As a newly minted Scot I have been checking out the instruction manual over the last week. What is the protocol for a Scottish leader who has just received a major kick in the teeth from the forces of London rule? Well after a modest amount of research the way ahead for Nicola seems clear enough.
1. Head down here to the wild country of the South West.
2. Find a cave and hide away for decent period of time.
3. Spend quality time with a spider and take proper heed of its relentless determination on the web spinning front.
4. Emerge reinvigorated and re-inspired.
5. Rally the troops and then sally forth and give the forces of London rule an absolute doing.
So there you go Nicola. You've already told us you're up for a period of reflection. Fair enough. reflection time is indeed part of the manual. But Bute House just ain't going to cut it. I bet your cleaning staff are pretty damn brutal on any wannabe spiders. Go on, be honest. Those spiders never get the chance to show you the way ahead, do they? Not in the finery of Bute House. So come on. Time to shape up. Pack a bag with your festival gear and get yourself down to Dumfries and Galloway for some quality cave time.
And what might the cave spider teach you given the chance? Well I don't think there is a great deal of mystery about that one.
You have been punished for being far, far too timid and to be frank it serves you right. Let's face it, the writing on the wall wasn't exactly hard to read. Have we had any recent examples of career female politicians getting the elbow from the electorate for being too cautious and managerial? Now let's see.... Hilary Clinton? Yvette Cooper? Ring any bells?
For some reason you and Mother Theresa both reckoned you could succeed where they failed so miserably. If you take your hands from you ears for a moment, you might find the spider has some interesting stuff to tell you, even if you don't much want to hear it. The desperate fact is the SNP fought a more or less identikit campaign to the Tory campaign in England. This one, right?
We are the party of government. We are the safe pair of hands. We have a nice little strap-line which cost us a fortune - 'Strong and stable', 'Stronger for Scotland'. But when all is said and done, we don't much rate most of the team so we will focus the whole show on our wonderfully popular female leader who will travel the country smiling for the cameras and saying more or less nothing. And we will listen to the honeyed words of the spin doctors. People are stupid. People have no interest in politics. They only have time to hear one idea. So just give them one idea and a million photo opportunities. Vote for me because I am strong and stable and Jeremy Corbyn is a wicked evil communist who hangs out with the IRA and Hamas. Or vote for me because I am stronger for Scotland the the Tories are the wicked evil fascist offspring of Thatcher and rape clause, rape clause, rape clause........
There was only one difference between the two pathetic campaigns. Mother Theresa managed to score the own goal to end all own goals with her Dementia Tax. Our campaign was merely pathetic where Mother Therasa's was pathetic plus a monumental own goal.
Oddly enough I quite enjoyed election night. In my own mind I had already given up on my mate Richard's chances of hanging on in Dumfries and Galloway. A betting site had told me he was ten to one against. I can never quite understand how the bookies always tend to get things so right, but they do. Similarly I was reconciled to the idea of Mundell being with us for at least another five years. Agghhhhhhhh!!!!!
Of course the exit poll news about the SNP collapse took a bit of swallowing but I must admit there was a large part of me which straight away felt it was the best thing that could have happened for the Independence movement. Regular readers of this blog will know I have been moaning for months about the endless caution of the SNP. A wake up call was sorely needed and a wake up call was well and truly delivered.
So, now it is over to you spider.
Election night had plenty of highlights. The sight of an ashen faced Mother Theresa sharing a platform with Lord Buckethead has to be one of the greatest things I have ever seen. However, the best part of the night for me was watching the results come in from the north of England. This is where I hail from and it has been hard to watch over recent years as the UKIP racist poison has spread like a kind of 21st century plague. Thankfully June 8 was the day my fellow Northerners finally woke up and rediscovered their old decency. At long last the racist tide was stopped. Now I can only hope it will be turned and forced back. Maybe. I really, really hope so.
Oddly enough 36 SNP MPs are about to have a whole lot more influence than the 56 had for the last two years. Every vote will be on a knife edge and they will be able to play a major part in making sure Mother Theresa's life is a constant misery.
But here's the thing, Nicola. If you allow yourself to wallow in these endless Tory nightmares, you will once again be trampling on the Independence dream. On this I think the words of the spider will be painfully clear. You have allowed yourself to become a part of the establishment. You have fallen for the seductive charms of the Westminster and Holyrood bubbles. You like the fat salary and all the lovely trappings the establishment likes to lay on for those it seduces. And you can't bear the chance of leaving such a comfort zone, can you?
I wonder if this is the reason why you can barely stand to talk about Independence any more? Because talking about Independence means putting it all at risk doesn't it? It feels like climbing out to the end of a branch where the treasure is hanging. But what if some nasty person saws through the branch.... what if you fall.... it's such a long way down...... and it was such a long climb to get so high........
So you hug the trunk of the tree close and try and pretend the treasure at the end of the branch isn't really there. And you forget the only reason your people sent up the tree in the first place was to get a hold of the treasure and then use it to make their lives better.
Now the spider has your full attention, maybe you need to answer a few tough questions. Did Nelson Mandela stop talking about freedom in exchange for a comfortable life? Or Ghandi? Or Martin Luther King? Or George Washington? Oh I don't think so. They had to walk the hard miles before they reached their promised lands.
So next time a niggling BBC reporter starts to pick at you with questions about Indyref 2 here is what you need to start to start saying.
Of course we want Indyref 2. Why wouldn't we? We have one goal and one goal only, Independence, and we will do everything our power to reach that goal.
But polls say people don't want Indyref 2!!!
So do you seriously expect us to just give up? You don't do Independence according to polls. Even if the polls fall to under 1%, we will demand Independence. Just because it gets hard doesn't mean we will even think of giving up. Over fifty countries have gone before us and freed themselves from London rule. It never came easy. They had to fight tooth and nail. Their leaders were locked up and beaten black and blue but they were never gagged. Just like we will never be gagged no matter what the Westminster establishment and its fawning media have to say. So do I want Indyref 2? You bet I do. And Indyref 3. And Indyref 4 and 5 and 6 and 7. We are never going to give this dream up no matter how often the media tell us to give it up.
And of course the spin doctors would shrink in utter horror at this kind of talk. For Christ's sake you can't say that!!!! You need to tread carefully. You need to triangulate. Just play safe....
Just like Hilary Clinton and Yvette Cooper played safe. Just like you and Theresa May played safe. Well that worked well, didn't it?
I absolutely despise giving Donald Trump any credit for anything. But against all predictions he actually managed to win by saying things the media promised were un-sayable. Trump and Corbyn have tipped over the apple cart by selling fairy tales. So think about it. What a massive advantage we have compared to them. Scottish Independence isn't any kind of fairy tale. It is actually pure common sense. The London ship is sinking faster than the Titanic and Independence is our lifeboat. It is a realistic option, all you need to do is to sell it. It should be a million times easier to sell a dream rather than a pipedream. We're not talking about a two thousand mile long border wall here. We're not talking about the world financial community lending a basket case like the UK another £500 billion. All we are talking about is following the same path of all those other countries who cut the London cord and went onto better things. Let's be honest here, there isn't actually a queue of them wanting to get back into the fold.
So what did your predecessor Robert the Bruce do after spending quality time with his cave spider? Well allegedly he came up with the phrase 'if at first you don't succeed then try and try again.' Maybe. It would be nice to think it was true. What he most certainly did do was to become one of history's most successful guerrilla fighters. He found a way to give London bloody nose after bloody nose and in the end he won.
Sounds pretty good to me. What do you think, Nicola? What you need to do first of all is to rally your troops. Bugger the niceties and put some fire back into our bellies. Stuff what Ruth Davidson and Sarah Smith and the bloody papers have to say. Get in their faces. Start to snarl a bit. And find places where you can pick a fight. Stop playing by their rules. This is a time for guerrilla war. Worry away at their weak points. Blow up their supply trains. Lay ambushes.
Maybe you could start by promising to visit each and every one of the countries who found a way to free themselves from London rule. Make a massive thing of it. Visit the battlefields. Tour the old prisons. Pose by the statues.
They would hate that. And they would scream and mock. So what? They don't matter. They are immaterial. The people who matter are the Yes Movement. We are all still there and it won't take much to get us fired up and roaring again.
Right now London is as weak as it has ever been at any time in the history of the United Kingdom. They are the perfect target for a good guerrilla commander. If you stop playing by their rules you can start winning again. And yes, there are risks. And yes it might go wrong. Well that is part of the job I'm afraid. A real Independence leader cannot be risk averse. A real Independence leader needs to be constantly bold. If you don't think you have the stomach for the fight, then you really should step aside and pass the baton to someone who has. This is no time for a smooth talking manager in a nice suit. We need a street fighter now.
So listen to the spider Nicola. Take the bloody gloves off and get out there and fight the bastards.