Martin Hannan: Satire is dead . . and it’s no joke

Satire is out of favour on this year's Fringe
Satire is out of favour on this year's Fringe
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It’s here again, this monster that always threatens to overwhelm our city but never quite manages to do so.

The Fringe has outgrown every other festival in Edinburgh and on the entire planet to become the biggest arts show on Earth, and I for one will never tire of it.

The inventiveness, creativity, energy and passion for all types of theatre and not just stand-up comedy are the qualities that make the Fringe unique.

That and the cattiness of promoters and performers alike, the interminable drinking sessions, the public fallouts between Z-list celebrities, the wails of critics about the Fringe just not being what it used to be, and the whole plethora of eccentricity which 
accompanies the world’s biggest arts festival.

Those of us who work or live in the city really do not mind our place being taken over for a month, not even with the wholesale closure of George Street. We can put up with jokes about having had our tea and not having had our trams, because at the end of the day we know that Edinburgh is the best city in the world with the greatest arts festivals of all.

I suspect there will be one thing missing from this year’s Fringe and that is satire. After all, how can you be satirical about a coalition government which pledges to cut the amount spent on politicians and then promptly makes peers out of people whose main claim to fame has been that they donated money to this or that political party. I exempt 
Annabel Goldie from any criticism in that regard, I should say.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg get no such grace from me. They are unctuous hypocrites and completely out of touch with the common people of this state rapidly becoming the DisUnited Kingdom.

As an SNP member, I am hugely delighted that my party takes no role in creating Lords and Ladies to expensively populate an upper house that has been redundant for decades. It is a principled stance that I think is 
resonating with the people of Scotland at this time.

Fringe comedians must look at what the coalition government and the utterly useless official opposition are doing and conclude that satire is truly dead, because you could not make up the fact that Cameron, Miliband and Clegg create Noble Lord and Ladies out of their chums who give them a bung.

As for Miliband, I now despair of this Labour leader who slagged off Unite for trying to rig the election of a candidate when he himself only got the leadership because the trade unions fixed it for him. Mote and beam, Ed, mote and beam.

Still, if the politicians can make an art form of favouritism, we columnists should be allowed our own little partialities, looking after one’s own, so to speak. Over the next month I will be making my own personal recommendations of things to see in the city this month.

Let me start with Swept Up Theatre’s production of Yellow Pears at the ZOO venue each day at 3pm. It’s a clever piece of comedy theatre devised by three bright and hard-working young women, one of whom just happens to be my daughter, Deborah. Go and see it, I guarantee you will be amazed.

Honesty the best pollution policy

Why did it take a Freedom of Information request to get the revelation from East Lothian Council that

Musselburgh was a hot spot of air

pollution?

It took the local Greens to expose the fact that vehicle emissions in the town were breaching European guidelines, but anyone who has ever been trapped in the interminable traffic jams in Musselburgh could have told you that pollution was a serious problem there.

Every council should monitor such nitrogen dioxide pollution very closely and publish the results on a daily basis. Then the public would see just how bad this dangerous form of

pollution is.

East Lothian Council could start by coming clean about Musselburgh. After all, it is the Honest Toun.

Accies stadium saga still got a long way to go

The decision to allow Edinburgh Accies to build a new stadium at Raeburn Place has been highly controversial, and local people have pledged to fight it in court if necessary.

Though I am in favour of the development, I can’t help but feel uneasy that it went through the planning process without, for instance, a full traffic assessment.

I’m assured the Accies and the council followed all the guidelines, but if the protesters’ court action goes ahead, I don’t think their Lordships will be too impressed if it can be shown that corner-cutting took place. This one will run.

Famous Five deserve to be immortalised

With Lawrie Reilly’s passing, I welcome the idea for a statue of the Famous Five. Having known Eddie Turnbull well, I am convinced the quintet were unique in world football, five disparate individuals who came together to play beautiful football.

A “Five” statue seems appropriate, though it could never convey the fluid dynamism of Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Turnbull and Ormond.

Vital spark

Council chief executive Sue Bruce is right to take a role on the board of SSE – but only if she ends up telling

us why power companies charge so much.