The election that never was
Picture, if you will, a future Holyrood election. You know, one of those that comes along, by statute, every four years.
The hotline rings in Alexander Towers. “Team Brown here. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll take charge of the Labour campaign as we always have.”
What do you imagine the response might be? Admittedly, the memory of this weekend’s Oktoberfest of Fun will have faded somewhat. Months, years, events.
But will Team Brown’s reputation for sharp, polished political strategy ever be quite the same again?
Scottish Labour is trying its best today.
Apparently, the only one truly scared of an election is Alex Salmond.
Well, it’s a gallant effort. Not quite up there with the suggestion that David Cameron’s Blackpool speech was a subliminal appeal to the SNP. But not bad.
So what’s left from this non-election weekend? Will we, in years to come, recall fondly where we were when we heard that the election was off?
(Personally, I was at Tannadice to witness the annihilation of Motherwell by one superb goal to nil.)
I suspect not. I suspect too that the sound and fury, the lampooning and lambasting, is amplified by the political bubble, whether at Westminster, Holyrood or on the party conference circuit.
The voters, I guess, know this is a pretty spectacular guddle. But, equally, I suspect they will be more concerned in the long-term about what their leaders do – rather than, in this case, don’t do.
At the UK political level, they will be interested in taxation and spending. The chancellor is due to give us much more info about all that on Tuesday with his spending review and pre-Budget report – while voters are still digesting that intriguing Tory offer on inheritance tax etc.
They will want to know more about the progress of Britain’s military adventures. The Prime Minister is promising a detailed statement on Iraq in the Commons tomorrow, having trailed the issue of troop redeployment while in Basra.
In Scotland, the voters will want to examine the options on crime, health and education. More to come on that from the still relatively new ministerial team and their opponents.
Still and all, as I heard one politician say, this is scarcely a “glad, confident morning” for the PM.
If I remember aright from my days studying literature in the Auld Grey Toon of St Andrews, that is a quotation from Robert Browning’s poem about Wordsworth, accusing him of selling out to the establishment. It is called The Lost Leader.