Fear Is The Key – A Cunning Plan

In 1961 Alastair Maclean wrote his novel ‘Fear is the Key’ set in the Caribbean. It was a great read, like all Maclean’s early works. I was an avid reader of his stories. He had been an English teacher in the school across the road from our house. I felt he was someone worth listening to.

His message has been listened to again, after all these years, and by David Cameron of all people. Fear has become the key strategy of the Tories in this election and it could well be a winner. Like all the best strategies it is both simple and cunning. Churchill once said of the secret services that truth must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. Strangely enough the lies must be protected by a bodyguard of truth. Confused? That’s the whole idea!

The polls show that Labour and Tories are neck and neck. That’s remarkable considering the damage that Osbourne’s policies have done to the UK economy. Neither party has the promise of an outright victory. How can the government survive? A good general knows how to use the forces he has to concentrate fire on the enemy’s weakest point. He knows that if he can force his enemy to split his forces then he will win.

The Tories have chosen a diversion plan. Cameron talks of the danger posed by the SNP. They pose the greatest threat since the abdication, apparently. Even John Major has been rolled out and dusted down to proclaim the message. But what threat do the SNP pose to the Tories? The SNP are only contesting seats in Scotland and the Tories only have one to lose in Scotland; why the panic?

Panic is what it is about. Convincing the Scottish electorate that he is afraid of the SNP might drive many Scottish voters to turn to the Nats to hit the Tories hard. This can only hit Labour seats and reduce the Labour strength in the UK Parliament.

The same message plays differently in England. By highlighting the possibility of the SNP forcing a Labour government to go way left of their current position and forcing Scottish claims ahead of the needs of English voters he hopes to gain seats in England at the expense of Labour (the SNP don’t have any seats in England).

He hopes to force Labour to attack the SNP position to defend their seats in Scotland, drawing fire away from Tory policies. The question is, will it work? There seems to be evidence that voters are turning from Labour to the SNP. If they manage to take a large number of seats from Labour then the Tories will surely end up as the largest party. What happens then? As we saw last time, a minority Tory party was able to cobble together a coalition which enabled them to take power and wreck the economy. The poorest have suffered most while the richest few seem to have doubled their wealth.

Could this happen again? I think so. When we have an undecided result then all bets are off. Those who say they will not support the Tories can claim that it is in the interests of the country that we have a government that can have a majority in the house. The Tories will be back and in the words of Adolph Hitler when asked to come out of hiding in Argentina to take over Germany in the seventies, “This time there will be no more Mister Nice Guy!”

This is a Difficult Business

I recently joined the Labour Party. I got my official Party card yesterday. I suppose that makes me a card carrying Party member, if I actually carry the card. Why did I do this? Am I a political animal with my sights set on taking power in some local council or even reaching the heights of political power? Well, no I’m not and I’ve avoided joining a political party all my life. I have always voted Labour and I’ve never made any secret of that. I have been put off the Nationalist cause all my life for some strange reasons, the Tories are, in my opinion, an abomination and the Libs (Dem or otherwise) I find mediocre and not to be trusted.

Some might expect me to have Nationalist sympathies and in some contexts I have. My grandfather smuggled guns for Michael Collins and faught in the Irish Civil War. He put me off Nationalism. He was willing to die for Ireland’s freedom but told me he didn’t go there to kill Irishmen. The Irish Troubles which resulted in the Ireland we have today were necessary and, perhaps, inevitable. What happened after the handover still hangs over Ireland like an enormous skeleton in the cupboard. There are beautiful places in Ireland which have an uneasy feel about them. Bad things happened there; things that had nothing to do with Ireland’s freedom.

I find myself more of an internationalist. I think that people all over the world are basically the same. We all need the same basic things to survive. Some people are terribly disadvantaged. Africa is an extreme example of this . It has wonderful natural resources but has been plagued by a history of colonialism. Europe is now plagued by people flooding in from Africa, looking for a better life. Who can blame them? People from Scotland have moved to all parts of the world with the same aim in mind. Surely what we need is a world where all people have the basic necessities of life.

I’ve visited people who live in mud huts and send beautifully dressed children to school, clean and tidy. I’ve visited people who spend most of their day finding clean water or firewood to prepare food for their children. We are all linked together. We can not ignore the plight of others either out of love for our fellow man or fear of how they will affect us. Nationalism runs contrary to this. It is all about what we can have for ourselves. It is dressed up in the clothes of Scottish history, heroes and battles but that is all smoke and mirrors. It’s all about greed.

My difficulty now is having a vote in the contest for Leader and depute of the Scottish Labour Party. I’m new to all this and I don’t really know the people involved. They all seem to be good people and I would find myself on their side. So who do I vote for? In the end I voted for Neil Findlay and Kety Clark. Why?

Well, it all came down to their history. Both candidated have worked in other fields befor entering politics. Personally, I think that we have too many politicians who have never been outside the world of politics and I thought it was time we had people who knew something of the outside world actually running it. It was difficult because I like all the candidates but that’s how my votes have been cast. I wish all the candidates well and hope for nothing les than a Labour government in Westminster and the SNP having to face up to the truth about their administration in Holyrood. I also have a Euromillions ticket running on Friday.


Old Van, Old Flag – What’s the Problem?

House with flags

Something wrong?

Emily Thornberry has resigned her post as shadow minister as a result of posting this picture in a tweet. Many in the Labour Party are shocked. What a disgrace!

But what is the problem with the picture? It shows a house with the flag of Saint George draped over the windows. It shows a white van. Which of these is disgraceful? Is it the proximity of the flag to the van, implying that Saint George was a white van driver? It is a picture with no comment attached.

It is a picture of how it is. The occupier has every right to fly his flags on his house. His white van is only one of the myriad white vans delivering stuff all over the country and enabling people to ply their trade. Some say it is snobbish. I think it is just how it is.

The occupier is not shy about proclaiming his views (and showing his flags) so I can’t see any problem about causing offence. What is the problem with the Labour Party? I have recently joined the party after a lifetime of voting Labour. I’m not anti Labour but I do question what the politicians are focussing on. There are lots of problems to be sorted out and there are lots of voters who need to be persuaded that Labour recognises what is important.

Flags and white vans? Some people have too much time on their hands.