Friday, 9 July 2010
The return of the Baron!
Last night I watched some of Question Time from Edinburgh - I am not a fan of this format, so only watched some of it. However it was intriguing to note - amongst the weel kent faces chosen to represent most parties - Shadow SofS for Int Development; Deputy First Minister; Sec of State for Scotland - who the Tories had representing them. The unelected and (for a considerable while) unheard of, Baron Forsyth of Drumlean - yes it was Michael Forsyth!!
A distinctly odd choice to represent a party that is discussing how it can rid itself of its ‘unelectable in Scotland’ tag, Forsyth was Thatcher’s Gauleiter in Scotland - her defender of the Poll Tax, and PFI. He was ennobled when they lost the 97 election and went into a sort of Conservative purdah - not active or commenting on politics during Hague, Howard or Duncan Smith’s leaderships. Yet here he is, commenting on behalf of the Tories again! What can it mean?
Do the Tories a) want to remind everyone in Scotland of the Thatcher years? b) Think an ‘elder statesman’ gives their position gravitas? or c) Think everyone in Scotland will have forgotten his history? Was he perhaps parachuted in over the heads of the Scottish party (and David Mundell)? And what of Forsyth himself? It was widely understood at the time of his defeat, that he had let it be known he would not be active politically again. His reappearance raises questions about that - did the Tories deliberately cut him adrift, and is he now back in favour?
In any case his revival can only hole the Tory myth about ‘a new party’, well below the water line. To accept the kind of political ‘new brutalism’ that Forsyth espouses, as the public line from your party means that the New Tories can only be a retread of the Thatcherites and don’t mind that being known, (and incidentally that Forsyth thinks so too!).
They, however, have very little left to lose in Scotland. The same cannot be said of their ConDem partners - represented last night by Michael Moore (no not the good one!). Quite frankly he looked the most uncomfortable, and the barracking that his repetition of the LibDem excuse for cuts (honest, it was worse than we thought) got, suggests that Tavish Scott and other Scottish LD MSPs are right to be looking nervously over their shoulders at 2011.
A brief mention of Ed Byrne is in order too. Why is it that the very sensible position, that public spending cuts are not only not essential, but in fact damaging at this time, was left to a comedian to make? The fact that he made the point very well, does not hide the paucity of the debate from mainstream politicians. ‘The main problem with the Labour government was that it was too like the Tories.’ Too right, Ed - too right.