Saturday Breakfast with the Voles, Svein asks, ‘Why do people hate the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Daddy?


Since Svein upset Mr. Carmichael by asking questions he has become very interested in politics. This morning, it being Sunday, we had a conversation on about the News. Mrs. Vole joined in. She thinks children should know about these things. 

He asked us “why do Scottish people hate the Liberal Democrats now?’

Mrs Vole started off, “We don’t hate individual Liberal Democrats, not even Mr. Carmichael. We don’t know if he is a good man or a bad man, that’s not up to us. We judge him by his public actions and what his party has done. They have been very bad. About how he is as a man, we know nothing.”

“His actions?” asked little Svein, putting more syrup in his porridge.

Yes, by what he has done in Office as Chief Whip of his party and Secretary of State for Scotland. He has been a very powerful man although he does not talk about that much in his leaflets.

“But they were the Government, they could really help ordinary people. Have the Liberal Democrats done much in power?”

I said, “Well, they set out to do a lot but this Government has been a  failure.  They have failed in everything they have tried to do, especially when it comes to paying back the money the country owes. The jobs they have created, many of them were on low wages and others on something like Zero Hours contracts. These are like slavery. All he has done is give people a great, big invisible sandwich.”

Mrs Vole said, ‘They wanted to reform the House of Lords and change the voting system. They failed. ‘

I continued, “They thought they could make the Tories less extreme and they failed”

Mrs Vole said, ‘It’s the people in England I feel sorriest for. Mr Carmichael is part of the Government that has made poor people lose money if they have too big a council house even if they don’t have enough houses to go. English students must pay tuition fees and they have begun selling off the NHS to big companies can make profit out of sick people.  They are cutting lots of other services.”

Sven looked confused. ‘I thought Granny always voted Liberal Democrat to keep the Tory vote out.’

‘Svein, we always thought Mr Carmichael was a bit more on the Left. Some like your grand father thought Liberal Democrats were more radical then Labour.. Granny were very disappointed and felt betrayed – she thought that the Liberal Democrats are even worse than the Tories, because she expected something better from them. All the Tories ever do with people like us is take the little we have and give to their friends. We thought the Liberal Democrats would be better than that. We were wrong’

But what did he Mr Carmichael do, Daddy, that was so bad? Its not just that stuff about the Big Bad Cyril Smith?

No, it is not. The Liberal Democrats have let the Tory Party stay in power. They have given away things like the Post Office from us, the people that owned them, given them only to the rich.

‘That is very nice of them,’ said Svein, “they must have very happy friends.” ‘

“Well, we should be nice to our friends but not give them money that belongs to other people.” I said, tucking into my cornflakes. Breakfast is the best time to talk politics with the kids, “They promised not to have tuition fees at Universities in England. They broke that promise within a week of getting in to power. Mr Clegg said that he was sorry.”

Svein was puzzled, “Mr. Carmichael is our MP, how can he vote on things in England?”

Mrs Vole looked worried, and I patter her paw consolingly. “I don’t understand that much either. Everyone seems to get worked up by a Labour party in power with Scottish votes but it was OK for the Tories to be in power with Scottish Liberal Democrat votes. Mr, Carmichael voted that students would have to pay £9,000 a year.?

“But his children won’t have to?”

“ No, because they live in Scotland and we care about education, well the humans do, we voles are less fussy.”

Svein remembered his lesson and said, “One law for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, is another law for us?”

I smiled, “That’s right Son”

Mrs Vole is more inclined to be fair, she is a moderating influence,  “One good thing they want to do is raise the tax threshold. That helps the poor who have jobs but it does not help the poorest people on benefits. That means that humans are going hungry in Orkney now. It is taking a long time for benefits decisions to be made to go through the humiliation of something called the ATOS test.”

Svein asked, ‘In Orkney, but there is plenty to eat. The shops are full of things?’

“Yes, but the Government has cut back on benefits so that people have less money to buy food. Fuel prices have gone up and now poor people have to pay some of their Council Tax.

I know he has said some very nasty things about us but that is because he is frightened he is going to lose his seat in Parliament and then his career will be finished. Right nowme that poor people are suffering if they don’t have jobs and suffering if they do.  The Government is making big tax breaks to the rich and to big business. They say that their wealth will trickle down to us.

“Does it?” the little vole asked?

I cheered up “Well lets go and see if there are any nice scraps we can find in the bins at the back of his offices. We should be able to get something nice there. We are very grateful for that. ”

“But I like Old Bones, he is always very nice when he comes over to see us.” Svein was very fond of the ghost of Old Jo Grimond.

Mrs. Vole had some more tea, “He is isn’t he. A lot of people in Orkney and Shetland loved him a lot, and his wife Laura too. They seem to have been good people. We disagreed with them but they did their best, Jo is dead now as you know, you must stop playing with his skull,”

“I know Dad, will you tell me about the Labour Party tomorrow?”

“Yes of course darling, Night Night and don’t let the big bad Murphy bite.”

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