Brian Monteith: We're the losers as Dave plays politics

IF you thought in its last few months the Scottish independence referendum became bitter and twisted then you ain't seen anything yet.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 11:46 am
Updated Friday, 29th April 2016, 12:47 pm
Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The referendum over UK membership of the EU is going to be even dirtier and darker, with more explicit threats and behind-the-scenes bullying than anything we witnessed back in September 2014.

There are times when I think our Prime Minister has sunk to a new low and cannot become more duplicitous or dastardly – only for him to shock me with yet another low blow that makes even Tony Blair seem a paragon of virtue.

This week there have been two examples. The first is a back-room deal with the trade unions to get them to spend nearly £2 million campaigning to keep us in the EU – by selling off amendments to his Trade Union Bill. The second is threats from “sources” in Brussels that if we vote “Leave” Britain will be cut loose with a quickie divorce by the rest of the European members.

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The first is a craven sell-out for what his own supporters voted for while the other is undoubtedly choreographed bullying that would require international treaties to be broken. But how many people will see these moves for what they are?

Both stories point to a sordid and malign approach to politics. There is nothing positive, inspirational or uplifting in this defence of Britain’s EU membership – it is all about the dark arts of Machiavelli and accepting that the ends justifiy the means.

But what ends?

I shall not mince my words. Politics is all a game to David Cameron and the only thing that matters is winning.

Having read the unauthorised biography of him by Michael Ashcroft and Isobel Oakshott and watched how he operates I have no doubt that Cameron believes in nothing other than achieving and retaining power for its own sake. He has no clear philosophy to anchor himself to, certainly not one that will not be cut loose when the occasion requires, or traded with opponents for some tactical gain.

He is certainly not a true Conservative, but is the worst sort of pragmatist – ducking and diving to live through to the next week, lurching from one political crisis to the next.

This is the Prime Minister that tried to set up Ian Duncan Smith to take the blame for cuts to disability benefits that he had argued against.

This is the premier who talked up how he would take us out of the European Union if he did not get tiny reforms but is now telling us we will suffer a plague of biblical proportions if we make that decision for ourselves”.

If the consequences are that frightening why was he wiling to gamble our future on such small stakes?

What will the next low blow be? Our Prime Minister has lost any dignity I thought he once had.

Sorry Ruth, I’m with the green team

Could it be that the Conservatives will push Labour into third place on May 5? A poll this week put Ruth Davidson’s blues ahead of Kezia Dugdale’s reds – the first time since 1910 that Labour will have come third in a national poll in Scotland. That would be like Hibs winning the Cup for the first time since 1902!

I know most people think I’m a Tory (although I’ve voted for many different parties over the years) – but if it came down to choosing Hibs lifting the Cup or Davidson coming second there can be no contest in my mind. The greens must trump the blues, as they surely will on May 21.

Harold brings back memories

I WAS tickled to see the photos of various May Day Miners’ Rallies held in Holyrood Park in yesterday’s Edinburgh Evening News – especially the young Harold Wilson speaking before he became Prime Minister.

It took me back to the fun the kids from my street had when the Miner’s descended every year. The nearby pubs were packed out and there were always scraps between blokes or family arguments to entertain. The numbers began to dwindle in the sixties until there were not enough to keep it going. Funnily enough Harold Wilson had a lot to answer for. It’s not well known but he closed more pits than Margaret Thatcher!

Sian does the splits... badly

THERE has been stiff competition this week for Scaremonger of the Week. Trying very hard was the Paris-based OECD with another outrageous set of economic predictions. Obviously they are still chaffing from the fact that the UK has overtaken the French economy to become the fifth largest in the world.

Then there was Tony Blair’s ex-press secretary Alastair Campbell saying Brexit helps ISIS. Controlling our own borders will make life tougher for ISIS, not easier.

But this week’s award goes to Sian Berry, Green candidate for London Mayor, who said couples made up of people from the EU and the UK could be split up. But nobody is advocating anyone already here being sent home and they would in any event be entitled to stay thanks to acquired rights from various treaties. With more Brits living in Spain and France alone, than all the EU citizens living here, the last thing any British politician would want is to become highly unpopular by forcing voters to move against their will.