Aberdeen Donside by-election and two once mighty teams

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In 1983 I, like many other Scots sat glued to the TV as one of the finest teams Scotland has ever produced won one of Europe’s premier trophies.
 
The iconic image of Willie Miller one handedly holding the European Cup-Winners Cup aloft is a reminder of better days for the Dons who went on to win the Super Cup that same season, defeating Hamburg who had won the European Cup – the forerunner to the Champions league.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In 1983 I, like many other Scots sat glued to the TV as one of the finest teams Scotland has ever produced won one of Europe’s premier trophies.
 
The iconic image of Willie Miller one handedly holding the European Cup-Winners Cup aloft is a reminder of better days for the Dons who went on to win the Super Cup that same season, defeating Hamburg who had won the European Cup – the forerunner to the Champions league.

Aberdeen were, at that time, the finest team in Europe.

They no longer are of course, and when the people of Donside go to the polls on Thursday, the Gothenburg triumph won’t feature much in their deliberations.

However before they decide where to cast their vote, the Aberdeen Donside folk might reflect on today’s Aberdeen team and acknowledge that although the glory days of Gotheburg may be past … at least for now … the Dons still go out and play with conviction and honest endeavour.  The ethos and spirit that led to the famous cup win has not diminished.

These same voters may also like to reflect on another team for whom the past brought more success than the present.

The Labour party, like the Dons, also regularly vanquished opponents in the eighties.  Tory, Liberal and the SNP were routinely thumped by the other ‘red machine’.

In those days of course, Labour MPs and local councillors could be relied upon to uphold the party’s founding principles – the working man and woman trusted them.  However, over the years those principles have been slowly eroded.  The Labour party of today would shock many who were alive back then and who have sadly passed.

The party of the poor has become the party of the rich.

In an attempt at making themselves more appealing to the middle class voter of the English suburbs, Labour have become the very thing they were set up to stand against. 

Who would have believed that in 2013, a Scottish Labour leader would describe the well-earned and well deserved benefits enjoyed by pensioners and sick people as “something for nothing”.  Yet that is exactly how Johann Lamont described free bus travel for pensioners, free personal care for the elderly and free prescriptions.

Lamont was merely parroting the line fed to her by London, where the Labour party has decided to try to outdo the Tories.  Vote for Labour in 2015, promises Ed Miliband, and Labour will keep the cuts imposed by the Tories.

Nothing will change by voting Labour.  For the first time in living memory the two parties who have for decades, routinely swapped power, will both be pledging to impose the same cuts.

Illegal wars, nuclear weapons and the Bedroom tax are all favoured over free tuition, free prescriptions and care for the elderly.  The proud principles of the old Labour party have disappeared.

In Scotland the party have policies that change depending on what city they are campaigning in.  Campaign in Glasgow and they will boast of their five year council tax freeze pledge.

Campaign in Aberdeen and they will call for the council tax freeze to end.

It’s the same with free education which was Labour’s manifesto policy in the run-up to the 2011 Scottish election.  Many Labour MSPs signed a student campaign pledging not to introduce tuition fees.  One was Aberdeen Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald and another was leader of Aberdeen City Council Barney Crocket.  Both were joined by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

Immediately after the Scottish election, Labour ditched the pledge in much the same way as they now attack free prescriptions despite initially backing the policy.

The party has lost its soul and now regularly treats Scottish voters, including those who live in Donside, with contempt.

The Donside campaign has witnessed Labour candidate Willie Young continually accuse the SNP of ‘ripping off’ Aberdeen.  However when faced with a similar by-election in Glasgow, Labour accused the SNP of giving Aberdeen too much money, claiming that Glasgow was being ‘ripped off’.

 

That there has been so much spent in the central belt is down to Labour who, as the largest opposition party after the 2007 Scottish election, joined with the Tories to force half a billion pounds to be wasted on the Edinburgh trams.

Where was Labour’s concern for motorists stuck on the Haudagain roundabout then?

There would have been even more money wasted had the SNP not scrapped another Labour party demand which would have seen £200 million wasted on the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL).  That decision resulted in the Labour party accusing the SNP of being anti-Glasgow.

Labour attacks on Aberdeen are well chronicled.

In the Evening Times of 1st December 2009 Glasgow Labour City Council’s Gordon Matheson suggested Aberdeen was being favoured in spending:

“If we had received the same percentage increase as SNP-controlled Aberdeen, we would have had a further £25 million to spend.”

On Labour MP Willie Bain’s website during the Glasgow North East by-election he said the following:

“They [SNP] have given extra money to Edinburgh and Aberdeen but ignored Glasgow.”

In the Evening Times of 17th September 2009 Labour claimed Aberdeen council was getting more money:

“The leader of Glasgow City Council has written to Glasgow’s Labour MSPs expressing his outrage at the Scottish Government plans to give additional cash to councils in the north east…

“…He said the cash for Aberdeen was a reward for failure.”

At Westminster, Labour when in power did all they could to ‘rip off’ the whole of Scotland. 

Gordon Brown’s Labour government infamously refused to hand Scotland the three hundred million pound fossil fuel levy.  Despite the money belonging to Scotland, it remained in a London bank account untouched until the Tory/Lib Dem coalition reluctantly handed over half of it.

When the SNP proposed an alternative to the council tax, the UK Labour government threatened to withhold £500 million from the Scottish block grant.

In June 2007, shortly after the SNP won the Holyrood election by one seat, the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling confirmed that the Labour government would not be committing to a carbon storage project at Peterhead.  The North East plant lost out on an estimated £1bn funding.

The project at Peterhead would have been the first industrial scale project in the world to combine three separate technologies – hydrogen production, power generation and carbon capture and storage – to generate electricity using hydrogen from natural gas … six years on Scotland is still waiting.

Last week Sir Alex Ferguson urged local people in Donside to use Thursday’s by-election to send a message ahead of the independence referendum.  Most voters will know that the best time to register their opinion on independence will be in 2014.

However if the by-election is to be used to send any message, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send it to the Labour party to let it know that Scottish voters will not be taken for fools.

If Labour suffer a significant loss on Thursday, it might yet persuade those in charge of the party in Scotland to move away from the right wing policies being pursued by its leaders down south and to return to its honest working class roots.

A vote for today’s Labour party is a vote that will be used to cut the benefits of some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland.

That’s the real rip off.