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Cameron has yet to make much mark on history; let us hope it is not as the PM who presided over break up of UK

Posted on 15 October 2012 | 2:10pm

You might remember that a week ago, following George Osborne’s ludicrous statement that Tony Blair ‘achieved nothing’ in ten years in power, I reeled off some of the facts that negated his view.

I also noted that so far, there was little by comparison that the Cameron government could put down as historically equivalent to Bank of England independence, the Good Friday Agreement and all that followed, the minimum wage, Sure Start, civil partnerships, the end of Milosevic, and of Saddam, the biggest hospital and school building programme since the foundation of the welfare state, the smoking ban, the boost for aid in Africa, record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools, paternity leave, winter fuel payment and free TV licences for pensioners, the cleanest rivers, beaches, drinking water and air since before the industrial revolution, free breast cancer screening for all women aged between 50-70, the New Deal which helped over 1.8 million people into work, free entry to national museums and galleries, reduction in heart disease deaths by 150,000 and cancer deaths by 50,000, a cut in long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent etc etc etc.

David Cameron, did I read rightly the other day, is the third longest serving Tory leader of the last century, behind only Churchill and Thatcher.  I think if students of history were asked to write essays on the historic achievements of these three, they would not struggle at all with Churchill, Thatcher would provide plenty of material, whereas for Cameron it would frankly be a bit of a struggle. Imagine being asked to do 1000 words on each. For Churchill and Thatcher, it would be hard to squeeze it all in. For Cameron, fittingly, waffle would be required.

I think the student would be left with the single fact of leading a coalition, itself of course a product of political and strategic failure to win an election when it was frankly there for the taking.

There is now, after today’s events in Edinburgh, the possibility that his greatest historic significance will be as the Prime Minister in office when Scotland broke away from the rest of the UK.

I still think it unlikely that Scots will go the whole hog and vote for independence. But whereas when the Scottish Parliament was set up (another major achievement of the Blair government, Gideon) I would have said it was unimaginable, now at least it is possible to see that it might just happen.

Much as I hope that it doesn’t, the world of politics and economics are in such a state of flux that frankly anything could happen.

At least now the campaign can get seriously underway, and the difficult questions Alex Salmond has so far managed to avoid can be put with vigour.

Let battle commence. And let all who believe we are better together hope that Cameron does not find his place in history as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on whose watch the Union fell apart.

  • Duncan Phipp-macintyre

    the devastation that the Torycrats and their ilk are visiting upon so many is a tragic legacy.
    It is curious just how little developments in Cataluna are reported upon in the U.K. media and how they could enlighten the debate on our relationships within the United Kingdom, with the E.U. and with other regions of the E.U.
    In the hopefully probable event of those members of the United Kingdom allowed to vote in this referendum choosing to remain in the U.K. much will still need to be renegotiated – the Spanish autonomic regional experience has much to teach us in this regard.

  • Anonymous

    Since the terms of the referendum are very black and white it will be interesting to see what happens. Let’s face it, if Scotland voted for independence, both leaders would get what they wanted, ie assured tenancy in a much-reduced fiefdom. Cameron is certainly Salmond’s best asset.

    On an unrelated matter, how long are we giving Andrew Mitchell? Gone by Wednesday? As a Labour supporter I do hope not.

  • reaguns

    Well as there will be plenty of people to agree with you on the thread Alastair, I’ll say that I agree with most, but lets not let you away with a couple of so-called “achievements”:
    – Milosevic. Not exclusively your fault, indeed predecessors take more blame, nor indeed Britain’s fault, but Nato should have gone in earlier and harder. There are some wars the west is told it shouldn’t have entered and in some cases maybe it shouldn’t have, but in hindsight everyone could see the Serbs needed to get hit. Probably the same outcome may have happened in Iraq and Libya had the west not gone in.
    – Minimum wage: Many in Labour favour the German model, of high welfare, high tax, quite socialised, industrial policy, industrial agreements to keep jobs etc. This is incomplete because it is Germany’s capitalism that gives it its power, the ability to do all that comes from sound money, high savings, high interest rates, low debt. But say we only copy the nice things lets remember, it was supply side reform that made Germany a power again – and Germany has no national minumum wage. Anyone who is sycophantic but honest will admit they didn’t know that, did you eh?
    – Bank of England independence: Really?! Really???!!! You really want to call this an achievement after the biggest regulatory cock up in British history? Even Ed Balls is not that craven.

  • Olli Issakainen

    David Cameron is wrong.
    Conservatism stands for privilege and inequality.
    The “natural order of things” is that the wealthy should rule.
    PM has come up with a new buzzword “strivers”. He is trying to woo C1 and C2 voters.
    But living standards for low- and middle-income households will fall until 2020, EVEN IF there is steady economic growth!
    George Osborne is waging a war on Britain´s poor.
    Professor Mike Brewer of IFS says that the politics of coalition are strongly against income growth for the bottom half of households.
    Millions of families will struggle.
    According to the Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz cutting spending, shrinking government and increasing deregulation destroys both DEMAND and JOBS.
    IMF now says that the UK economy will shrink 0.4% this year.
    Cuts will continue till 2018. DEBT is rising – DEFICIT widening.
    For every £1 cut in public spending there is £1.30 less in economic activity!
    Of course, Messrs Cameron and Osborne will not change course despite evidence as their cuts are ideological.
    Tories who see “green shoots of economic spring” will humiliate themselves like Norman Lamont in 1991.
    Public sector borrowing under New Labour between 2001/02 and 2007/08 was: £1bn, 26bn, 33bn, 41bn, 38bn, 33bn and 36bn.
    Under Tories borrowing has been £141bn (2010/11) and £126bn (2011/12).
    This year it is set to rise to £140bn!
    Public sector net borrowing will rise from £1159bn (12/13) to £1437bn in 2015-16. Debt will be 76.3% of GDP in 2014-15.
    According to Jeff Randall debt interest payment will rise to £70bn a year!
    Household debt will rise from £1.58tn now to £2tn in 2016.
    Austerity has failed.
    David Cameron will go down in history as a man who together with George Osborne destroyed Britain´s public finances with harmful austerity.
    Ps. People who have bothered to read my comments know that I predicted that Scotland would become independent years before SNP won the majority.

  • Having grown up in Northern Ireland I find myself taking quite a lot of interest in Scotland.

    On the central question, should Scotland remain in the UK? I don’t know the answer, however I note that Salmond has chosen his time carefully for the referendum. Salmond is, I am sure, very happy with the Conservatives in government because it is so alienating for Scotland. He will have the referendum during this Conservative led coalition. It also suits Salmond that anti-EU Conservatives are now making a lot of noise and likely to be pushing Cameron towards an even more eurosceptic stance. Something that anti-EU conservatives don’t grasp is that outside of the EU it is difficult for the UK to survive because the hostility towards the EU is an english phonomenon. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all be very happy to be in the EU without being saddled with the negativity of the Conservatives.

    Labour governments present greater difficulties for scottish, welsh or irish nationalists because they present a very much better UK than the Conservatives, one that is inclusive, representative and democratic.

  • Anonymous

    To test students, think it should be; “In the form of an online comment, outline the achievements of Cameron as PM. No need to write more than 100 words.”.

    He has been pretty poor, hasn’t he? It has basically been just a bit of a hobby for him, a bit of fiddling about, while Rome burns.

    As for this Scottish referendum, total independence question has been on the cards since the 1980’s, due to the nonsense going on then, which the main rankle still is with the introduction of the poll tax shambles a year earlier there, as like a test run. I think generally Scotland gets on alright with most of the UK, those in the UK roughly above a line drawn from Portland to The Wash. It is below that the Scots get a bit worked up about, I think.

  • Gilliebc

    I would like if I may to comment on a few of Labour’s achievements:
    Bank of England ‘Independance’ – Diabolical idea.
    Minimum Wage – Yes, good idea.
    End of Milosovic and Saddam Hussien – I’m not even going to go there.
    The boost for aid in Africa – No. Governments shouldn’t give away taxpayers money to foreign countries. People/taxpayers are quite capable of making donations to whomsoever they choose, of their own volition.
    Civil Partnerships – Tolerable I suppose, just as long as it doesn’t lead on to ‘marriage’. That’s just part of a much bigger Cultural Marxist agenda anyway, which seeks to promote the ab-normal as perfectly normal and exceptable. They will be telling us soon that peadophilia is ‘normal’.
    The smoking ban – All part of the same Cultural Marxist control freakery.
    Hospital and School building programme – I thought it was great at the time. But, unfortunately the PFI chickens are coming home to roost.
    This current Tory led coalition government is terrible in all respects. But, don’t let anyone kid themselves that things would be any better under a Labour gov. What this gov. are doing now in regard to the NHS for example is no different to what Labour had planned and indeed had begun to implement. Same applies to Welfare. Labour governments can be equally as ruthless as Tories when it comes to picking off the most vulnerable members of society.

  • Anonymous

    Coming from you, this is indeed rich.
    You prattle on endlessly on strategy & tactics. But yet you omit the most important of all: Vision.
    It was your idiot ex-boss, Tony Blair who for the short-term gain of winning the 1997 elections, promised a referendum on devolution. This probably explained why Labour won practically all the Westminster seats in Scotland. It was short-termism because Labour were actually arrogant enough to think that they could never lose a Holyrood election.
    Well, that has happened which is why Cameron ends up having to sign an agreement with Salmond on how the independence referendum will be run.
    If TB & GB had a ½ brain or Vision, they would have easily been able to predict that the SNP could win the Holyrood elections 1 day. So, back in 1997, they should would have promised a referendum with absolutely no chance of independence. Or amended the devolution bill with the proviso that NO PARTY at Holyrood can ever run a referendum or secede from the UK.
    Maybe Labour would not have won the 1997 elections quite so decisively. But at least the events of today would never have taken place.
    On top of that, Scots like Alex Ferguson, your mum & you cannot vote in the said referendum, though you are Scots.
    You must be the only stupid person who is proudly boasting about devolution on a day like today.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Independent Scotland?
    Around a third of Scotland´s 4m voters think that Scotland should leave the UK.
    Support for the independence is bigger in England.
    SNP won the majority in May 2011. Independence is now a possibility.
    The Scottish and English crowns were united in 1603. In 1707 this union was cemented by political union forced on Scotland by a financial crisis caused by Panama.
    Scotland retained its legal system, churches and universities.
    Scottish parliament was reestablished in 1999.
    Options now are as follows.
    STATUS QUO UK government in charge of most taxation, welfare and economy
    INDEPENDENCE Giving Scotland full control over taxes, laws and North Sea oil sterling might by kept and the Queen
    UK is being run by parties Scotland rejected. But independent Scotland would face serious financial risks.
    DEVO PLUS model has also been discussed giving Scotland control over taxation and welfare.
    Under SNP plans Scotland would retain the Queen as head of state. Scotland would remain within the Commonwealth.
    Unless Scotland joins the euro, it would keep the pound.
    Monetary policy would then be under the control of BoE.
    Scotland would be entitled to 90% share of North Sea oil.
    Independent Scotland would have its own armed forces.
    Independent Scotland would be a big problem for the Labour party. Winning overall majority would be difficult in Westminster.

  • Archie

    I don’t think Cameron is actually the third longest serving Tory leader in the past century. He’s been leader since 2005, about 7 years. Ted Heath and Stanley Baldwin served for longer.
    Wouldn’t argue with your assessment of Dave’s lack of impact, though. Even John Major delivered the Cones Hotline and a good collection of Back to Basics scandals !

  • Anonymous

    I think you have misread the blog article here, with reference Scots independent question. To me, Alastair is doing a bit of classic fence-sitting, neither one way or the other. And as for your comments on the Tone and the Gord, you sound like a Cowdenbeath footie supporter – hate other teams winning trophies.

    And don’t start on Alex Ferguson, or he will come on here and give you some hairdrying, so watch yourself there.

  • Anonymous

    …and ref. twitter, I think your dawg was asking itself “now where did I hide that doggie biscuit”, Alastair. Or he saw you in your funny-handshake leather clobber, grand master… : )

    this pic, for those that haven’t seen it,

  • MikeB

    England and Scotland are politically too different to be in a union. The UK’s biggest weakness is the damage a change of government does. Just look what’s happening now, a Tory led government going hell for leather to dismantle any trace of Labour.

    Scotland votes overwhelmingly for progressive parties. The Tories in Scotland are insignificant and can’t even gain any influence in the Scottish Parliament in a system of proportional representation. An independent Scotland will have the advantage of political stability whether an SNP, Labour or a coalition government.

    I am English born but having lived in Scotland for almost 40 years and I am proud to regard myself as Scottish. I’m excited by the prospect of independence and know from my experience here that Scotland will thrive and create a fair and decent society for everyone living in Scotland.

  • Anonymous

    Are you going to do a blog on this Mitt-Obama three legged bout Alastair? Say just before the final round three in a fortnight?

    Managed to watch it all the way through early Weds morn, our time, in which Mitt didn’t manage to send me to sleep this time. Obama won the second round, but I think Mitt is still leading on points, just. Said before that Obama will give him a knock out punch in the last round, so here is hoping.

    Should be interesting. Hope he makes Mitt even more shirty and then to make him fluff his hollow PR pseudo-lies lines even more.

    And furthermore, what’s Mitt’s problem with China? He was like a dog with a bone going on about them. Sounded creepily rascist to me.

  • Anonymous

    What the hell is “culural Marxism”?

  • Anonymous

    I know this argument of old – I had a friend some years back who used to raise it all the time. My reply was that it assumes that the demand for devolution could have been supressed by just saying “no” or ignoring it and the Scots would just accept it. I doubt if that would have been true and would probably have resulted in the growth of a full blown independence movement much sooner – with perhaps a violent “IRA type” wing.

  • Anonymous

    Got to be deep south whitie old slave owning family and New England full of money whitie, ey James and Ruth? Tell those yanks that it has to be so. And bring some tom and jerry into it for good measure, like this one,


  • Anonymous

    Good vid of analysis of Mitt’s problem with China from US telly here. Quite interesting,

    Problem though Mitt, the US economy is on a more expensive higher plain, so what is the level playing field? That is international trade for you Mitt, that is how it is, so stop whinging will you. Very child-like immature attitude to international trade, he has.

    And he has the gall to complain about intellectual property!?! If that is the case, East or West Germany should have got to the moon first, if the US did get there, manly, that is, but that is another arguement, you could say.

  • Anonymous

    When Marxism gets into everyday culture. Thought it was self-explanatory myself, but that is me, and you are you.

  • Anonymous

    Gladly Scots are more sensible, and decided not to down that sort of republican striving tactics. Think they gave that up with Culloden, 1745 was it?

  • Anonymous

    Stand by your beds!

    Knew a loverly lady who was brought up her grandparents, since their daughter was a bit wyllt/wild, from Barry. And she showed me her passed grandads masonic gear from around WWII to me. Have all the respect for them in keeping us things together as a society, but I think modern communication has taken over that now a bit, so no danger of any local problems going out of hand, since the rest of the country will find out about it in a couple of seconds, these days unlike then.

    And a photo for German funny handshakes, who had to be underground with mad Adolf about, when he was playing his barking games with his society,

    Song, not for Clara, but Lara,


    Russian winter, with war,

  • Dave Simons

    Quite right. I am a staunch believer in getting facts right, and have been known to sometimes practice it. For the record then: Baldwin (1923 – 37), Churchill (1940 – 1955), The Grocer (1965 – 1975) and Thatcher (1975 – 1990 – fifteen years too long). With any luck Cameron will be 2005 – 2015, ten years of looks, smiles and soundbites.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps I was confused by Giliebc’s odd examples. I am no Marxist but I do think we should not attribute phenomena to ideollogies to which they do not belong. I doubt franktly if Marixsm has traditonally been kind to unconventional lifestyles though the right have sometimes said it was and e.g the first (non Mariist but “red scare” smeared) Labour Government in 1924 was greeted with predictions that “free love” would be legalsed – no doubt some were disappointed when it wasn’t!
    Actually the impetus to alleged control freakery e.g. the smoking ban is probably to be found elsewhere (including, but by no means solely, the decidely non Marxist USA). And didn’t we used to describe the places of left wing plotting as “smoke filled rooms”?
    I need hardly add that the PM when the actions described were instituted was the also non Marxist Tony Blair.
    Marxism can of course be socially controlling – that is one reason I dislike it – but it isn’t alone in that. The logical fallacy here is to say that because I disike X which may be the result of Y everything I dislike is the result of Y.

  • Anonymous

    The Error is to assume that “the Scots” as such did anything at Culloden which was NOT NOT NOT between Scotland and England but between Whiggish Hanoverians (well represented in the Scottish Lowlands) and Jacobites of who there were still a fair number in England.

  • Dave Simons

    I enjoyed reading some of the essays in Eric Hobsbawm’s last book, How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840–2011 (2011). I never understood why Eric stayed loyal to the Communist Party, and in this book he certainly questions some of the central tenets of what became, in some quarters, the ideology of Marxism. I think Marx’s problem was that he only had one life, and he devoted that to political economy. If he’d had two lives he might have found time to devote to more cultural and ‘spiritual’ matters. But let’s be a bit humble – in the time he did have he didn’t do badly, certainly better than most of us. I was outside ‘The Swan’ in La Grande Place in Brussels on Monday – reputedly where that great poem, ‘The Communist Manifesto’ was written in late 1847. I say poem because I think that particular political manifesto has more poetry in it than most contemporary poetry’, which as far as I’m concerned is boring, tenth-rate, autobiographical prose chopped up into lines of random length so that it looks, on the page, like poetry.

  • Gilliebc

    Quite so Ehtch. I was gonna suggest he googled it, but I was afraid he might think I was being rude 🙂

  • Gilliebc

    Sorry you thought my examples of Cultural Marxism were ‘odd’ but they are straight out of the Frankfurt School. If you google Cultural Marxism, you will find some interesting info.

  • Anonymous

    Yes agreed, Bonnie Charlie Stuart and all that, wasn’t it, trying to reclaim the throne of UK for the Stuarts from those pesky germans, with hopefully help from the french, who it is said let them down. : )

  • Anonymous

    No probs, How you doing Gilliebc? Any idea where is Michele these days? Not that you are her/his keeper, but has she/he got the autumn blues? I am feeling them.

    Just off to see Scarlets play Dublin/Leinster online in rugger, here, or most probably an excellent quality vid pirated link via from Russia somewhere, kick off in ten minutes or so. Speak to you later Gbc,
    the link,

    and oh yes Gbc, keep the red flag flying… : )))

  • Gilliebc

    Dave, I’m aware of the theory of Communism, but in practice it doesn’t work. In practice it becomes totalitarianism. In effect Communism and Fascism are two sides of the same coin.

  • Anonymous

    …furthermore mightymark, have you seen this film before, with that true scottish kilted scot, generally known as that eastender type Londoner, Michael Caine? Good film though, I can see Michael chomping on a haggis mysel’,

    Mary Hopkin, from Wales/Cymru, singing about it,

    Do what you want to, as any scottish màthair/mother would say.

    You might recognise where Mary is there Alastair in the early 1970’s, yes, on Hampstead Teeth.

  • Anonymous

    The more Cameron puts his puddin’ face about in Scotland, the more likely independence becomes. I believe he knows this and it is what he wants.
    His cronies will soon forgive him for failing to win the majority they paid for and for destroying the United Kingdom when he delivers, via the removal of Scotland’s Labour MPs, perpetual tory rule in England and Wales. I firmly believe this is his plan.
    This and the ejection of England and Wales from the EU will lead to the final and utter subjugation of ordinary working people in this country. Everything they do is designed to undermine, impoverish and cow the people of this nation for the benefit of the wealthy few.

  • Gilliebc

    Hi Ehtch, regarding autumn, not my favourite time of the year, with everything dying or going into hibernation. I think November is the most miserable month of the year. Weirdly enough I quite like Jan & Feb. There is a beauty in the sheer bleakness of the landscape, to my mind. January is usually full of hope also, as we start a new year.
    I feel sure Michele will be back soon. She did say, in a couple of posts that she was going to be away again for a while. Hey Huw, I’m whispering this next bit, but have you noticed that liberalreform is also missing again at the same time as Michele. I thought todays (21st) blog post would have seen the return of lib…..but not so far anyway. I don’t think they are one and the same person. Maybe lib…… needs someone to bounce off of and M fits the bill. Just an idle thought.
    Sorry for ‘abouting’ M, if/when you read this, but it isn’t as if it’s anything horrible. And you know what Oscar Wilde said.

  • Gilliebc

    @ Ehtch, futher to previous reply of a moment ago. Sorry to hear you are feeling the autumn blues. Hope your dad’s not playing you up too much. Or, should I say, no more than usual.
    Thanks for acting as a peacemaker last week, with you know who. I wanted to get a little time and space between then and now before thanking you. My husband is a peacemaker sort of guy and funnily enough he is a capricorn, like you. I’ve never been terribly interested in astrology. But it is undeniable that some of us are ‘typical’ of our star signs. There is still a lot of stuff we don’t as yet fully understand.

  • Anonymous

    ACH no, doing alright Gilliebc, but I have some basic vitamin D tablets from Holland & Barrett that I take this time of year that does help.

    Dad doing sort of alright – talking of him, my brother, who fancied an excuse for a day off/extended weekend off, has taken him today down to the local hossie to get a colonoscopy to see if no more cancer has re-appeared, via his new side-hole he was given a couple of years ago or so. Think it will be clear, since his bag is being filled normally. But I have to be honest, he does drive me nuts, as he has always done, since day one, sorry to say, fifty years ago.

    With autumn, it is surprising when snow is on the ground you feel suddenly more uplifted – must be uv sun reflection on the ground or something. Anyway, already posted on Alastair’s latest blog that it is going to get quite surprising chilly this Friday, so get the cardesi/jumpers out ready Gilliebc.

  • Anonymous

    Oscar Wilde was a character, wasn’t he? Know a fair bit about him and what he got up to : o

    His selfish giant animation was shown on the beeb when I was young : ) Do you remember that?

    well well well, Gilliebc, it is on youtubby! Nice. Have a look,

  • Anonymous

    …even furthermore, yes, sadly, I am a fairly sensible capricorn too, but with artistic tendancies, get on well with taurians and virgos well, but they can be funny peculiar. Aries are a good compromise for us goats.

    What star sign are you Gilliebc? Let me guess, November Sagittarius? but I could be hopelessly wrong.

    Heard of Goldfrapp – met her before she did her thing in about 1989. and honest, she was all over me. But she was a 1966 year of the horse taurian, so she couldn’t help herself, : )

    Stars and moon and sun positioning does affect us, slightly, in electro-magnetic ways, when we suddenly appear, also in the womb. But it is subtle, but you have got to be able to sense these things. Always have met people I have got on with, and when I discover when their birthday is, I say OK.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Alison did get a bit inside herself excited, I have/did do/did have that affect on people, but couldn’t find a wife to put up with it, when they realised what was on their hands, some strange creature called a human, with strange coloured eyes, that tended to make love a little bit too good.

    Think Alison took that, with here more from her, in a back garden, with a tantrum, as I usually result with the ladies I have known, but it is not their fault, it is me, being here, spooking people, without trying,

    CALM DOWN ALISON, for gawd sakes.. wimmin ey?

  • Anonymous

    Surprisingly, James was down this neck of the woods last weekend – think he has gone native, old boy! : )

  • Anonymous

    Might as well post more tom and jerry, just to educate Ruth and James, you know,

    Yes, try to get into the Cash Cab with Bill while you are there, at least, in downtown Manhattan, Ruth and James. And keep your noses clean, not white, as in snowdust, etc.!

  • Anonymous

    Oh bum! It’s been pulled, no doubt due to me linking it, try this T & J one then, the nuclear war one, with co-joined paranoia…

    Ach, might as well post this one too,

  • Anonymous

    Oh why rest there – they took help from whertever they could get it – the Swedes, the Austrians, the Spanish….

  • Anonymous

    The Pope also? So that would be Italians these days, I suppose.

    Yes, for some reason, the english weren’t too popular in Europe, apart from northern Germany, even before Henry eight and his Luther-like going-ons, for a divorce. Yes Germany ironically, considering the twentieth century – it was all a squabble between Queen Vickies grandchildren, WWI was, wasn’t it?

  • Cameron has without doubt secured his place in the history books. He will be known as the most disastrous Prime Minister of all time with the most incompetent chancellor with a poor history degree. He came to power at exactly the wrong time, made exactly the wrong decisions and led the môst corrupt, arrogant cabinet of all time. This period ( if we recover at all) will be remembered as the decade or two when Britain realised it was rotten to the core and we elected a parliament who did everything they could to keep it that way.