The old saying a week is a long time in politics could never have been truer

Monday October 31st 2022

Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament Main

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View

The old saying a week is a long time in politics could never have been truer. In fact, in the course of a few months let alone weeks we have seen the door of No 10 revolving more than our planet as we embark on our third Prime Minster let alone, Chancellors of the Exchequer.

We could enjoy this as a reprise of the Yes Minster comedy (if you recall it) but this is no laughing matter. As a result of Trussonomics a bad economic situation became and remains dire. The cost of living, shopping, spirals, mortgages are on an upward trajectory with heating costs. Eating or heating is more than a slogan.

Now while the Scottish government with its limited borrowing powers has provided support through the Child Payment-rising to £25 per week for every child under the age of 16 in qualifying households from mid-November, is providing free school meals for every child from P1 to P5, freezing private rents, free bus travel for under age 22 and over 60, free prescriptions, it can only go so far in mitigating economic pressures outwith its control.

It has a fixed budget, fixed when inflation was at 5%. Indeed every understandable call for pay in creases from the public sector to match at least 10% inflation eats into budgets delivering health, education, justice and so on. So it’s tough and it’s going to get tougher. Jeremy Hunt with Rishi Sunak at the tiller is delivering a mini budget mid November. On the cards are tax rises, benefit stagnation and abandoning the triple lock on the state pension. Triple lock? That is the Tories manifesto commitment to increase that pension by inflation, earnings or 2.5% whatever is the highest. This is pure speculation but as many of the Tory members and voters are in that pension group that might, though I emphasise, might, be kept or there might be a small compromise.

I don‘t prophesy the same for Universal Credit and reinstating the £20 cut. By the way most people on UC are working. So it won’t be “In the Bleak Mid Winter” so much as bleak November.

Now the Tories would want you to put all this down to Ukraine and yes, it is a factor. Add in the impact of covid and yes that is a factor. But Brexit has damaged the UK economy to the tune of billions and then last but certainly not least, the mismanagement of the UK economy over the 12 years of Tory government. There was no slack, there are no savings in the bank account of UK plc. Everything is on credit. Without international loans we are down the Swannee without even a canoe let alone a paddle.

Now we did not vote for any of this. Six Tory MPs, Four Lib/Dems, One labour and 45 SNP. We did not vote for Brexit. We voted 62% Remain. We did not vote for Liz or Rishi. Time for democracy. Time for a General Election.

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