Ruth Davidson has been bemoaning the fissures in Scottish politics again, and has been demonstrating her displeasure by sticking a big tank turret into the fissure and waggling her cannon barrel about. From time to time she’ll fire a shell into any scar tissue that seems to be forming. The SNP will do anything to keep the wounds of the independence debate open, said Ruthie, who has done nothing but go on about how opposed she is to a second referendum ever since we had the first one.
To paraphrase HG Wells, Ruthie’s moral indignation at the SNP is just jealousy with a halo. She’s facing a massively popular party with her misbegotten band of sub-Thatcherite electoral rejects, closet citrus fruit flavoured Unionists, and I’m-alright-Jackists who wouldn’t look out of place in the Star Trek mirror universe, and has to seek some moral high ground where she can find it. The fact that her moral high ground is in fact a figment of her imagination is kindly overlooked by a sympathetic press which is desperate to foster any sort of opposition to the SNP.
Still, you can’t really blame her, if she didn’t have the prospect of a second referendum to rail against she’d have to defend the policies of the Tory government at Westminster. That would be the government that cuts taxes for the rich and pays for it by slashing the incomes of people with disabilities, consigning thousands to a life of poverty and misery and blighting the prospects of a generation of children. The Tories preside over an increasing chasm of wealth and opportunity between the rich and the poor, but that’s not a fissure worth bemoaning for Ruthie. She’s just fine with that one, as it’s not the Tory voters in their comfortable hooses that are affected by it.
All the Tory talk of opposing a second referendum that at the moment is entirely hypothetical is the political version of the shell game con. Look at this thing that there are no plans for, says Ruthie, in order to distract your attention from the things that she does have concrete plans for. It gets her a few snappy soundbites in a friendly media, but your real politics are what you do once the soundbite has been delivered. For Ruthie that would be her own plans to impose student fees and prescription charges, and her Westminster government’s plans to privatise the health service and education by stealth. Those policies are the pea under the shell that she doesn’t want you to find.
Opposing another referendum might not be the Tories’ only policy, but it’s the only one that they want to talk about. It’s also vacuous and meaningless as if the people of Scotland vote in a majority party or parties that will bring forward a referendum when the time is right for it, there’s bugger all that Ruthie can do to stop it. You’re not allowed to park a tank in the debating chamber at Holyrood. She can go on until her tank’s tank runs dry about her opposition to another referendum, but if the Unionist parties are not going to fulfil all the promises that they made the last time, they themselves are the ones who will have provided the justification for another one.
Since the Unionist parties believe that they’re the ones who get to interpret the statements made by the SNP and the Yes campaign during the independence referendum, it’s only fair and reasonable that it’s the SNP and the Yes campaign who get to interprety the statements made by the Tories, Labour and the No campaign. Ruth can’t have it both ways, she doesn’t get to be arbiter of both the Yes and the No campaigns. Her hypocritical halo has slipped and is strangling her.
Meanwhile there’s not much sign of Labour’s halo, but the party had been relying on Gordie Broon’s moral compass in order to find it, with predictably disastrous results. Gordie himself has been as elusive as his moral compass of late, and hasn’t intervened in order to save the party from a fate worse than Jackie Baillie’s calculator. When even the famously self-deluded Gordie isn’t deluded enough to imagine that the party can be saved, the outlook for Labour is bleak indeed.
The Labour party in Scotland are due to publish their manifesto tomorrow, just a week before the election. Even the nerdiest politics geek in the history of nerdy geekdom finds it difficult to get excited about Labour’s Scottish manifesto, as always it’s going to be an exercise in over-promising and under-delivery. The only way Labour brings anything to the table is at an all you can eat buffet paid for on expenses. The reason that the party is unveiling its manifesto with just a week to go before voting takes place is because the less time that people have to examine its contents, the less time there’s going to be for the whole exercise in fantasy footering to fall apart.
Labour’s Scottish manifesto is the political version of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, only somewhat less realistic and with James Kelly instead of a dashing hero who might actually be interesting. This time we have all that plus added Anas Sarwarness, who’s virtually guaranteed a seat on the list in Glasgow. You could ask what was the Labour party thinking when it chose Anas as number one on the Glasgow list, but the answer is that Labour wasn’t thinking about anything other than its internal politicking, mutual back scratching, and tally of favours done and owed. The fact that the so-called people’s party consistently puts the party before the people is the reason that its stock has sunk so low.
Labour’s great new idea is a tired auld retread of all the reasons why we learned to hate them in the first place. When you’re pinning your hopes on Jim Murphy’s number two, you’ve pretty much conceded your irrelevance already. The party hopes to restore its place in the hearts of the Scottish electorate by alternately boring and haranguing us into submission. There’s as much chance of that happening as Walter Mitty winning the Nobel Prize for economics because of all his pretty graphs.
The fissures in Scottish politics will be healed eventually, but only after a successful second referendum. Neither Labour nor the Tories are going to be able to prevent it. Their halos have slipped and are around their ankles like snapped knicker elastic. They’re only tripping themselves up.
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