Daily Record column 13/02/15
She is in London so often, three visits in three weeks, that Nicola Sturgeon ought to be house-hunting in the capital.
Yesterday the First Minister came to give a lesson in Sturgeonomics and to dine with that demon of nationalist theology, the BBC’s Nick Robinson.
The actual economics of what Sturgeon said hardly matter. To want to cut less than George Osborne sounds fine, even if your sums don’t stack up.
The anti-austerity Sturgeon was not so much laying out terms for talks with Labour, as the case for replacing Labour.
Look at the fate of the Greek centre-left party Pasok, which went from 40 per cent to four per cent after trying to administer austerity in Athens.
By refusing to “slash and burn” Sturgeon is getting her alibi in early for not supporting a Labour government and standing by to soak up discontented voters.
To maintain economic credibility a chancellor Ed Balls would have to continue a cuts programme. But there are cuts and cuts, and a great deal of difference between the parties.
Osborne plans public spending cuts of £37.6 billion in the next parliament. Gulp, that’s reductions of more than ten per cent across government departments.
Nicola Sturgeon,in contrast, is recommending growing departmental budgets by half a per cent each year and spending £180 billion more.
Balls is somewhere in between. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies Labour would cut £28 billion less than Osborne.
That’s not going to be comfortable for anyone, and who wants austerity-lite when you can abandon the deficit with the “progressive” SNP?
The deficit, under this scenario, would be paid off not by 2020 but whenever the gauge stops on the time machine. There was no word on raising taxes.
The economics are as wobbly as the SNP’s case for independence. If Ed Balls had the audacity to say such thing he would be laughed off stage. Nicola Sturgeon is feted at University College London with light cross-examination
Sturgeonomics might be daft but Nicola is not. The last YouGov poll found more than half of those thinking of voting Labour want the party to end austerity, the SNP offer that.
Voters would have to look at that deal with one eye covered to avoid a brutal truth; voting for something apparently more progressive actually makes it easier for David Cameron to unleash the most savage cuts in a generation.
Tories' Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde
Along with John Swinney, Michael Gove used to be regarded as one of the politest men in politics.
But the usually mild-mannered Conservative chief whip went into a gothic frenzy the other day.
Grasping for power, the Dr Jekyll of the Tory Party became a Mr Hyde.
The Scottish-born pal of David Cameron warned a deal between Labour and the SNP would produce a Frankenstein monster, “a stitched-together creation capable of causing great harm.”
The Tories want to talk up the prospect of a Miliband-Salmond deal, which in a hung parliament even Labour MPs now have to sniff around.
To improve their own chances the Tories must reduce the number of Labour MPs by making Scots buy the idea of voting SNP to get a Labour government.
At the same time Gove wants to plant the fear of nationalism in English voters tempted to vote for Labour think again.
You see why talking up the SNP is indeed Cameron’s “last best chance” of getting back to Downing Street.
But Gove stoops to conquer by stirring up feelings against fellow Scots and sowing that kind of division between nations that is the stock in trade of UKIP demagogues.
He made it sound as if it was a Viking longship that was due to sail up the Thames in May to break open English coffers, not just blowhard nationalists who, if things go according to Tory plans (and SNP ones too), would be bystanders to the next Cameron government.
Of course we don’t need Gove to stir a fear of Scots, amongst the rich of London at least. We have mansion-raiding Jim Murphy to do that.
After seeming Selma, the Martin Luther King Jnr drama based on the 1965 voting rights marches in the USA, two thoughts struck me. The Ocscar ceremony is going to be a travesty because of the exclusion of British actor David Oyelowo and when we debate “freedom” in our generation we don’t even know that we’ve born.
A rèir a’ chunntais sluaigh chan eil comas Gàidhlig ach aig nas lugha na dàrna leth de chloinn ann an sgoiltean
nan Eileanan an Iar. Tha a’ Ghàidhlig mar mhion-chànain ann an cridhe na Gàidhealtachd.
Mur a biodh foghlam sa Ghàidhlig cha bhiodh fìu ’s na h-àireamhan sin ann.
Ach tha connspaid air èirigh le mar a tha Comhairle nan Eilean air inbhe Gàidhlig a thoirt dha sgoiltean far a bheil Gàidhlig agus Beurla air an tabhann taobh ri taobh.
Chan e sgoiltean Gàidhlig a th’ annta a rèir eòlaichean, agus feumar gabhail ris an fhìrinn sin. Tha fios againn gur e làmh an uachdar a gheibh a’ Bheurla ann an suidheachadh co-ionann sam bith.
Stèidhich na h-Eileanan poileasaidh dà-chànanach ann am foghlam bho choinn deich air fhichead bliadhna, ach chan eil fhathast sgoil Ghàidhlig aca, mar a th’ anns na bailtean mòra.
An e misneachd a tha a dhìth air ceannardan, neo air coimhearsnachdan?
Ma tha iarratas ann airson foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig, tha e na uallach air luchd-gléidhidh a’ chànain sin a fhreagairt. Chan eil còraichean aig pàrantan a’ cur bacadh air iarrtas mion-shluaigh.
According to the census figures less than half of school pupils in the Western Isles have a command of Gaelic. The language has minority status in the heart of the Highlands.
There wouldn’t even be these numbers were it not for education in Gaelic.
But the Western Isles Council’s decision to give Gaelic status to schools where English and Gaelic are taught side by side has given rise to controversy.
These are not Gaelic schools according to the experts, and we need to accept the truth of that. We all know the upper hand English has in any equal situation.
The islands established a bi-lingual policy over 30 years ago, but they still don’t have a Gaelic school as the cities do.
Do the leaders lack confiddence, or do the communities?
If there is a request for Gaelic-only education the language’s guardians have a duty to answer it. Other parents don’t have the right to veto the demands of a minority.