Happy New Year. If 2019 was a year dominated by the politics of Brexit and Scottish separation, then I feel 2020 may provide quite a bit of déjà vu.
It looks as though all the efforts to stop Brexit through a People’s Vote have come to an end and the UK will leave the EU on January 31. We managed to delay departure on three occasions, but when the SNP and Lib Dems put their own naked party interests ahead of the national interest by agreeing to a snap general election before Brexit was resolved, it played into the hands of Boris Johnson.
This time next year we’ll be at the end of the Brexit transition period. Don’t forget that the transition was supposed to give businesses and the public time to adjust to the new post- Brexit trading arrangements. Those new arrangements are merely a glint in the eye of the government at the moment. I suspect by the time we pop the corks on Hogmanay 2020 that we will be in the midst of ‘deal or no deal’ territory again. It won’t bring any comfort for those facing economic chaos, but it will be the time when all the false promises from Boris Johnson and his Brexiteers will be shown to be exactly that.
All this will continue to fuel the insatiable appetite of the nationalists to call for exactly the thing they oppose in Brexit – the break up a successful economic, social and cultural union. The wrong-headed arguments for Brexit are the same wrong-headed arguments for Scexit. I just hope that 2020 will allow us all to concentrate more on the things that matter to our communities. We will be in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections in early 2021 and the political discourse in Scotland must move away from the constitution and on to the SNP Government’s abysmal record. The most important aspects of all of our lives are completely controlled by the Scottish Government and ministers must not be allowed to deflect accountability for their responsibilities on the altar of their obsession with independence.
Our schools, hospitals, elderly services, transport, local government, universities, high streets, and increasingly important role in social security (that could help WASPI women), much of the economy, and most of our taxes, all fall within the remit of the Scottish Parliament. Labour must hold the Scottish Government to account and put forward a policy platform that shows things can and should be much better.
Previous Labour-led governments took millions of children, families, and older people out of poverty. The education system in Scotland was the envy of the world. Our NHS was better than it had ever been and continuing to improve. All that progress has been reversed by consecutive UK Tory and SNP Scottish governments in the last ten years. It’s an appalling record for which they should be utterly ashamed. The architects of this decline should not be rewarded with the role of being the architects of the future.
I will be using 2020 to prioritise the issues of my constituents and to put forward a positive vision for what Scotland and the UK could look like in the decades to come if we dispense with the nationalist and purist ideology.
I think politics has forgotten about the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of the public who just want to get on. The sensible left of centre ground of politics has been demonised in recent years. I find that extraordinary given that’s where the public are. I have no problem with principled beliefs – I have many of my own – but surely the role of politicians is to listen and respond to the public. If we don’t we wither on the vine and politics becomes even more distant from them.
A new decade is upon us. Let’s not have this one paralysed by division and separation.