Yesterday, unknown to many of us mere mortals, Danny Alexander, the hastily-appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, went on a visit to the Scottish Parliament. You know, this one…
The result? A series of the most perplexing, duplicitous and muddle-headed soundbites I’ve ever come across.
Primarily, the scene itself is quite bizarre. The sight of the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey being grilled by a Scottish assembly largely consisting of left-wing parties about the planned cuts he has masterminded in association with the ghettoised English Conservative Party is a surreal and amusing one. The Scottish Sun’s report that Labour’s David Whitton described him as ‘the Tories’ man sent north to inflict tax pain on all of us’ astutely reflects this most peculiar occurrence.
While the situation of a party who had won a clear and comprehensive majority in England and yet won practically no other seats in the other Home Nations, and the precarious political position that this places said party in has been discussed before, it was the discussions themselves that revealed the profound inequality that partial devolution has caused. The BBC reported that Mr Alexander was forced to stress that
“the UK’s “overall financial situation” must be resolved“
prior to any individual action for the benefit solely of Scotland. This startling statement is revealing. The UK’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury must now attempt to win over a constituent member of the UK in an effort to rectify the financial strife of the entire nation. However, a second BBC report reveals the truly blurred lines between the UK and Scotland:
‘[Alexander] said the country’s deficit needed to be cut, but the Scottish government said the spending plans had jeopardised Scotland’s economic recovery by going “too far, too fast”.’
This maddening sentence appears to suggest that a casual reference to ‘the country’ is one that is strongly rebuked over the border. It is conclusive evidence that ‘the country’, as in the ‘UK’, and Scotland, are now two fundamentally different entities, with two different routes to economic recovery. However, the BBC also note that the Scottish are by no means averse to ‘British’ intervention into certain aspects of their finances…
“The chief secretary to the Treasury has said the UK government would not be able to write-off Highland Council’s £146m housing debt in the short term.”
So, the Scots are very happy to be British when it suits them, it would appear. Their debt must be paid off, but there must be no cuts to their spending lest it affect their economic recovery! And worse still, despite such duplicity of motivation, Alexander still supports further devolution to Scotland, as revealed in The Scotsman:
‘The Chief Secretary pledged to drive forward the Calman Commission’s proposals giving greater powers to the Scottish Parliament, which he said would be a “major step forward.”‘
A major step forward? How, exactly? Are the Scottish to further admonish and outwardly reject any effort to rein in the debt of Britain, while seeking to accept large payments to prolong its status as a national welfare dependent? Will Scotland continue to spend wantonly and outside of its means? Giving powers is one thing: taking responsibility is quite another.
The final quote from The Scotsman succinctly depicts the level of padding that the Lib-Con Coalition has on its Scottish kid gloves, as while Alexander assured Holyrood that
“…he would be in regular touch with the Scottish Government about the affects [sic] on services north of the border”
… the English, it seems, must sift through any new legislation, or await a token reference to England from the BBC in order to discover the brutal reality of the cuts that are being inflicted on their public services.
The ‘United Kingdom’ as it was once known, and more importantly, its constituent nations, is/are at this point in time in a state of great peril. The present circumstances, of a delusional duplicity between the interests of a constituent nation and the ‘country’ as a whole benefit absolutely no-one, and we must act decisively and imminently to secure a sensible, balanced arrangement that is to the benefit of all British people.