We were considering having a day off today, readers. There’s absolutely nothing of any note happening in Scottish politics, and the papers have been reduced to scraping up all manner of barely-reheated leftover dregs to fill their pages.
But then someone drew our attention to something in Scotland On Sunday about the ongoing Women For Independence fiasco, and we were too annoyed to let it lie.
Order “Welcome To Cairnstoon”, Chris’ compilation of Wings cartoons and more, here.
For reasons which defy all known science, John McTernan remains the first number on the BBC’s speed-dial list when they need a commentator to represent Labour views. It’s a remarkable editorial decision, given that McTernan despises the party’s current leadership almost beyond words, and it doesn’t seem too fond of him either.
But on today’s Good Morning Scotland, McTernan really kicked it up a notch.
Yesterday George Osborne treated us to an Autumn Statement in which he performed one of the most remarkable political U-turns in living memory.
The apparent need to cut £12bn from the welfare budget has long been sign-posted by the Tories as a requirement to getting us “back in the black” and on the road to a “higher wage, lower welfare, lower tax” society as part of their oft-cited “long-term economic plan”. (Or what academic economists prefer to call a “risky experiment with the economy in order to score political points“.)
Alert readers will recall David Cameron saying before the general election that child tax credits wouldn’t be cut in pursuit of that goal. But after the election, Osborne decided that they would. The Institute for Fiscal Studies determined that these cuts would have the worst effects on some of the poorest families in Britain.
Despite widespread opposition to the cuts, Labour infamously abstained on the critical vote in the Commons. Then, when the welfare bill reached the Lords, Labour once again abstained on a Lib Dem motion that would have completely killed the bill, in favour of a Labour one which phased in the cuts over three years, but meant Osborne would have to find another £4.5bn in his budget.
The passing of the Labour motion enraged Cameron so much that he went on an extraordinary rant about a “constitutional crisis” and announced a “rapid review”.
So we were somewhat surprised to hear Osborne say yesterday that the best thing to do was “not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether”.
At today’s First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale oddly chose to spend her entire allotted time not on any current issues affecting Scotland, but on attacking the SNP’s 2013 White Paper on independence, seemingly unaware that the referendum was held 14 months ago and resulted in a win for the No side.
Happily for Scotland, that decision resulted in a huge £200bn oil bonanza.
Hang on, let’s just double-check that to be sure.
We tweeted this yesterday:
Increasingly, the line between satire of the Scottish media and reality is non-existent.
Ah, the good old days.
Obviously, actually including the exact phrases “within 45 minutes” and “weapons of mass destruction” might have been a little bit too near the knuckle, but the message comes across just the same: “Here we go again.”
The Daily Record has this on its front page today.
And that’s fine. The tale of a five-figure sum of money which might (or might not) have gone missing from the accounts of Women For Independence, who’ve promptly called the police to investigate an apparent discrepancy between their donated income and their expenditure, is entirely legitimate news.
But we couldn’t help wondering something.