Having given up on any prospect of Scotland coming home to Labour, because Scotland has long since realised that Labour isnae wur maw, the Unionist media is now bigging up Ruthie. Can Ruth Davidson really bring about a Conservative poll revival in Scotland? screams a headline in the Observer newspaper today. The short answer is of course no. The longer answer is a meditation on the propitious decline of the cause of Union in Scotland, which has plunged so deep into the abyss of irrelevance that the Unionist media is pinning its hopes on the tank girl of the toxic Tories. There’s not been such a desperate campaign of hype since Simon Cowell tried to persuade us that trousers with the waistband halfway up your chest were actually fashionable. No, Ruth Davidson isn’t going to bring about a Conservative poll revival in Scotland, and neither, despite its best efforts, is the Unionist media.
As I’ve said before but which bears repetition, if only from a delicious sense of Schadenfreude, the Tories are reviving in the same way that a haulf drowned person doing the doggy paddle with the aid of inflatable arm bands is on course to win an Olympic gold swimming medal. The only reason that they still seem to be in any sort of contention is because the Labour party has already been tied up, given concrete shoes, and tossed in the deep end by a thoroughly pissed off electorate.
It’s not difficult to look like a competent navigator of the waters of Scottish politics when your Unionist competitors are stuck in the ooze and feeding the fishes, but while the desperate Unionist spin is that the battleship Ruthie is cruising to save the Union, the vast majority of Scotland looks upon what’s left of the Tories and sees nothing more than a persistent wee floater that refuses to flush. Floaters or fish food, that’s what the Unionist media is pinning its hopes on. There’s as much of a chance of Ruthie bringing about a Conservative poll revival as there is of Michael Forsyth admitting that his continuing influence in Scottish politics is a repugnant affront to democracy.
This time two years ago it was Alistair Darling and Gordie Broon, saving the Union from the evil separatists and casting the demon Alicsammin out into the wilderness for ever. This time last year the great hope for a Unionist revival was Jim Murphy and his Scotland fitba strip, fundimundily swearing blind that he was gobsmacked at just how easy it was to wrong-step the SNP.
There’s always a great saviour, and the saviour always gets savaged even though the expectations placed upon them by the increasingly despondent media get more and more reduced each time. Broon was going to save the UK and kill nationalism stone dead. Murphy was going to save the Labour party and halt the progress of the SNP. All that Ruthie’s going to do is to have half a chance of sliding into second place. This time next year it will be the local authority elections, and the media will solemnly inform us that next year’s great hope to save the Unionist cause will do so by managing to form a coalition with the Lib Dems in Clackmannan.
This year’s great saviour of the Union sided with George Osborne and the UK Treasury during the financial negotiations underpinning the Scotland Bill. That’s the George Osborne and the UK Treasury which tried to saddle Scotland with cuts of £7 billion and claimed that this meant no detriment. This year’s great saviour of the Union wants to impose prescription charges and student fees. This year’s great saviour of the Union claims that there’s no real difference between Scotland and England and wants to prove that by imposing the same policies on Scotland that have wrought havoc in England. Because the English NHS is such a model to aspire to, and saddling students with even more debt is the key to a fairer society.
Ruthie wants to secure the Union by stamping out any difference between Scotland and England, and by denying the people of Scotland the democratic right to another referendum even if we vote for one, and even if the key promises of the Better Together campaign lie as shattered and broken as Jim Murphy’s leadership hopes. Just eight months ago she was saying the opposite, that if the people of Scotland vote for a second referendum then we will have a second referendum. But now she’s hoping to hoover up the crumbs of the die hard Unionist vote, the people who would rather cast the poor, the disabled and the low paid to the wolves than concede that Scotland has a right to democracy. It’s only the independence campaign that Ruth demands is held to account. Westminster gets a free pass, and it’s Westminster which is punishing the poor to reward the rich. There is no Scottish exceptionalism in Ruthie’s world, only the exceptionalism of a sclerotic British state.
I seem to recall that during the last Westminster elections the media was assuring us, when they weren’t playing keepie up with Jim, that there was going to be a revival in the fortunes of the Tories in Scotland. They ended up crashing to the worst result in their history, achieving a mere 14.8% of the vote. But since they narrowly escaped total annihilation, and were merely pandaficated instead, the media was able to keep its tank girl fantasies alive. They were aided in this by the spectacular fall of Labour, which took attention away from just how poorly the Tories had performed.
Labour is still falling, the Tories are keeping themselves afloat by appealing to the hard core Unionists, and both demonstrate that Scottish politics is continuing to diverge from politics south of the border. Politically we are very different countries, and Scotland is continuing to forge its own way. The ties that bind us to the Westminster parliament are growing ever more frayed, and there’s no saviour of the Union who is going to restore them. The Tories might float, but the Union, like Labour, is destined for fish food.
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