Martyn McLaughlin: Persuading Obama to come 'home' does us no favours

THERE are times on the international stage when the politicians of our capable country forfeit all dignity and discernment to behave like drunks attempting to gatecrash a house party, doggedly shimmying up the drainpipe even when it is clear an invitation has not been extended their way.

In a way, one cannot blame Murdo Fraser or Gavin Brown. Conservative MSPs are like own-brand supermarket batteries: without power or promise. Their only opportunity to affirm their very existence is a fanciful motion or photocall – and so it proved this week.

At a time when the world has cause for reflection and renewed hope with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the US president, the Tories hitched their trailer to the bandwagon. The shadow education and enterprise ministers have urged the 44th president to celebrate his new office by creating his own tartan. On Obama's behalf, they claimed him Wan Of Us, courtesy of a distant ancestry stretching as far back as William the Lion.

Describing his masterplan, Mr Brown, a man spared the burden of self-awareness, said: "I am writing to President Obama and I hope he looks favourably on the idea."

Apologies for crushing the member for Lothian's dreams, but were President Obama to receive another letter, the words scrawled in green crayon and slevver spelling out "I kNOw wHERe THe rOSWEll aLIeNs aRE hiDDEN", it would be welcomed more favourably.

Modern genealogical research is a remarkable tool by which anyone can uncover stories seemingly lost to time's tide, and glean a rounder appreciation of self.

However, when shamelessly employed to tie the world's elite to a tenuous and immaterial Caledonian lineage it harms, not aids, Scotland's reputation. Such a gesture suggests our country is without worth or validity unless we can bask in the reflected glory of someone whose far-off forebears chose the route of emigration.

In our Year of Homecoming, the pride of the Scottish diaspora is a wonderful asset, but it should remain an amorphous, romantic notion. To dissect the ancestry of the world's great and good gives the impression of a country whose only source of nourishment and respect is the past.

There are other nations with more right to claim President Obama as their own than ours, but if he is to wear his own tartan, let it be because he is impressed with the modern Scotland, not because his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather got his arse skelped by Henry II.

Frying pans in the face don't need origins

HOLLYWOOD'S reputation as a town that eats itself was further enhanced yesterday, with the announcement that a live-action Tom and Jerry movie is in pre-production.

Self-cannibalisation has been a prevailing trend in the film industry for the best part of two decades, and it is no longer surprising to find old ideas reheated and repackaged.

The mooted Tom and Jerry feature, however, takes the biscuit for sheer desperation. According to Variety, instead of simply rendering the pair's frantic chases and fights in CGI, the producers are marketing it as "an origin story", examining how the two met and the basis of their ongoing rivalry.

What would William Hanna and Joseph Barbera make of an "origin story"? I'll explain the backstory of Tom and Jerry concisely as possible: one is a cat, the other is a mouse. No further context required.

What next? The story of Yogi Bear's harrowing formative years in a Moscow circus?

&#149 EVEN if it's only temporary, it is heartening to see a reprieve has been given to Gary McKinnon. The computer hacker could spend the rest of his life in a US "Supermax" prison, simply for his fascination with UFOs and conspiracy theories.

The Scot's extradition has been postponed until next month, and his lawyers are calling for a judicial review on the grounds the courts have not taken into account his Asperger's syndrome.

That a confused and vulnerable citizen faces extradition to the US with such ease shows how terrorism legislation brought in by our government to protect its people is having precisely the opposite effect.