We ARE now in the final week of what must be the most asinine and fatuous general election since universal suffrage gave us all a say in our country’s destiny.
Instead of having a passionate debate about what troubles most people, be it their job prospects (getting one or keeping one), welfare, pensions, health, education, or security, we have been led a merry dance by politicians who would rather disguise their vacuousness by discussing what deals they will or will not fashion after the election – at which point we will be left without a say.
With no party that truly reflects my views and neither of the potential prime ministers being other than political frauds, I have no choice but to think of voting tactically. I know I am not alone in being disappointed and to some extent enraged by this turn of events.
Instead of being inspired by a political leader who gives me hope for a better future based upon economic prudence that can deliver lower taxes for all, classical liberal values of individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom of choice together and a desire to establish the UK as the leading advocate for global free trade outside the suffocating regulatory embrace of the European Union, my favoured party is led by a man who is the antithesis of all these things. David Cameron has not delivered public sector austerity so that the country lives within its means, he has merely reduced the increase in public spending to a slower rate than that of his predecessors.
Instead of sprinting to economic catastrophe, the UK is merely jogging there.
We still face huge bills for unfunded pensions and PFI contracts that are not even included in our record peacetime national debt of approaching £1.5 trillion – and yet Cameron still believes he can offer electoral bribes that generations as yet unborn will have to pay for.
Now we are being told he is pumped-up for this campaign when his hallmark has been to evade public debate, a tactical error when his coalition government has made a reasonable fist of getting us out of Labour’s mess. In past elections a political leader conjuring up such an immoral charade of false promises would be run out of town. The only reason he has not and is still in with a chance is because the alternatives are worse.
In Ed Miliband we have a former top adviser to Gordon Brown who was complicit in the lie that boom and bust had been cured only for us to suffer the greatest bust of all. When questioned, he then has the audacity to deny that the Labour government he was minister in spent too much. If, after ten consecutive years of economic growth, (15 if we include the five Conservative that were inherited) Labour was unable to turn its deficits into a surplus, how are we to believe that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, his other partner in those economic crimes, can do it now in more difficult circumstances?
When political leaders like Ed Miliband have more kitchens than most people have televisions, why should we believe his pontifications about working families? No Labour government has ever left office without increasing unemployment and we should not expect a Miliband premiership to be any different. He will be the harbinger of redundancies to what, under Cameron, has become the largest ever number of working families Britain has seen. His proposed stone tablet of election pledges will become a tombstone to political hubris on a scale rarely seen.
Here in Scotland, Labour is floundering not just because its formerly loyal supporters have been taken for granted too often, but also because Miliband, for all his credentials as a socialist intellectual, is considered no more one of them than Cameron is – and cannot therefore be trusted.
Instead of ruling out any reliance on the SNP for support from the outset, Miliband has allowed the idea that the SNP would be more Labour than Labour to gain currency. Only saying now, belatedly, he will cut no deals – when it is clear he will rely on the phalanx of SNP MPs that have destroyed the careers of his colleagues – is the sign of a weak and naive man.
Since coming to power, the SNP has abandoned nine of its policy promises – such as writing off student debt, direct elections to health boards, tax rebates to artists – and failed to deliver a further 34, such as introducing local income tax and decentralising political power. It is also still chasing a further 14 pledges that it has yet to deliver by May next year. Such a catalogue of political failure and yet it is never discussed while our highly-paid First Minister flies above us in her helicopter aloof from the realities of the rising waiting times and college cuts she is responsible for.
I am often asked, as a free-market liberal, which is it better to fight first – Nationalism or socialism – when deciding to vote in Scotland?
For me Nationalism is by far the greater enemy for it is often devoid of rational argument but runs on emotion. For, as we are seeing with the SNP’s economic proposals for firstly independence and then full fiscal autonomy, the pursuit of political power is put ahead of whatever is better for Scotland and her people. Independence at all costs – for that is the SNP’s end game – means that every policy is expendable, every economic law can be ignored, no matter how impoverished Scots are made.
By comparison, socialism can be defeated by rational argument and citing the experience of countries from Cambodia to Cuba or Poland to Romania.
With no party representing my views I am therefore left with the prospect of voting tactically to try and achieve some of what I believe in. In Scotland that must mean taking the brave pills and supporting the best placed unionist candidate irrespective of party this time around.