I’ve been watching parts of the Tory party conference. Not much of it, as the human body is only so strong and watching the entire proceedings would take at least four packets of immodium and a ball gag to stop me screaming swerry wurds. Even, I’m ashamed to say, the one starting with c and ending with t. But that doesn’t feel strong enough, and Scottish lefty viewers of Conservative conferences are left with the appalling realisation that the English language is inadequate to the task. Davie Cameron is a fracking oleaginous clapped out bellend, and the only reason he’s not a wanker as well is because he’s so useless he’s incapable of doing anything for himself.
OK. I’ve got that out my system now. A detox session is vital after watching a selfishness of Tories – that’s the proper collective noun in case you were wondering. You get George Osborne announcing tax breaks for better off pensioners – Tory voters – telling us with his narrow lips that individuals are the best judges of how to spend their money. Vote for me, peasants. And then you get Iain Duncan Smith, the man who makes Lex Luthor seem like Mahatma Gandhi, saying that the poorest families on benefits will no longer get all their income in cash that they can be the best judges of how to spend. They’ll get prepaid cards that can only be used to purchase set items. Poor people who aren’t a core Tory voting group need to have their spending decisions made for them by Iain Duncan Smith. Iain Duncan Smith is an anagram of ‘dun in maniac shit’. That’s probably significant.
On Wednesday we had Davie’s keynote speech. They’re called keynote because yer average Westminster politician could just sing through the musical scales repeatedly and impart the same information content. Conference pledges have the same relationship to reality as Gordie Broon. But what he did vow, because they’re all very keen on vows these days, was ‘English votes for English laws’. This is also a vow to unvow the vow that he vowed to Scotland, but vows made to non-Conservative voters don’t count, and no one is going to lose any sleep over losing the parliamentary support of David Mundell. It’s like the Rebel army losing an Ewok, only not as cutesy.
English votes for English laws is a slogan which has caught the headlines in a way its logical partner – Scottish votes for Scottish laws – never could. The prono papers have never troubled themselves over much with Scotland getting what it votes for. However England must always get what it votes for at all times and under all circumstances. This is only democratic. Scotland doesn’t get the same consideration. But hey, we voted No. So we get what we’re given and we lump it now that the option of leaving it has been taken off the table along with the cereal.
Labour has taken the humph, not so much because Davie’s entirely predictable move screws over the expectations of Scotland, but because it screws over the British Labour party. British Labour is not going to stand for that kind of affront, not to their own power and influence. What’s really bugging them is that a legal prohibition on Scottish MPs voting on English laws in effect creates two tiers of MP. Scottish MPs who cannot vote on key government policies which only affect England would be unlikely to hold any major offices of state. No more Scottish prime ministers. Anything that gets in the way of a British Labour MP and a career opportunity is terribly bad for democracy.
The worst of it is that one or other of this sorry bunch of shiny egos are going to be the next government.
The Sarah Smith Stardust Show had a detailed and incisive forensic examination of what all this means for the vow, which consisted of some shots of the Action Krankie at the Tory party conference looking smug because she got to sit next to Davie’s missus, followed by Jackson Carlaw assuring us that it was all just fine and not to worry our silly wee heids because the Conservatives are utterly committed to delivering loads and loads of devolution goodies. All of which was uttered with the same conviction and self belief as US Civil War general John Sedgewick, whose last words were allegedly an attempt to rouse his beleaguered troops into action by shouting “The Confederates couldn’t shoot an elephant from this dist…. ”
It was that subatomic exploration of the issues that we’ve come to know and love from BBC Scotland. Like when scientists looked very closely at the structure of the atom and discovered that what seems to be solid consists largely of empty space and very little matter. So it was quite appropriate really. No wonder Pacific Quay management is so pleased with its referendum coverage.
This was followed by Newsnight for Grownups with a package from political editor Allegra Stratton giving a summary of all the important points to be taken from Davie’s speech. Allegra is concerned with the Big Picture, not that parochial subatomic stuff. She mentioned the UKIP problem, she mentioned the EU problem, she mentioned the promise to protect NHS spending, she spent an inordinate amount of time talking about Davie’s latest tax cut wheeze, and she even found time to point out the importance of the autocue and how Davie used it to avoid the oops I forgot that £1.5 trillion deficit faux pas Ed Miliband committed when he gave his keynote conference speech – the one with the bum notes. There was nae mention of any tartan related vow in wedding font lettering. Not even the English votes for English laws one never mind the Scottish one. And Gordie Broon’s petition doesn’t rate a mention anywhere, and neither does Gordie.
So it’s official. Scotland has less importance for UK party politics than an autocue. Probably that’s because autocues only say what they’re told to and someone else writes their script.
But here’s an ironic wee factoid. In 2007 when Gordie Broon launched his leadership campaign at the British Labour party conference, he managed to deliver the entire speech with the autocue obscuring his face. They do say history repeats itself, and for the second time in his life Gordie has been upstaged by an autocue.