I've said before that one of the advantages of having abandoned the ambition to elected office is that I can say what I think.
So, I can understand why people vote for Silvio Berlusconi. I accept that to advance this view you have to "get" Italy. It is, South of Bologna/Florence/Rome (delete to taste) not an entirely serious Country. By that I mean that it does not enjoy the understanding that loyalty to the state is anything other than a voluntary sentiment. You can pay your taxes, if you want, but, in the end, it's up to you. What matters is not order but "life!" And life can be sweet or beautiful or both according to your taste. Whatever, it is never entirely serious.
Who would not wish to live comfortably and contentedly from day to day, paying little attention to what might come tomorrow? And who would not vote for a man who assures them that this can go on forever? Is that not why we so enjoy holidaying there?
Of course, we holidaymakers know that at some point we will require to return to the real world: the world of jobs and mortgages and sleet in October. But why, if you are assured that this need never be the case, should you not vote for the man who provides that assurance? Vote for him even if you do have some reservations about his personal conduct, which, regrettably, many men of a certain age do not? Vote for him if only because he has an undoubted personal charm?
I felt for Italy this past week when Sarkozy and Merkel engaged in their body language dismissal of the Presidente del Consiglio. It spoke of a certain northern European superiority that I found distasteful. But, more significantly, I was aware that Italian Civil Society, even Italian Civil Society of the Left, recognised that there was simply nobody else. That they had made their bed and now had to lie in it.
The key thing is however that there is nobody else. I cannot start to express my irritation at the Rifondazione, who continue to proceed on the basis that a government of the Right is no worse than that of the Centre/Left, but I cannot wish them away. Any more than I can wish away the history that prevents the only potentially stable Government in this time of crisis, an alliance between Fini and the PD.
In the end I come back to the main argument of Berlusconi's people. There is no alternative. He might be living in a fantasy world of low taxes and high public expenditure, and somebody else picking up the bill, but there is simply nobody else. And he does have a certain degree of personal charm.
Now, what has any of this to do with Scotland? I leave you to draw your own conclusions.