Labour? It's childbirth

4th May 2007 at 01:00
The Director has called us for a "major briefing" in his office. We gather accordingly. He is late. He arrives in a right state, tie askew, marmalade stain on jacket and stubble on chin. Mrs Director is away on a girls'

weekend in Prague.

The Man speaks. He is not one of the great Scottish orators. He is warning us of the need to be "absolutely neutral" in thought, word and deed over the days leading up to the election. He is one of the survivors, equally fawning to Labour, Liberal, Tory and Nationalist. Can you get an MBE for sycophancy?

We are not to wear "political" colours. Do not appear in photos with any politicians. Do not attend political events. Do not accompany councillors on visits where political opportunities could present themselves. Do not display political stickers on your car. Do not participate in opinion polls. Do not collect pound;200.

My wee sister, Margaret, is expecting her first baby any day. This would be our mum's first grandchild, and you can imagine the impending excitement. I was visiting Woodgrove Nursery when my mobile phone buzzed annoyingly. I looked at the screen. Text message - Margaret. I panicked. "Come quickly.

Waters broken. Jim in London." I dashed out of the school in a state of advanced fluster. I arrived at Margaret's house. Talk about being well-prepared? Bags packed. Car keys in hand. We arrived at the maternity wing and Margaret was examined. We were not a moment too soon.

The hospital was the subject of much interest to local and national politicians, because it had been ear-marked for closure. There were demonstrations, placards, marches and banners. Television and radio crews everywhere. National press were well represented. It was a right shouting match as I looked down from the sixth floor window of the ward.

Then I saw my ageing mother coming off the No 23 bus looking lost and bothered. She was accosted by a variety of media types seeking her views on the election, the hospital closure, the price of fish and other issues of earth-shattering importance. Microphones were being pushed under her nose.

Enough was enough. I opened the window and shouted down. "I'm up here.

She's started. Come up to the ward." My mother's hearing aid wasn't fully functional. "Which ward, dear?" she bellowed. "Labour!" I shouted. "Whit?"

she replied. "Labour!" I screamed as every camera crew turned their lenses in my direction.

I quickly closed the window and saw my life rushing past me. "Good evening, and welcome to Scotland Today. Tonight's main story - "Edu-cation Officer Backs Labour To Win Election... "

The Director will not be amused. Bang goes his MBE.

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