Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland, and the leader of the Scottish National Party. She is a long-serving politician, and a staunch advocate for Scotland being an independent country, and remaining a member of the EU.
And she also bears a passing resemblance to the Scottish comedian Janette Tough, who performs as a schoolboy character called Jimmy Crankie.
For over twenty years, Sturgeon’s abrasive style and constant harping on about independence really got on my nerves. The sight of her popping up on a TV interview would have me reaching for the remote, either to change channels, or mute the sound.
Then along came Covid-19.
The British government waffled and delayed. The Prime Minister hid inside 10 Downing Street, before going to hide across the river in St Thomas’ Hospital. On his departure from hospital, he rushed off to his second residence in The Chilterns, to hide there. He left others to bungle the handling of the pandemic, hoping to get the sympathy vote for having been ill. That’s if he was ever ill to start with.
Contrast that with Scotland. Their leader, Sturgeon, has been taking control from the start. She gives detailed daily press conferences about exactly what is going on, and even tells the truth about how many deaths have occured in Scotland, and where they have happened too. She answers the questions from repoters without being evasive, or dodging the point. And she uses whatever devolved powers are available to the separate Sottish Government to do her very best for the people in that country.
I never thought I would say this, but she should be the Prime Minister of Britain. She would do a better job than the clowns currently in control.
Well done, Nicola. I am impressed.
So I am eating my words.
After this morning’s post on this blog about the Labour leadership, I have just watched the results of the election live on the BBC News.
Jeremy Corbyn not only won by a huge margin, he increased his majority since the previous election in 2015. It could not have been more decisive. He then made a very good speech about unification in the party, and all the members working together in the future.
A soon as the applause died down, the BBC political reporters were circling like vultures on a carcass. They sought opinion from disgruntled Corbyn opponents, and then tried to get his supporters to agree that this would cause further division in the Labour Party. What should have pertinent and possibly interesting questions degenerated into a veiled attack on Corbyn once again, attempting to put words into the mouths of those being interviewed.
I watched this with growing discomfort. Supposedly impartial BBC journalists kept asking people’s opinions, until they got the responses they were looking for, rather than reporting what those interviewed were actually saying. One brief report from a Corbyn supporters rally was soon curtailed, as they did not receive the negative answers that they were looking for.
I do not necessarily support Corbyn, and I am not a member of his party (or any other). But I am just tired of the media, and in this instance the BBC, attempting to create division and to invent news, instead of reporting the facts.
The man has won. And he has won convincingly, despite your failed campaigns to derail him.
Now let him get on with his job, and leave him alone.
The battle for the Labour leadership drags on. The attacks on Corbyn continue, and his opponent tries hard to erase his past as a pharmaceutical lobbyist, and to establish some Socialist credentials. For his part, Corbyn does his best to rebut the allegations of anti-Semitism, and takes part in debates with the person who once happily worked with him, instead of against him. Expensive lawyers have been engaged to overturn the voting regulations for new members, successfully excluding more than 100,000 potential Corbyn voters.
The Conservatives must be enjoying watching this collapse unfold before their eyes. They just carry on doing what they like, as the only viable opposition disintegrates in front of the public gaze, and the glare of the media spotlight. Accusations are flying thick and fast. Some Labour members of parliament are accusing the Corbyn camp of seeking to undermine the very foundations of the party, by infiltrating this arguably moderate party with a secret hard-Left agenda behind the scenes.
The outcome can only be a loss for the party, either way. If Smith succeeds, they will be left with a Welsh M.P. who has a history of working for big business. A man who thinks we should have a second EU Referendum, and will almost certainly fail to engage with the working-class traditional supporters of that party. If Corbyn survives the vote, as many believe he will, he will be left in charge of a Labour Party where only the rank and file members really support him, struggling to find enough elected members of parliament to form a credible opposition, and under constant threat of yet more leadership struggles.
If they are ever to return to government, which currently seems highly unlikely, they have to respect the will of the people, and offer radical policies that hark back to the real Socialist ideals of the original Labour Party. It is obviously what the members want to happen, and would have the benefit of attracting undecided voters, and those transferring their vote from parties like the Liberal Democrats in the next election.
At the core of it all, is the need for Nationalisation. There should be a radical programme on offer, starting with the re-nationalisation of the railways. Rail commuters have never suffered as they do now. Higher fares, constant rises in ticket prices, and a mind-boggling fare structure that makes it cheaper to fly to most cities in the UK, than to take a train. Private rail companies have their hands tied by a different private company that manages the rails and tracks, as well as being restricted by short-term franchises that negate the desire to invest in improvements for the future. The answer is simple. Stop awarding franchises, and nationalise the lot. Offer reasonably-priced travel on reliable trains, and let the workers get to where they need to be on time. If nothing else, it would reduce road congestion in certain areas. Cancel the high-cost and unnecessary building of express links to cities that already have plenty of rail services running to them, and do a long-term deal with the unions to ensure safety and decent working conditions for all.
Once they have tackled the railways, they can get on with the utility companies, and the telephone providers too. Then they could stop contracting out expensive medical procedures and clinics to the private sector, and spend the money on improving the NHS instead. Once the much-disputed ‘Brexit’ deal is done, there will be money available for many projects, despite the gainsayers. Labour needs to formulate a real Socialist agenda, with Nationalisation and the NHS at the heart of it. A real alternative to more privatisation and cronyism under the Conservatives.
They have to learn that being The Opposition has to mean more than just having the same policies, whilst wearing cheaper suits. And they have to swallow the bitter pill of telling people the truth for once.
Will they do it? I doubt it, but they should.
For Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the knives are well and truly out. He would do well to consider the fate of Julius Caesar, as his colleagues collaborate to unseat him from his job. He may not come across as much of a firebrand any more these days. He is older, and perhaps tired of the machinations he has experienced during a long career in politics. He may not look the part either, with his casual attire, and an appearance that could be described as scruffy. In parliament, he has failed to make his mark as an orator, and lacks the necessary spite to take on his opposite numbers.
But like him or not, he was elected leader. And by the membership of his party, not as a result of a general election, or because he was chosen by his parliamentary party. There was a time when this would have been considered adequate, and his detractors would have had to like it, or lump it. But then came the EU Referendum. Labour fastened their colours to the ‘Remain’ camp, and lost. Instead of accepting this defeat as part of the political changes in this country, many of them sought to pile all the blame onto one person. Jeremy Corbyn. It was all his fault, they claimed. He wasn’t assertive enough, failed to get the Remain message across, and was lukewarm in his condemnation of those wishing to Leave.
Some of them are now in the process of trying to force through a new leadership election in that party. Two front runners have emerged, both with very similar ideas and policies. Not surprisingly, similar ideas and policies to the now discredited Tony Blair too, though they both deny being Blairites. One of these is the abrasive 55 year-old Angela Eagle, MP for Wallesey. She is well-known in parliament for having an identical twin sister who is also a Labour MP, and for being openly lesbian, and married to another woman. She claims much of her ‘Northern working-class roots.’ She was born in the north, that is true. It was in the Yorkshire town of Bridlington, a peaceful seaside holiday resort on the east coast. She then went on to study Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the prestigious Oxford University, before going to work for the Confederation of British Industry. This is hardly the stuff of cloth caps and mining communities, even if her parents were factory workers. She has also hinted at the possibility of a second EU referendum during discussions and debates.
The second candidate for Jeremy’s job is Owen Smith. Smith is the 46 year-old MP for Pontypridd, in Wales. Born in Lancashire, he went on to study History and French, at Sussex University. He later worked as a producer for the BBC, and as a lobbyist for the international drug giant, Pfizer, where he earned £80,000 a year to promote their products. Once again, hardly the ‘dirty hands’ man-of-the-people working class hero we might have once expected to emerge from the Labour Party, and hope to lead it. He has clearly stated that he would like the Labour Party to promise not to trigger Article 50 to leave the EU, and that he thinks that a second referendum would be a good idea.
So where does that leave the opposition? If either of these people succeed in ousting Corbyn, we face a return to the Blairite politics of years gone by. Cosy with business, supporting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and impossible to tell apart from the softer Tories sitting across on the other side of the House of Commons. Worse than that, they intend to try to overrule the democratic process and betray more than 17,000,000 of the people in the UK, by attempting to change the result of the recent referendum.
And we thought we lived in a democracy.