Did anyone feel a draft between the hours of 8 and 10pm last night?
Some would call it an icy blast of reality or even a breath of fresh air.
Nicola Sturgeon is without doubt what the Westminster Village calls an authentic voice. I wrote yesterday that I would have no problem with Sturgeon influencing British public policy. On last night’s evidence she would do a much better job leading the labour party than Ed Milliband.
And so will say many of the core labour voters who not only turn out and vote, but pay their union subs. They are likely to get a lot more from a labour/SNP alliance than from a Labour majority Government.
Indeed there is a part of the Liberal party , keen to realign itself with any left wing agenda that promotes investment over austerity and places welfare and the NHS over the reduction of the budget deficit.
Chilly news for the fiscally prudent
I don’t think the British public gets the public deficit but I think they can understand this graph
It shows that austerity, as practiced by the coalition Government, has not made us richer, it has made us more indebted. That big green stripey box shows just how much we have had to borrow to keep the ship of state afloat since 2008 and we are not going to be able to bring down public debt by cutting welfare cheques. To do that we are going to have to grow the economy, which is where Sturgeon sounded strong last night.
Nor do I agree that Scotland is getting a free ride. I looked up Sturgeon’s assertion that the average Scot has paid more tax than other members of the union in the past ten years and it is right. Scotland may offer its citizens free university education but that is a part of its enlightened attitude to knowledge sharing that goes back 200 years. “Go to Scotland and get wise”.
Chilly news on nuclear weapons
Where I saw Cameron shudder (and the other male debaters) was when Sturgeon called for an end to Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Cameron had earlier listed the various clubs Britain is a member of; the G8 , NATO and UN security council are dominated by nations with muscle, where muscle is not earned by the economy it is earned by weaponry.
The disaster for Cameron and the Westminster elite, were Britain to walk away from Trident would be the loss of top seats at these tables and that is something that matters much more to our grandees than we commonly imagine.
Chilly news for financial services
Pension only got one mention in the debate, a rather fanciful reference to the coalition’s securing the long-term future for generation X.Y and Z through its current policies from David Cameron.
However I could see exactly how Sturgeon would be approaching the current status quo. Her emphasis on investment in infrastructure points to a much more collective approach to the use of pension funds with fund managers giving way to investors in industry and in our national services. John Kay is a scot.
The fancy agendas of the UK financial services industry would have to survive some harsh winds from an SNP influenced left-wing Government. As a financial intermediary contemplating such a Government, I am breathing in and tightening my belt.
Did this debate change the way we will vote?
I think it will make us think about how we vote and it created real positions for the various leaders on show. It was a bad debate for one- Nigel Farage – who showed himself indecent in a number of ways. Despite a couple of spats, Clegg and Cameron look like two faces of the same coin, whether the Liberal party can stay intact I doubt, Clegg’s vision as a balance to Tory thuggery is a long way from his party’s views and his seat is now looking precarious. University Fees are going to be more an issue this parliament than Clegg may like.
The most important thing about this debate was the voice of the women, all three spoke as one and spoke for a school of thinking we have heard precious little of in the past five years.
You can see how well they did against the men.
Not only did the women speak clearly and with intellect, but they showed an empathy with the audience that suggests that the voice of the left will be heard after May 8th. I doubt that Clegg can tap into this reservoir of intent, but Milliband can. A realignment of left wing policy post election is more than likely whatever the outcome. I am sure this debate will give courage to those with an alternative view to that of the Coalition, to come out and vote.
That sounds like good good news for Labour in England, great news for the SNP in Scotland and a mixed bag for the natonal labour party.
Above all, this debate marked the arrival of Nicola Sturgeon as a major force in British politics.