Monday, 8 September 2014

Memories Are Made Of This

What is scary about the Referendum caper is that none of the parties are either willing to admit or to understand that what happens on the 18th is only a beginning whatever the result.

If it were to be a No, the SNP are not going to go away and nor are all their supporters.  They will keep coming back for more and more.  Many are traditional hard Left and this is the way it works.  A defeat is the opportunity for later victory.

There are no lies and no truths other than the taking and keeping of power for the Party.  What is now and what will be will not be the same and it is the Party that will decide how the exercise of power is described and recorded.

If it is a Yes and the bandwagon begins to roll it will not get where it is going in two or three years.  There will be events.  There will be many interests who will contest fiercely both the spoils and for control of the process, laws and decisions.

It will not be polite or fair or reasonable, it could be very nasty in many ways. We will be seeing the ugly side of politics as part of the routine of disputes.  There are just too many groups, people and other states and international organisations involved to have any hope of keeping the peace.

In the local government reorganisation of 1973-1974 I was in the middle of it.  Late in '73 I was called into the Leader's office to see a small number of grim local political bosses of the new Authority in Waiting with their new Treasurer and the Chief Executive.

There was a crisis and I was the only one among the few on strength then with the know how in that field.  One of the old District authorities with only a few months left had done badly in the reorganisation, largely because of its spectacular corruption.

This District had blown all the cash.  But it had funded an outfit both known and loved nationally.  The outfit was due for an international tour within weeks.  Its collapse would be a major scandal.  So the District dumped the problem on the new authority, as yet unformed, as an act of pure spite.

It is a complicated story, but the upshot was that I produced a document the next day just in time to go to the Party Group meeting as an emergency item.  It was filled with wonderful promises and enabling clauses in a style that was readable, uplifting and where there was no small print, but some parts might be open to interpretation in the fullness of time.

It was railroaded through the political system within a week, doubters were shut up and threatened to watch it or else.  Within the Party it was not a three line whip, more the risk of a flogging by the main mast.  But many people were happy because we had promised all the goodies they wanted.

The unintended consequence was that the document became a model for others not only in the region but across the Kingdom.  In truth it was a very expensive policy but at that moment the budgets were being built on beliefs rather than figures.

It lasted about a year after vesting day in 1974 before the first cracks appeared.  Then late in 1976 the roof fell in when the Labour Government had to call in the IMF and the budgetary process for the financial year 1977-1978 became a gruesome business and the following years worse.

Nobody wanted to know so someone had to show them where the axe would have to fall.

Yes, dear reader, you may well guess who wrote the documents fingering the necks to be chopped.

By a decade later it was all as dust.

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