The long campaign for Scottish independence ended last month, either in disaster or with a disaster averted, depending on which side you favour. Either way, it was an event worthy of commemoration in our favoured poetic style, and who better to supply a suitable ode than the talented Mr Midgley? Here’s his latest effort…
Eck o’ the Cudgel
Part I: Scourge o’ the Sassenachs
’Twas in the fair city of Edinburgh, not many years ago
That the hearts of Scots politicians were full of dismay and woe
For despite the Holyrood parliament they were still being ruled from London
Under the cruel regime of the Tory-Lib-Dem coalition.
But a bold wee man stood up, and to his companions he did say,
“I will rid ye of these tyrants from down south without delay.
For I will be your leader, if you will vote for me,
And I will make the English brutes from Scotland for to flee.
For my name is Eck o’ the Cudgel, and I hail from Linlithgow,
As did Mary, Queen of Scots several centuries ago.
And the people will soon see that of Scotland I’m the flower,
But Holyrood’s not strong enough, I must have absolute power.”
And to his compatriots he did boast without dismay,
“With this stout cudgel I will drive these sassenachs away,
And then ye shall have independence and liberty
With nobody else to govern ye or decide your fate but me.”
By the year 2011 he and his party were dancing in their glee,
For in the Scottish parliament they had won a majority.
So wee Eck took up his cudgel, and boldly he did say,
“I will be your saviour, and these English we will flay.
From them we will break free by holding a referendum
And when the deed is done, back home to England we will send ’em,
For ’twill be held in the year 2014, Bannockburn’s centenary,
When King Robert the Bruce did defeat his English adversary.
We will woo Labour voters and they will soon be fooled,
But once I am in charge, they’ll know what ’tis like to be ruled.
We’ll win the votes of the poor and sick by making them many a promise,
Which of course we need not keep, once we are in office.
We’ll even let the teens vote too, and they’ll all vote for me,”
(Although he little knew that in truth ’twas not to be)
“And, to help the voters decide, we’ll put to them this simple question:
‘Do you agree with everyone else that Scotland should be an independent nation?
Just put your cross here in this ‘Yes’ box without hesitation’.”
But the Electoral Commission wouldn’t allow this and so, to Eck’s dismay,
In the end the question had to be phrased in a more neutral way.
Meanwhile, Eck did rule the Scots with growing autocracy,
For he had not grasped too well the true meaning of democracy,
And he did not take kindly to any form of opposition
Such as people writing about him without his permission.
And the great leader’s grin would quickly turn into a scowl
As he suppressed all disagreement by fair means or foul.
Oft did Eck brandish his cudgel to subdue the opposition
And many innocent folk he did beat into submission.
But by now many Scots were saying to one another, “Hoots!
Surely this man Salmond is getting too big for his boots!”
For he was becoming a pocket dictator most fearsome to be seen
Whose favourite world leaders were Gaddafi and Putin.
Part II: Half-baked Home Eckonomics Project
By now the time for the referendum was drawing near
And the hearts of both the yes and no campaigns were filled with fear;
Oh, heaven! how the opposing packs were fiercely biting and snarling,
The Yes Scotland forces led by Eck, and Better Together by Alastair Darling.
“We will win sixty-five per cent of the vote,” the yes campaign did say,
(Yet ’twas but a vain hope that would not be fulfilled on the day)
“And we will have at least five daily papers on our side,”
But they only won backing from the Sunday Herald, which their opponents did deride.
Worldwide support for his campaign Eck did eagerly canvas
And luckily, in order for him not to embarrass,
North Korea declared the support of their great nation
And their mighty leader Kim Jong-Un threatened England with annihilation.
Then Eck received a further massive boost to his campaign
When he won the approval of Russian separatists in the Ukraine,
Who soon did prove their worth by shooting down a passenger plane.
Meanwhile, back in what thus far was still the United Kingdom,
The battle ’twixt the two sides was taking many a form,
Such as love-bombs and celebrity endorsements, which might some voters sway.
“But we do not hate the English,” many Scots people did say,
“And far rather with them together we would stay.
Some of our best friends are sassenachs, our wives and sweethearts too,
For they are not a foreign race, but our sisters and brothers true,
And most of us have family and friends south of the border,
But needing a passport to visit them would be totally out of order.”
“And what are we to use for money?” they anxiously did cry;
“I’ll let you know about that in due course,” came Eck’s reply,
“Perhaps ’twill be the pound, or maybe the ecku,
Just vote for me in the meantime, and then I will tell you.
We’ll sort out the minor details later, such as currency,
For I am a politician and so you can trust me.”
“This is all about power,” declared Eck’s friend Jim Sillars,
In former times the scourge of many of the establishment’s pillars;
“Our opponents will soon learn the meaning of sillarisation
The day after we’ve been voted in by the entire Scots nation.”
And he did threaten the dissenters with a Day of Reckoning,
Thus revealing that to him cruel dementia was beckoning.
In the final days, northwards did march a mighty band
Of party leaders Cameron, Clegg and Milliband,
And they did make many promises of further devolution
To persuade the Scots people to stay part of the great British union.
Both sides their flags did wave and their sabres they did rattle,
And upon the very eve of the final battle
An impassioned speech for unity was made by Gordon Brown,
Which did cause wee Eck’s supporters deeply for to frown.
Part III: He Thinks ’Tis All Over
And so ’twas in the year 2014, on the 18th day of September,
Which the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK will long remember,
That at last the referendum was held to take the decision
On whether Bonnie Scotland should be an independent nation.
Most opinion polls were showing that, in spite of all the hype,
The voters off Eck’s face that smug expression soon would wipe
But Eck sat at his command post, looking forward to the fun
As he prepared to celebrate when the counting was all done.
For he thought ’twas all over, and indeed he was half right,
Because ’twould soon be over for him upon that fateful night,
And as dawn broke, the forces of separation were made for to flee
Till finally the vanquished Eck did cry “Alas, woe is me!”
“We was robbed,” he did complain upon the very next day,
“’Twas the fault of the old fogeys,” he sulkily did say,
“For stealing from the young this great opportunity away,
And, by jings, for this treachery most dearly they will pay,
For I will take from them their bus passes away.”
And yet statistics show that his contention held no water
For ’twas the young as well as old had participated in the slaughter.
And so wee Eck resigned, to be replaced by Nicola Sturgeon,
Who to step forthwith into his shoes did need no urging;
For ’twas ever thus, that when the surly tyrant gets his comeuppance,
Apart from him the rest of the world do not give tuppence.
And so ’twas for Eck, although his tactics were ruthless,
In the end his cudgel turned out to be useless,
For the canny Scots saw through Eck’s glib facade
And our hero was hoist with his own petard.
– Stephen Midgley, with acknowledgements to William McGonagall
NOTE: For those unfamiliar with Scottish politics and/or the fine poetry purveyed on this site, the title of Stephen’s piece alludes to Alex Salmond’s nickname of “Wee Eck,” and this dubious poetic masterpiece.