Sometimes, I think Eddie Barnes needs to get out more. There’s more hyperbole in his hyped up piece on the Secretary of State for Scotland’s speech in Edinburgh last night, than in a Scottish Labour press release. And that’s saying something.
So Mr Moore came home to Scotland and spoke unto nation, putting what he reckons were six killer questions for the SNP to answer on independence. Now, regular readers of this blog, will know that I am no slouch myself at poking hard at the SNP’s policy preparations for the independence referendum. But I do it in my spare time. Michael Moore seems to think that his stipend from the public purse gives him the right to do it as part of his day job. Funny, there was me thinking that he was being paid to represent Scotland’s interests in the UK Government, not think up questions to grab a few headlines from an over-wrought political editor.
In keeping with the game then, allow me to pose six questions for Mr Moore. I’d humbly suggest that these are the kind of things that many Scottish people, when they wake up in the night fretting, might like the highly paid Secretary of State to have a ready answer to. We’ll call them six question for our smart arse, superfluous Secretary of State for Scotland….
1. What are you doing to regulate banks more tightly so that they cannot gamble their way to riches with our money, at our expense? Indeed, just what jot of a difference have the Liberal Democrats in this unholy alliance with the Tories done to make another banking crash less likely?
2. What is your party/government doing to stop the diminishing value of the money we currently have in our pockets? Inflation is at record rates and shows no sign of dropping back. Day to day essentials – leccy, hot water, food – are soaring in cost. And thanks to your lot, what with NI rises and tax credit cuts, and pay freezes resulting from stagnation in the economy and particularly cuts in the public services, the fact is that we are currently being expected to pay more with less. Any chance of you focusing on the currency we have, rather than the one we might have at some point in the future?
3. Never mind future membership of international organisations, what about the union we’re already in – why should we stay? Explain to me what it is we get from staying in the United Kingdom? Go on, try.
4. How many soldiers, sailors, airmen, bases, budgets, big ticket defence numbers and regiments has your government cut in Scotland and indeed, across the UK since coming to power? I see the poor Ghurkas took another dunt today. Nice to see the UK government hitting the colonials before their ain. How does that square with the Lib Dem commitment to equality and parity of treatment that seemed to exercise quite a few of your lot before you climbed into bed with the Tories? Indeed, what do all the Quakers in your movement think of your obsession with all things shiny and jingoistic these days?
5. Will the current generation of workies actually get to retire? You see, in the space of a few years, the retirement age has been raised, not once but twice. Under your watch, what with the high inflation and flat interest rates and volatile investment markets, watching your pension pot is akin to being on a see-saw right now. Oh, and public sector workers are about to see theirs diminish too. We’re all in this together right? Never mind the liabilities we might have under independence, what are you doing about the ruddy great big hole in everyone’s pensions under your government that’s there right now?
6. How much do you and your wee outpost cost the taxpayer again? Somewhere in the region of £10 million annually huh? Independence would at least deliver that saving. What could we spend our bawbees on? Well, how about clothing grants for poor weans. We could increase the numbers entitled to receive a grant, also provide a one-off transition grant to help with the costs of uniform and kit for going to secondary school and increase the size of the grant from £50 to £70 a year – and still have change left in the kitty. Hmm, an ineffectual government mouthpiece who is doing absolutely nothing to protect some of the poorest in society from the savagery of Tory cuts or weans getting a decent coat to wear in the winter. Tough choice huh?