It took a lot to throw my grandma off course. Married to a fisherman who lost his leg at Ypres as one of the ‘Old Contemptible’ she had to make do with a man constantly on the edge of rage at his disability. She had a way of dismissing people who made a fuss of nothing. “Jist wee yappy dugs” she would say and get on with making girdle scones or a kaolin poultice by which she swore as a cure for all ailments.
Today, I was reminded of Kate. I watched John Swinney make his half-hour budget statement and thought him competent. But when Baker, Goldie, Rennie and—later on—Gray came to make their responses, I kept seeing Kate turn her back on them as she saw to her scones or poultice. It was pitiful stuff, especially as John had not strayed into radicalism and bamboozled them with the unexpected like privatising Scottish Water to raise capital or nationalising the Crown Estates.
What IS it about unionist politicians in Scotland just now that they can articulate not one idea but are so Pavlovian in their responses that I’m thinking of applying to write scripts for them, they’re so predictable. Baker: “The Scottish Government is passing the buck onto councils.” So, it would be fair if they were protected like the NHS and the money to do that pulled off trees? Goldie: “This can hardly help business recovery, especially as there is a dearth of capital to invest in jobs.” And the UK Coalition cutting capital by 40% is OK then, is it, Annabelle? Talk about cognitive dissonance.
Best of the bunch at demonstrating why Scotland has good government at last was Iain Gray on BBC’s Newsdrive: “We should not be cutting funds to further education at a time when young people need help”. Fair enough, but where else would you cut to give more money to further education, Iain? Three times he was asked; three times he weasled back onto further education and blaming Swinney and avoided any answer that might be considered an alternative.
Surprisingly, the most credible response came from the least probable Holyrood source—the leader of the rump Lib-Dem, Willie Rennie: “They could have used the £250 million savings from the Forth Bridge for job-creating transport infrastructure but they have diverted it elsewhere. They could have looked again at the council tax freeze which gives most benefit to the richest people in the biggest houses but they didn’t.” He still didn’t say where he would cut instead but at least he put forward alternatives and stood behind proposals that could have triggered a debate.
But, as for the Labourvative leaders of this unionist ‘savaging by a dead sheep’, Kate would’ve seen them all off as: “jist wee yappy dugs.”