By David Beeson
As we enjoy the result from Glasgow North East, let’s not forget that it by no means allows us any optimism about the General Election – which is going to need a lot of hard work for Labour to win, plus not a little help from outside the Party.
So one of the most positive things to come out of the by-election is the evidence it gives us that we might just be able to count on help of that kind. Notably, from Alex Salmond and from some guy called Cameron. No-one knows much about him except that he got up to a bit of mischief at Oxford.
First up, we owe a real debt of gratitude to Alex. Remember all that talk about the ‘arc of prosperity‘ of small independent countries around Scotland? Countries like Iceland and Ireland? Sometimes voters remember. ‘Make Scotland like Iceland’ sounded good when Salmond first said it; now that it doesn’t look so great, he can’t just pretend he never did. Ah, how the best of intentions can sometimes come back to haunt us!
As for the Tories, they were crowing about their excellent result in Glasgow. And so it was. Why, they managed to stay ahead of the BNP. And take a whopping 5.2% of the vote. If that’s success for the Tories, I wish them more of the same kind at the general election.
It has to be said they do seem to be doing their best to secure that level of success. Dear old David keeps saying ‘I promise you pain, cuts and hardship.’ Just keep hammering that message for us, would you, David.
I’m by no means optimistic. Just a bit less pessimistic than I was a few months ago.
I failed to spot the comments on my last post and didn’t answer them – my apologies. So here are a couple of replies.
First to Guy M who wrote: “When I vote for my MP, I’m voting for a representative to produce and vote on my laws.”
Aaah. It’s touching, though perhaps a little worrying – like an eight-year old who still believes in Father Christmas. You feel he ought to be big enough to know better, but you still get sentimental over his enjoying that particular fairy tale. Dear old Guy.
Of course we still make our laws over here – just not our decisions. Those are made in Washington and Beijing, where we have precisely no influence at all (look at what we got for taking part in the Iraq War).
Well, some decisions we do make, on crucial matters such as parking restrictions in London. That is, unless some American diplomat refuses to observe them. But generally, yes, on things like that we can make law and sometimes get it respected.
On other matters, such as whether the world financial system should be propped up or not, we’re one minor player with no leverage, on our own. But Europe represents one third of total world GDP. Get its act together and it can really influence things. That’s what our main partners want to do, and the question for us is whether we’re going to be part of it and have a say, or stay out and go on making laws but no decisions.
Sorry, Guy, if that shatters your illusions. But at least you can feel secure that no fat man in a red suit is going to climb down your chimney in a few weeks time.
Aylesbury Dad made a more substantial point:
“Do you believe it is possible to continue long term with the current level of public spending and public debt?”
My answer is that we certainly can’t go on doing it indefinitely, but I look at the fact that in 1946 debt reached over 230% of GDP – some commentators say 250% – but it didn’t kill us; the worst estimates for 2010 are a little over 70%. So rather than let unemployment soar and services fail to Tory levels, I would say, yes, we can afford to leave spending and debt high for a while yet.