Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Scots and Politics

Why is it the Scots respond so well to negativity from our politicians, particularly Labour politicians? Scottish labour politicians continue to voice the fear of Thatcherism - spread and encouraged by a friendly media - and those in the central belt vote labour as if they had no other choice in this election. Why is it many prefer the prison of fear to the freedom of positivity?

What many seem to have disregarded is that labour has been as bad as Thatcher. Yes she ruined our industrial base - the nationalised industries - but Gordon Brown is just as guilty. He's the one who did exactly the same to the Teesiders with refusing to help Corus, yet at the same time giving Tata's main base (who own Corus) millions of our money towards climate change projects. Where was the sympathy from the Scots for the behaviour of labour in this situation? He's given away billions to other countries while leaving many parts of Scotland untouched for generations.

It's true Margaret Thatcher made a big error in her administration of the poll tax. It wasn't thought through and using Scotland as a testing ground was a bad decision. Labour similarly used Scotland as a testing ground for the smoking ban yet there wasn't a word of protest from the central belt's labour voters. Don't any of them smoke or are they the happy band who are content to stand outside the pub? Ah no, the pub is a male reserve in most of Scotland and where people gather to talk. I'm not against a ban on smoking in certain spaces but where pubs and smoking are concerned I certainly think it has been a disaster. We have hundred of pubs closing down yet nothing is being done. That's another subject, although the smoking ban has stopped many conversing as they've done for centuries. Now it's a bottle of something from the supermarket and a night talking to the television.

What labour could have done in the years since Thatcherism was to protect the skills which were lost when many industries closed. They could have ensured that the relevant skills were taught in their 'new' universities to encourage young people who would have been equipped for work in many countries where such skills are still employed. However, they allowed the older generation of skilled workers, those who could have taught the next generation, to wither on the benefits vine. They had the power to change that. They did not use it.

All Gordon Brown has done in his premiership is ensure the benefits culture is more embedded into the Scots. Endless soundbites of child tax credits, the insistence to Mrs Duffy that she try for the umpteenth time for pension tax credit and of course the working tax credit which supplements those who ought to be earning a decent enough wage to avoid needing help from the state.

The Scots seem to either love or loath the thought of independence. The SNP campaign was weak. I found the slogan 'More nats less cuts' ludicrous and it became more and more irritating. We are part of the UK at present and Scotland has to take her fair share of cuts. We know they're coming, even though the tories, labour and libdems don't want to admit it. I'm surprised Alex Salmond used this as a theme for the SNP. They could have had a more positive message to offer the voters.

Most of all for the SNP they really need to stop being the pleasant party. Labour has the media on its side. It also is playing on Thatcherism which is nearly 40 years ago and long before many labour MPs were out of nappies. They're too polite when responding to the nasty retorts of labour. Let's be honest Jim Murphy offered nothing during televised debates other than sarcastic remarks towards the other participants. 'I am a patriot' - that was it and his flock voted him in by a bigger majority.

But, it was the fear factor in the Scottish pysche which achieved the result for labour here. Nothing to do with their politics or policies which are non-existent. The word 'tory' was enough for so many in Scotland to vote labour. I'm rather sad about that, because so few of today's labour politicians have ever dirtied their hands in industry.

It's time the Scots started looking outwards instead of being controlled by fear, but until the benefits system - and education system - are rehashed, then we will continue to have those who prefer to say 'Thatcher did it'. In a few generation's time the word will be 'Brown did it'. He removed the 10p tax from the lowest paid, removed many of our freedoms and raided the best pension system in the world in order to pay for labour voters. It worked.


Quiet_Man said...

The Scots really do need to get over the Thatcher myth, those industries were bleeding the economy dry and Thatcher had no intention of trying the poll tax out on the Scots, it was Willie Whitehall (a Scot) who persuaded her to do it when the rates system was overhauled.

Still it's always convenient to blame someone else (the Auld Enemy) for your problems rather than do something about them, something Labour and the SNP are both guilty of.

Independence will probably help though as you'll have to grow up pretty damned quick to deal with a new world and a new set of problems.

Mariothegreat said...

I can't believe the British were so scared about the poll tax! I moved from Italy to England in 1997 and I found a council tax of 800 pounds instead of 100 pounds I was paying in Italy, Today I'm paying 2,200 pounds (practically I'm paying a rent on my own home) so 300% increase in 13 years and British people are still discussing about the poll tax... ridiculous it remember me Nero fiddling in Rome...

Allan said...

The problem with the community Charge was that it was a flat fee, which did not take into account the ability to pay. As a result, certain council's set extortionate rates, which low earners found difficult to pay.

Quiet man - Those industries were underfunded by government, who did not consider modernising those industries. For example, we used to make the best ships in the world. Now, it's the Germans and the Pole's. Why?

Mariothegreat said...

Allan, so how the council know I can afford a 2200 pounds tax on my house? Many of people will have tons of troubles when they go to pension, in fact they lose substantial wages for a shit pension and the rate will stay with the value of the house... A tax should be pay in respect of the income! The house is not an income is an expense!!! it's a complete rip-off and I did not see any manifestation for that... ahhh I understand now! it's because came from a fair lefty party...

Quiet_Man said...

@ Allan, it's not the job of the government to build ships, nor own shipyards. The government can place orders for naval vessels to be sure, but it isn't the job of the government or taxpayer to pay for improvement to the yards or industries in general. That was the hard lesson of Thatcherism, if the yards had been good enough, they would have survived, blame the owners, not the government.

Alan W said...

Your post is similar to the thoughts I've been having SR. Labour unashamedly used fear to bring out their vote. But just as the Tories under Thatcher abused Scotland in the knowledge that lost votes here did not affect them in England, Labour abuse the Scots because their core vote will always come out for them. To see the vote for Labour actually increase after all the sleaze and mismanagement is scandalous.

It doesn't have to be like this. We need to have a counter to Labour fear-mongering.

Mrs Rigby said...

I think you're spot on Subrosa, and they've played their game well, with the electorate being the fish catching what they think is the worm.

If Scotland thinks its shipyards have been badly hit then look south, look at Camell Laird in Birkenhead, look at Vospers in Southampton. Look at the permanent road bridge across the docks in Grimsby. Look at the new port tax, which was retrospective.

Look back too at the dock labour scheme - with nostalgia? Surely not?

Thatcher is remembered by some peopel for stopping school milk in secondary schools - it was one of the least worst options out of a financial hole that was nowhere near as bad as the one we're in now.

THe so-called poll tax was intrinsically fair, it meant that single people paid for the services they might use, irrespective of how big/small their home was - which meant that widows, for example, were paying less than the married couple next door. Now it's likely the couple will have theirs paid, out of tax the widow pays on her husband's pension.

The whole election campaign was built on fear, but the people who were afraid were the politicians. None of them wanted to win, none of them wanted to say how bad it really is - and it'll hit the fan very soon.

They've been devaluing sterling by printing money, calling it 'quantitive easing'. We haven't seen that cash, it's gone straight back into government coffers as payment for overvalued bonds nobody else wanted to buy, and they've used the same money to pay public sector wages and prop up the benefits system.

NICE is rationing healthcare, because medication is now too expensive. Hospital wards are closing, but the adminstrators are still in post.

Can't afford to pay the Police, get PCSOs instead. Can't afford to pay teachers, get LSAs instead.

The whole system is crumbling, and they know it.

And lastly, please watch, in full, Brown's speech to CitizensUK - and you'll see a marxist coming out from behind the mask.

McGonagall said...

I find it amusing that some folks think Labour is a leftist/socialist party. They are a corporatist party just like the Tories. I don't believe that the people of the UK had a choice really - cuts are coming no matter who occupies Number 10 and continued membership in the EU is assured.

QM: " ... it's not the job of the government to build ships ..."

The government's job is whatever the people will it to be.

Sheila said...

Couldn't understand why the radio broadcasts I heard were attacking the Tories - do now.

Still having trouble getting my head around labour vote going UP!

Depressed, puzzled and desperately looking for evidence of vote rigging to stop mysef having to be ashamed of the stupidity/naivety of fellow Scots.

Probably wishful thinking...

Thanks for starting this discussion Subrosa.

Anonymous said...

I think that Thatcher had no vision at all. She never thought beyond money.

You can't do that with people's lives. Government has a responsibility to ensure that the conditions are right for enough work, and the right kind of work, is available. If not they have to find that work.

The alternative is social unrest, grinding poverty, misery, and dilapidation.

OK. These industries were being subsidised. Why it was Germany could make them work? Why did we not get some good management who could make them work? Germany still has a manufacturing base. Why could they manage when the English government couldn’t? Arte they brighter, or do they just care more.

Thatcher eventually managed to replace Scotland’s heavy industry with some call centre and service jobs, insurance, finance, etc. That was just the ticket to replace mining and steel making, car plants. The workers were up for that sort of thing. Not.

Doing what she did cost far more in social problems (and that costs money too) than keeping some factories alive for a bit longer. The problems go on today with generations of out of work families living in conditions worse than I’ve found in third world countries.

Scots don't trust the Tories to have changed. Nice guys like Dean McKinnon Thomson tell us they have. He is certainly not in the mould of Thatcher, but Scots don't trust the Tories and they won’t for many years. I don’t know if they have ever voted Tory, but they surely don’t now. We don’t want that kind of thing again.

Scunnert is right though. People talk about Labour being a left, or soft left party. What a load of rubbish. It's soft right. Labour’s job is to keep people poor so that they vote Labour in the hopes that they will be made rich. Corruption seems to be rife. They seem to be in it to get what they can get. And they get a lot. So the Tories just don’t care about them, and Labour wants them to stay poor. After all the poor aren’t going to vote Tory.

subrosa said...

Well Thatcher was at the helm when the poll tax was tested in Scotland QM. She was responsible regardless of whose idea it was.

Yes, we'll have to waken up but that's why so many vote for unionist parties.

subrosa said...

Mario, the poll tax was good for me and many others. I thought the idea was good too that we all pay our share yet it was detested up here and many who protested about it may not have had to pay much at all.

But tell people something often enough they will believe it.

subrosa said...

It did take the ability to pay into some account Allan but not enough for many to like it. Most folk who earned had to pay something if I remember and there was a stooshie about the likes of trainee nurses having to pay.

It was a fair idea badly executed.

subrosa said...

No it doesn't have to be like this Alan. Fear is not progressive.

I see Eck's not talking about the libdems joining with labour and the SNP. Arghh!

subrosa said...

Mrs R I've never doubted that Brown wasn't a marxist, even although he's desperately tried to airbrush that part of his political life.

Regardless who is going to be in power in Westminster life is going to be a whole lot tougher than most have ever known.

All the talk about labour continuing child tax credits will be the least of the new government's problems.

Westminster seems to be the UK's job centre these days. People expect government to make jobs for them. We no longer educate well enough to make youngsters inspired to find work. They just expect it.

You're so right. It's crumbling and that's going to take years to stop. No government is interested in the longer term, then govern only in the short term.

subrosa said...

'The government's job is whatever the people will it to be'.

That used to be scunnert. Now it's the EU which has the upper hand not the people.

subrosa said...

The labour vote went up Sheila because all they said throughout was 'this is a two horse race between the tories and labour'. People believed it.

Thanks for the link to aangirfan. I've already read the post and he's right about postal voting.

subrosa said...

That's why, in part, we have government's tris to collect and distribute taxes.

Why could Germany make industries work? Easy. The had top class management and a non-militant staff, that's why. There was none of the petty militancy which festered here. In fact looking back, it was so sad to see grown men thrown on the scrapheap by labour once their use was over.

The situation Thatcher was in was a lose lose one and she knew it. The unions drove her to the position she took and if they'd have slackened off a little then there may have been some who would have had the foresight to plan the aftermath of the closures.

What's wrong with us that we can't give individuals a chance? Why are we so bloody-minded when it comes to the tories? Labour have been just as destructive yet nobody bothers to mention that.

You've said it - the poor aren't going to vote tory yet it's the tories who help business and it's business which creates jobs, not government.

banned said...

I was amazed to read that in Scotland 44% voted Labour which compares with 23% in England and something like 13% in the South East where the money is made (that figure would include the cess-pit that is London).

Dark Lochnagar said...

Christ Rosie, great piece! I agree with everything you say 100%. Alex Salmond is beginning to annoy me. As you say the election campaign was a disaster. With the 'more nats less cuts' pish to that ludicrous PPP of some twat walking up a mountain and shouting 'SCOTLAND'! He also annoyed me how quickly he dimissed a pact with the Tories. He shouldn't be sucking up to Labour. He should be in there getting the best deal for Scotland regardless of who he supports.

Apogee said...

If the SNP is considering any co-operation with Labour, what is the point of the SNP.
A lot of people support the SNP precisely because it is not labour, start getting friendly with Labour and the SNP support will vanish like snow off a dyke.

subrosa said...

That's right banned. I have a graph somewhere I should post. Will look for it.

subrosa said...

Thanks DL, very kind of you. I've done a post on that very subject for morning DL, you must have been reading my mind earlier. :)

What Salmond forgets is that much of his support comes from the old tory heartlands.

subrosa said...

Exactly Apogee. I just can't understand their actions since Thursday.

Allan said...

Mariothegreat - i'm not defending the Council Tax, which was cobbled together by Michael Heseltine no less. If you read my blog, you'll know that i favour LIT.

Quiet Man - It was in the 1970's when we owned the shipyards, That's the quandry really. We were the best in building ships, but were losing money hand over fist?

Meant to say, i agree with everything you said about the SNP campaign...

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Education, education, education.

It can be used to mystify, confuse and distort just as easily as it can edify, expand and inspire.

One commentator commented,"Labour needs the poor." Yes, needs them so much they concentrate on retaining the conditions that nurture poverty rather than improving them.

I think its called negative marketing - sort of moulding the market to suit your product?

subrosa said...

Isn't another name for that brainwashing RA? The business of repeated threats keeping people submissive.

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