Martin Hannan: Make them work to win your vote

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It has probably not escaped your attention that there is the small matter of the Budget tomorrow, during which the Chancellor of the Exchequer may or may not announce a cut in the 50p rate of tax.

Since it presently only applies to people earning more than £150,000 a year, I’m guessing that a lot of Evening News readers will not be paying that higher rate.

Yet you should care about it, because if he goes ahead with the cut, that Tory toff George Osborne and his Liberal Democrat chums will be declaring that this coalition government really is made up of two parties of the rich and privileged classes, and that caring for the vast majority of the UK’s population is not on their agenda.

The trouble with Budgets is that the people cannot get immediate redress. If you don’t like what the Chancellor says you can’t exactly phone him up and ask him to reverse his decision immediately. No, you have to wait to the next general election to vote his party out, by which time most sensible chancellors have come up with a bribe to make electors forget what annoyed them in the first place.

It will be 2015 and the next UK general election before the electorate can give their verdict on this Coalition. Personally, as an SNP member, I hope we Scots do not even participate in that election as I hope we will be having one of our own in a newly independent Scotland.

If, however, the UK Government is still in existence by then, I truly and sincerely hope that the Tories are beaten out of sight, though that presently seems unlikely given the Labour failure to get its act together.

More pertinently, I hope the Liberal Democrats are given the total thrashing they deserve. For it is more and more clear that they are like those bunnies in the Duracell advert who briefly run but soon collapse while the Duracell bunny – in this case David Cameron and his crew – go marching on.

Whether they were conned into the Coalition or not, the fact is that the Liberal Democrats willingly got us a Conservative prime minister and chancellor, and those two men are showing that they are hard-line Conservatives who are happy to ignore Messrs Cable, Moore and Clegg who are powerless to prevent such Tory undertakings as the ludicrous reforms of the NHS in England and Wales – thank goodness they can’t touch our Scottish health service.

The people will never forgive the Lib Dems for putting the Tories in power, and I believe this will be demonstrated much sooner than you would think, when Scotland goes to the polls in the council elections in May.

Here in Edinburgh and the Lothians, I think the Liberal Democrats will pay a very hefty price for their national disgrace. From talking to lots of local people, I just get the sense that while their support for the trams may be an issue over which there is anger, most people have no real problem with the local Lib Dems, apart from the fact that their leader in Edinburgh, Jenny Dawe, is a name which makes people do a wasp-chewing impersonation.

It has always been the curse of local politics, however, that more often than not, national politics guide how people vote.

If that is the case in May, the Liberal Democrat groups will just about cease to exist in Edinburgh and the Lothians. For the people who were prepared to vote for them as a progressive centre-left party will never again trust a party which has delivered a rightist Tory government in Westminster.

People will look at the ballot paper, see the words Liberal Democrats, think of Nick Clegg cosying up to David Cameron, and put their X anywhere else. It doesn’t help the Liberal Democrat cause that their Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, is hardly setting the heather on fire. Nor is he alone in that failure to shine.

Labour’s continuing problems nationally – and by nationally I mean the UK and Scotland – are reflected in Edinburgh where there are still deep misgivings about the new leaders. Oh, sure, they all put on a public face of solidarity when questioned, but I suspect precious few Labour candidates in Edinburgh voted for Ed Miliband or Johann Lamont. The same remark applies to the Conservatives. I would be utterly amazed if the majority of Tory candidates standing for Edinburgh City Council voted for Ruth Davidson.

All three of the major Unionist parties are also snookered over their approach to the independence issue. The problem they all have nationally is that when they talk about the referendum, they all begin to sound like each other, as no party has yet made a singular case for the Union – their very sameness could be their undoing.

Meanwhile the SNP’s distinctive case for Scotland – good leadership, proper policies, and no council tax increases – continues to be attractive to Scottish voters. My party may have one problem, however, and that is complacency.

The SNP is doing well at national level, and that should be reflected in the local vote. But it is up to the local membership to ensure success in Edinburgh and the Lothians. There can be no complacency, and every vote must be worked for. The people deserve no less.