Letter from Edinburgh 19.12.08
I HATE to say this … but there will be an election. I think it will be on 26th February or, as we would say in Bressay, the day before Up-Helly-A’.
Gordon Brown has been in Afghanistan and Iraq this week. British troops, he announced in Baghdad, will be home in the “first half of 2009”.
There is no legislation going through Westminster that cannot be delayed. The economy is going to hell in a hand cart and the only certainty is that it will get worse.
Britain could have over three million – Mrs Thatcher levels – unemployed by the end of next year. Folk out of work topped two million this week.
The Prime Minister is scared stiff of the Tories re-running their 1979 posters – the ones that said “Labour isn’t working” with long lines of people queueing for work.
I could, of course, be quite wrong. But I would bet half my Christmas turkey – no actually the whole bird – that Labour will cut and run. National opinion polls are tightening. The massive Tory lead has all but disappeared in some.
If you are Gordon Brown, who has already been savaged for ducking one election that he so clearly should have called, then you won’t make the same mistake again.
And worst of all – my party experts tell me that the Prime Minister will go to the Palace to ask Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament on the last Tuesday in January.
Well I guess that means the campaign starts on Thursday as no Prime Minster is going to get between me and a fire festival. We shall see.
I could go on about a manic final week in Holyrood. Sentencing policy for jails, the sale of Edinburgh airport and a row about pensions all combined to bring the Parliamentary year crashing to an end. A very busy policy week must be fitted in with Christmas thank you parties for long suffering staff who put up with MSPs through the year.
For lighter relief, I was asked to read a lesson at the Christmas carol concert held in the Parliament’s garden lobby and “chaired” by the Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson.
Alex is a retired blackface sheep breeder from Galloway, so we discussed ewes. Well it beats discussing knocking on doors in the middle of winter.
Of course the real talking points in politics this week were Chris Hoy’s victory in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, Alexandra winning X Factor and the fix in Strictly Come Dancing where all the contestants qualified for the final despite the need for one couple to fall out.
Some of this chat was a desperate effort to show that politicians are in touch with what is happening in popular culture.
Have a splendid festive season with much good cheer and crack. I am hugely looking forward to the delights of Bressay for the next fortnight.
Tavish Scott MSP