Auntie Annabel Goldie, fresh from smoothing down the hair and wiping the torn faces of the new Tory MSPs with a hankie damp with spit, has opined that Nicola Sturgeon thinks having a bad hair day would be a trigger for a second independence referendum. She then went on to blame the SNP for having that terribly divisive referendum in the first place. How very dare they, upsetting the cosy Unionist consensus with their democracy and public engagement and stuff.
If Nicola had a shred of decency she’d know that some questions should never be asked, because they are deeply upsetting to middle aged and elderly middle class Conservative net curtain twitchers who’ve been used to getting things their own way for all of their entitled lives. Questions like – Why should we continue to live in a nation which is run from London for the benefit of middle aged and elderly middle class Conservative net curtain twitchers?Questions like – Don’t you think it’s about time that Scotland became a normal country and took responsibility for itself and cared for all its citizens equally? Questions like – Should Scotland be an independent country?
Auntie Annabel wants the SNP to stop with the divisive democracy stuff and put all that silliness behind it. She wants them to accept the Tory hand of friendship and get on with things as they jolly well ought to be, sensible shoed and nicely turned out, governing the country in the interests of middle aged and elderly middle class Conservative net curtain twitchers in a golf club blazer sort of way. Auntie Annabel wants an end to all the nonsense, nonsense like working class people having views and opinions, nonsense like Scotland imagining that there might be a better future, nonsense like the silly notion that democracy isn’t just a spectactor sport with the unwashed masses watching the professional blazer wearers.
What Tories really mean when the pontificate on the need for conciliation and a healing of the referendum wounds is that they want the independence campaign to shut up and go away. The Tories want conciliation in the same way that both sides in innumerable armed conflicts say that they want peace, what they really mean is that they want total victory and the utter defeat and humiliation of the other side. For Tories, conciliation is a one way street, it means that the supporters of independence must reconcile themselves to the certainty of Tory rule forever and the Tories reconcile themselves to having everything their own way.
Maybe if Auntie Annabel really wanted reconciliation she might have phrased her own remarks in a rather more conciliatory manner. Instead she chose to imply that there can be no real justification for another independence referendum. It’s only the independence campaign and the SNP who need to be held to their word, not the Tories or the Union. It’s only the independence campaign and the SNP who need to be conciliatory and understanding of the sensitivities of the other side. The Tories don’t do sensitive, they do photo ops on tanks, Union flag waving, demonising immigrants, punishing the poor, and whisking away the crutches of the disabled.
But perhaps more than anything else, the Tories do rank repugnant hypocrisy. They complain about the supposed divisiveness of the referendum campaign but they’re the single party that has done more than any other to create and deepend divisions in society. The Tories thrive on division, they foster fear, they spread hate because it’s the dung in which their strangling weeds grow. They put forward pursed lipped motions decrying the Gaelic and Scots languages, because Tories can only prosper in a nation that is ignorant and afraid of itself and which flees from its own history and culture. They whip up fear of the foreign, seek solace in militarism, they encourage those who are getting by to blame all their ills on the poor so that the rich can benefit. They’re the party of selfishness, of I’m alright Jackism, the party that speaks of the enemy within. They’re the party of austerity and slashing public services, of selling off the state to their pals in the private sector. The party of 21 century slavery, ensnaring us all in debt and poverty so that a few can enrich themselves.
The Conservatives are a party which requires division, which digs the chasms into which the low paid can fall, which measures the widening gap between the haves and the have nots in terms of house prices and shares options for directors. And they’ve got the nerve to preach about conciliation. The Tories idea of conciliation is to say that they’ll only hit us about the head with a hammer twenty times instead of twenty two.
If the Conservatives were serious about conciliation they’d be offering olive branches to Scotland. They’d have fulfilled and exceeded the promises that they made during the independence referendum campaign. Instead all we’ve seen is a litany of Westminster failure, of deliberate contempt, job losses and the gleefully bouncing Fluffy Mundell announcing that the Scotland Bill was a trap. The Tories didn’t present an olive branch to Scotland, they offered us a cup of hemlock and then they act offended when we’ve refuse to drink deep and let our hopes die.
Just over two years ago the Tories could have practised the reconciliation that they preach and allowed a question on devo max on the referendum ballot paper. They refused, and instead decided to gamble on a yes no question to independence alone because they mistakenly believed that there would be a crushing victory for the Union and they could consign the independence campaign to a footnote in the history books. Then in the closing days of the campaign they realised the magnitude of their error and were forced to make all sorts of vague promises which they knew all too well that independence supporters would interpret as a commitment to devo max. Then they went back on those promises and instead of devo max they delivered what they themselves described as a trap. Now they’re complaining that the independence movement isn’t satisfied, they’re complaining about the consequences of their own deceit.
They’re learning now that there can be no reconciliation with liars, no one can trust a word that the Tories say. We’re not going away Auntie Annabel, if you really want reconciliation, the devo max ball is in your court. But the Tories don’t want reconciliation, they want us to give up and go away. And that’s not going to happen. As other Scottish aunties might say, hell slap it intae ye Annabel, because you’ve only got yourself to blame.
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