I literally cannot believe what I've just seen on Twitter. At first I thought the suggestions that East Sussex County Council (run by a minority Tory administration) were planning to burn a giant effigy of Alex Salmond tonight for Bonfire Night were just the result of a piece of spectacularly ill-judged humour. But the photographic evidence, in which the effigy is sporting the words "Yes" and "45%" on his person, suggests otherwise. In other words, the Tory party are not only symbolically burning one of Scotland's two most popular politicians, but are also burning the 45% of the entire Scottish electorate who voted for independence (and presumably by extension the majority of the population who at least seriously considered voting for independence).
I initially thought Tommy Sheridan's suggestion of a second independence referendum as early as 2020 was a bit fanciful (barring a British withdrawal from the EU). With every passing day, I'm becoming less sure if that's true.
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4.30pm : Update from Twitter as the Tories panic...
East Sussex County Council : Please note that the Alex Salmond and Nessie models were created by Waterloo Bonfire Society #LewesBonfire and have NO connection to ESCC
Scott Macdonald : Very well - it doesn't belong to you. Take down your tweet, and apologise for offence caused at the least. #socialmedia101
(The original tweet from the council read "A sneak preview of Alex Salmond and Nessie ahead of tonight's bonfire in Lewes - it just rolled up at County Hall", and was then followed by a photo of the giant effigy.)
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UPDATE II : As a small minority of people are trying to defend the indefensible on Twitter, it might be worth pointing out that Carlisle council reversed their original plan to burn an effigy of Mary, Queen of Scots in their annual bonfire on Saturday night. Commenting on the change of heart, a Tory member of the council wisely noted -
"It comes at a time when we've just had a referendum on whether Scotland wished to leave the union or not. I don't think there would have been ever a good time to burn an effigy of Mary, Queen of Scots."
Given that burning an effigy of the living political leader of Scotland is about a thousand times more offensive in these circumstances than burning an effigy of our long-dead queen, you'd think that wise heads might have similarly prevailed in East Sussex. But apparently not.