected in the second rate service provided by the BBC - or it something else odd, given that the Thursday (I think) online edition of the Herald started off with a feature that rapidly vanished? The feature gave much scope to numpty Scottish Labour MP Donohoe’s total backing for Wendy Alexander’s abrupt volte farce (on including the Scottish independence option in any referendum). He was essentially saying ‘oh aye she is right dead right, see me and my constituency party, we demanded this nine months ago’.

Oh, OK, I know I'm just into the paranoia stuff, but still... I better go for a walk now, just being careful to avoid the remaining chromium dump sites in Tommy McAvoy's constituency.

Will said...

Ted... try this link to Wednesday's Newsnight Scotland: it'll work until Tuesday the 13th.

It'll take you to the iPlayer page but the whole Newsnight programme - even the UK version - appears to be "unavailable for download" from the BBC website. But you can, at least, watch it there until next Tuesday.

Ted Harvey said...

Will that link worked thanks... unfortunately:) I mean it's no fair on some people is it? :)

Will said...

No probs Ted - at least we now know that Iain Gray reckons he has a good chance of discussing Scottish constitutional politics in Portuguese. Shame he struggled so badly discussing it in English.