Brave hearts and Tory ministers

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The Independent Online
When the film Braveheart, based on the life of the Scottish hero William Wallace, was premiered in Stirling last week, the star, Mel Gibson, was given a hero's welcome, and SNP pamphlets bearing Gibson's face were handed out. However, Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Secretary and MP for Stirling, was roundly booed by the same crowd. Cue for a new smash hit film here, I think ....

The opening credits roll, reading " 'Rob Roy To Pay Westminster!' - A Scottish film made on Scottish soil with Scottish money using Scottish actors!" The credits fade. We become aware that we are in a small room occupied by some determined-looking men. They are the All-Action Fast Reaction Force of the Scottish Nationalist Party. Their leader, Alex, addresses them in a broad Scots accent, which is all his very own and only softens when he is on 'Panorama' so that English listeners may understand him.

Alex: In a moment the prisoner will be brought in. Leave him tae me. I will deal with him. Anyone else who talks in his presence will address anyone else he is talking to as "Alex". That way the prisoner will never learn our true names.

Man: But we are all called Alex!

Alex: Aye. But the prisoner won't know that.

Jimmy: I'm no' called Alex. I'm called Jimmy.

Alex: Well, you're Alex the noo.

Man: One thing. If we talk to the prisoner, do we call him Alex as well?

Alex: You won't be talking to the prisoner. I'll be talking to the prisoner, nobody else will.

Man: All right. What will you be calling the prisoner?

Alex: Prisoner.

Man: Aye, the prisoner. What will ye call him?

Alex: Prisoner! That's what I'll be calling him! I'll say to him, "Tell me, prisoner ...!"

Man: Tell you what?

Alex: Depends what I'm asking him. You're a bit of a trouble-maker, you. What's your name?

Man: Alex.

Alex: What's your real name?

Man: Alex.

Alex: Fair enough. OK, bring in the prisoner!

The hooded and blindfold figure of a prisoner is brought in. His disguise is taken off. It is none other than Michael Forsyth, Secretary of State for Scotland! A gasp of non-recognition runs round the room.

Jimmy: Who's this wee runt?

Alex: His name is Michael Forsyth and he is the so-called Scottish Secretary, sent to rule over us by the so-called Tory government.

Man: To be fair, it isn't a so-called Tory government. It is a genuine bona fide Tory government.

Forsyth: Hear, hear.

Man: It's a pile of shite, but it's a genuine Tory government.

Forsyth: And you have a fair point there, because we are indeed suffering from a cyclical loss of popularity, but you get this in the middle of any government's life ...

Alex: Shut your gob, you. You'll have plenty of talking to do in a moment.

Jimmy: I wouldn't do it, Alex. I've heard this man talk before. He's a real terror. He can talk for hours without saying anything. Don't start him off now!

Alex: I'll risk that. Now, prisoner, you are charged with treason to the Scottish government. How do you plead?

Forsyth: The charge doesn't make sense. I have never pledged loyalty to a Scottish government, so I cannot betray it.

Alex: In the year 1305, William Wallace was judged guilty of treason by the English government, although he had no loyalty to it. He was hung, drawn and quartered. If it can happen to him, it can happen to you.

Forsyth: But you can't do that! I have been a good friend to Scotland! I have promised your film industry good tax breaks!

Alex: Then why was Braveheart filmed in Ireland, where they offered better tax concessions? Why could our very own story not be filmed in Scotland? And why was William Wallace played by an American actor?

Forsyth: I think you'll find Mel Gibson is Australian.

Alex: Never mind that. What concessions can you offer the Scottish people if you are not hung, drawn and quartered?

Forsyth: I won't promise anything unless you undertake to stop your people booing me in public. I have never been so humiliated!

Alex: That's democracy, Mr Forsyth. Our people have a right to express themselves. Not like in the Tory party, Mr Forsyth.

Man: Why are you calling him Forsyth? I thought you were calling him "prisoner"?

Alex: Shut up, yous, and that's an order!

Forsyth: Is this democracy I see before me?

Choking with rage, Alex is about to throttle Mr Forsyth when bugles are heard. It is the massed army of Scottish Tory MPs, all dozen of them, arrived in the nick of time! But will they rescue Michael Forsyth? Indeed, will they even want to? Don't miss the next thrilling episode of 'Rob Roy to Pay Westminster'!

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