The flapping plastic bags of Britishness


It’s been reported over the weekend that three Conservative cabinet ministers have warned Theresa May that they are planning to support an amendment to delay Brexit and take a no deal Brexit off the table. The former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Heseltine, one of the grandest of the party’s grandees, also spoke out to say that cabinet resignations are likely unless MPs are allowed to block the most catastrophic aspects of Brexit and the Prime Minister ceases her dance of death with the zealots of the European Research Group and the DUP.

The three cabinet ministers who spoke out in an article in Daily Mail,what Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, the justice minister, and the business secretary, Greg Clark, warned of the damage and chaos that would be produced by a no deal Brexit, and stated that it would wreck the UK’s economy and put national security at risk. The three are insisting that the Prime Minister allows cabinet ministers a free vote on an amendment due to be voted on in the House of Commons on Wednesday and have said that if the Prime Minister doesn’t do so then they will resign. Put forward by another former Conservative cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, most famous for leaving his cabinet briefing papers in a public bin, and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, the amendment would oblige the British government to ask the EU to delay Brexit unless a deal has been passed by the Commons by the middle of March.

Under normal rules, cabinet ministers are obliged to vote with the government. But these are not normal times, and this is a government which has hitherto shown very little respect for normal rules. If normal rules were respected, the Prime Minister would have already resigned when her flagship policy went down to the greatest defeat in parliamentary history. But this isn’t a normal Prime Minister. This is a Prime Minister who has the listening skills of a rock and the interpersonal skills of the speaking clock. Even now, she’s still refusing to change course and refusing to acknowledge any need to alter her plans.

On Sunday, faced with yet another humiliating defeat in the Commons and an EU which is steadfastly refusing to budge, Theresa May yet again displayed her lack of respect for normal rules and announced that she was postponing the meaningful vote planned for this week until March 12, just two weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU. The move has tensions amongst cabinet ministers and Conservative backbenchers even further. She’s a minority PM behaving like a dictator, playing a game of chicken with the entire economy, with the personal lives of millions of people, and the future of the UK. Only a person without the slightest concern about the effects of her actions on other people could pursue such a path. Theresa May makes Margaret Thatcher seem humane, compassionate, and understanding.

Other than being Tories who are speaking out against the calamity of a no deal Brexit, what Amber Rudd, David Gauke, and Greg Clark all have in common is that none of them is David Mundell. Even amongst the no marks of the Conservative cabinet David Mundell fails to make an impression. He’s the political nobody’s nobody. The Scotland Secretary is the living embodiment of a shredded plastic supermarket bag with union flag branding, flapping aimlessly in the breeze in the branches of a tree, signalling nothing but its own uselessness. At least you notice that the bag is present and it impinges upon your consciousness, which is considerably more than can be said for David Mundell.

When you have a cabinet where collective responsibility has broken down and a party which is at war with itself that is precisely the time that any politician who has an ounce of moral fibre should be standing up for her or his constituents and personal beliefs. Yet from a Scottish perspective, what has been most noticeable about the power plays, staking out of red lines, cabinet splits, and internal battles which characterise the Conservative party is the silence and passivity of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservative™ MPs. That’s those MPs who we were told were going to vote as a bloc to protect and defend Scotland’s interests within this so-called union.

You might think that amidst all these power plays, that Scottish Conservative MPs might seize the opportunity to make their own mark on Brexit and in the process demonstrate to the electorate of Scotland that they are indeed an effective voice for Scotland within the UK. But instead the closest thing we’ve got from any of them to a distinct political manifesto is Ross Thomson’s denial that he did anything wrong when he allegedly mistook a man’s crotch for an item of furniture.

It is striking that even when party discipline has all but collapsed, when cabinet ministers feel free to brief against one in the press and openly defy the Prime Minister, that none of those Scottish Conservative MPs is speaking out against a hard Brexit and defending the interests of their majority remain voting constituents – never mind a Scotland which voted to remain by a considerably larger majority than it voted against independence. The fact that even when there are going to be few political consequences against them within their own party for speaking out, yet they still don’t speak out, is indeed a testament to their character. It’s just not a good testament.

You might think that that Scottish anti-independence media which was so keen to big up Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ in the first place might now be holding those silent and complicit Conservative MPs to account. But then if you think that you probably also think that the BBC Question Time audience was a fair and balanced representation of the people of Motherwell. When this period of Scottish history is written about in future decades, the failure of anti-independence MPs and the anti-independence media to speak up for Scotland and defend Scotland’s interests within the UK will be cited as one of the most important reasons which led to Scottish independence. Even on their own terms they are failing Scotland. It’s not just David Mundell who’s a union flag branded plastic bag caught in a tree.

Scotland will become an independent nation because the British state and its institutions have proven themselves incapable of responding to Scotland’s needs, views, and concerns.

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30 comments on “The flapping plastic bags of Britishness

  1. bringiton says:

    The assumption that unionist MPs in Scotland are elected to look after the interests of Scotland is a fallacy.
    As with the Secretary of State for Scotland,their purpose is to represent the interests of the British state in Scotland and that means the government of the day in Westminster.
    That is what the people who elected them expect.
    This also extends to unionist MSPs whose sole purpose is to prevent Scottish independence and ensure that Scotland stays in line with England on all important matters.
    That is what the people who elected them expect.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The flapping plastic bags of Britishness It’s been reported over the weekend that three Conservative cabinet ministers have […]

  3. M biyd says:

    I’m surprised we’re still bitching about QT in Motherwell. They did the same thing in YES city Dundee!. Mundell is hopeless. He only got the job cause he was the only Tory in town at the time. Please remember Cameron appointed Alistair Carmichael as Scottish secretary and David was his lap dog. The fake memo affair occurred on his watch.

  4. Macart says:

    Holding parliament in contempt… again. Who knew?

    Which kinda tells you something about parliament and the state of UK democracy. Both have failed in the recent past and are continuing to fail today. Ably aided and abetted by fairly hefty sections of media.

    Of the media that is still pro Westminster and pro EU? They’re pretty much wearing their powerlessness and depression like a cloak. Mainly because they’re facing their own version of the circle badly in need of squaring. Their practices did help bring all of this about and at some point mibbies they’ll even admit that to themselves, if no one else.

    Back to parly though. Treeza barely blinked the last time she treated parliament with contempt. She’s lost more votes as a PM than I can safely count at this point and survived what? Two votes of no confidence? She’s still in office.

    Now the PM’s office has held its fair share of evil bastirts over the years. How and ever, I can’t think of any of them who have basically (and publicly) humiliated parliament and carried on regardless of their own many failures. If that’s not a catastrophic failure of the UK political system right there? Then it’s doing a damn fine impersonation.

    Happily we can still have an opt out of this farce. Mibbies worth folk thinking about that around now.

    • Anne Martin says:

      The problem they have in Westminster now is that nobody else really wants the PM job. They are happy to let Treeza carry the can for the omnishambles that is so called UK Government.

      • Molly McC says:

        Anne, I have thought that from Day 1 and the bigger the mess becomes…its more likely no one will touch the job with a 10′ pole. I don’t like the wummin, but the stress must be unbelievable. With her money, why the hell hasn’t she thrown the towel in? Cameron did.

      • Macart says:

        It’s a poison pill of a position to be sure Anne.

        May is a zealot in her own right. Single track, close minded and promoted well beyond her capabilities. Her job is to deliver Brexit (as she sees it), keep her party in power, absorb and or scapegoat, (as effectively as possible), responsibility for any backlash. She is seen as a longtime politician and facilitator of Conservative legislation. Her past brief as HS should give most folks a heads up on that score and the nature of the person they’re dealing with. Definitely not the warm, fuzzy, caring type.

        Any Brexit is catastrophic for the populations of the UK currently, but that fact alone won’t stop delivery. The people driving this shambles, whether with intent or idiocy, aren’t overly bothered with that however. May is the perfect choice for the job.

        The real problem for them is the immediate future, which is still anyone’s guess (and one is as good as another), and what follows immediately after. The can kicking is no accident and serves several purposes, both at home and overseas.

        • Luigi says:

          “May is the perfect choice for the job.”

          I have also come to that conclusion, Sam. For the job in hand, she is perfect. It’s a horrible job and there will be utterly awful outcomes, whatever happens, but I don’t think anyone else could have pulled it off. A heart of stone indeed.

          As for the Scottish tories’ reluctance to speak up for Scotland, well it speaks volumes about their weakness of character and their utter dread of independence and hatred of the SNP, but hey we knew that already, right?

          Leopard, spots etc. 🙂

          • Macart says:

            TBF Luigi, I’m not entirely sure they’re capable of seeing past themselves, their personal ideologies, or their party (in that order). In which case, and so far as yer modern Tory is concerned, their country of origin is a movable feast to suit their interest du jour.

            So yeah, they’re behaving perfectly normally. 😎

  5. Alba woman says:

    Big Teresa spitting in the face of MPs and the British people….she single handily has reduced our sense of democracy to a shattered dream.

    The Westminster executive has been given and has taken overweening power…..Almost time for Scotland to leave it all happily behind. Our children and grand children deserve no less.

    • bringiton says:

      Don’t blame the individual.She does what she does because she can.
      It is the Westminster system that allows these sort of shenanigans and has been exposed for the democratic sham that it represents.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        The same system that basically says England can never be overruled as what gets decided there is always due to the English only as 533 mps out of 650 all are englands doesn’t that seem badly rigged in englands favour.

  6. Millsy says:

    David Mundell ( who still hasn’t resigned ) will be the last man standing when every Cabinet member has resigned , when every ‘meaningful vote ‘ has been lost , when every MP with a backbone has left the Tories to the mercies of the ERG .
    As Treeza raises her tear-stained face from the cabinet table she will see Fluffy cowering in the corner , wearing his pinny and carrying the tea-tray and ask ” Who the f*ck are you ? ”

    • Andy MacNicol says:

      A Union flag pinny of course, and red post box mugs and a London bus biscuit tin. That’s oor Fluffy.

    • Luigi says:

      Many Tory politicians are of weak character, so the bar is fairly low.

      However, has their ever been such a spineless, jelly-hearted wee spite of a Scottish secretary as David Mundell?

  7. Yet Mundell gets headlines in the Hootsman blaming the bad SNP for the impasse.
    He argues that May’s Deal and the Scottish Government’s EU Proposals are one and the same, and no hack points out that they are nothing of the sort.
    He will cling on and endure humiliation after humiliation because the money’s the driver, not his duty to the people of Scotland who voted 62% Remain.
    Even the 38% who voted Leave did not vote to be poorer and held under House Arrest in Scotland.
    He’ll get his knighthood out of it.
    I’m sure the farmers and agricultural works in the Borders will send him a message when we are flooded with cheap US meat and poultry.
    The last think this man thinks about is the wellbeing of his fellow Scots.
    After all, according to him Scotland ceased to exist in 1707.
    Now we are to wait until March, what then?
    May will resign soon, like Cameron, Johnson, Farage, Davis, and Raab before her.
    It’s about to go very crazy indeed.

  8. astytaylor says:

    I’m chaining myself the the railings outside the Scottish Office. Any month soon.
    (Sort of assuming that there are railings to chain myself to. Anyone know?)
    Someone has to.
    Performance art.
    And as someone said, “if you’re not being arrested, you’re not really trying”.
    See ya soon, asty

  9. CameronB Brodie says:

    The Prime-minister appears to be the embodiment of English utilitarianism, which comes as no surprise given her upbringing. As such, the ends justify the means, in her mind, and all rational men have the same notion of good.

    She appears to be an anti-democratic, racist, English nationalist, Tory. Subsequently, she should be considered a hostile threat to the Scottish nation.

    • chicmac says:


      Even applying an anglo-centric chauvinistic definition of ‘the greater good’ (which I am sure many Torys do) Brexit is a failed policy. Brexit cannot result in a better end so the end justifies the means is an impossibility in it’s case.

      • CameronB Brodie says:

        True Brexit will be a disaster but I think the Prime-minster’s primary concern is pandering to English exceptionalism and stopping the freedom of movement. She has all the appearance of being a racist and her actions have empowered open racism in England.

        Brexit has nothing to do with building a stronger democracy and economy, it’s all about protecting the notional integrity of the English identity.

        Brexit is blood-an-soil nationalism on stilts.

        • Charles McGregor says:

          Which in neither the Scottish or English case makes any sense. Or to spunnerise the phrase:
          ‘The DNA mystifies the genes’

  10. Wullie says:

    Fluttering ragged plastic bags, they are called witches knickers. Very apt.

  11. chicmac says:

    To extend your analogy… It is time Scotland invested in a ‘bag for life’. It may cost a wee bit more at the outset but as well as being environmentally friendly, it is also more sturdy and secure.

    I think you all know what I am talking about. 😉

  12. Bill McDermott says:

    Fluffy will hold out for a peerage rather than a knighthood Jack. That way he will be in the retirement home for life at £300 per day + expenses.

    On TM’s attitude to immigration, according the Anna Soubry this is her basic belief. It trumps all else and makes me think that her position pre-referendum was a false flag. She was always a brexiteer, it is just that she didn’t want to put her head above the parapet as a cabinet member.

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