Brian Monteith: I promise there will be broken promises

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outlines his policies to NHS nurses, student nurses and midwives in London. Picture: PA
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outlines his policies to NHS nurses, student nurses and midwives in London. Picture: PA
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The general election is cranking up and will no doubt become the usual shrill shouting match where accusations of wrongdoing are exaggerated and ­aspirations – such as giving nurses a pay rise (Labour) or capping energy prices (Tories) – are sold as certainties.

The only fact that is certain is that these are promises that can be ­broken or left unfulfilled. While sounding good are not-risk free or necessarily the best for the country.

Portobello celebrate their win at Murrayfield. Picture: SNS

Portobello celebrate their win at Murrayfield. Picture: SNS

Everyone likes a pay rise but when we keep hearing (and experiencing) the result of financial problems in the NHS, is paying nurses the best use of scarce resources? I don’t expect nurses to agree with me of course, but would we not be better using the same money to train more nurses (there’s a huge shortage you know) and then be able to reduce the agency staffing that is a big drain on budgets?

Give that process three years to work through and we can then begin to pay more nurses better? The answer is that this is what we should have been doing all along – but ­managers have used the free flow of labour to source nurses from abroad to keep costs down. We should be training our own kids for these jobs rather than leaving them without prospects and poorer.

Capping energy costs is as daft now as the Tories said it was when it was a Labour idea from Ed Miliband, as it suppresses investment and stores up problems for later. Do the policy wonks who ­recycle these ideas think we don’t have memories?

What is needed is for the UK to repeal its Climate Change Act that has made our energy costs go through the roof – loading real poverty on the poorest souls shivering in their flats – while China, Africa and India open new coal power stations on a weekly basis, wiping out any gains on CO2 emissions that we claim.

Far better is to have genuine ­competition between suppliers so that prices are driven down. Instead we have a rigged system that makes wealthy landowners even richer from the subsidies they get for useless wind turbines and protects the generating companies from competitors that will invest in cheaper solutions.

Politicians will be brought before the court of public opinion and generally viewed as guilty until they prove their innocence, but that’s their ­problem and it’s of their own making. Too many have so poisoned the well of public trust over recent years that it is hard to take them seriously – or ­sincerely – on what they say is the truth. At a time when politicians can say without shame “once in a generation” or “once in a lifetime” about a referendum when they mean once every couple of years until we win, it will be the politician that is trusted the most that will win.

Nicola’s troops Indy-obsessed

Nicola Sturgeon has got herself in a right fankle by trying to claim – after everything she has said and done to get a second indyref – that the election is not about independence. Must be something to do with support falling to only 40 per cent.

Unfortunately she forgot to send the memo to her colleagues. Afterwards, the Alloa MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh argued it was vital to put “a positive case for independence” while Edinburgh MP Tommy Sheppard called on Greens not to split the “pro-yes” vote by standing down in seats the Tories can win.

An SNP-supporting newspaper had a front page splash on how Indyref2 is the big issue and then Alex Salmond, above – not one to be left out of a rammy – said it was most definitely all about independence. Just who are we to believe? How long before Ms Sturgeon uses that ‘I’ word again?

The medicine is working..

THERE was some very good news this week that will have passed most people by – the UK deficit fell to only £52 billion last year, the lowest since 2008 – and is now on track to become a surplus sooner than the Government thought.

No one will feel the difference just yet – that will take a few years, so it will have little impact on our own finances – but it makes the ‘austere’ economic medicine more acceptable.

In 2010, we were told VAT had to go up to help government revenues – so when we get back into surplus can we cut the VAT rate back to 17.5 per cent again as a reward? Somehow I doubt it.

Being liberal with prejudices

Who would have thought the leader of the Liberal Democrats – of all parties – would have ended up having to defend himself against claims of homophobia and sacking his candidate for Bradford West for anti-semitism in only the first week of campaigning? What next, Jeremy Corbyn proposing tax cuts or Theresa May scrapping Trident? Maybe the SNP will talk about something other than independence?

Porty show what happens when you try

No sooner had I bemoaned the decline of rugby in Scottish schools, and the impact it has had on the national team, using my alma mater Porty High School as a sad example, than the senior Edinburgh team Portobello RFC go and beat Blairgowrie to win the BT Men’s Bowl at the weekend.

My congratulations to them – hopefully they will go on to climb the rugby ladder to the top league and achieve what the old FP club missed out on all those years ago – giving hope to other local teams seeking to coach their way to success.

Encouraging successful home-grown talent is the only way to build the national squad.