Dev Lall

Disillusioned by Scotland’s political short termism

Scotland goes to the polls this Thursday (5 May). As well as the referendum on voting, we are also electing the next Scottish Parliament. This time the decision about who to vote for is harder than ever.

Each day for the last three weeks our mail has been infiltrated by an increasing amount of propaganda. Promotional leaflets adorned with smiling happy families, politicians in dire need of photo shopping and instructions on how to do an X flutter through the letterbox, diverse in their style as well as their promises.

Leaflets range from the active (we will cut crime), to the passive (we won’t charge tuition fees), the practical (polling stations open from 7am) to the downright insulting (look for my name and put a cross next to it on the lilac coloured paper). There are the tactical ones describing ‘wasted’ votes, the simple ones with a tick box list of proposed achievements and intellectual looking ones with lots of percentages.

Knowing that women in last century burned their collective bra so that I could have a vote I feel obliged to make an informed decision and place my crosses in well thought out boxes. This is harder than it seems. As in the world of celebrity, the eye catching headlines are rarely what they seem. If we could believe that council tax would stay frozen, innovative ways of properly employing young people would be effected rather than them being manipulated off the jobless count, and that education would be changed to reduce paperwork and allow teachers to teach, then that would be great.

But words are easy; following them up with hard and long-term actions is another kettle of fish. I am reminded of Katie Price ‘finally finding true love’ or Kerry Katona ‘losing 2 stones’ and think ‘here we go again’. I no longer believe what is written. I don’t believe the headline achievements will last past the next issue of the magazine and I’m beginning to feel the same way about vying political parties.

Trust has to be earned. Unless politicians have a code of conduct enforcing them to deliver all that they promised the electorate in their campaigns I will find it hard to trust any party to do what it says on the tin. In all likelihood the promises will merge into one amorphous heap with a minority government or be whittled away tit for tat in a coalition. Cynical? Perhaps, but just like celebrity love and weight loss, no one is in politics for long term benefits. Long term change for the better requires sustained effort and hard work. It involves short term hardship for long term results. It is not easy.

Short term reforms aiming for impact before the next election send us round in circles, chasing our tail with little tangible benefit in the long term.

Perhaps the people with the most to gain on 5 May are school children. Not because the elected government will shape the future they live in, but because they get yet another day off school.

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