Helen Martin: You're just the PM, Mrs May, not Queen Boudica

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NO matter what political allegiance any of us have, no rational person can dismiss Theresa May's supporters' claim that she is in the toughest position faced by any PM. Some people (perhaps most) would describe it as a no-win situation.

She’s courageous, won’t back down, and is determined to have her own way, delivering what she insists the majority of English people voted for. A touch of Queen Boudica perhaps, once described as: “A striking looking woman, very tall, the glance of her eye most fierce; her voice harsh and her appearance terrifying.”

Both have the attitudes of a female warrior and a goal of personal leadership. There’s one big difference between them. Boudica was the Queen of the Iceni tribe in East Anglia, not an elected politician in what is supposed to be a democratic government of four countries.

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Mrs May seems to believe only English votes set the democratic agenda. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are insignificant add-ons, with the latter coming in handy when the DUP signed up to give her a majority but were easily hammered back down when it came to Brexit plans.

Theresa May acts like a warrior leader with no wish to pay attention to her enemies. Picture: PATheresa May acts like a warrior leader with no wish to pay attention to her enemies. Picture: PA
Theresa May acts like a warrior leader with no wish to pay attention to her enemies. Picture: PA

The fact that the third largest party in the UK government is focused on Scotland’s needs, and Scotland voted Remain, would (to anyone who believed in democracy) mean some sort of negotiating, discussing, persuading, relationship, even if she didn’t like where the SNP was coming from.

Instead, her Boudica traits shine through. She’s a leader, a warrior, with no wish to pay any attention to those she sees as her “enemies”. Even those in the higher echelons of her own “tribe” who disagree with her are ignored.

One major player in the creation and maintenance of democracy, is a free press, otherwise known as The Fourth Estate. Politicians and Prime Ministers should accept that part of their job is to be questioned by journalists working for titles and broadcasters across the political spectrum.

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Yet Mrs May holding a press conference in Scotland, banned the National newspaper that supports independence and, currently therefore, the Nationalist party leading the Scottish government.

Many passionate Unionists might think that’s understandable and sensible. Yet how would they react if Nicola Sturgeon held a press conference and banned The Telegraph, The Times and the Daily Mail? To be fair, Mrs May isn’t alone in ignoring Scotland’s votes, culture, needs and economy, if they don’t all match England’s. Many down south (including broadcasting companies staging debates and political coverage) think “England” and the “UK” are one and the same, so every other British country is irrelevant.

Nationalists may think Mrs May’s behaviour – and that of impassioned Unionists, also becoming more extreme than ever – is fuel and encouragement for another indyref. There could be something terrifying about that.

Look back at the horrors leading to Irish independence, and more recently at Spain’s response to Catalonia’s indyref. Would a vote for Scottish independence be democratically accepted with a political, partnership handshake, or would the troops come in, pensions be withheld, bank accounts frozen and food supplies blocked?

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The best way forward is to have a people’s Brexit vote, kick Boudica May into the long grass, restore democracy, create a law to impeach any other autocratic PM, and maybe then consider independence.

Or just brave-up and go for it now.

Have we got the pothole story?

WHEN it comes to potholes and mashed up roadways, something smells – and that’s not muddy puddles or busted exhausts.

How is it possible that the council has a £19.85m budget for road repair to be spent by March, but almost two-thirds of the work won’t be done and our local authority is hanging on to £8.35m while the craters and cracks multiply?

Critics of this mystery have called it “astonishing”, “incompetent” and “insulting”. Personally, it strikes me as “suspicious” though I’m not suggesting criminality.

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Cuts and savings on services are placed at £28m. Should that only be £19.65 with all that spare dosh unspent on road repairs? Instead, is the £8.35 a sneaky wee underspend going towards tram debt or anything else to reduce council embarrassment?

Is it really just incompetence based on councillors and officials in transport and environment going slow and not up to the job? Why then, are we paying them?

When in Edinburgh, do as the Romans do

MY tourism “soapbox” has encouraged me to find a city which is the perfect model for Edinburgh. One of the best was the official Christmas tourism site for Rome listing its events. It’s not tatty, fairgroundy, tasteless and internationally untraditional – like ours.

It’s tasteful, stylish, Italian, classy and matches the history, architecture and cultural talent of the capital.

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There are Christmas lights, nativity scenes in the Vatican, a Christmas tree in St Peter’s Square, a chocolate and Christmas market selling Italian food and crafts and there are venues around the city staging ballet, music, art exhibitions and ice dancing productions. That’s it.

Rome is about five times the size of Edinburgh with 2.4m more citizens and it’s one of the highest rated tourist destinations in the world. Doubtless its events and style attract a higher class of tourists too.

The news could be a turn-off

THE new Scottish BBC TV channel starting in February has announced its “world class”, flagship, weeknight news show. At 9pm it will compete with the best rated dramas on other channels. Not the wisest timing.