Mark Steel: Where do these Scottish robots come from?

I've never seen anyone in Scotland who looks like Douglas Alexander or Des Browne
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Usually, if I watch Newsnight, it's with the sound turned off and a record playing. Ruth Kelly is much more palatable when you can't hear her and Primal Scream are blaring through the room. But recently I did hear an interview with that new Scottish one called Douglas Alexander, minister for transport or something. He was asked whether Blair's support for the bombing of Iraq and Lebanon has made us a target for terrorists.

"There can be no justification for targeting thousands of innocent civilians," he said. And this went on for a while, the interviewer saying, "Well no, but I'm asking if we're more of a target now" and Douglas repeating the same sentence over and over, although this was an answer to an entirely different question. My granny was like that in her late eighties. You could ask her "Would you like some custard?" and she'd say: "It doesn't seem five years since Sid went."

Eventually he tried another angle, suggesting it can't be Britain's support for wars that has made us a target, because the attack on the World Trade Center happened before the wars took place. So it was pointed out that the World Trade Center wasn't in Britain, and Alexander said: "That's an insult to the many British people who died in that attack." That answer is so illogical it's almost fascinating, like one of those neurological illnesses where someone keeps mistaking a hat stand for his own nose.

Of course it's made us a target. You might as well argue the Japanese didn't make themselves a target when they bombed Pearl Harbour, and the fact the Americans spent the next four years at war with them was just a coincidence, and to suggest otherwise is an insult to all the brave children in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Then comes the Scottish and sinister Des Browne, who also recites the sentence about innocent civilians, but today will joyfully announce the sale of 72 Typhoon jets to the charming folk who rule Saudi Arabia.

He's often followed by John Reid, who informs us of the horrors averted by the arrests. Which may be true, but given the track record of the security forces, they'd probably be more likely to get the right people if they chose their suspects by adding an extra round to the national lottery. Then Reid could growl "Tonight, two individuals were arrested in connection with a plot to commit acts of the most appalling terrorism. Their numbers were 15, 23, 28, 36, 40 and 42, one lives in Colchester and the other in Darlington. The bonus ball was 29." Or they could be sent straight to Guantanamo Bay if it was a rollover week.

The puzzle is where they find these Scots. It can't be in Scotland because up there they all seem to despise New Labour, much as they did with Thatcher. Whenever I meet anyone of John Reid's age from Scotland they recite magnificently implausible stories such as "Did ah tell ya aboot when I was working on the Clyde? There was a wee lad there, Bobby, one morning as he's coming off the shift, the foreman's away in his office so Bobby slides a whole battleship under his coat and he's away up tae East Kilbride tae swap it for a three-piece suite for his ma by the way."

I've never seen anyone in Scotland who looks like Alexander or Des Browne. Even if they were replaced by twee old ladies from the posh bit of Edinburgh this would improve the Cabinet, as the Tories would be disarmed by answers such as, "I'm sure the honourable member has a point to make, but would it not be best left 'til after tea?"

Alexander and Browne look like these insecure people who are given a small amount of power, and use it to wheel clamp an ambulance or insist a five-year-old can't come in to use the toilet in the Wetherspoons pub they manage. Challenged to explain their actions, they can only keep repeating the sentence they learned at the training course. Which is why they emit the emotion of the voice on a satellite navigation system telling you to turn left at the next junction. Perhaps this explains what's happened. In an effort to reach out to the regions, Blair has had Scottish robots built. Douglas Alexander is actually the Alexander Windows videotron warmonger 2005 XL. On the days you don't see him on the news, that's because he's gone in for a service. Or someone's sat in front of him while on the phone to IT, who are saying, "Right, turn him off and re-boot him. Now, press F6, you should see an orange light and he'll say, 'Bear in mind we're facing an unprecedented threat'."

The glory of this is once this model isperfected, Browne could announce he's sold a Douglas Alexander to al-Qa'ida, who can then send him on to Arabic Newsnight to explain away anything they do by saying, "There can be no justification for targeting thousands of innocent civilians."

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