Brexit: Old Etonian elite are taking us for fools – Robert Aldridge

Is it just me, or does everyone else see it as grotesque that the Old Etonian multi-millionaire elite running our UK cabinet pretend they are fighting the establishment on the side of the people?

Monday, 7th October 2019, 6:00 am
Boris Johnson is part of the Establishment he is claiming to be fighting on behalf of the peoplet. Picture: PA

It is clear they have made a cynical calculation that they will do better in an election if the country is hopelessly and furiously divided.

It is patently ludicrous for them to pretend they are anything other than the most privileged establishment elite.

The SNP are no better, constantly stoking the fires of grievance to maximise division, pretending their own failures are someone else’s fault.

Robert Aldridge is the Lib Dem group leader at Edinburgh City Council

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All of this is made more aggressive by the way social media acts as an echo chamber reinforcing and making more extreme the views of your own side.

This has led many senior politicians to lose both the art of listening, and the duty to act in the interests of all the people, rather than just their supporters.

It’s little wonder there is anger and frustration with politics at present. People are not stupid and I’m sure many people, like me, get increasingly infuriated with smug soundbites which at best bend the truth, and at worst promise things which in the same sentence say two completely opposite things.

Weasel words and sleekit actions

We can all cite examples, like “I will not sign a letter seeking an extension to Article 50” and “I will obey the law”. Both cannot be true if a deal is not agreed – and everybody knows it.

It does the important work of government no good whatsoever if it degenerates into weasel words and sleekit actions.

Talking to my wise constituents on the doorstep they understand the real world. They may not be happy with decisions which are taken, but they are realistic.

Many roll their eyes at the way they are taken for fools by the antics of the government in Westminster.

But as far as Edinburgh council is concerned they recognise that funding is very tight, and that some things take longer than they used to.

Given an honest and frank explanation they may not be happy with the situation but they are willing to understand it.

So as the council begins to develop its budget for the next three years I hope we will have an open and honest discussion with the people of Edinburgh.

There are big savings to be made which are likely to affect services quite drastically.

A lot of the council budget cannot – and would not – be changed (teachers salaries are set nationally for example).

So we are left with big decisions about whether we do everything we currently do but less well, or stop doing some things altogether and focus on doing the remainder well.

Let’s not have a pretence that if we keep on saying we can do it all often enough, everything will be fine.

I think people are tired of empty slogans and bland assertions that if we are simply bold and optimistic all the difficulties will disappear.

Robert Aldridge is the Lib Dem group leader at Edinburgh City Council