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Critics of the controversial policy at the Royal Shakespeare Company and other theatre groups of featuring women in male roles have been discredited by the spectacular performance of Nicola Sturgeon as King Lear: “I will do such things – /What they are yet I know not, but they shall be/The terrors of the earth.”
“Sturgeon: ‘I will stop Brexit’ ” was the headline that first alerted the public to the Scottish First Minister’s faltering grip on reality. Then she resorted to aviation therapy (the leader of the fanatically “green” SNP notoriously has a carbon footprint larger than the Himalayan Yeti) by flying to Brussels to negotiate Scotland’s continuing EU membership despite the UK’s departure.
The negotiations didn’t go awfully well. Nicola got a handshake from Jean-Claude No-Mates Juncker, who is pathetically grateful these days to shake hands with anyone who will give him the time of day, and another from Martin Schulz, the speaker of the EU parliament, but Commission president Donald Tusk refused to entertain her. Both the Spanish and French prime ministers shot her proposals down in flames, with Mariano Rajoy spelling it out: “If the United Kindom leaves, Scotland leaves.”
A Scottish government spokesman said the First Minister had “received a sympathetic response”. One would hope so: in these enlightened times, sympathy is accorded by all civilised people to individuals suffering from delusions.
On her return, desperation induced La Sturgeon to ratchet up the threats of a second independence referendum. She now sounded less like King Lear and more like Violet Elizabeth Bott, the enfant terrible in the Just William stories (“I’ll thcweam and thcweam and thcweam till I’m thick – I can!”).
Since a second independence referendum, which she would certainly lose, laying separatism to rest for at least 50 years, is the last thing on earth Sturgeon wants, this brinkmanship put her in the position of an attention-seeker on a window ledge threatening suicide, only to find the unsympathetic crowd below, instead of spreading a receptive blanket, is mockingly urging her to jump.
Then, to crown Sturgeon’s accumulating woes, the Supreme Court torpedoed her Named Person project, an ambitiously Stalinist scheme to give a state snooper overarching authority over every child in Scotland, supplanting parents.
The outcome of all this buffoonery has been to dissipate the ludicrous credibility that had been accorded to Sturgeon by commentators. Such nonsense is a familiar phenomenon. A commentator claims to be impressed by some mediocrity and passes the contagion to his colleagues in the wine bar. Groupthink then takes over.
“Brilliant coup by Nicola – an incredible political operator” tweets begin to proliferate and within a month it is an axiom among meejafolk that Sturgeon is a stateswoman of Churchillian qualities. Remember “I agree with Nick”? The German equivalent must have operated to create the myth of that other naked empress, Angela Merkel.
Poor Nicola. She is up there with David Cameron now: all she needs is a lost referendum to tip her into the dustbin of history. Since 24 June her bluster and posturing have peeled away the thin veneer of credibility she had so undeservedly acquired.
It will take more than industrial-scale tweeting by the Cybernats and their fellow travellers in the claustrophobic Scottish media to reinflate this punctured balloon. As Scottish philosopher-grannies were wont to say: “There’s aye someone worse off than yersel’.”