Spineless BBC has forgotten our proud history of mocking politicians, writes JOHN MACLEOD

Spineless BBC has forgotten our proud history of mocking politicians, writes JOHN MACLEOD

In her manly swimsuit and surrounded by her grovelling Cupboard, Margaret Thatcher is eating out. How would she like her steak? ‘Uncooked, please.’ ‘And what in regards to the greens?’ The Prime Minister seems to be scornfully round her colleagues. ‘Oh, they’ll have the identical as me…’

That Spitting Picture second is fondly remembered from an age of strong however trustworthy politics and biting satire. We had Week Ending on Radio 4; Personal Eye sticking it to politicians and Press magnates in every single place with out worry or favour; Sure Minister – a uncommon occasion of centre-Proper comedy – sending up supine politicians and boastful Whitehall mandarins.

Scabrous cartoonist Gerald Scarfe ruefully recalled the day he was introduced to Princess Margaret. ‘Which was a bit awkward, actually,’ he confided, ‘as a result of per week earlier I’d drawn her as a warthog.’

Margaret Thatcher’s puppet on Spitting Picture from the golden age of biting satire

In these islands we have now an extended, joyous and venerable custom of sending up those that rule over us; tearing assorted paper tyrants from their cardboard thrones. The caricaturist Gillray pitilessly slammed the Prince Regent, and the late Michael Cummings made hay with Harold Wilson.

In its early Sixties heyday, That Was The Week That Was even dared to tease the Royal Household – or, extra precisely, the fawning protection afforded them by the likes of Richard Dimbleby – with a skit on the royal barge sinking. ‘And now the Queen, smiling radiantly, is swimming for her life.’

It’s not at all times humorous. Usually it’s merciless, prejudiced, pompous and scatological and generally it has backfired. The cartoonist Vicky tried to destroy Harold Macmillan by sketching the toothy previous factor as ‘SuperMac.’ To his chagrin, the Prime Minister beloved it and the nickname caught on.

Now and again, the jeering may even have modified issues. 

To today, Liberal grandee David Metal is satisfied that Spitting Picture derailed him for the 1987 common election, consistently portraying him as an annoying little Scot in David Owen’s breast-pocket.

Nevertheless, the knockabout has at all times been accepted as a part of public life’s wealthy tapestry. 

Till now. 

Yesterday it emerged that BBC Scotland panjandrums, panicked by the Tweeted invective of a number of the most pompous bores in Holyrood, have axed social media animations selling Radio Scotland’s Noising Up.

So we can’t now get pleasure from ‘Limo Lorna’, in her inexperienced gown and massive hair and Canadian accent, ‘Minister for inexperienced abilities, round financial system, biodiversity, short-haul flights and maple syrup’ and a minimum of co-leader of the Scottish Greens and the worst Scottish Authorities minister since Frank McAveety of fading reminiscence.

‘Be a part of me for my new streaming sequence,’ burbled Limo Lorna, ‘Lorna Slater’s Nice Inexperienced Limousine Journeys, the place I’ll be altering my local weather from Holyrood to stretch-limo on a 3,000-mile taxpayer-funded journey round Scotland.’

Giggle? We almost did. However, as often occurs these days within the new Scotland, Ms Slater’s friends directly launched a pile-on. ‘Dreadful,’ cried Christina McKelvie. ‘That is unnecessarily nasty,’ wailed Emma Roddick. ‘What’s humorous about needing a automobile to do your job?’ stormed Mark Ruskell. Ruskell is Inexperienced. The 2 ladies are Nationalists.

Pacific Quay quick fell to its knees. ‘It turned clear over the weekend that the animations weren’t working as meant,’ pleaded BBC Scotland spokespersons, ‘and having mirrored on the response we have now made the choice to take away them from social media whereas we evaluation their use and assess the programme’s social media presence.’

The cartoons could not have been that humorous. And who, as of late, listens to Radio Scotland anyway?

However broadcasters and journalists must not ever be intimidated by politicians, and it’s an unnerving reminder of the huge Nationalist mob who converged on BBC Scotland’s Glasgow headquarters days earlier than the independence referendum, toting suspiciously well-made banners and genuinely scary many employees.

For days afterwards, Jamie McIvor couldn’t buy groceries with out women on the check-out asking if he was OK and the stomach-churning spectacle misplaced Sure Scotland untold hundreds of votes.

There was far an excessive amount of of this type of factor below the SNP ascendancy. Journalists attending its nationwide conferences intentionally corralled within the midst of hostile activists. 

Humza Yousaf – then Justice Secretary – tweeting the place to purchase milkshakes on the day Nigel Farage got here to city.

 The cartoons could not have been that humorous. And who, as of late, listens to Radio Scotland anyway?

And the day in Could 2020 when – broadcasting reside – Sarah Smith dared to inform BBC Scotland viewers that Nicola Sturgeon little doubt ‘loved the chance to set her personal lockdown guidelines’.

The First Minister, doubtlessly clutching a big onion, promptly wailed that she in reality discovered the Covid pandemic ‘nerve-racking and unsightly’, even because the CyberNats had been unleashed. Untold trolls set hideously about Sarah Smith and the BBC acquired greater than 4,500 complaints.

Unwisely, in my opinion, Smith rapidly apologised, but it surely didn’t save her from ongoing harassment whereas filming on this or that road, or males leering out of their automobiles and snarling issues like, ‘What f****** lies you’re going to be telling on TV tonight, you f****** mendacity bitch?’ Simply as males, via the ages, have at all times sought to howl down ladies who step out of line and utter inconvenient truths. Let the witch burn.

In actual fact, if one actually wished to ridicule Lorna Slater, we have now ample ammunition from her personal inglorious profession.

She solely sits within the Scottish parliament due to a ridiculous electoral system that, in 2021, gave the Scottish Greens two regional-list seats in Lothian with simply 12.7 per cent of the vote. Ms Slater is simply a minister as a result of Sturgeon subsequently reduce a coalition cope with the Scottish Greens within the grandiosely styled Bute Home Settlement.

Slater has not since impressed along with her work ethic. In January 2022 she was broadly derided after an e-mail was leaked from her workplace anent her needs throughout COP26 in Glasgow. ‘The minister doesn’t wish to do any greater than two issues in a day given there might be different work to do in and round that.

‘It might be possible to do three issues in a day if they’re all close by each other and don’t require a lot preparation. Consideration must also be given to any night occasions in Glasgow the place the minister could also be very late (submit 10pm) getting dwelling by which case there must be a later begin the next day.’

Nicely, I suppose one ought to really feel for the poor lamb, who’s – in spite of everything – paid a mere £98,045 a yr. However Slater has been greater than as soon as criticised for her heavy use of automobiles.

Earlier this yr, for chartering a ship to go to the Isle of Rum, on the eye-watering price of £1,200. A ticket for the common ferry would have price however £10 – however then, you suppose, she may need missed that evening’s River Metropolis.

Even these are however peccadillos towards the backdrop of her staggering uselessness as Minister for the Round Financial system.

Scottish companies, their hapless staff and the taxman this summer time had been left with payments for greater than £86million after the collapse of the agency overseeing the Scottish Authorities’s flagship recycling undertaking.

Slater had steadfastly ignored all warnings, all expressions of concern about her hopelessly framed laws. 

But, extremely, she remains to be in her job. It appears that evidently even lame radio comedy is forbidden to inform the reality to energy and, when Nats assault, BBC bosses cower in a nook and wibble ‘please don’t harm me’.

In all their gutlessness, they’ve allow us to all down and forgotten American scribe H L Mencken’s dry decree that journalist is to politician as canine is to lamp-post.

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