Brian Monteith: Shambolic Theresa doing it the hard way

If Theresa May wins she will have done it the hard way after presiding over a shambolic campaign. Picture: Getty
If Theresa May wins she will have done it the hard way after presiding over a shambolic campaign. Picture: Getty
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By this time next week we should know who’s won the general election – but as Prime Minister Harold Wilson learned from bitter experience, a week is a long time in politics and Theresa May might just be about to find that out too.

The polls are still showing a big enough lead for Theresa May to not only win but increase her majority (which was the purpose of the election after all). There is, however, enough evidence to suggest that, with a fair wind, she might fall short of an overall majority – in which case we can certainly expect the opposing parties to gang up and form what is being called a Progressive Alliance or a Coalition of Chaos depending how you see it.

John Major takes to his soapbox during the 1992 election campaign. Picture: PA

John Major takes to his soapbox during the 1992 election campaign. Picture: PA

Here in Edinburgh there’s still ­everything to play for with the speculation focusing on how many seats the SNP will lose – and to whom. The polls really cannot get a firm grip on what voters are thinking – either in the UK or Scotland – with the SNP threatened with losing well over 20 seats at the beginning of the week and fewer than 20 by the end of it.

I don’t mind sticking my neck out and saying I still expect the Conservatives to win, and win well, but if I am right then they will have done it the hard way, running a shambolic ­campaign that has driven some ­possible converts – and loyalists – to think twice about voting for them. If it were not for the fact that Theresa May is up against Jeremy ­Corbyn, a ­self-confessed pacifist at a time of international danger, a man whose friends have included known ­operatives and supporters of the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah and has the good judgement to think Diane Abbott would make a good Home Secretary then Theresa May would be in real trouble.

For many reasons, it has been a poor general election with little for me to find favour with in any party. We have had all the usual scare stories – such as how the Tories will privatise the NHS – which simply ignore all the facts. The NHS was invented by a Tory (Sir Henry Willink), promoted by a Liberal (William Beveridge) and introduced by a socialist (Nye Bevan).

Since its foundation it has been run by the Conservatives more years than any other party and it’s not been ­privatised yet. Indeed state spending on the NHS in England is planned to double under the Tories from around £3.8 billion in 2016 to about £8.4bn by 2020. That’s hardly a privatisation.

The reality is that due to escalating demand from a growing and changing population, together with the growing cost of new treatments, the NHS will continue to consume more money than any party can throw at it. What nobody says is how they would tackle these huge challenges other than by trying to outbid each other with our own money.

It is not often that I can say the Scottish Conservatives actually look far more attractive than the UK team; I bet they are frustrated by the faux pas being made down south that undo all their good work up here. For the sake of avoiding a divisive second independence referendum I hope the unionist parties reduce the number of SNP MPs and send a strong message to Nicola Sturgeon. Then I might be able to say the general election has been worth all the hassle.

SNP wrong on education – literally

A clue was provided in this week’s SNP manifesto to explain why literacy standards are falling in Scottish schools under their watch.

The line “We will also guarantee continuation of tuition free university education” appeared. You might want to read it again to see the problem as it’s easy to miss it – but surely university education should be packed with tuition, not “tuition free”?

Maybe that’s why teacher training is blamed for the problems at schools – or is it just that the SNP manifesto is illiterate?

PM should get on her soapbox

The jury is out on whether or not Theresa May made the right decision in not attending the Punch and Judy shows that masquerade as leaders’ debates on television. Predictably supporters of those against the Tories (all of the other six parties) decry her decision to give them a miss, while her own supporters think it was wise.

I tend to take the latter view as I find these shows unbearable and full of extravagant claims and aggressive yah-boo politics, where little light is shed on the real issues. That said, campaigning on a platform of being a strong leader didn’t really fit with sending other politicians in to do battle for her. Instead of just missing the events, she should have done far more to take her message to the public – why not copy the approach of John Major on his soapbox or Jim Murphy and that Irn Bru crate for the last week’s campaigning?

I’m having a ball with Porty wins

IT has been a great year for sport in Portobello! Fresh on the heels of Porty rugby club winning the BT Men’s Bowl, Porty High School has achieved a rare feat of wining the local schools football league championships at all three levels of Under 13s, U14s and U15s.

Congratulations to the players, coaches and parents. Now they have those 3G pitches at the new school there are fewer call-offs from bad weather and more opportunities to play. I recall those early mornings at Cavalry Park cheering on my boys playing for Porty and it provided some of the highlights of raising them and a good few laughs too. Good coaches and good facilities are vital – but so too is parental support, even if it’s only to run the line.