Leaders: The party’s over and it’s time to get back to work
TIME to put away the flags, take down the bunting, and fold up the canvas pavilions. Jubilee jubilations are at an end and, perhaps to slight surprise of even the most cynical, they were, well, quite jubilant.
Nobody does pomp better than the British establishment. Who else in the world could have staged such extraordinary processions by boats, coaches and horses accompanied by clanking cavalry to such cheering crowds?
Only one mishap marred the script of circumstance – the enforced hospitalisation of Prince Philip because of, one hopes, a minor infection that should clear up soon. And while many people may have studiously gone about such of their everyday activities as were possible, the impression remains of a nation unashamedly enjoying some nostalgic celebration of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.
But today it’s time to move on from the celebrations and get back to work – those who are lucky enough to have a job, and resumption of searching and worrying for those who do not. The Jubilee stood out, in truth, because it was such a burst of gaiety, colour and fun – an escape to fantasy in times that are hard, grey, and grinding.
But the return to sober normality is all too real. Many are out of work, many more enduring declines in incomes, and nearly everybody worrying about months of uncertainty ahead.
It would be nice to think that the Jubilee could mark the end of what has now been four years of turmoil, much as the 1951 Festival of Britain turned out to be the end of post-war austerity and a start to much better times.
Indeed, a recruitment survey seems to portend just that. The Reed Job Index, a monthly measure of the state of the jobs market, reports rising vacancies (which can be filled by the unemployed) in nearly three-quarters of business sectors. While the good news is that this UK trend appears to be strong in Scotland, the slightly concerning aspect is that opportunities appear to be at their greatest in health, education and charitable work.
This seems a little odd, given that these are all sectors which are under heavy pressure from public spending cuts. It may, indeed, turn out to be a false dawn, caused by more by older staff taking early retirement rather than being created by extra resources to fund more of such work.
The world outside flag-draped Britain is still highly troubled. The tragedy of Greek impecuniousness is still unfolding and continuing unpleasant developments in Spain’s troubled banking sector forebode deepening eurozone woe. Perhaps this time, Europe’s leaders will depart from their usual hand-wringing ineffectiveness and take action to fix the crisis before it happens. But don’t hold your breath.
It would be foolish if Britain looked to Europe with anything more than expectations of more trouble. We need to act to provide our own economic growth now.
A victory to savour
HUNTER Stadium in Newcastle, Australia, does not exactly rank among the world’s renowned or most prestigious sporting venues. But for Scottish rugby fans, it now merits being described as historic. Scotland’s victory there, even if it was just by three penalty conversions to two, is a famous one.
Not for 30 years have Scotland beaten Australia on their home turf. For the wooden spooners of the Six Nations to have defeated the world No 2 side, so soon after the despondency and humiliation of notching zero points in the northern hemisphere championship, is a remarkable comeback.
Some might say that Australia took the match too lightly, regarding it as just a training warm-up before confronting Wales, the Six Nations champions. It might also be argued that the atrocious conditions of driving rain suited the Scots, making it seem like a home game.
Nonsense. Australians view any sporting encounter as a challenge to national prestige and profess to revel in adversity. And let’s make no mistake: it was their home game and their home weather.
The Scottish team knew that and rose to the occasion, playing a harder version of rugby as a result. Both the pack and defence were solid throughout the game and the Scots had the guile to use scrums at the end of the match to produce the final penalty which Laidlaw converted in the teeth of a gale.
That was a kick of a man who has the potential to be one of the leading lights of the game, created by a team which also has potential to confound the drabness they displayed earlier this year. On now to Fiji and Samoa, more exotic climes, and perhaps more inventive play.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west