Primly accoutred in a royal blue Thatcher suit, the First Minister was somewhat overdressed for the class war.
The Che Guevara of Charlotte Square had stormed the ramparts of Holyrood to decry Philip Hammond’s Budget sop to the filthy rich. The capitalist lickspittle had raised the higher income tax threshold to £50,000, feathering the nests of headteachers, senior nurses and other members of the ruling class.
‘The reality of Tory government is tax cuts for the wealthiest and cuts for everybody else. This government stands for something very different indeed,’ she said, with all the class consciousness of a woman whose grace-and-favour townhouse was just refurbished to the tune of £500,000.
Ruth Davidson was off dandling her bundle of joy, leaving Nicola Sturgeon to defend her tax policies to Jackson Carlaw. Baby Finn could have done a better job with his Fisher Price abacus.
Carlaw forwent his usual G&T effervescence in favour of stronger beer. Which delivered more money for public services — Hammond’s Budget or her Growth Commission?
Why, the Growth Commission, of course — after all, Westminster had cut Scotland’s budget by £2 billion. The Tories sputtered like Mary Whitehouse encountering her first pre-watershed ‘cobblers’. And cobblers is what it was. The First Minister’s claim was an exquisite piece of fabulism but she sold it with Oscar-worthy gusto. If we believe it, more fool us. If she believes it, God help us.
‘We are helping those at the bottom of the income scale, not those at the top,’ Red Nicola boomed. She hates high earners so much she’s decided we should have a lot fewer of them. The Conservative stance on tax would drive thousands of nurses out of the NHS, she claimed, though why the Tories would model their revenue plans on her tenure as Health Secretary is not clear.
This clenched-fist populism is the latest incarnation of Sturgeon, a politician who passionately believes in the findings of the last opinion poll she read. Her party has gone from shortbread tin centrism to Caledonian Corbynism in the time it took voters to spot the gap between its £10 rhetoric and 10p record.
After 11 years, and countless U-turns and reverses, the SNP is a clapped-out government, up on bricks, as the First Minister desperately tries to get the engine running again.
None of the latest posturing cut ice with Carlaw. He’s a former used car salesman; he knows an old banger when he sees one.
The Tory deputy leader’s tone was pungent with contempt. The Growth Commission was an ‘evangelical bible of economic misery’, the SNP ‘focused on finding the cloud in every silver lining’, and Scotland lumped with ‘a grudge-and-grievance government led by a grudge-and-grievance First Minister’.
He was firing out more spicy numbers than the local curry house and the Tory benches gobbled them up. Derek Mackay was less impressed and bounded up and down in his chair hollering vowel sounds that resembled a cow being milked with a fire hose but might well have made sense in the original Renfrewshire.
Richard Leonard — who would struggle to get recognised in his own bathroom mirror — popped up to remind us all that he’s still there. Student debt was his theme this week. It stood, on average, at £6,070 when the Nationalists came to power. Where was it now?
In lieu of an answer, we were treated to a game of Blame Bingo. Sturgeon ventured: ‘It is significantly lower than in England–‘ Bingo! ‘–significantly lower than in Northern Ireland–‘ One to go! ‘–and significantly lower than in Labour-run Wales’. Full house!
The answer was £13,200. That’s a pretty penny for a B.A. in Facebook Studies.
Leonard then took nine sentences to ask a question about total debt value.
‘There are students who started and finished degrees in the time it took Richard Leonard to ask that question,’ Sturgeon sniped.
She seldom has the answers but she does have a PhD in snark.
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Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Contact Stephen at email@example.com.