Bernard Ingham: Red lights flash on road towards the new year

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THE nearer the new year gets the more I see red lights flashing ahead. It does not take a genius to see why. No rocket science is required to identify the damage we could inflict upon ourselves.

Any individual with a modicum of intelligence should have the wit to recognise that all the signs are that our nation is on course to wreck itself economically and politically.

Let us first get out of the way what we cannot do much about.

The first is a fierce winter, which, if it occurs, we can expect Greenpeace, amid the blackouts, to put down to global warming.

The second is Vladimir Putin, who dangerously combines a national inferiority complex
with a KGB mentality. It does
not help that Russia has much to be inferior about, given its inability to replace tyranny with even the basics of a genuine democracy.

The third is the eurozone – a menace to Western and global stability because fanatics are trying to build a European superstate on an unsustainable financial and political tip.

Finally, IS or Isil. I put it last because, while these murderous extremists bring a global threat of terrorism and ever more instability to the Middle East, they are trying to build a totalitarian Islamic state that seriously divides Islam. With a bit of luck, the upstart Isil caliphate will eventually implode.

This brings me to what we Britons can do something about. The first thing is to identify what is overwhelmingly in our self-interest at the general election in May. It is, to repeat, to vote Conservative decisively to secure the government that is most likely to get more right than wrong, especially economically, over the next five years.

The last thing we need is another squabbling coalition. It is essential we have a Prime Minister who is accountable for his actions and not those forced on him by his coalition partner. We might then discover whether David Cameron is a wet or inclined to be dry.

The trouble is that the Tory Party remains as stupid as ever. With less than five months to go to an election it does not present a united front. It remains dangerously obsessed by Europe (and the consequent immigration) when it is the only major party promising a referendum on British membership.

We must also recognise that Cameron consistently promises too much and achieves too little in a No 10 obsessed by presentation.

If only he would resist the temptation to comment on trivia. He should play less heed to the gallery and more to the substance of his government’s work.

Indeed, he should concentrate on telling the public of his government’s successes across a genuinely substantial programme combining national financial rescue with health, education and welfare reform to build a solvent and self-reliant nation.

In short, the Tories are not doing either themselves or the nation justice. If they recognise what I see as the crucial nature of the next election, they have an obligation – a duty – to do everything to win it. They are not doing so at the moment. It is time they bucked up their ideas.

I hope the following description of the threat they – and we – face galvanises them. Let us leave aside whether Ed Miliband looks or is leadership material. The important point is that we know already that, under union and member pressure, he would tax, spend and borrow more when ideally he should no none of those things.

More spending requires more borrowing especially when higher taxes are a disincentive to growth which, combined with cuts, Britain needs to stop piling up debt. We know that generally the Liberal Democracts and the Greens – socialists with a green coat – would go along with the lot.

Equally, we know that, however much the SNP is trying to crush a weakened Labour north of the border, it is indistinguishable from the Labour Left under the Saltire flag.

That leaves the great spoiler, the UK Independence Party, to be all things to all foolish men. By damaging the Tories disproportionately, its only contribution to the election would be more socialist poison.

You now see why red lights are flashing today. This is a crucial year for the UK’s longer term future.

Putting Labour in charge of our affairs would be guaranteed to wreck the economy and, judging from the polls, ensure that the SNP first helped them to do so before ending the union and then leaving Scotland on its uppers.

You have been warned.