Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Politics Decoded: Salmond the Propaganda Minister, A Glimpse in to the future? And The Royal End Game

Here is my weekly column from the Wardman Wire, posted there every Tuesday morning...

Salmond the Propaganda Minister, A Glimpse in to the future? And The Royal End Game

The Impact of Salmond

The West Lothian Question is hardly a new concept. It has been around since the 1970s – yet for the first time its implications have changed it from a hypothetical question to a very real one. It has taken eight years since devolution was first passed down to Scotland for it to really become an issue – but why has it taken so long? The obvious answer is because the English are fed up with the Scots getting the better deal. But if that was the case, why has it taken so long to get to this point? The answer is because Alex Salmond is now the First Minister of Scotland.

Propaganda Merchant

On the surface it does seem deeply unfair that Scottish MPs get to vote on English matters but not vice versa. But this was just something that bothered a few people and in practice it didn’t really make much difference. The reason that the debate has now really picked up is because Alex Salmond is pushing the boundaries, exaggerating the unfairness and causing an unpalatable friction between England and Scotland. He knows that there is not enough appetite north of the border for independence – hence he didn’t win a majority government and why the polls consistently tell us that most Scots want to keep the union. Therefore his best hope is to push the boundaries of the system and make the English want rid of the Scots.

Some may call the strategy the work of a genius politician; I tend to think it is underhand, unpleasant propaganda and fits the mould of a sleazy, devious politician. The man is just a level below inciting racial friction, in my opinion, for his own personal political means – he wants the English to hate the Scots for “stealing all our money” and he wants the Scot’s to hate the English for “300 years of rule”.

Playing in to Salmond’s hands

Nothing good can come out of this situation – except Alex Salmond succeeds in securing his own hubris inspired political empire. However it may be now that we have gone too far down the road. The Tories are suggesting that we need English only votes, claiming it will be a fairer system and also help preserve the Union. I do not see how this can be the solution however. While there is a problem, any solutions actually creates even bigger problems. How many times are we seriously going to have English only votes? And who is setting the agenda here? Gordon Brown and a load of other Scottish MPs in the Cabinet. We all know that ever since Tony Blair shifted the goal posts it is the executive, not parliament that makes law in this country. It will mean, however, we are a step closer to complete independence. By having English only votes both Scots and Englishmen alike are playing ever more in to Alex Salmond’s hands.

Not if but why?

I am sure that all this will be music to the ears of those who can’t stand the Union, but the logistical and practical issues will probably mean far reaching impacts on both out nations that will be of little benefit to either of us. What do we do with the armed forces? What happens to the Royals? What happens to our treaties? What about our shared infrastructure? What would happen to Wales and NI? What about our currency and our relationship with the EU? Most of all, what is the point? Yes Scotland gets a good deal out of the Barnet formula – but then again, the whole of the UK gets a good deal out of taxation redistribution bar a few London boroughs and a few other places around the country. Yes, love it or hate it, London pays for a lot of what happens in the UK – should it not be calling for independence? Of course not – but then again, they have not got a self-interested, political hungry maniac manipulating the welfare state to rile up tensions. The only thing that needs to change is Salmond’s attitude and if necessary reduce his ability to manipulate the people and system.

I am not questioning whether we should break up the Union or not - if there is genuine appetite for a change the in the Union, then I am all behind that – but waging an underhand, misinformed propaganda war for the sake of a man with delusions of grandeur? Leave me out of it.

Shock in the Polls – a glimpse in to the future?

The new Poll out today makes very interesting – and surprising – reading. The Tories look to be holding firm their position in the low 40s. This despite a surge (or at least small hop) in the polls for the Lib Dems to 16%. I have been predicting an increase in the Lib Dem vote would be at the expense of the Tory vote. As it happens, it appears it might be at the expense of the Labour vote which has dropped 4% to 33%.

It is far too early to read anything in to this other than it is the first possible glimpse that the implications of the conference season and non-election are at the worst case scenario end of the scale for Brown. Of course – it is far too early to say anything for sure and this poll comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s MORI poll that actually had Labour in front by 1%. But if the implication that the inevitable recovery of the Lib Dem vote is going to come at the expense of Labour and not the Tories, then Gordon Brown is in for an even more uncomfortable few months than he would have already been dreading.

Royal Dissent

We don’t seem to get Royal scandal stories like we used to. Probably because we don’t care about them so much now. However, the latest scandal involving an an-named royal whose name is all over the internet, whisks us back to the days of Diana, Camilla, Fergie and toe sucking Texans. Of course, no-one does really care who the gobbling, coke snorting fool is nearly as much as we might have done ten or fifteen years ago because attitudes have changed. We are not surprised if Harry slips out for a spliff and a quick fight with a paparazzi anymore. It’s what all kids are doing, no? Let’s hope the goon who tried to set up the human example of Rumsfeld’s known-unknown gets all what he deserves.

On the same note – I couldn’t give a monkey’s if Mr X is unmasked officially by the press. I have always been a pro-royalist, but my patience is fast running out. What is the point of the vast majority of them – we don’t even care if they act out their debauched lifestyles anymore. And why should I chip in to Harry’s three and half grand bar bill anymore? I am getting the distinct feeling that come the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the game could be up for the rest of these no-hopers. I think they’d be doing us a favour if they stepped down and we’d be doing them one too if we asked them to.

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