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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Beware those smiling politicians
Robert McNeil
By Robert McNeil
Political sketch writer

Politics is a serious business. So why all the grinning?

I don't mean among the electorate - they're the grumpy ones - I mean among the politicians.

Every day, there's a fat Cheshire cat on the coupon of SNP leader Alex Salmond.

smiling politicians

Jack McConnell, has-been and might-be-again first minister, grins with the steadiness of a wee boat in a gale.

Lib Dem Nicol Stephen summons a soppy simper on his wistful, wee-boy phizzer.

True, Annabel Goldie, the Tory leader, has looked grave at times.

It's a shame, because she can be a comical lass, often inadvertently.

But the others must get a grip. Do we want the country run by cheesing Charlies? Latest poll evidence suggests not.

But there they go, grinning manically. It's how you tell there's an election on.

Thoroughfares of the nation

Most of this grinning takes place during the bit of politics that politicians like least - "meeting the people".

Who can blame them? I've met the people, and a ghastly crew they are.

Corrupt, clueless, and only interested in lining their own pockets, they project their own faults on to the dim but gallant suits who'd represent them.

This "meeting the p" occurs, not unnaturally, in places where the "p" foregather - the shopping malls and thoroughfares of the nation.

political posters
Posters adorn the lampposts of the country

Both opposing sides, politician and voter, seem surprised to see each other.

Both want the encounter over quickly, forby the occasional drunk or the ideologically agitated individual, the latter buttonholing the hapless candidate with his plan for nuclear windfarms, the former seeking merely to vomit in his pocket.

A hullabaloo usually attends the occasion.

Press photographers crush straying infants underfoot.

Manic-eyed party workers scurry hither and yon, giving out leaflets willy and, in some cases, nilly.

A glass eye rolls across the ground. In extreme cases, balloons are involved, creating a carnival atmosphere as the candidate steps into the local funeral parlour.

Grins will fade

Most citizens approached by this rampaging mob tend just to agree with the grinning man in order to effect a quick escape.

Candidate: "Hullo, I'm representing the Vegetarian Limbo-Dancing Party. May we count on your support?"

Wee wifie weighed down with messages: "Oh aye, son. Limbo. That's me. Whitever happened tae David Steel onyway?"

My advice to the general public is this - if approached by a grinning man surrounded by a hullabaloo, do not panic.

Look for your nearest exit and prepare to evacuate the area in an orderly manner.

Soon, it will all be over. Parliament will reopen for business. Politicians' grins will fade.


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