Jim O’Neill highlights a raft of failures from the Tories and another week of diversion from the SNP.
Well wasn’t that a week of stereotypes reasserting themselves? With child poverty in Scotland reaching an eye-watering 25%, the SNP started the indyref2 ticker going again, and the Tories showed why they only think of themselves rather than the needs of everyone in the UK.
First, we should not be surprised in any way that Theresa May rejected Nicola’s call for a referendum by 2019. It is a basic tenet in military studies that you should not fight a war on two fronts. Mrs May will be too deep in losing negotiations with the European Union to spend the time and money focusing on a campaign to keep the United Kingdom together. Mind you, if she shows the same enthusiasm for the Union that she showed for the Remain campaign then we should all be looking out our tartan togs and shortbread tins.
Then we heard that the Tories had been fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for falsifying their returns at the last General Election. This, at the same time that 12 police forces in England have submitted reports on electoral fraud in twelve constituencies to the CPS, and Police Scotland admitted that they are investigating David Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP and therefore the Secretary of State for Scotland. Given how small the Tory majority is in the Commons, this suggests that they could have stolen the last election. If the reports to the CPS are submitted to the courts and are upheld, it could mean at least 12 by-elections in England and the removal of May’s majority.
And what about a Chancellor who has to withdraw the central tax proposal of his budget a week after he announced it? Given that he had another budget to look forward to, and a report into business taxation coming from Matthew Taylor, there was no need to announce the change in the spring budget. But without even seeing the Taylor Report, panicky Mrs May reinstated the promise of no NIC increase until the end of this parliament. Clearly the Daily Mail is running this country once more.
Finally, George Osborne. What must the good people of Tatton be thinking? The man who invented the Northern Powerhouse and was so committed to the people of Cheshire that he still chairs its board, is so short of money that he has to accept a job as the editor of the LONDON Evening Standard, committed to all things London. That is on top of his hundreds of thousands advising a bank and his role as a visiting fellow at US Universities. How can he do all these things and remain an MP? Easy, he’s George Gideon Osborne. Smacks a bit to me of the Maurice Johnston story.
As it says at the top, Typically Tory.
I don’t want to say much this week about the Neverendum. After all, I will have two, or three, or four years to comment on it. However, I was offended by the news that 25% of Scottish children are languishing in poverty, a figure that has not been challenged by the Scottish Government. So, did Nicola tell us what she was going to do about this shocking report in her keynote speech to the SNP conference? No. She spent all her time issuing increasingly strident demands for another independence referendum, a referendum that all the polls tell her that Scots do not want. Indeed the most recent poll puts those who want independence lower than they were in 2014.
When are we going to hear about what the SNP minority government are going to do about child poverty, or the worst international educational comparators, or the GP crisis or the missed targets in the health service? Or are we only going to hear about referendum, referendum, referendum? The great danger of this, of course, is that the imminent local elections are drowned in the external noise about independence, rather than about the performance of the local elected members who provide, or have failed to provide, local services to our communities. This is vital too, to our communities who have faced austerity for so long.