Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

" Harold Macmillan's Famous Words about [...]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

" Harold Macmillan's Famous Words about [...]

Article excerpt

Byline: COLUMNIST DAVE ANDERSON

" Harold Macmillan's famous words about expecting the unexpected haunt those who try to predict the future and who know the outcome of any political event before a ball is kicked - but this year has blown that smug smartness to smithereens.

First, we had the tightest general election for decades - remember all that talk of hung parliaments and continued coalition - but the Tories actually secured their first solo victory in almost quarter of a century. And who could have predicted that there would only be one Labour MP in Scotland? And, now perhaps the greatest shock. A 200-1 outsider, constant rebel and 1970s throwback has been overwhelmingly elected as leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. I'm not sure who is more surprised, the Queen or Jeremy Corbyn.

But these events all have explanations if we look more carefully. The general election wasn't won in a few weeks, but over five years. The Tories spun the tale that the world economic collapse was all Gordon Brown's fault.

Add in the revulsion of many former Liberal Democrat voters who felt badly let down by Nick Clegg, and a nasty and unrelenting media witch-hunt against Ed Miliband and you have a recipe for victory.

And, for good measure, add in the arrogance of pollsters and political disengagement by swathes of the public and events are clearer to comprehend.

As for the Scottish tsunami, even the most devout Braveheart fan would not have dreamed that the SNP would be so dominant. But, again, close inspection shows a pattern.

From the early days of devolution, the control-freakery of New Labour at Westminster prevented Scottish Labour from delivering what the people there wanted - a modern state based on social justice and fairness first.

Changing the rules governing local council elections in order to cobble together a Holyrood coalition with the Lib-Dems in 2003 helped to hollow out the Labour Party at a local level.

This led to the emergence of a majority SNP administration that could position itself as the People's Party, while painting Scottish Labour as puppets of London. …

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