To Govern Is To Choose…

It’s sometimes thought that Government is a piece of cake, you just take your manifesto and hey presto, it’s done, dusted and law. In practice, in the real world of course it’s far from that rosy picture.

If you’re lucky enough to have a current or past Minister as your MSP, have a chat about the realities of office. Not the oft cited “Ministerial car” or the speeches but the hard graft of getting to grips with a subject and mastering that brief before you can even think about how you would make change work and find the money from within your own Departmental budget.

Because every decision to paraphrase has its consequences. Every pound you spend on a pet policy or aim has to come from somewhere and unless you’re lucky enough to get an extra allocation of the (very) limited Scottish Budget, you will have to make a cut somewhere else. But that’s the price and the privilege of holding Ministerial Office!

It’s often said that “You campaign in poetry but Govern in prose”. Meaning that those wonderful soundbites have to be implemented or watered down perhaps even dumped because of the realities of life.

Nowhere is this more stark than when we look at the farce which is Sir Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet and if ever a title was well earned it’s that one. Every progressive policy “commitment” is dumped as soon as the right wing media, (and increasingly we have nothing else) launch their inevitable attacks.

£28 billion Green Recovery Plan; dumped, 

Reverse the “cruel” 2 child limit; dumped, 

House of Lords reform; dumped. 

The one area where the Labour knight is entirely consistent is that he doesn’t care if a pledge was made to get him the Leadership or a Conference commitment it can go just as soon as the Murdochs and their fascist buddies at the Mail, Express etc take a dislike to it.

Starmer is utterly obsessed with the idea of getting to Number 10; but has absolutely no grounding cause, no root value or driving principle which he will take into office and can be judged on. If you don’t like his policy today just wait a few weeks – there’s a new one coming along!

Nowhere in the policy platform has this been more obvious recently that on the environment. Sadiq Khan as Labour’s Mayor in London wants to make the quality of air better in the inner city, To do this he has taken a policy inherited from Boris Johnston (how unusual is that) and driven it forward. Sir Keir as far as I can see was quite content with that, at least until it became an issue. Not just any old issue but one which is being touted as having cost Labour the Uxbridge by-election. Suddenly it’s for review and then the scrapheap. Labour didn’t even have the guts to point out that it was a Tory policy they were implementing, something which would scarcely have raised an eyebrow these days!

I’ll accept that the ULEZ plans are far from perfect but once you have decided to go with it at least try and explain why! Explain the benefits and why they outweigh the disadvantages. As we watch wildfires rage across Canada, Greece, Italy and even North Africa coupled with flooding in China and India etc it’s blindingly obvious that we are destroying the planet. (Unlike the oil campaigners who keep telling us that we must act now or risk catastrophic climate change, I’m of the opinion that it’s probably not one minute to midnight but 5 past!) Our generations are the last to have had the luxury of choice and we blew it!

The Labour knight has shown that on issue after issue he is unable to make a decisionand stay with it. If he can’t take the attacks from the right wing media just now what chance is there when the heat of an election campaign is raging far less when the tory economic traps which Jeremy Hunt is laying make it a necessity to make hard choices, Running away from making the hard choices and explaining to people why is not the kind of behaviour which inspires confidence in your ability to lead when the going gets tough.

To Govern is to choose and if you’re not able to choose then you’re not able to Govern.