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Party politics

Brian Taylor | 12:56 UK time, Sunday, 27 March 2011

Damn your principles, counselled Disraeli, stick to your party.

But what happens when your party won't stick to you?

Two candidates have departed from their party's favours - one Conservative, one Liberal Democrat - in rather different circumstances.

Hugh O' Donnell has chosen to quit the Liberal Democrats to stand as an independent, arguing that his party now prefers to quash dissent rather than adhere to fundamental beliefs.

Malcolm Macaskill was stood down by the Tories after endorsement was withdrawn by the party's candidates selection board.

He was top of the list in Glasgow and hence, potentially, set for a seat.

Each case is damaging to the party concerned.

Financial backing

Political leaders like to project a sense of unity, of contented lieges. These cases, in their different ways, run counter to that depiction.

The extent of the damage depends largely upon the containment exercise. Can the parties close the issues down? Will others rally to support the disquieted and departing?

Mr O'Donnell has been discontented, indeed semi-detached, for some time, since before the formation of the UK coalition.

His departure in this fashion would appear to be planned and calculating rather than whimsical.

The issue for the LibDems is this: can he be dismissed and sidelined as a maverick - or will he be seen as reflecting wider discontent within the party over the consequences of sharing power at Westminster even though his own disquiet partly predates that event?

The Macaskill case is potentially messier. It would appear he has influential - and wealthy - support.

The Tories may stand to lose financial backing from this.

Tory insiders say his endorsement was withdrawn by the all-Scotland candidates board following information which came to light subsequent to his being selected to top the party's list in Glasgow.

He says he is being denied natural justice and an opportunity to state his case.

This follows the disclosure that he has twice faced bankruptcy in the past in his business career.

Wider reform

Mr Macaskill says his business background was made known to the party a decade ago.

But he goes further, linking the handling of his case to suggestions that the party requires wider reform.

Again potentially, that is tapping into subterranean grumbling within the party over the future of the Scottish leadership.

Will that fly as an issue? Or will ranks close?

The immediate rawness of controversy tends to suggest the former.

That applies equally to the LibDem case.

Disraeli's advice, generally followed avidly or reluctantly by those who choose to adhere to parties in the first place, suggests the latter.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "Damn your principles, counselled Disraeli, stick to your party."

    Seems to be all the rage for the unionist parties eh?

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the most damaging departure is the liberal candidate, who has bravely stood up for what he believes, rather than what he is told to think by his London masters. Well done to him. Tories and liberals may just be wiped from the political map in Scotland. And with the labour party in meltdown faster than the Japanese reactors, the road is open for a second SNP term. Talking of reactors.THe labour party has to come clean on its nuclear policy. WILL THEY force nuclear power on the Scottish people through the Scotland bill ?

  • Comment number 3.

    O'Donnells confirmation that the Lib Dems voted tactically against Scottish Governments plans, including minimum pricing of alcohol, for purely party political purposes demonstrates their duplicity and dishonesty, and a complete disregard for the people of Scotland.
    I was expecting them to return possibly 7 or 8 MSPs following the election. After this, Tavish and Rumbles may have to form a duet rather than an octet.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have always tried to balance the merits of the candidates with the principles of the party they stand for.Hence I have voted for three different parties.Sometimes this is easy,I witnessed the dreadful George Foulkes,over his 25 years as our MP,preside over Cumnock and Doon Valley turning into a quagmire of drugs and unemployment.(Anyone want give a reason for his elevation to the House of Cronies??.)In spite of this constituency giving Labour almost 100 years of support,Labour has done the absolute minimum in return,especially the recent wasted 13 years of power at Westminster.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    well we know no Labour candidates will stand down because their party ethics conflict with their own. The Scottish Labour Party has no Ethics.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is high time that the party management of the list system was curtailed.

    On the Regional List, a voter should be able to choose for him/herself which particular party/group nominee he/she wishes to support.

    The votes for all members within a particular party/group should be aggregated and, if that total entitles the party to an MSP, then the individual within that group with most personal votes should be deemed elected (subject to remaining eligible, having regard to constituency elections).

    In my locale, there are two Conservatives whom I would be prepared to support - but they are to appear so low down the party list that other than with near-total support for the Tories (Fat Chance!), I cannot do anything to procure their election. So the party will miss out on my vote, because I regard the higher ranked candidates as undeserving of my vote!

    Indeed, ALL of my local parties have the most attractive candidates placed below individuals whom I see as 'lobby-fodder' and who will put party before constituency (i.e. Regional) interests, and I will ultimately have either to vote for the least poor option or - as is likely to be the case - vote according to a party whose principles I agree with, on the basis that an MSP qwho does as he/she is told by party leadership will vote according to my wishes by default.

    So, SNP on both ballot papers......

  • Comment number 9.

    the tory candidate believes that he was shelved because he backs jackson carlaw, who is seen as a threat to anabel goldie. so her buddy ruth davidson has been selected to run instead. sour grapes or carefully organised manouvering???

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12870442 another candidate, Iain Whyte, for the tories has also stepped down. they are dropping like flies. someone already said that it is unlikely any labour candidates will step down and i think they are right. all they care about is the party line and filling their boots (tho not sure which is most important to them)

  • Comment number 10.

    Is Hugh O'Donnell brave or is he just reading the writing on the wall?

    Having the term "(Scottish) Liberal Democrat" attached to one's name on the ballot paper will almost certainly deter more voters than it will attract - even among the party's core support.

    It is time for the LibDems to support independence - not necessarily of separating Scotland from the UK, but certainly of having the Scottish Liberal Democrats severing all links with Nick 'Everything (including principles) Must Go*' Clegg's Tory-Lite cabal.

    * How much did he get for his Granny? (Clegg was clearly prepared to sell out anything and everything for a sniff of power for himself, if only to offset the lost expenses by gaining a higher salary?)

  • Comment number 11.

    Hugh O'Donnell said:
    "Since that fateful day, I have watched helplessly from the sidelines as this Government at Westminster has attacked every vulnerable group in Scotland, from carers to disabled students to migrants, with some of the most draconian policies I have ever seen in the name of cuts. Not a word of criticism from the party leadership in Scotland has been uttered - even though the contempt shown for Scotland and, indeed, the federal structure of the party knows no bounds."

    Apparently he's standing as an independent but unless he's standing as a nationalist independent he's going to be campaigning to keep the Tory/Lib-Dem Government he hates running Scotland for the next four years just like Labour, the Tories and the Lib-Dem party he just left will be campaigning for four more years of Cameron rule in Scotland.

    He's fallen out with his own party but he doesn't appear to have smelt the coffee and realised that the only way to permanently rid Scotland of Governments like the current Tory/Lib-Dem one is independence.

  • Comment number 12.

    Brian,

    When you say "[h]is departure in this fashion would appear to be planned and calculating rather than whimsical", you seem to forget that it is his party which has departed from him, by abandoning anything which could reasonably be described as Liberalism. This sad state of affairs is well documented in this website's Lib Dem candidate quits party, which sums the situation up well with "Mr O'Donnell claimed the leadership of the party in Scotland could no longer be regarded as either Liberal or Democratic."

    How true!

    Equally dammning is the closing quote from the man himself: "It is a party I no longer want to be part of and neither should other principled Liberals."

    The L-Ds have become the true successors to the old SDP in offering a Blairite "New Labour" [without the authoritarianism and warmongering, of course] but in the process have ditched all the values of Liberalism and localism the old Liberal Party valued so highly, and still does. My only surprise is that it has taken more than two decades for those Liberals who merged into the L-Ds to comprehend what has become of the party they created.

    Those of you posting here who still keep calling the L-Ds "liberals" really should know better by now. Rumour has it that their new non-Federal leadership is dreaming up a new name as I write, probably removing the "L" word from their moniker.

  • Comment number 13.

    #3 Episteme
    "O'Donnells confirmation that the Lib Dems voted tactically against Scottish Governments plans, including minimum pricing of alcohol, for purely party political purposes demonstrates their duplicity and dishonesty, and a complete disregard for the people of Scotland."

    Quite so, and no doubt helped in their learning process by an 8-year coalition deal with "Scottish" Labour - acknowledged masters of such black arts.

    That they're still at the top of their game is demonstrated by The Press Association's Labour split on alcohol pricing, which informs us that:
    "Jackie Baillie has distanced herself from comments made by Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow public health minister at Westminster, that she would favour a pilot scheme in England, and possibly legislation, if it stopped young people getting "out of their skulls for less money than it takes to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola".

    Ms Baillie told an audience of health professionals and students at a British Medical Association hustings in Edinburgh that she felt no shame in voting similar proposals down at Holyrood.
    "

    Odd, though, that no mention is made of this internal spat in this website's Cheap alcohol sales prompt calls for minimum pricing, which whilst telling us that "shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said the government should go further and explore minimum pricing" and the support for it "by a coalition of health groups, including Alcohol Concern and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems", it confines reporting opposition to the plan to a "Home Office spokesman".

    One would have thought that the sisterly dispute within the Labour Party would have provided more "human interest".

  • Comment number 14.

    Isn't it ironic that so many Labour voters are following this dictum of the founder of the modern Tory party. It would be distressing for them to consider how their principles are not reflected in either the principals or principles of today's Labour Party.

    As for the heartfelt cries of Barbazenzero, I would endorse them so that we can dispense with having to differentiate between L for Lab and L for Lib. I suggest P for The Power Party with a motto "Anything for Power".

  • Comment number 15.

    Well done to Hugh O' Donnell for standing up for his beliefs and morals, I have voted Lib Dem in the past (particularly after the Iraq War when Charles Kennedy was still their number 1).
    I will again vote SNP this time as I believe they will be best for the Scottish people, but as a man with very liberal attitudes, I have never understood the dramatic swing over the last decade of the Liberals to non-Liberal policies. I think it all started with the coalition with Labour in the previous Holyrood administration to the most recent SNP term.
    I hope those Liberal-Liberals in the party find their voice and move back to the centre-left of Party politics, cos at the moment, it is obvious that they are being strongly pulled to the right wing by Nick Clegg along with the Torys & indeed Labour (In Scotland)... I think Mr O' Donnell is more than aware of the coming backlash in May!

    I am not a supporter of the Federal system, as I believe that it it just Independence Lite (ie. watered down to a point where it will be open to Unionist manipulation & control), but I do believe in the Key principles such as Human Rights, a strong environmental stance and representative democracy (ie. Proportional Representation). The Nick Clegg Lib-Dems seem to have sold these key values out completely and without any glimmer of a fight from within their party.

    I am sure Mr O' Donnell will only be the first of many Lib-Dem dissenters in the coming weeks as the Opinion Polls start to demonstrate the true scope of feeling among the voting public!

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 handclapping
    "As for the heartfelt cries of Barbazenzero, I would endorse them so that we can dispense with having to differentiate between L for Lab and L for Lib. I suggest P for The Power Party with a motto "Anything for Power"."

    Thanks, and not a bad idea, although it would I fear increase confusion as it would apply to the three parties represented in the recently dissolved Holyrood who were neither in P1 nor P5, so I suggest calling them the P2, P3 and P4 parties respectively.

  • Comment number 17.

    Maybe now we'll find out the truth why Wendy Alexander really left the Labour party once the new session re-starts...did she rock her London masters boat after her 'bring on the referendom' cry...? I doubt it.The UK Labour MP's don't have any morals and they only leave in droves after the ship's sinking, to the happy dry land resting place of the House of Lords...roll on May to start the meltdown of these plastic Unionist politicians!

  • Comment number 18.

    #3 'I was expecting them to return possibly 7 or 8 MSPs following the election. After this, Tavish and Rumbles may have to form a duet rather than an octet.'

    Lets hope that Tavish ends up being the leader of himself. We have a good SNP candidate standing against Rumbles up here in Aberdeenshire West and we are hoping to topple him :o)}

  • Comment number 19.

    Spare us from the bag o wind Rumbles, he is almost as bad as his Westminster colleague Bruce. The guy who would not even tell me which of his fellow Lib Dems was behaving like a petulant brat during one sitting of PMQ's. Hopefully the people of Gordon realise what a wasted vote it is voting for a Lib Dem, the political prostitutes!!

  • Comment number 20.

    "This follows the disclosure that he has twice faced bankruptcy in the past in his business career." (Brian Taylor)

    I beg your pardon. This actually follows disclosure that this Tory candidate has apparently not only faced bankruptcy twice but also a court action against him for unpaid income tax, according to a report in The Herald by Paul Hutcheon and Tom Gordon. If, as claimed in that newspaper report, the gentleman has indeed failed to pay income tax which he should have paid, this would appear to constitute something of a spectacular embarrassment following Auntie Annabel's very recent party-conference call to Tories to stick to their principles, among which it would appear unlikely that she would wish to acknowledge that tax avoidance or even evasion figure prominently.

    What is a Tory principle supposed to be, in any case? Without malice, I feel one has to wonder. What do Tories believe in? Liberty would qualify, of course, but only if you qualify it as not being for the socio-economically disadvantaged so much as for the better off, as equality of opportunity can hardly be said to have much chance of thriving where private education is encouraged and the principle of free university education for all is not subscribed to. Rescuing bankers and the like from the folly of their own ultra-liberal casino-capitalist excesses at the expense of the taxpayer who actually does pay his/her taxes would also seem to qualify. Yes, Tories believe in that, all right. But then so does the Labour Party, as it did that when in office.

    To be fair, these will not have been the principles that Auntie Annabel will have been thinking of, as she is, as we know - how shall I put it? - the couthy church-elder sort of face of Toryism (if you can conceive of such a thing while keeping a straight face), the principal function of which is apparently to deflect attention from its more unacceptable face. It is not unknown, of course, if the truth be told, for political parties and political persons to possess a range of principles, which may be shuffled and re-arranged for presentational purposes in accordance with the audience and/or electorate being confronted at a given point in time. As Groucho Marx said and Benjamin Disraeli probably did not say, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

  • Comment number 21.

    Post-independence, a Scottish Liberal Party is likely to be re-born. Until they were taken over by the pre-New Labour gang of four, they had principles.
    However, after wee David Steele partnered with big Dr David Owen, all was lost.
    Scottish politics will have much more relevance when we are able to self-determine.
    At the moment, it can't be alot of fun being a Unionist and waiting to be informed of hwta is right and what is wrong.
    Roll on May!
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 22.

    Bravo Hugh O' Donnell!

    At last a politician who IS willing to stand up for his beliefs.
    As Brian has said, he was always one of the 'awkward squad' and more power to his elbow for being so. I always like politicians (of any party) who don't just 'tow-the-party-line'. Any political party is a broad kirk of opinion, but nowadays anyone stating their own opinion is consider 'off-line' and the media say the party is riven with division.
    I really do hope he is returned as an independant list MSP, and can I suggest he be considered for the vacant post of Presiding Officer?

    Note to moderator: remove the following if you feel it is too off-topic.

    With the continuing political argument about hospital beds available/nurses & doctors employed I have no idea who is right.
    But in 2004 I had a stent inserted into a heart artery, I was in hospital for 9 days (216 hrs.)
    On Friday I presented myself at St. John's Livingston at 1pm saying I was having another heart attack. Another stent had to be inserted, at ERI, and I was discharged at 3pm on Saturday. (23% of the time of my first visit)
    Medical advaces mean there can be quicker turn-around of patients so not many beds are needed.
    Although the faces had changed, one thing that did not change was the respect and professionalism of the staff involved, and can I take this opportunity to that the staff of both these wonderful places for the care they gave me so willingly on both occasions.

  • Comment number 23.

    The Tram chappies showed up again this Saturday.
    They were back to fix the tram line stuff for tramlines which have never even had a tram running on them, a sign of the exceptional quality control this project enjoys.
    The chaos was amazing, gridlocking Edinburgh city centre and reminding us all what we're going to get if we vote for anyone other than the SNP in a few weeks.

    Well done guys, great timing.

  • Comment number 24.

    There's probbly a sense of panic within the unionist parties at the moment.
    They're all less and less appealing to the average jock in the street.

    Central control of decision making processes has created a group of political dinosaurs.
    Couple this with some of the most uninspiring leaders in modern history and there's a real potential for electoral disaster, particularly since Salmond can instantly offer Scottish solutions for Scottish issues and problems.
    The unionist tortoise and the SNP hare.

    I suspect that the old chestnut "lessons will be learned!" could be getting an airing in the post May election process.

  • Comment number 25.

    1. At 13:20pm on 27th Mar 2011, Diabloandco wrote:

    ' "Damn your principles, counselled Disraeli, stick to your party."

    Seems to be all the rage for the unionist parties eh?'

    You really think the fundamentalists in the SNP changed their minds rather than keep their lips buttoned for the sake of "party unity"?

    (If my lip had a button I'd probably still be a member. Support for independence would still have maintained it's 30 year flatline either way, of course...)

  • Comment number 26.

    Yep!

  • Comment number 27.

    All so boringly predictable to see Nationalist party machinery click in to top gear again. Blogs everywhere flooded by off-topic petty anti-union diatribe that is just a turn-off. The SNP has a decent story to tell and as long as it continues with its "Don't worry, we don't aspire to independence either" policy then it has every chance of being returned. I don't see what SNP posters have to lose by talking policy yet insist on doing anything but.

    No surprise to see division in Tory and Lib Dem ranks - there are clearly leadership tensions in the former and the Lib Dems have always been a broad church where nonconformity has never been far from the surface. HO'D looks like his ego has clouded his judgement and I doubt that his posturing will result in any change to party policy. Only destruction at the hands of the electorate across the UK in May will achieve this.

  • Comment number 28.

  • Comment number 29.

    27 Aye Right Aw Wrang
    Policies???
    We all know what the SNP's were and are likely to be.
    They did after all deliver on 90% of their 1997 commitments - with most of the others defeated by New Labour-Unionist part politicking.
    SNP for Free Prescriptions - Labour belatedly agree.
    SNP for Council Tax Freeze - Labour belatedly agree.
    SNP anti Nuclear Development - Labour dropping bricks on that one?
    SNP for a fairer Scotland - Labour all rhetoric and off to the House of Lords.
    Policies - don't pontificate to us about alleged New Labour Policies.
    New Labour simply lost its policies around the time it sold its principles to the highest bidders.
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 30.

    Who was the New Labour Nyaff inteviewing the First Minister on GMS this morning?
    Was that intended to be an impartial BBC journalist?
    Gary Tank Commander could have done better!
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 31.

    Brian,

    That this story has "legs" would seem to be confirmed by the Hootsmon's leader today, surprisingly [for them] entitled: Resignation of uneasy Lib Dem may benefit SNP,

    Starting with "Hugh O'Who? ... His record at Holyrood may best be described as one marked by brilliant silences.", it goes on to quote O'Donnell as watching "helplessly from the sidelines as this Westminster government has attacked every vulnerable group in Scotland with some of the most Draconian policies I have ever seen in the name of cuts". Fair comment, I think.

    I'm less sure about their "it would be foolish to underestimate the potential of its leader, Tavish Scott, to do well in the forthcoming debates". Tomorrow's STV live debate may tell us a little more.

    The "quiet man" reference is amplified in the same august organ in Brian Monteith's Why we're in danger of a substance-free election, which mentions O'Donnell but also opines on dour Iain: "Iain Gray does not have the stage presence of Gordon Brown and in a Scottish election, Salmond becomes a far stronger adversary than David Cameron. How Salmond must be relishing this campaign and welcoming Labour's complacency in taking the Scottish electorate for granted."

    Meanwhile, their Sunday sister carried Catherine Deveney's interview with Iain Gray, which can be well summarised by quoting one sentence: "He's more direct than most politicians, and ironically, that makes him less dull."

    However, I hadn't realised that dour Iain is - like me - a Bob Dylan fan and would respectfully suggest that his campaign playlist might include:
    ● Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
    ● A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
    ● Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
    ● Everything Is Broken
    ● Going, Going, Gone
    ● I Shall Be Released
    ● Idiot Wind
    ● Shelter From The Storm
    ● Subterranean Homesick Blues
    ● Tangled Up In Blue
    ● The Times They Are A Changing
    ● Troubled And I Don't Know Why
    ● You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
    ● Restless Farewell

  • Comment number 32.

    Spagan - you just can't help yourself can you! Didn't need further evidence to prove my case but thanks anyway.

    I promulgated no New Labour agenda in my post so I'm not sure where you got that from. And you say that we know what the SNP's policies are likely to be. How? Other than the council tax freeze and the assertion that AS is more charismatic than IG I'm not seeing much vision from the party that formed the last SG. Not seeing much more from Labour either - they might have been a bit more forthcoming but only just. Think they can all do better than this.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    30. At 08:58am on 28th Mar 2011, spagan wrote:

    "Who was the New Labour Nyaff inteviewing the First Minister on GMS this morning?
    Was that intended to be an impartial BBC journalist?
    Gary Tank Commander could have done better!
    Slainte Mhor"

    I hear that the SNP are busy pinching Labour policies according to pravda house.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    32 Aye Right Joyski
    Your "line" has always been steadfastly pro-New Labour - have wee look at your previous posts.
    Some may think of your commentary as Troll-like.
    And sorry - Your preferred policies are??? Deafening silence ensues.
    Carp and moan all you like.
    Some of us believe that Scotland could be a better country for its people and its children.
    Some - like you - "are not yet convinced".
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 37.

    O' Donnell also gets a mention in Alan Cochrane's new Alex Salmond left smelling of roses as feuding rivals fail to land blows in the torygraph, which tells us that:
    "Things couldn’t have gone much better for Iain Gray and Alex Salmond as the first week proper of this interminable election campaign begins. Not that they’ve scored any hits against each other, which is what matters in this contest, but seeing own-goals from both the Tories and the Liberal Democrat helps them bash the also-rans."

    I'm not so sure that invisibility actually helped dour Iain much last week, particularly with the not entirely comradely spat between Ms Abbott and Ms Baillie, but he has a point in that the last week has not been a complete negative for the Labour party in the way it has for the other two main parties with London HQs.

    That Mr Cochrane clearly has little love for O’Donnell, is evidenced by his: "When a pygmy-minded bunch of SNP members decided to hammer Wendy Alexander over her stupidity in not following the rules over the financial backing for her leadership campaign, it was Mr O’Donnell’s vote against Miss Alexander in the Standards Committee that clinched the issue and saw her suspended for one whole day."

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting article elsewhere on this site

    Murphy backs English devolution

  • Comment number 39.

    This has been going on for some time.
    In Argyll and Bute George White resigned from the Liberal Democrats some months ago over a selection row.
    He is now standing for the Liberal Party.

  • Comment number 40.

    38. heraldnomore
    "Murphy backs English devolution"
    The only real answer it seems to me is to have some sort of English devolution - the English regions - they may not be ready for it ”
    End Quote
    Paul Murphy MP

    Torfaen, Labour

  • Comment number 41.

    38 HeraldNoMore
    I didn't realise that all New Labour's Colonial Governors were called "Murphy"?
    Perhaps if Lord McConnell had decided to go to Malawi instead of Klingon on to Lanarkshire, he would have had to be Lord Murphy?
    The strange and mysterious workings of New Labour .........
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 42.

    Spagan - "steadfastly pro-New Labour" - Aye right! Steadfastly pro proper debate not the unending negativity and snide-sneering that emanates from you and far too many others who back a party that has sold-out its separatist principles in pursuit of power (and don't give me that 'long-game, learning to trust etc etc' strategic nonsense).
    My biggest gripe, consistently and also the subject of my first post here, is the failure of contributors in your camp to drop the bullying negativity and juvenile name-calling that persuades no-one and has no roots in what I would say is the Scottish cultural tradition of being fair-minded.
    As for the 'troll-like' allegation - I admire only the brassness of your neck. Time and again we see open political debate platforms such as this over-run by unnecessarily vindictive anti-union bile that helps no-one.
    "Some of us believe that Scotland could be a better country for its people and its children." At last a goal we can agree on - although again I'm not sure how the Daily Mail-style vindictiveness takes us nearer that goal - we just disagree on how we should get there.
    Never mind the party politics and origins of policies I'm more interested in how Scotland can be better. Scotland deserves better from our poliitical leadership, going like for like on populist, unsustainable and often regressive policies is poor fare indeed. Free prescriptions and the council tax freeze are cases in point (in fact how long will it be before the race to the bottom goes to the next level with either SNP or Labour proposing council tax reductions? It's the logical folly after all).
    For what it is worth I'd prefer to see far more re-distributive policies being promoted from both parties, a re-balancing of priorities resulting in positive action to promote opportunity for young-people rather than the over-obsession with older people, and an end to the opposing for opposings-sake attitudes which have side-tracked both main parties over the last decade.
    On the last point we can take alcohol minimum pricing as an example. As it stood I was against it for three reasons, firstly it was pointedly regressive, secondly I could see no logic in legislation that would swell supermarket profits and finally there's pretty strong evidence that it wouldn't have worked as addicts always find a way to fund their drug of choice and it usually involves neglect of children, families and communities. However I could also see the necessity of the SG to tackle the biggest blight in our society and I admire SNP Ministers for bringing the issue forward. Surely it would not have been the wit of all politicians to actually work together on this perhaps resulting in some form of pricing legislation as part of a broader package of action to tackle our seemingly endemic drinking culture. I hope that whoever wins will make this one of their major priorities for action.
    I hope that doesn't seem too unrealistic.

 

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