by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Some recent Opinion Polls show that, at long last, the Tories have slipped below Labour in UK voting preferences. It seems that, although many voters were content to support the Tories despite the lies, one of the worst Covid death rates in the world, Brexit, the threat to peace In Northern Ireland, and betrayal of the people in the North of England who fell for the xenophobic promises of Brexit, it appears that the thing voters detest most is Tories enriching themselves through corrupt practices. Perhaps it is simple jealousy, but I must admit I thought most people should have understood this is fundamentally what many Tories stand for. But then, Boris Johnson’s Government have perhaps been just too blatant in their greed and utter scorn for ordinary people. Maybe voters in England have woken up at last, although those of us old enough to remember the fall of Norman Major’s Government may be feeling a sense of déjà vu at the moment. Whatever happens, it will be a short term thing because the Tories long ago captured the hearts and minds of enough voters to allow them to gain power thanks to the archaic and fundamentally undemocratic First Past The Post electoral system.

Still, some people are taking comfort from the Polls. I’m afraid I do not share that view, and there are several reasons why, not least of which is that Polls are not the same as elections.

First among my many reasons for not feeling a surge of hope is Sir Keir Starmer. It is important to give him his title to highlight the basic problem with him. His opposition to the Tories has been lacklustre at best, and behind the scenes, he has been doing his best to rid Labour of any actual socialists. He is pro-Brexit, pro-Union and generally pro most Tory policies. I can’t help feeling he is in the wrong Party, and it must be evident that it is not his leadership which has caused the rise in support for Labour. The way the electoral Establishment works, voters in England really have only two realistic choices of Party, so if they fall out with the Tories, Labour is their obvious home. All in all, then, if Labour were to gain power with Sir Keir Starmer, Knight of the Realm, as leader, I doubt very much would change. All we’d really see is more vicious attacks on the Government by the UK’s extremist media (who still masquerade as the mainstream media). Even adopting Tory Light policies won’t protect Labour from this.

The second reason I can’t get too excited about the polling data is a very practical one. There won’t be a General election for two or three years yet, and as we have seen, far too many voters cast their vote based on short-term or immediate concerns, with very little thought for the long-term future. Again, I cite the so-called Red Wall voters who actually voted in Tory MPs because they were more afraid of foreigners than the people who do actually exploit them and take away their jobs and social security benefits. This lamentable tendency to vote on short-term, populist issues means that, by the time the next General election comes around, these people will have had plenty of time to revert to type and elect a Tory Government once more.

Then there is the Boris Johnson issue. Perhaps more people are recognising him as a lying cheat who has only his own best interests at heart rather than being simply a lovable wide boy. But Boris Johnson is merely a symptom of the problem at the heart of the UK system; he is not the problem. If Tory MPs decide they’ve had enough of him making them look like stooges who will vote for anything as long as it suits their leader’s interests, then Johnson’s days as PM will be numbered. But what then? All that will happen is that the Tories will elect a new leader who will become Prime Minister without the need to go to the voters. And, while that new leader may present a different public face to the world, he will still be a tory who has been part of this Government for a few years, and who shares their aims and ambitions; i.e. he or she will be out to make themselves richer.

So even if the Polls are correct, I see little reason for cheer. The only thing that can save Scotland is to become a normal, self-governing country so that we can escape the built-in corruption and lack of democratic accountability which is the main feature of Westminster. There’s no doubt that an independent Scotland would have its own fair share of chancers in politics, and I think we could all name a few of them already. The difference is that, with a properly proportionally representative Government, we could vote out anyone who did try to pull the same tricks and cons Boris Johnson is currently getting away with.