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by Louise Wilson
28 March 2021
Sketch: Finding context for Stewart Stevenson

Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: Finding context for Stewart Stevenson

The rumour mills are humming and the press is buzzing in anticipation of the answer to the next big question in Scottish politics: in what context will we next find Stewart Stevenson?

Much to the chagrin of sketch writers everywhere, the SNP ‘no context’ stalwart announced his retirement from frontline politics a year ago. He’s a man of many and varied interests, so his next steps could be anyone’s gamble.

In his last speech to parliament, he made sure to dazzle with his genealogy skills, perhaps hinting at a desire to enter this field.

Did you know his father’s cousin was in the House of Lords? Well, now you do, even if you didn’t want or need to know.

He revealed this tidbit in a debate about climate change, despite it having nothing to do with climate change. Unless you count the fact Lord James Stevenson’s coat of arms included squirrels, a living thing that will be impacted by a warming planet. Accompanying that crest was the family motto: “Carry on.” And so Stevenson did.

He also had a great uncle who was once Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Sir Alexander Stewart Stevenson has six streets named after him, and he was also responsible for statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. What did this have to do with anything? Well, nothing, other than the fact Sir Alex was a Liberal and Stevenson likes Mike Rumbles. The link is there, if you look really, really hard.

In further revelations, Stevenson went on to declare familial ties with the Labour and Conservative parties too. He is not partyist; some of his best friends are Tories.

He said: “One of my cousins was a Conservative councillor – yes, it is time for admissions. Dr Sandy Paterson was his name, and being a general practitioner was his game.”

Another subtle hint here about what he will do next – a poet? A rapper? He could be very successful performing as SS Cool J. Or Stew Dogg. Or Stewpac.

And the first thing he said in his 853rd speech was how much he liked getting applause before a performance: “It is always as well to get the applause in first, because members might not be so enthusiastic at the end of my speech,” he announced from the back row, ready to exit stage left if things turned ugly.

He’s also fond of making up new words, which could come in handy for an aspiring lyricist. He regaled soon-to-be-former colleagues with how he’d managed to convince the Official Report team to include the word ‘cumsnuggered’, which sounds as though it might fit well on an X-rated rap album.

He said: “I want to single out the Official Report team for so masterfully converting some of my more obscure contributions into something that approximates readable English, and for being persuaded to accept the majority of my suggested changes to their drafts, especially when they accepted a new word that Bruce Crawford and I created: ‘cumsnuggered’, which is an adjective that means ‘overwhelmed by information’.”

It’s easy to imagine Stevenson holding late night video calls from his car, parked in the middle of a field due to his dodgy internet connection, with an exasperated parliament employee as they try to figure out the best way to interpret what comes out of his mouth. They must have been a bit cumsnuggered every time Stevenson rose to speak.

Perhaps a round of fish pies would be a suitable remuneration for the OR team, in addition to transcribing their praise. That could open up another career avenue for Stevenson. He proved to be skillful at posting pies when he wished David Davis a Merry Fishmas three years ago. Though he did also admit he’d attempted to send langoustines first and later confirmed plans to deliver fish to Michael Gove had gone array. Maybe that doesn’t in fact signal the greatest fish business acumen.

Stevenson pledged to “ensure that the fishing industry, in all its diversity, feels as well supported by me as it was by Alex Salmond” in his maiden speech back in 2001. Maybe that’s all he was doing, propping up both the fishing and postal service sectors.

Whatever he turns to next, his Twitter fans will no doubt miss the #NoContextStewartStevenson.

When he resigned as transport minister in 2010, he concluded his letter: “I will enthusiastically support the work of this SNP Government from the backbenches.” No one can say we weren’t warned about how much he’d throw himself into this task with such wild abandon.

One can only hope Jenny Gilruth – Stevenson’s cousin, with whom he shares “11 centimorgans of DNA” – will pick up the family baton and “carry on”. We’ll be counting on it… or at least Stevenson will.

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Legal challenge threat to ferry contracts revealed by Douglas Ross

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