​Felling of Sycamore Gap tree is an apt motif for the country - Alex Cole-Hamilton

​In the early hours of last Thursday, muffled by the gales of Storm Agnes, a chainsaw felled one of the most iconic trees in the United Kingdom.
Sycamore Gap and Robin Hood's tree  on Hadrians Wall (photo: Adobe)Sycamore Gap and Robin Hood's tree  on Hadrians Wall (photo: Adobe)
Sycamore Gap and Robin Hood's tree on Hadrians Wall (photo: Adobe)

The Sycamore Gap tree, as it had been known, had grown in the lee of Hadrian’s Wall since at least the 19th century. It was one of the most photographed in Britain and had even featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

The reason for this wanton act of vandalism remains unclear, but its loss is keenly felt by many. In several ways, it feels like a poignant motif for the state of our country.

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There is perhaps a dark poetry in the fact that the felling of this mighty Sycamore, happened on the eve of what is very likely the last Conservative party conference before the next general election. The logo of the Tory party is of course a tree, not dissimilar to the one lost last week. At the time of writing, nothing about that conference seems likely to stop what feels like an inevitable uprooting of the Conservative party from the corridors of power when that vote comes.

Party conferences are meant to be a time to regroup and to energise the party base. This week’s gathering in Manchester feels like anything but. The highlights of the conference thus far appear to have been the cancelling of plans for a high-speed rail link between Birmingham and the conference venue in Manchester and the unlikely re-emergence of Liz (beaten by a lettuce) Truss into the frontline of British politics.

What a time to be alive. Across Britain everything feels broken or laid low right now. Both North and South of the border, in large part due to ministerial incompetence and indifference, so many aspects of our public services are either on their knees or sawn through entirely.

The UK was once the home of titans of the industrial revolution like Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Robert Stephenson. Now the Conservatives are failing to build a high speed rail link of a kind that our nearest European neighbours have had for more than 30 years.

Both of Scotland’s Governments, in Edinburgh and London have been in power for too long. They have lost sight of their mission and have grown lazy and complacent on the trappings of power. Every patient, passenger, pupil and public servant deserves better than the rot that has set in around the cabinet tables that steward the course of these islands.

Change is coming, we need it more than ever and I’m determined that both in Westminster and Holyrood, the revival of the Lib Dems, will play a part in the much needed regrowth of the entire nation.



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