The Paisley Pattern – Why Mhairi Black May Need To Consider Buying Some Asbestos Underwear


If you’re going to fight someone, always make them underestimate you. Give them the impression that you are not a threat and then blindside them when they least expect it.

That advice – paraphrased of course – is straight out of Sun Tsu’s “The Art Of War”. Or possibly from Eric Van Lustbader’s “The Ninja”.  I haven’t read either book for quite some time so I can’t quite remember. It’s sound advice though, whatever its literary provenance.

I have no idea whether Mhairi Black has read any Sun Tzu – or any Eric Van Lustbader for that matter – but she has definitely blindsided the enemy.

When this young lady was first elected as an MP, she received a great deal of media attention, none of it positive.

The British press went straight to Mhairi’s Twitter account for evidence of her character. Here are a couple of the tweets they found and displayed with journalistic horror :

“Smirnoff Ice is the drink of the Gods. I cannae handle this cunt man.”

“Woke up beside half a can of Tennents and a full pizza and more money than I came out with. I call that success.”

Shocking stuff to find on the twitter feed of a serving MP. The press didn’t shout too loudly about another tweet which came from the same bundle. This one :

“Maths is shite.”

They didn’t shout too loudly because that tweet, and the previous two, were not posted by Mhairi Black the serving MP. They were posted, back in 2010, by Mhairi Black the15 year old schoolgirl. Mhairi took those tweets down once they hit the headlines, but the damage was done. The media had formed very firm, if unfounded, opinions about Mhairi Black MP.

A few weeks after this Twitter tomfoolery, Mhairi was preparing to make her maiden speech in the House of Commons. Just before she was about to make this speech, she tweeted a picture of her House of Commons lunch. This did nothing to adjust the media’s opinion of her. Here’s the picture:


As you can see, her lunch consisted of a chip buttie and a bag of jelly Cola Bottles.

So, when she walked into Westminster’s Lower Chamber, nobody expected terribly much. At worst, a bit of barely post-teenage whining peppered with some accidental swearing. At best, some undergraduate debating rhetoric. Possibly involving Smirnoff Ice and Cola Bottles. People thought they had spotted an pattern with this woman’s behaviour and they expected that pattern to continue.

What they actually got was this :

Labour must have been very surprised at her offer, on behalf of the SNP, to join forces with them to oppose Tory rule. “What?” they must have thought. “You mean we’re still a thing?”

What the Tories thought about it is obvious. “Burn the witch!”. That’s what the Tories thought. It’s the traditional male reaction to women who are cheeky enough to be clever. Or cheeky enough to be old and own property. Or even just cheeky enough to be breathing in and out.  And it’s a well-known fact that all Tories are men, even the women.

The Tories are just muttering “Burn the witch” under their breath at the moment. Though they could technically press to have Mhairi Black burned as a witch sometime in the future. The laws are still in place. And even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t put it past David Cameron to push suitable legislation through The Commons.

After all, the Conservative party has adopted far more archaic policy than Witchcraft Laws before. Who can forget 1990, when they resurrected the Poll Tax from what everybody had naturally assumed was its final resting place? That final resting place being the year 1381.

The Tories might not actually burn Mhairi Black at the stake. But they will try to chase her with metaphorical pointy sticks towards a very hot metaphorical bonfire. If I was her, I would be reading up on The Art Of War. I’d also be investing in some metaphorical asbestos underwear. And some actual asbestos underwear. Just in case.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015



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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

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