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SNP 56 face huge task opposing most right wing Tory government in years.

This is shaping up as the most right-wing Conservative government since 1979 when Margaret Thatcher took over from the ruins of the Callaghan administration. As happened then, Labour has retreated into a period of self-doubt and division and seems eager to turn the clock back to the days of New Labour.

This means that Labour may be in no position to provide vigorous opposition to the Tory policies on welfare, privatisation, immigration, human rights and protection of trades unions. In fact, if the followers of Tony Blair get their way, we might hear its spokespeople promising – as Rachel Reeves did last year – to be tougher on benefits policy than the Tories. The UK party may also support new anti-terror laws and be relaxed about market reforms in the NHS.

Worryingly, there aren’t even the moderating voices any longer in the Conservative Party – the “wets” as they used to be called in Thatcher’s day, such as George Younger and Jim Prior – who offered some kind of a check on the ambitions of the right. It’s not that kind of Tory Party any more.

Part of the problem is that the Conservatives never really expected to win an outright majority. They probably assumed that some of the harder edges of their policies would be rubbed off in coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats. But they are now off the leash.

The manifesto pledge to outlaw increases in income tax, national insurance and VAT will presumably be implemented even though this could force still deeper cuts in public spending.

The promise to introduce “English votes for English laws” will have to be honoured somehow, though the Scottish MPs will oppose any attempts to exclude them from nominally “English” legislation, such as tax changes in the Budget, that have a financial impact in Scotland.

David Cameron has made his intentions regarding Scotland pretty clear by installing Margaret Thatcher’s former poll tax adviser, Andrew Dunlop, as a minister in the Scotland Office. Dunlop isn’t an MP, so he had to be ennobled first. Installing an unelected right-wing peer in the “government in exile” in the Scotland Office is a red rag to the SNP, and Cameron knows. it.

I tweeted in jest last Thursday that he was about to ennoble the Scottish businesswoman Michelle Mone (who said she would leave if Scotland voted Yes) to join the Scotland Office team. Not a few people took it seriously. Such are the times.
FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/britain-is-on-the-brink-of-becoming-the-most-pitiless-right-wing-nation-in-europe.126235896

About @iainmacwhirter

I'm a columnist for the Herald. Author of "Road to Referendum" and "Disunited Kingdom". Was a BBC TV and radio presenter for 25 years - "Westminster Live" and "Holyrood Live" mainly. Spent time as columnist for The Observer, Guardian, New Statesman. Former Rector of Edinburgh University. Live in Edinburgh and spend a lot of time in the French Pyrenees. Will that do?


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