​We now move on to the weighty matter of MSPs’ lack of humour - Vladimir McTavish

​Stephen Kerr MSP.​Stephen Kerr MSP.
​Stephen Kerr MSP.
​​What is it about modern-day politicians ? None of them seem capable of taking a joke.

Just this week Tory MSP Stephen Kerr claims he was threatened in Parliament by the Deputy First Minister. He says she told him he was “going to fall from a very high place”. He is demanding an apology.

Kerr had earlier been accused of heckling the health minister during a debate about cosmetic surgery. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

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Also, telling someone they are “going to fall from a very high place” sounds less like a threat and more like a warning or even a prediction.

If you are unaware of Stephen Kerr, he is that Tory we see now and again in Parliament, whose girth makes Douglas Ross look like an athlete.

I reckon it would be a piece of sound advice to warn him not to wander into any high places, in case he were to wobble and fall off.

Were Stephen Kerr to actually fall from a very high place, my main concern would be for the safety of people and property at ground level. One can only imagining the damage he could cause.

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Let’s not forget how many millions of pounds it cost to build the Scottish Parliament 20 years ago. We don’t want it to be reduced to rubble by large MSPs plummeting from the rafters.

Politicians these days seem to be ridiculously sensitive when it comes to the back-and-forth which used to be part and parcel of healthy debate.

Back in the day, they didn’t go around bleating about being threatened when they had merely been the butt of some gentle banter. It’s all part of the cut and thrust of intellectual argument.

Back in the eighties, Labour deputy leader Denis Healy compared Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor Geoffrey Howe to a “dead sheep”.

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Further back in time, in World War II when Winston Churchill was accused by a female MP of being drunk, he is rumoured to have answered “Yes I am, madam. And you are exceedingly ugly. But at least in the morning, I’ll be sober”.

That remark today would quite rightly be viewed as highly offensive. And totally inaccurate. Churchill used to drink a bottle champagne with his breakfast. He was never sober in the morning.

During the 2014 independence referendum, Labour’s Jim Murphy was hit by an egg which was launched from a crowd in Kirkcaldy as he was making a speech in the street.

He complained afterwards about “intimidation”. It was only an egg, for goodness sake. In the old days, any politician worth their salt could take that kind of interaction in their stride.

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During the 2001 general election, there was a similar incident involving Tony Blair’s deputy PM John Prescott.

If you don’t remember, he was the guy who owned a Jaguar but also used a ministerial limousine, which earned him the nickname “Two Jags”.

On a campaign walkabout in North Wales, he was hit by an egg thrown at close range by a member of the public.

Prescott’s response showed true dignity and statesmanship. He utterly panelled the guy who’d thrown it, hitting him with a couple of punches. Overnight, he went from “Two Jags” to “Two Jabs”.

Nobody ever threw an egg at him again.

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