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by Louise Wilson
20 November 2022
Sketch: Kerr's Pink with denial

Did Stephen Kerr protest too much? | Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: Kerr's Pink with denial

Stephen Kerr is not a potato. Or so he says. But that’s exactly what a potato disguised as a man might say when the chips are down and he has an eye on mashing things up.

“Here’s something I never thought I’d have to say in the Scottish Parliament,” he began, presumably because he thought he had succeeded at going incognito. No one would really believe a potato had become a man. Until the person running parliament’s socials let the cat out the bag.

He continued: “But, contrary to the Scottish Parliament’s Twitter account, I can confirm I am not a potato.” The potato doth protest too much, methinks. He didn’t even bother changing his name. Indeed, peel this back a bit and on his passport it confirms he is Stephen Kerr’s Pink.

But what does this potato man want from the parliament and why is he going to such lengths to deny his true self? Well, turns out the debate he brought was about how great gene editing is. Kerr is of course the perfect example. His genes were edited so much that he changed from small pink tuber to large pink man. And now he’s donned a suit – became a jacket potato, if you will – and is calling for more potato-people! He must be stopped!

He is rather a suave spud, though, and knows the way to get to nationalist hearts is by repeatedly complimenting Scotland. It is a country that has “always been at the forefront of innovation and development,” he said.

“We are at the cutting edge of a technological revolution that we can scarcely begin to imagine,” he said. Well, indeed, being changed from a potato with more vitamin C than a lemon (as described by the parly’s socials) into a Conservative MSP truly is cutting-edge technology. Few would begin to imagine that.

He continued: “Our citizens are well positioned to take full advantage of the latest scientific developments in this time of extraordinary and ever-quickening change.” This is where is gets worrying. Who is he classifying as “citizens”? All potatoes? Just the starchy kind? How many potatoes does he believe can “take full advantage” of this?

“Scotland is at its best when its people are being their best creative, innovative and entrepreneurial selves,” he added. And Scotland would be even better when its people are being their best potato selves, he muttered under his breath.

Outside of the European Union, the UK is “free to pursue our own destiny” on gene editing, as he did when he decided to become a real man, much like Pinocchio. Or Gnocchio.

And what are the benefits of being a potato man? Well, gene editing can make potatoes “more resilient” and “able to grow in less ideal conditions.” Indeed, he grew into an MSP despite the Conservative Party continuously being engulfed by political storms.

Emma Harper was interested to know more and asked about how one goes about benefiting from gene editing. “Would we need to drink a whole tattie-pot of water?” she asked, curious and curiously.

Kerr invited her to join him at the lab to find out the answers. If I were Harper, I’d be a bit weary of that invite. If they can change a potato into a man, they could probably turn an SNP MSP into a neep. And that’s one way of dealing with political opponents.

Meanwhile, Finlay Carson suggested Kerr should go further in his ambitions and aspire to become Supertato. But how much can you reasonably expect from one potato? He’s the first potato to become a parliamentarian, and Carson expects him to be the world’s first potato superhero as well?!

But that was a bit of a digression. Kerr, after all, insists he is not a potato. And Colin Smyth offers a helping hand: Kerr is not trying to make more potato-people because he is championing gene editing, not gene modification. Turns out the two are very different. “Gene editing does not result in the introduction of DNA from other species,” humans, potatoes or otherwise, Smyth said.

And Kerr warned his colleagues against “scaremongering with cries of ‘Frankenstein foods’”. Calling potato-people Frankensteins is actually rather derogatory.

But minister Mairi McAllan said the Scottish Government isn’t fully convinced yet. However, those concerns “should not be mistaken for opposition to innovation and technology,” she insisted. She just isn’t sure turning potatoes into people is particularly innovative. Or, at least not in a positive way. The public must be consulted, she said, though giving a voice only to people and not potatoes seems like a surefire way of suppressing potato rights.

Kerr, undeterred, finished with a rallying cry. “Scotland’s people [and potatoes] are innovative,” he said. “Members [and potatoes] of the parliament must send the signal that we are ready to be bold and seize the opportunities” of creating more potato-people like him, he added.

“Let our people [and potatoes] be free,” he exclaimed. Maybe he could be Supertato after all.

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