Over the last few months there’s been a lot of talk about politics here in Scotland and for the most part I’ve kept my own counsel. The best way to upset and possibly lose friends is to talk too long and too loudly about religion and/or politics. I grew up in a town where everyone (or as near as dammit) was Protestant and voted Labour. There were Catholics and Tories—and I suppose even a few Catholic Tories— but they were just odd. And then there was my lot and we were odder still.
We don't remember, at least not accurately, as I've just demonstrated. For all my father's failings he did pass on a few wise words of wisdom and the only thing about politics I’ve ever found useful. "Jimmy," he said to me one day in the kitchen, "No one votes government in; only out." Keep that in mind over the next few months. I was too young when he shared that particular insight to fully appreciate it but now I'm probably about the same age as he was when he said that to me. I get the point because I've seen several governments come and go but no one lasts that long; they only cling to power as long as the country is either ignorant of or willing to put up with the mess they're making. By the time the nation’s had enough they’ve forgotten how much of a cockup their predecessors made when they were in power and that's exactly who they vote in the next time round only to grow disillusioned with them again eight or ten years down the line. And so it goes on ad infinitum ad nauseam.
My dad, as I've suggested, was far from being the perfect father and when I was a teenager I remember saying (although I can't remember to whom), "I won't make the same mistakes my dad made. I'll make my own." And I have—some corkers. I was also not a perfect father and I indeed did make different mistakes to my own dad. Mistakes are inevitable and, although it’d be nice if we learned from them, most of the times in life we never get a do over nor do we get a second chance. People are supposed to learn by their mistakes, so we’re told. So why am I not a genius? I have one child, a daughter, and that's all I'm ever going to have. Considering my best efforts to screw her up she's actually turned out all right and I’m dead proud of her. Miracles do happen but we shouldn't count on them.
If I got to say one thing to those who came before me—parents, politicians, religious leaders—it would be this: I get it. I say that not to absolve them of blame, embarrassment, guilt or shame—because by now, if only in the privacy of their own homes, they'll have realised how badly they screwed up—but because it's true. I do get it. I can see my generation doing the same and fully expect the next generation to do the same. Maybe not exactly the same—they'll make their own mistakes—and that's how we'll end up blundering towards oblivion if we're not careful.
To prove my point let me leave you with Al Murray’s pub landlord and his potted history of British politics where he explains why every last one of them was… the WORST government ever!