We are in a financial crisis which has been going on for more than a year. It is remarkable that, in all that time, no political leader has had anything much to say about it. In the United States, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama appears to have any understanding of what is going on. Over here, Gordon Brown’s supposed gift for economic analysis seems to have deserted him. One hears phrases like ‘the fundamentals are sound’, and trembles. David Cameron, pursuing the favourite strategy of keeping his party away from bad news, acknowledges the gravity of the situation without proposing remedies. It may be the right tactic, when in a hurricane, to lie as low as possible and wait for it to pass, but big political rewards do come to those who, people believe, have successfully diagnosed and treated economic malaise. That is why people have heard of FDR and Margaret Thatcher, and tend not to remember Warren Harding or John Major. At present, the only British politician with a reputation for economic thinking is Vince Cable, which makes one feel there is a gap in the market.
Under its leader from Kirkcaldy, the Labour party has become a thing of ill omen. Just as Macbeth is superstitiously known as ‘the Scottish play’, I feel it would be safer to refer to Labour from now on as ‘the Scottish party’.
On BBC One’s magazine programme The One Show last week, I happened to watch an item celebrating ‘the Taggart of the wildlife world’. He is DC Dave Mackinnon, and from his police station in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, he scours the Scottish landscape for ‘wildlife crime’. On the day The One Show visited, DC Dave was pursuing reports of a dead buzzard. Buzzards are a very common species of hawk, so you would think that not a day passes without a dead one being found somewhere in the Grampians, but off sped the detective, the television cameras and another police car with a second officer to assist.