Britain is in mourning after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
It was a strange feeling on Thursday. So many times we’d heard about the Queen’s health in recent weeks and months but she always seemed to pull through. A lot of people felt that reflected her tenacity and determination as a character, not to mention the tireless appetite to serve our nation within her role to the best of her capabilities. A real grafter.
There are mixed opinions about her up in Scotland, like anywhere, in fairness, with such a huge public figure.
Although it was unclear come the 70s and 80s whether this carried on, it was brought to light in the news that Archives found documents outlining the Queen’s desired exemption from discrimination laws. Buckingham Palace didny want “ethnic minorities or foreigners” working in clerical roles.
Alongside alleged remarks she made about ‘people of colour’ in the interest of comedy, there was the revelation in March 2021 that made the characterisation of racist royals stick with some people. The Duchess of Sussex, the family’s first mixed-race member, spoke openly about her suicidal thoughts after alleged concerns were expressed by the family about her child’s skin colour.
In many ways, she was let down by her family. The scandal with Andrew needs no introduction and Charles, our new King, was a serial cheater who treated beloved Diana like she's worthless. Things that made us forget the Queen’s efforts to modernise the British state despite her relentless passion for tradition… like the relaxing of marriage rules or opening up to her family’s struggles through her grandchildren’s mental health organisation ‘Heads Together.’
She also came from a time most of us can’t even imagine let alone remember, and a lot of people don’t appreciate how difficult that can be for people. Aye, she mibbe slung a few racist remarks aboot but if you canny hink of an older family member of your own that’s done the same then yer probably kidding yersel on. A family member who you unconditionally love, or have loved, despite their flaws.
And I’m no condoning it if she did… far from it. I’m saying gee the lassie a yard like you perhaps would others.
But it was her tireless efforts to serve Great Britain that united politicians on Thursday… a real mark of respect right across the board.
It was a strange day as we all waited for what felt like inevitable news… and rightly so, politics and everything else were put aside.
If you did miss what went on in Parliament… here’s the patter:
The Scottish Government cranked up the beef on Tuesday on the cost of living crisis. They upped the child payment to £25 and expanded the free school meals plan.
The price of rail fares was also frozen… which although is positive, some will be reading this hinkin ‘f*ckin right’ wae how much some journeys cost. The often-cited trip along the central belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow is one that leaves folk seething.
But a positive nonetheless… and it’s a decision the Scottish government can make after nationalising our railways. Something that’s come in handy already wae sorting out the rail strikes a lot quicker than our counterparts down south.
And yet it was bittersweet news… an emergency budget to help people may sound like music tae ears but it also meant cuts will be hapnin elsewhere. This wasny specified, rather mentioned as a word of warning.
A familiar cry that the Conservatives have had enough of… and leader Douglas Ross did not hold back this week. He wasny buying the sympathy vote. Indeed, budgets are fixed by Westminster meaning tough decisions have to be made on how money is best spent… but Ross asked Sturgeon not to play the victim. He argues that it’s because of monumental mistakes made by the Scottish Government that there’s a lack ae funds. Like the massively overpriced ferries linking the Hebrides, to which nationalising has cost the public purse £250m, 12 times over the initial budget. Or the independence referendum, which to some folk is entirely needless, costing us £20m.
The First Minister replied that although she regretted the government taking on a project in which prior, unidentified mistakes would lead to inflated costs, she would not apologise for the hundreds of Scottish jobs saved on Ferguson Shipyard as a result. Nor is she willing to go against the voice of the electorate, with a majority of votes in the last Scottish General Election going to independence-supporting, referendum-promising parties. The Parliament’s recess, as you’ve probably already gathered, did noubt to freshen up the conversation between these pair.
We did, however, get what wouldae been the unthinkable 6 months ago… Anas Sawar was in a surprisingly kind way when speaking to the First Minister and her Government (at least by Labour’s standards).
This came fae a part of the cost of living announcement Labour were in tune wae… protection of tenants during this difficult time.
The Scottish Government announced that rent prices will be frozen until (at least) Spring next year, a period during which landlords will also be banned fae evicting tenants.
Sturgeon called the cost of living crisis a “humanitarian emergency” that will cost lives, so measures to protect the most vulnerable were absolutely necessary.
Sawar essentially said aye batter on hen… any chance you can extend it tae after March?
Scottish Greens’ Ross Greer has been heavy vocal about this. He’s said that rent has been gawn up well over the rate of inflation for a while now and it’s about time tenants get some protection.
Murdo Fraser, a voice of the Scottish Conservatives and a stalwart in the debate of Scottish politics on Twitter, couldny agree less. He stuck up for landlords who also have rising costs, who he thinks will be pressed to sell their property as a result. He argues it will upset the natural flow of supply and demand in the marketplace.
Greer doubles down despite these criticisms... saying landlords have been threatening these concerns about supply for decades and it’s simply not happened. The far healthier financial state they find themselves in makes the protection of tenants a no-brainer to the Greens.
Sawar was also welcoming of Sturgeon's attitude towards what SNP are calling the ‘Truss Tax’… which brings us back a day previous to Prime Minister’s Questions.
Our new PM has won over the hearts of Conservatives with her dogged, uncompromising strive to cut taxes. So, you wouldny think her first move as PM would be a massive government intervention… but it was.
As energy bills have spiralled out of control & fat cat company owners sit on ludicrous extra profit, folk have been crying out for the government to do something about this.
& Truss has weighed in with a biggie. She’s forcing a cap on energy prices at £2,500 for two years, meaning the average household will be paying no more than just over 200 sheets a month.
A year ago, you’d be chicken cajun at the prospect of paying 150% over the odds… but with projections saying it could rise to £5,300 by January, you’d bite a hand off for this.
So what’s the fuss about? Surely everyone’s sound wae this…
Fierce debate has come fae asking who is paying for this.
Yer Labours, SNPs, Greens are aw saying hud on a second here, if the fat cats are making ridiculous excess profits then surely they’ll be picking up the tab?
The key word there is ‘excess’ anaw… as in, the sum of money they’re getting on top of, already, massive profits.
Truss is saying naw let’s shove it on the Credit Card. We’re no borrowing as much as yer USAs n that the now anyway so might as well. What we dinnae want to do is put off investment in our country that’ll bring us out of economic crises. These are the folk that are gonna be investing in our future transitioning to a greener planet. We canny “tax our way to growth” as she hurled back at Sir Keir Starmer.
And this is what Ian Blackford and the SNP branded the ‘Truss Tax’… ie instead of asking stinkin rich oil companies to help us out, tax-paying citizens will have tae graft on and slowly pay this back over decades to come. A ‘tax’ on regular people instead of the windfall of extra profits made by big corporations.
Truss appeared calm and confident in her first outing at PMQs… she clamped down on Blackford’s arguments by suggesting his party support her government in renewed calls for oil fracking and investment in nuclear energy to sort the crises… something FM Sturgeon ruled out at FMQs the day after.
Probably a position Truss expected… but this didny stop her mocking Blackford by asking how he can be so pro-taxation of oil companies whilst also telling them to shut up shop and make way for renewables only.
In other news, political editor Glenn Campbell suffered mare pressure about his impartiality after debatable coverage of the rent freeze. Alongside a wildly unbalanced article which failed to report two sides of the coin on views held by tenants…
…many felt a policy welcomed by most MSPs was undeserving of definitively damning Tweets such as these…