Tendring Topics ……….on line
‘Don’t tear our happy family apart!’
That is the message that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, leaders of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties, took with them on their separate journeys to Scotland last week in a desperate attempt to boost the number of NO votes in the referendum to be held in that country on 18th September (only three days away as this blog is published!). This will decide whether or not
becomes an independent nation or remains part of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland as it is at this moment.
They have left it a little late. Over 150 years ago Benjamin Disraeli, destined to become a distinguished Prime Minister and to be regarded as the founder of the modern Conservative Party, declared in his political novel, ‘Sybil, or the Two Nations’ that Great Britain had already been torn apart ‘horizontally’ into a nation of the rich and a nation of the poor. He wrote vivid descriptions of the squalor and abject poverty in which working people lived in the early part of Queen
reign. Since then circumstances have
improved for all of us. However, the yawning gap between rich and poor caused by
that ‘horizontal tear’, dividing Britain into two nations grows wider year by year. This is a direct result of
the actions and failure to take action of the political predecessors of
Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. It widened
during the decade of Tony Blair’s ‘New
Labour’ rule, and is widening again today as the coalition of Conservatives
and Liberal Democrats rewards the wealthy and penalises the poor!
No government ever agrees to a referendum unless it feels confident that a majority will vote the way that that government prefers. Two years ago, David Cameron felt quite sure that a referendum on Scottish Independence to be held in September 2014 would yield a comfortable NO majority vote. He was happy to agree to its being held. He insisted on a simple IN or OUT vote because he thought, probably quite correctly, that there might well be a large number of voters who would hesitate to vote for full independence but would like greater autonomy for
Scotland. I have
little doubt that he now wishes that he had offered Scottish voters that ‘middle way’. If the Scots had been offered the choice of
greater autonomy within a looser British federation, it would certainly have
split the nationalist vote and might well have made it possible for the present
system to continue unchanged. Now –
faced with the real possibility of a majority YES vote, he is having to
offer ‘greater autonomy within the ’
as a bribe to try to win over a few thousand still-undecided or YES voters.
Thus, even if the Scots Nationalists fail to get a majority YES vote
they will have achieved considerably greater autonomy – as well as having
retained the possibility of full independence at a later date; not perhaps a win/win situation but far from being a
total defeat either. UK
The possibility that an independent Scottish Government might try, in at least one part of
these are all issues that are not available for negotiation and (except for EU
membership) on which we will never be given a chance to vote. Oh yes – and it would be nice to live in a
country virtually free of the neo-Fascism of Ukip!
And the effect of a YES majority on the rest of us?
I don’t live in
Scotland and, as far as I know, I
don’t have a single Scottish ancestor. I
am about as southern-English as it is possible to be. On
several happy camping holidays though, my family and I have travelled the length and
breadth of Scotland from the
border to John o’ Groats and from the Isle of Skye
to the east coast. We liked the Scottish
people and the mountains and the lochs – though we never learned to love the
Scottish midges and few would deny that we generally get better weather at home on the north-east Essex coast! We don't call a drizzle a 'Scotch Mist' for no reason!
If the referendum on the 18th yields a YES majority I’ll congratulate our Scottish neighbours and wish them well. If I were half a century younger I’d be considering emigrating there! I can’t though ignore the fact that we English would miss them badly. There would be no group of Scottish MPs to challenge the more outrageous of the coalition government’s policies. It is very likely that we would have to endure a Conservative/Ukip coalition government – perhaps a succession of them! We would probably leave the EU without bothering to go to the expense and trouble of a referendum. Outrageous Ukip demands would be likely to result in many responsible Conservatives repudiating the coalition, and the Ukip leader deciding that ‘because of the mess we have inherited from the previous Con/Lib.Dem. coalition government it will be necessary to have temporary single-party government under firm leadership, to ensure the speedy implementation of necessary emergency measures. The country’s political leader will adopt the traditional English title of Lord-Protector and will continue in office until those measures have been introduced and enforced’.
No, I don’t really suppose that
future would be quite as dire as that in the event of a YES majority. During what
is proving to be an unconscionably long lifetime I have discovered that,
particularly where political issues are concerned, outcomes are very rarely as good
as optimists had hoped – but are even less frequently as bad as pessimists had
feared. I do remember though how, in Germany in the late 1920s and early '30s, many people first dismissed Hitler as a funny little man with a Charlie
Chaplin moustache and some really daft ideas – a bit of a fruit-cake in
fact. Later, major German industrialists
and traditional military leaders thought they could control him and use him for
their purposes – but he and his brown-shirted followers controlled and used
them – and the Third Reich was born. I
hope that I didn’t spend seven years of my late teens and early twenties
playing a tiny role in the destruction of that Third Reich, only to live to see
comparable developments in 21st century Britain!
Our own by-election
The possibility that Ukip could develop into an Anglicised NAZI Party and its leader into an Anglo-Saxon Adolf Hitler will certainly be in my mind when I place my cross on the ballot paper on 9th October. United Kingdom Independence Party sounds innocent enough, and Nigel Farage seems a pleasant enough fellow – enjoying a fag and a drink, and not a bit like everyone’s idea of a scheming politician. Quite so, but then who would have expected the mildly cranky National Socialist German Workers’ Party to become a movement of extreme right-wing nationalist thugs prepared to use any means – mass murder, torture, genocide – to achieve their ends. Hitler too; we think of him as being an unscrupulous raving rabble-rouser, but he had an unquestionably magnetic personality and could be good company when he chose to be. Certainly he too was no-one’s idea of a scheming politician.
The national press is forecasting a landslide victory for Douglas Carswell and his Ukippers. I can’t think why. Our former MP has deserted the political party that has loyally supported him and has forced a totally unnecessary by-election only seven months before a scheduled general election. That by-election will cost us taxpayers something like £100,000. He presumably hopes to bask in the glory of being Ukip’s very first Member of Parliament. That should guarantee him a top job if and when Nigel Farage forms his first government!
Douglas Carswell and his Ukippers are certainly working hard for his election and don’t appear to be short of funds. I, and presumably all Clactonians, have been deluged by leaflets – I’ve had at least five of them (two a couple of weeks before his defection!) telling us what a wonderful fellow he is and how lucky we have been to have had him as our MP. I have also had a leaflet from the Labour Party. The Conservatives have been handicapped by not having a new candidate waiting to be selected, but they’ve chosen one now and I wish local man Giles Watling, actor and Frinton town and district councillor, success in this expensive, absurd and totally unnecessary by-election.
I had a doorstep Ukip canvasser calling at my home before the Conservative candidate had been selected. He was armed with a list of voters, a clip-board and a ballpoint pen. He seemed to have expected me to be an enthusiastic Ukipper and may have been a little taken aback when I told him I was hoping that Douglas Carswell would be roundly defeated in this by-election, and that all Ukip contestants in all future elections would have the same fate. I intended to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat him, and that - for this by-election and for the very first time in my long life – I intended to vote for the Conservative Candidate, whoever he or she might be!