Helen Martin: Darth May’s set to let stormtroopers loose

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‘JINGLE bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, concentrate on Santa Claus – forget Theresa May...” It might, of course, have been easier to forget about her if the vote over her Brexit deal had been carried out before now, rather than postponed so the Sword of Damocles is still swinging above our Christmas dinner tables.

Santa’s sleigh will have to ­navigate through the cloud of confusion and chaos that is now left hovering over the UK, not just about the future options of a deal, no deal Brexit, or revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU.

Will Theresa May have much to celebrate this Christmas? Picture: Getty

Will Theresa May have much to celebrate this Christmas? Picture: Getty

One of the scariest elements is the Cabinet’s plans to have 3500 armed forces personnel on standby to deal with any “disruption” following a no deal and to support government departments.

In other words, if Mrs May’s “deal” doesn’t win, she might send troops on to the streets or anywhere else to enforce her “contingency” plans. Since she is ruling out opting to stay in the EU, perhaps she really is ­preparing for fighting against a ­people’s revolution. Am I a crazy ­fantasist? Well, it really is amazing in a democratic system that a government which is more or less guaranteed to be outvoted by other members of parliament still has the power to call the shots, prevent parliament ­voting issues, force both MPs and the people of the UK into an unwanted position, and send armed soldiers out to enforce it all.

The recent showing of Star Wars movies on ITV created an alternative vision in my head for Brexit Wars. In a parliament far, far away, we have Theresa May in the role of Darth Vader (though she’d have to stop that forward-leaning lope otherwise her black helmet might fall off), Vince Cable as Yoda, Ian Blackford as Luke Skywalker (as long as he could lose a wee bit of weight), Nicola Sturgeon as Princess Leia (only a long wig and side bun plaits required), and Jeremy Corbyn as Obi-Wan Kenobi (at least he looks the part).

At least all that creates a humorous image, but most of us in Scotland see this Brexit business as severely threatening rather than funny.

It seems as if the Prime Minister’s motivation is about how she will go down in history as someone who “won” or “lost”, who triumphed or was defeated.

She insists that she doesn’t want to know what the people in the UK feel, now they have a realistic idea of what leaving the EU means, rather than the lies they were fed resulting in a Brexit vote two years ago. And that’s despite her vote to Remain.

There is no logic to her intransigence. Despite her claim to want her “precious union”, she has encouraged more Scots to vote for independence and even encouraged Unionist DUPs to vote against her.

It is almost impossible to understand where she is coming from and why she thinks a bad deal or no deal is better than at least including abandoning Brexit in a people’s vote.

For some people, Christmas dinner could be the focus of divisive family arguments and Brexit rows. For others, an agreement to ban the topic might work. For those who have a united view across generations, it will at least be a Happy Christmas Day – but a scary New Year looming!

Economy drive would be a public service

THE City of Edinburgh Council is now £39 million short for next year. And it’s already been identified by the Government as providing the lowest funding of any Scottish local authority at £1426 per person.

This may not have been the case if we hadn’t been hammered by tram debt and it’s now obvious the planned extension can’t go ahead.

But nor can more cuts in services be made. Essential services are the only reason the council exists.

It’s time the council itself economised. Fewer managers, reassessment of fat salaries, fewer councillors (we don’t need four for each ward), more frontline service staff, no excessive “consultancy” fees, no unnecessary projects, no fact-finding trips, no lavish publicly-funded events – nothing but public services.

Don’t sell off the Capital’s culture

CONFLICT of interest is a complex issue to figure out sometimes. Personally, I think it might apply to the employment or “roles” of Gordon Robertson, the chairman of Marketing Edinburgh, who is committed to the endless growth of tourism and who is also director of communications at Edinburgh Airport.

Some would say there is certainly no “conflict”, as for both, he clearly believes the more the merrier, whether that’s airline passengers arriving or departing from the airport, or tourists in the city.

But while the airport providing Scottish access wants to grow and grow, the Capital struggles with volume. Many people (such as me) see “marketing” as a rather more sophisticated job than simply selling. It should be about promoting the culture of the city – not changing it. It should be attracting those who appreciate and understand its quality, not just increasing head count and drowning its character.

“Sales and marketing” is a description for some jobs which need both skills. A salesman is not enough.

Banks must be held to account

SANTANDER failed to deal with deceased customers’ accounts depriving more than 40,000 families of inheritance for as much as 20 years. It took them two years after discovery to even inform the Financial Conduct Authority. Bank regulation is a sick joke.