In the Herald of Monday 10th August I came across two articles which irritated me. The first was by David Torrance at present in South Africa apparently, entitled “The politics of hope is little more than political escapism”, and as anyone with knowledge of Mr Torrance will be aware, he regards the Tories as the only realists. He used a phrase about “the SNP, whose mediocrity in devolved government….” Mr Torrance may not have noticed but the SNP took over in May 2007 with a minority government which was only expected to survive weeks, but lasted four years. In that time they abolished prescription charges, bridge tolls, university tuition fees and failed to put in a local income tax because the Treasury would not hand over the £400 million of rate support grant. This led to the SNP freezing the Council Tax, a move welcomed by Scots generally. Oh and we recruited 1000 more police.
Towards the end of that Parliament Labour were riding high in the opinion polls and were polishing up their despatch boxes ready to resume control with their Liberal Democrat pals who by this time were in cahoots with the Tories in Westminster – they will go into coalition with any one but the SNP. Then Scotland re-elected the SNP with what was meant to be impossible – a majority government in a system specifically put in to prevent that. Mr T must have been grievously disappointed, Labour plummeted and the LibDems were almost annihilated. We then had a Referendum, and Yes lost out to No – 45% to 55%, and Alex Salmond resigned. Oh what bliss for the Tory ilk. But blow me, these recalcitrant Scots started joining the SNP in droves and in May this year elected 56 out of the 59 Scottish MPs. I mentioned earlier that Mr Torrance was in South Africa, so I would suggest he needs to get out more – try Scotland. The rest of the UK would be delighted if their lot could attain that mediocrity.
The First Minister was Alex Salmond, Deputy First Minister and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary John Swinney, this last the most outstanding Finance Secretary in the UK and many other countries. I’ve always liked how he handled his first budget. When he revealed it I was incandescent – we had campaigned for 1000 police that was the manifesto promise, and he only put in 500!
However in a minority situation a lot of give and take is required to get things through, every country has that problem. So the Tories said they would support the SNP budget but needed a sweetener to justify that support to their members. John hummed and hawed, then opened his desk drawer and asked “Would you be interested in 500 policemen?” The Tories leapt at this and have claimed ever since that they got a great deal, and Scotland got 1000 police.
The other piece which was in the Business section was from a commentator calling himself “Pinstripe”, who is “a senior member of Scotland’s financial services community”. (I only claim to be a senior member of the human community). This dyed in the wool Unionist makes a big thing of how Scotland would not have been able to use the pound and how if we wanted to join the EU we would be compelled to use the Euro. A former Managing Director I worked under had a pungent phrase about comments like that; he would say they were “manifestly wrong and absurd”.
AS to the first comment, the Isle of Man is independent and uses the pound and in the second Denmark still uses the kroner; the EU will be much more pragmatic than the Westminster establishment , particularly when we remember that Scotland has 65% of the EU’s oil and gas resources. We have also noted that EFTA would like us as members. Options we do not have at present.
Pinstripe is mortally afraid of a second referendum and regards it as morally dishonest which I find arrogant to say the least, plus morality is not a word in the Tory lexicon. Like David Torrance he thinks that the fight for independence finished with the referendum where the Unionist parties lied and scared the voters off at the last minute – a blitzkreig in the last two weeks and false promises now seen to be just that. The grassroots movement had other opinions and they are no longer prepared to tolerate the cavalier approach of the Tories: food banks for working people, cuts in benefits, squeezing the poor while giving tax breaks to the rich, and irony of ironies, creating new peers for the House of Lords, £300 per day, tax free, just for signing in. Well if we had a minimum wage of £8.00 per hour that would be £320 for a 40hour week, before tax of course!
Mr Pinstripe is affronted that the Yes army did not limp off the field and quietly crawl home licking their wounds, but instead regrouped and returned to the fray. He and his fellow contributor are aghast because when Alex Salmond stepped down they raised their champagne flutes to toast their achievement.
And then came Nicola Sturgeon; Alex Salmond far from disappearing is now creating havoc in the Mother of all Parliaments as they style their antiquated chamber where clapping is forbidden but grunting the order of the day.
They can wipe their tears with the Union Jack