Clash of the Cabinets: A wasted opportunity

I’m feeling a bit disgruntled today. My two governments are in the news. The Scottish and UK Cabinets have set up rival camps, glowering at each other with the City of Aberdeen providing an unwitting No Man’s Land.

How very different it could have been.

Given that these governments share responsibility in really important areas like employment, climate change, transport and energy, I think it would have been so constructive if they’d been able to organise a joint session to discuss these issues. Youth unemployment, for example,  is a significant issue north of the border and it’s something that both governments are pledged to tackle, to enable young people to fulfil their potential.

They could even have gone as far as talking to some young people. How revolutionary would that have been?

Instead, we have some theatrical spectacle which revolves around David Cameron’s refusal to debate Alex Salmond on independence. That, not Scotland’s unemployed young people or transport links, is all that the media are interested in talking about. A debate that will never happen should not be the only talking point from a once in a blue moon occasion. Of course Salmond wants to debate Cameron. He knows that he could turn up drunk wearing only saltire boxer shorts, and do nothing but sing Caledonia (he’s done the last one before) and he would still most likely be considered the winner. He wants to play up the English Tory vs Scotland angle when that’s not what it should be about. He makes it all very personal when he goes on about Cameron being on the playing fields of Eton while he was working as an oil economist. Do we really need to invoke a class war as well? Especially when his own background has been reasonably privileged from an early life in Linlithgow to St Andrew’s University. You don’t hear the same sort of personal diatribe from the UK Government, even if their arguments could sometimes be articulated with more empathy.

The oil and gas industry, so important to the North East of Scotland, has been highlighted by both governments.  Of course they are going to have competing visions. The UK Government says that it’s best placed to absorb the volatility of the energy markets which make it difficult to predict oil revenues, while the Scottish Government says that Norway manages it, so why can’t we? Last year a leaked paper showed that Finance Secretary John Swinney has more doubt about the public finances post independence than he is allowed to admit publicly.

It’s a pity that the independence referendum has polarised Scottish politics so much that the two governments could not, just for an afternoon, put their differences aside and show that they both have Scotland’s best interests at heart. They both, after all, have a responsibility for it, at least for the next two years and, if the polls are right, way beyond. That would be so much better than all this macho posturing about a debate that will never happen. What a wasted opportunity. For me, it’s the Naughty Step for both governments today.

One final point about the news coverage. It sounds very dramatic to say that it’s only the second time in over 80 years that the Cabinet has visited Scotland. Actually, it’s the second time in five years. The Cabinet stayed put in London until Gordon Brown took a notion to take it out and about when he was Prime Minister. Since then, in a handful of outings, they’ve been to Scotland twice. Scotland is hardly being hard done to.

One final point about the news coverage. It sounds very dramatic to say that it’s only the second time in over 80 years that the Cabinet has visited Scotland. Actually, it’s the second time in five years. The Cabinet stayed put in London until Gordon Brown took a notion to take it out and about when he was Prime Minister. Since then, in a handful of outings, they’ve been to Scotland twice. Scotland is hardly being hard done to.

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About caronlindsay

Scottish Lib Dem pro UK activist, mum, Doctor Who, Strictly, F1 and trashy tv addict and blogger.
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2 Responses to Clash of the Cabinets: A wasted opportunity

  1. Andrew Page says:

    “It’s a pity that the independence referendum has polarised Scottish politics so much that the two governments could not, just for an afternoon, put their differences aside and show that they both have Scotland’s best interests at heart.” I entirely agree. To think that there was once a time when I naively thought the independence debate would be an opportunity for Scotland to showcase the very best of the “new politics”…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. caronlindsay says:

    There is still time but I become less hopeful every day. I want us to come out of this process feeling good about ourselves.

    Like

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