CHOKING ON THE YELLOW MIST

JOHN McGURK

Somewhere in North Queensferry, a grey-haired burly figure is looking out towards the Forth Bridge wondering where life has gone wrong.

He’s pacing up and down clunking his fist into the palm of his left hand and muttering under his breath.

Beyond the estuary towards Edinburgh, he sees a yellow mist hanging across the land. In fact it’s all around him, suspended in the air. He feels he’s suffocating under a blanket pressing down on all of his senses.

He’s never felt this choking pressure before…for this is a land which he once ruled like a medieval king.

Suddenly, the phone rings and the name “Jim” appears on the digital register.  He hesitates for a few moments but then pushes the green button and speaks in a loud, angry voice.

“What can I possibly do for you, Jim?”

The caller speaks in a sing-song west of Scotland accent.

“Oh Gordon hi…where have you been…I’ve been ringing you every hour for the past two days!”

There’s a silence before the angry voice answers.

“Do you realise what you’ve done.  You’re a (expletive deleted) disgrace!

“This was my country.  This was my legacy.  Now it’s (expletive deleted) gone…squandered by you and your party of (expletive deleted) idiots.

“You promised me you’d turn it around. You told me you knew how to do it. You said you’d studied politics at university.

“I’m sorry Gordon….I…er…er…er…”

“Now I discover you were at Strathclyde for nine years and still didn’t get a degree! You (expletive deleted) lied to me, Jim!  I should have listened to Lord Sugar!”

The caller shrinks as he hears a clunk and the line goes dead. He realises it’s all over as the yellow mist begins to engulf him.  He gasps for breath, drops the phone and slumps across his desk.

It is, of course, easy with hindsight but we can see clearly now where it all went wrong for Labour.

Rightly or wrongly, Scottish voters felt that Labour had sold them out; that they had sided with the Tories during the referendum campaign; that The Vow was a desperate act; that Ed Miliband was some geek who didn’t care about Scotland; that he refused to entertain any deal with the SNP to kick out the Tories.

That hand-written note, foolishly left by Labour when they vacated the Treasury and which said there was no money left, was not accepted as a joke; folk really did believe that Labour had single-handedly wrecked the economy and could not be trusted again.

The Ed Balls’ contention that families continued to suffer under the Conservatives was not believed as mortgage payments dropped dramatically, employment rose and inflation hit zero.

So the man who designed much of the previous Labour government’s economic policy was himself booted out.

Political campaigns need simple messages which, when repeated again and again, chime with voters.

While Labour failed to understand this fundamental point, and have paid a humiliating price, the nationalists grabbed it and sold it.

The attractive high-heeled figure of Nicola Sturgeon was able to convince voters that only she could speak up for Scotland and only she held the key to defeating David Cameron. She even appealed to voters in England, a feat Alex Salmond could never have pulled off.

It was a similar story for the Liberal Democrats: voters surely believed that Nick Clegg had gone into coalition for self-gratification. They never forgot his tuition fee promise and concluded that he and his party were willing to sell their granny to stay in power.

Perception really is nine-tenths of the law, particularly when voters are asked to choose.

Despite this, the SNP landslide in Scotland is unhealthy for our democracy.

A one party state where policies are legislated without credible opposition is unwise and dangerous.

Neither is there any reason to believe that this landscape will change after the next Holyrood elections now just 12 months away.

Yesterday, all those former Scottish Labour MPs made their way to Westminster for the last time to clear out their little offices and to submit their final expense sheets in return for generous consideration.

Those who have paid into their final salary pension scheme can expect around £1700 a year for every year’s service, meaning that those old lags who’ve been down there for two decades will get an annual £30,000.

Margaret Curran and Cathy Jamieson — the two female stalwarts of Scottish Labour who had both hoped for cabinet positions –will probably have had a tearful hug as they departed with their cardboard boxes full of spent pieces of paper before boarding the train …

Back to the land of the yellow mist.

 

jcmcgurk@blueyonder.co.uk

 

 

 

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