A group of Better Together activists have launched a new Unionist party because the existing Unionist parties aren’t Unionisty enough for them. Upset that staunch Unionists are splitting their votes between Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems, the activists have decided to start a new party and split the Unionist vote even more. Funny how Unionists are always staunch, like Rangers fans or flute players. Supporters of independence are never described as staunch, possibly because indy supporters are mad cultist types who get their instructions via neurolinguistic programming.
According to its founders, a new Unionist party is required because the wishy washy policies of the existing Unionist parties and their devolutionary antics just don’t cut it any more and are clearly none too popular with the voters. It’s not enough to say No, you have to say No more loudly and vehemently. You can just stand on a tank and say No, you have to point the gun turret at the devolved settlement and say you’ll blow it up. This mob are drawing Ruth Davidson’s line in the sand and this time they really mean it. No more powers for Holyrood if they get their way. You’ll have had your devolution, Scotland. You’re not getting any more, and because you keep demanding more, you’re going to get sent to bed without any devolved supper. It’s back to the future with Unionist purity.
What the new party will do however, is to get the Scottish government to sign an agreement with Westminster calling for ever closer union, just like that clause in the EU treaty that the Tories are desperate to get out of. Apparently we can’t trust Europe, but we can trust the Tories. They also want to restore the royal coat of arms to all Scottish government pronouncements, because what’s really wrong with Scotland is that we’re not royalist enough and a dose of the lizzies is required to cure us. We need more royalism and cleaning for the queen. I always pick up the dug’s crap and put it in the bin, but the title of that campaign makes me want to pick it up and post it to Buckingham Palace.
Called, imaginatively enough, the Unionist Party, this is a party for that small minority in Scotland that didn’t want any devolution in the first place. So that would be unreconstructed Tories, swivel eyed UKIPists, those of an Orangey hue, and that part of the Labour party which has forgotten how traumatic the 1980s were. Since Scotland isn’t showing itself to be well disposed to parties which surrender Scotland to Westminster, the new party’s founders think that the solution to this difficulty is to surrender even more. It’s a bit like claiming that the cure for the flu is to infect people with typhoid and hide the sudafed. It’s clearly self-defeating and the new party looks like having about the same success in winning a place in the affections of the Scottish electorate as Nigel Farage on an Edinburgh pub crawl.
Scotland’s Unionist parties are not in a death spiral because they’re not Unionist enough. They’re in a death spiral because the Union that they stand for is unfit for purpose. You can come out with any old guff you like about the Union, and the mainstream media frequently does, but what it boils down to is the proposition that Scotland does better by having a minority voice in a corrupt parliament than it could possibly do by looking after itself. The Union isn’t about Scotland and England. It’s about the Westminster parliament. Supporters of the Westminster parliament may like to obfuscate, because it’s in their interests to do so, but the people of Scotland can see the difference quite clearly. Westminster is not Scotland, it’s not England, but it is the Union and it’s irredeemably corrupt. Getting back to Unionist purity just means washing your hands of your individual will and handing yourself over on a plate to a parliament that doesn’t give a damn about anything other than the profits of the financial sector in the City of London and the good health of defence contractors. That’s not a recipe for solving Scotland’s problems, it’s a recipe for sticking your head up the arse of a Tory government and pretending that the view is lovely.
Unionism in Scotland is suffering from its final illness. It’s terminal and there is no cure. There isn’t even any pretence these days that there’s such a thing as a positive case for the Union. Making such a case would mean demonstrating how Scotland is better off under the rule of Davie Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith and their party which managed a mere 14.5% of Scottish votes. A party that has taken us into yet another war, has given the bankers free rein again, has demonised the poor, has learned absolutely nothing at all. It’s crony business at usual at Westminster. Not even a Hotpoint automatic frontloader could spin that one.
The positioning has started for the Scottish elections in May but the Unionist parties have already more or less acknowledged defeat. Labour’s best hope is that it can stave off collapse enough for it to stay the second largest party. The Tories’ best hope is that their long decline into irrelevance will be slow enough to allow Labour to overtake them on the way to the abyss. And no one cares about the Lib Dems except the BBC, which still thinks that they’re a far more important party than the Greens.
The Unionist parties and their media hangers on still labour under the misapprehension that if they can only prove that the SNP is as crap as Labour or the Tories then people will go back to voting Labour or Tory. The SNP are far from perfect, although I’m not going to detail my dissatisfactions for the simple reason that if I do Unionists will pounce on it in an attempt create another SNPbad story. It’s enough that they’re competent, and that alone makes them leagues better than Labour.
Unionist journalists can do their own work, I’m not doing it for them. They’re still playing their traditional game of short term political advantage, but independence supporters have our eye on a long term prize. We’re not playing the same game any more. That’s why the SNP and the Greens will be the big winners in May, and why nothing that the Unionists do will make the slightest bit of difference no matter how many times they try to rebrand themselves. A tin of turds is still a tin of turds, no matter what it says on the label. Post it to the Queen.
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