Well, With seven days to go to polling day in British General Election 2015, we have entered Wobbly Week. So, I'll give my tuppence-worth by way of overview.
The row of the day appears to revolve around Danny Alexander, the LibDem Minister responsible for spending plans. For which read, spending cuts. He has released a private Minister's Memo, from about three years ago, in which Iain Duncan-Smith, the Conservative Minister responsible for welfare spending. For which read, welfare spending cuts. Suggested £8 billion in cuts to child benefits and child tax credits.
Now, you know me. Hate to be the cynic. Never engage in inappropriate humor. But, am I missing something?
First, Danny, whom I admire, should know better. You don't reveal private Ministerial Memo's. All sorts of weird and whacky what-ifs get floated in these Memo's. We ask our pols to think outside the box. They can only do so if all involved agree confidentiality. However. It's an election. Meh.
Secondly, this Memo was from three years ago. It was tossed out by the Tories at the time. And they have immediately gone on the record now as saying, ain't gonna happen.
Of course, we've all stopped believing anyone anyway. So. The upshot is, it probably will happen. So, all that is important is, will it make a difference?
Well, duh. After the Autumn Statement on Public Spending, made by George Osborne last, well, Autumn, the world and the Daily Mirror all screamed, OMG, Osborne's welfare cuts will return Great Britain's social safety net to the time of the dinosaurs. And we're talking velociraptors. Not those cute bronto ding-dangs, that appear with half-naked Raquel Welch.
What happened? Nothing. Nada. Not a blip in the polls. Same thing when George hit us again with news of welfare cuts in his Budget speech in March. And again when the Tory Manifesto was released a couple of weeks ago. With the further hysterical pronouncement that the Tories weren't going to explain where their proposed £12 billion in welfare cuts were going to be made. Um. Welfare?
Why the gigantic British yawn? Because people don't care. They got it. They get it. Labour ran the bill up too high. Time to pare it down. Folks know this. All of the in-depth polling suggests they support it.
So, there's this huge non-row because Danny has released a Memo which suggested where £8 billion of those cuts might be made. Three years ago. A Memo which was rejected.
Frankly, I'm reminded of the dentist who annoyingly tells me that sticking a needle into my gums isn't going to hurt. Of course it's going to hurt. Welfare cuts are going to hurt. But when a Labour supporter comes rushing in and screams at me, don't do it, don't let him take out that rotting tooth, 'cos the needle will hurt, I really don't take a lot of notice. And I suspect the polls won't either.
On which subject, IPSOS-MORI today have the Tories five points ahead of Labour. Oh. That's why the child benefit hysteria? Ok.
Meanwhile. And I saved it to the end. On the subject of not believing denials. I told you so. Yes. I. Did. Alex Salmond's Deputy Leader lets slip that, yes, the SNP will have as the first line in its manifesto for the Scottish elections next year a promise to demand a second independence referendum.
As I have stated previously, I expect David Cameron, to go all constitutional on us next week, post the Westminster Election, and announce that, if he is Prime Minister, and the Scottish Government demand it after their 2016 election, he will grant a second independence referendum. In return for the SNP in Westminster not voting in any motions of no confidence in the UK Parliament, until the second referendum is held.
Well. Since I'm here. Let me take it all a step further. Subject to the electorate not getting the jelly-wobbles and deciding that they can't possibly vote Tory after all, 'cos they really, really want those child benefits, I expect the Tories to be the largest party next Friday, but short of an overall majority. I also expect Labour to be unable to form a minority government, without the tacit support of SNP. Which they may not be able to do if the LibDems truly stick to their current position of not doing deals with SNP or UKIP (cf. #weliethroughourteethallofus).
Watch for Cameron quite pompously requesting to see all party leaders, in order of their party's representative strength in Parliament. Then, about a week later, watch for a total barnyard-breaker. An agreement between the Tories and Labour.
Once all the politics have died down. When the LibDems and Labour are up to their ears in internecine warfare. I suspect Cameron will take a deep breath and realize, the union is gone. There is no way anyone can continue to govern out of Westminster with the total mess there will be, with SNP ruling the roost the length and breadth of Scotland, no kind of separate assembly for the English, and all manner of inconsistencies in the way the various regions of the United Kingdom are governed.
I think he will realize, and pretty much all of the parties will finally agree, that a new constitutional settlement is required.
Look for a grand coalition of Tory and Labour. Alan Johnson as Deputy Prime Minister. Liam Byrne taking Danny Alexander's role. Tax rises off the agenda. Welfare cuts off the agenda. Other reforms stay in place. £8 billion into the NHS each year, regardless. A cross-party team to negotiate with Europe. A formal constitutional conference. Referendums on the outcome and on Europe in 2017. Time-table for new elections for all of the constituent parts to follow within a year.
Something like that. I mean. Why not? Think weird. Apparently, everyone else is today ...