The Conservative party conference in Manchester is still trundling on, rather like the Scottish Conservative party itself, long past the point where anyone is listening or cares what they have to say. It’s like a jaded reality show full of deeply unpleasant people that you’ve never heard of who claim to be celebrities, only instead of botox, fake tans, big teeth and face lifts, this lot have overdosed on the gammon and corruption, by Monday the conference was being overshadowed by the growing evidence from the Pandora investigation, which appears to show that significant donations to the Conservative party are linked to donors who are alleged to be involved in money laundering, bribery, and who have ties to authoritarian regimes in Russia and Central Asia. The Conservatives might be enjoying an inexplicable polling success in England, but they are sinking in a sea of sleaze.
It is notable that the Elections bill which the Conservatives are currently steering through the Commons introduces barriers making it harder for traditionally non-Conservative voting groups to vote, gives the cabinet office control over the Electoral Commission, effectively transforming it into an agent of the Conservative Government, but does absolutely nothing to address the issue of political party donations and the dark money that fuels the Conservative party.
Naturally the Conservatives don’t want to address that, sucking up money from dodgy sources is the main fuel for the Tories and is key to their political success, sucking the probity out of the UK’s electoral system is likewise a key part of their success, as they move to transform Brexit Britain into an authoritarian quasi-one party state with an economy fueled by completing the transformation of the City of London into the money laundering capital of the world.
Yesterday it was Michael Gove’s turn to oil some platitudes from the podium, after he had dodged questions put to him by reporters about his party’s questionable funding and its willingness to accept large sums of money from individuals who make Johnson and Gove seem like paragons of honesty, transparency, and moral probity.
Speaking about his party’s “levelling up” agenda, which is neither level nor up as numerous studies have shown that it displays “blatant” bias in favour of already leafy and well to do Conservative constituencies (See for example : https://www.ft.com/content/d485da2a-5778-45ae-9fa8-ca024bc8bbcf ) Gove claimed that his party wanted to ensure that everyone had a choice. Everyone that is, except people in Scotland as Gove then went on to assert that his party would never allow the break up of the UK, and this Conservative government is quite happy to find spurious reasons to deny the people of Scotland a choice about the future of Scotland despite the fact that in this year’s Holyrood elections the people of Scotland gave the Scottish Parliament a clear and unequivocal mandate for a second independence referendum.
However even apart from Gove’s equally blatant hypocrisy about choice when it comes to Scotland, it is clear that what the Conservatives are levelling up to is not tackling poverty or deprivation but rather funneling public money into Tory voting districts in a bid to boost their vote. It is a nakedly party political programme, paid for by public money and dressed up as aid to the poorest and most deprived communities in the UK.
This is the programme which Douglas Ross was referring to when he said that he had no problem with the British Government by-passing the Scottish Parliament of which he himself is a member and spending directly in Scotland on matters which are devolved according to the devolution settlement. Of course Douglas is happy for the devolution settlement which as an MSP he has a primary duty to defend being undermined and subverted.
It means assistance for his party of none of the talents which couldn’t even gain seats despite a concerted and suspiciously well funded anti-independence tactical voting campaign which may or may not have been backed up by that sleazy dark money of which the Conservatives are so fond, and the assistance of an overwhelmingly anti-independence Scottish media in which there are considerably more Conservative commentators and apologists than there are actual Conservative MPs and MSPs and which sees its primary job as to fend off independence by any means and only to hold power to account if that’s the power of a Scottish Government led by the SNP.
The Scottish Conservatives actively seek the weakening and hollowing out of the devolution settlement because it benefits them as a party. It allows them to wield the power of the majorities that the Conservatives achieve in England on the back of their transformation into a party of naked Anglo-British nationalism despite the fact that even with the assistance of British Government intervention, dark money from dubious sources, and a press which devotes itself to attacking their main opposition, the Scottish Conservatives still cannot come anywhere close to winning a Scottish election on their own dubious merits.
Today Boris Johnson was asked about the fuel and food shortages which have been worsened by his government’s blinkered pursuit of the hardest Brexit they could get away with – all the easier to make the City of London the first port of call for global money laundering. He was also asked about the rises in the cost of living which come just as his government has slashed £20 per week from the incomes of the poorest families , ended the furlough scheme which so many low paid workers still rely on and raised national insurance, a tax rise which will disproportionately hit the low paid.
Johnson breezily brushed it all off, insisting it was a short term issue which wasn’t a problem. It’s certainly not a problem for the likes of him. Astonishingly he also asserted that “It’s not my job to fix all of the UK’s problems.” Eh, yes, yes it is. The buck stops in Downing Street. Johnson said: “It is not the job of government to come in and fix every problem”. Perhaps someone should remind Douglas Ross of that as he seems to think that it’s the job of the Scottish Government to fix every problem in Scotland despite the fact it has considerably less power over the economy than the government in Westminster.
Labour’s party conference revealed a divided and directionless party which is unable to mount an effective opposition. The Conservative Conference has revealed a deceitful, hypocritical and corrupt party driven by self interest and sinking in a sea of sleaze. There is only one way out of the corrupt dysfunction that the UK has become. Independence cannot come soon enough.
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