Theresa May is in Edinburgh, not that anyone who isn’t a fully paid up member of the Tory party or who doesn’t have a press pass would notice. As ever, Theresa is appearing in the only habitat in which she can thrive – that’s in front of a wee squad of Conservative party members waving blue placards with her name on them, repeating the same speech she always does and with the exact same jokes.
Well, I say jokes. They’re carefully rehearsed one liners that have been focus grouped to death and which only Tory activists find remotely amusing. It must be pretty galling. There you are, a middle class greasy pole climber with a sense of entitlement as big as a Morningside villa, and all the Tory party does for your political ambitions is to give you a piece of cardboard and tells you to stand behind Theresa May waving it like a demented groupie at a One Direction concert and laughing uproariously at jokes that make James Kelly MSP seem like a master of wit and repartee.
Following her previous successful visit to Scotland when she challenged the SNP in their heartland by delivering a string of soundbites to a handful of Tory activists and a group of invited press people in a garden shed deep in a forest in Aberdeen, this time Theresa is striking at the very heart of Scottish life by speaking in a dark and dank removal company warehouse somewhere in Edinburgh distant from a bus route. Scotland needs to send the Tories packing, and helpfully they’re halfway there for us already.
At any moment you expected Storage Hunters to leap out and fight over the auction rights to the boxes Theresa was standing on, but they’d be sadly disappointed as all they contain are hot air and the damp condensation of evaporated promises. Gordon Brown did all this sort of thing in previous elections, but at least he had the decency to appear in front of his wee audience of invitees and press persons making his interventions in places which actually have plumbing and lighting. But Theresa May can’t even manage that much, probably because if plumbing was available it’s her that the great majority of Scots would want to flush away. She certainly doesn’t want lighting because she prefers to hide away the real message of the Tories in the dark. She can’t appear in daylight because she would turn to ash.
According to one press representative who was there, the tiny wee squad of diehard Tories were told before Theresa descended from her ice palace to cheer a lot because otherwise it would seem like there was no one there. And with the exception of the gaggle of Tories and the goggle of the press, there wasn’t anyone there. It was one of those manufactured events which masquerade as Theresa meeting the public. It’s a bit like claiming that ghosts are real and there really is an afterlife because you’ve got the Lego edition of the Ghostbusters headquarters. And just like Lego a path that’s strewn with Tories is very painful to tread.
Today Jeremy Corbyn said that Theresa May ought to resign because under her watch government cuts have led to a reduction in the number of police officers and there are now 20,000 fewer than in 2010. She was asked while in Edinburgh why she won’t remove the obligation that Police Scotland have to pay VAT, they’re the only police force in Theresa’s precious Union that have to pay VAT. If Police Scotland didn’t have to pay VAT they could put many more police officers on the streets of Scotland. Theresa didn’t answer the question. Although to be fair she didn’t answer any of the questions asked of her. She was in Edinburgh, so she did vary her usual soundbites by appending SNP bad to them. This is as close to flexibility and thinking on her feet as you’ll get from Theresa.
The entire perfomance was an exercise in SNP baddery, and absolutely nothing of any substance. You’d almost imagine that it was the SNP who have been the Westminster government since 2010. The press really ought to boycott these non-events. It’s not like anyone is fooled by them.
According to Ruth the warm up act, the message that Theresa was bringing to us benighted Scots, at least those of us who’d made it to the removals warehouse, was that voting for her would Make Britain Great Again. It’s a slogan that seems terribly familiar somehow, but it’s pretty appropriate given the circumstances since both Donald Trump and the Scottish Conservatives look a bit orange. You might think that “Make Britain Great Again” wasn’t such a great slogan idea for a government seeking re-election, as it kind of implies that Britain isn’t too great at the moment, and if it isn’t it’s only fair to ask whose fault that is then. You know, it might just be the fault of the people who’ve been in government since 2010.
When it was put to Theresa that if the SNP win Thursday’s general election in Scotland that will reinforce their mandate for another referendum, all the more so since the Tories are fighting this campaign in Scotland on the single issue of opposing another independence referendum and nothing else, all she said was “now is not the time”. Theresa May’s sole talent is for evasion. You could ask Theresa May whether she’d ever give a direct answer to a direct question and she’d reply “now is not the time”, which would then be the only time she’s ever given a direct reply to a direct question.
Obstensibly Theresa May was in Edinburgh to tell us that she’s committed to the democratic process, and committed to ensuring that Scotland doesn’t get another independence referendum, because only some democratic processes are worth being committed to. Still, it did give her the opportunity to intone some of her old hits. Whenever she was asked about another independence referendum all she said was “now is not the time”. At least that’s one thing on which we can all agree, since the time for another referendum is when Theresa has royally screwed up the Brexit negotiations, giving Scotland the opportunity to vote on whatever wreckage that Theresa has reduced our relations with Europe to. But Theresa doesn’t want Scotland to have any say on that at all, and the reason for that is because she knows that Scotland is very likely to consider the results of her performance and consign her and the UK to the removals company storehouse of history. However it does appear that Theresa May views this election as giving her the absolute right to tell everyone else what they can and cannot talk about. That doesn’t seem much like a commitment to the democratic process to me. The people of Scotland will decide their own future, whatever Theresa May has to say hidden away in a dank warehouse.
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