Ruthie’s really annoyed. She’s got her angry face on, the one that she uses whenever anyone says the magic words that are guaranteed to irk her. Those words would be “carpetbagging careerist on a tank”, “I think Murdo Fraser would have been a better leader,” or “Scottish independence”. It’s the last two words that are getting her goat of late, since the only people who say that Murdo Fraser would be a better leader of the Scottish Tories are Murdo Fraser and his immediate family, and in any case being a Tory is pretty much a synonym for being a carpetbagging careerist, the tanks being optional.
Ruth’s very very angry these days because the words Scottish independence are being uttered with a frequency which is alarming to a knee-jerk Unionist. Actually, them being uttered at all is alarming to a knee-jerk Unionist, which goes a very long way to explaining the permascowl on Ruthie’s tanksitting face. It’s the kind of look you normally associate with a urinary tract infection.
Mind you, the one person in Holyrood who mentions independence more than anyone else is Ruth Davidson. Funny how she’s convinced that there’s no demand for it and that Scotland will never vote for it, yet she devotes all her time and energy to pulling faces about it. This is not unrelated to the fact that if she didn’t constantly go on about independence, she might find herself having to defend the policies of a viciously rightwing UK government that enjoys the support of a single stuffed toy of a Scottish MP.
On Thursday it was Furst Meenister’s Questions, and Ruthie was demanding to know what Brexit terms would make Nicola call off a second referendum. It’s a bit like if Nicola was to ask Ruthie just how many promises the Unionist parties need to break before Ruthie will admit that Scotland’s never going to get a fair deal as long as we’re governed by people who remain unaccountable to us. The only answer you’re going to get from Ruthie would be a photo opportunity on a tank. Or possibly some Great British bull, which amounts to much the same thing.
The Brexit terms that would make Nicola call off any possibility of a second referendum would be for Ruthie’s party not to take Scotland out of the EU against our will. That’s not going to happen, as Ruthie well knows. It’s only the outcome of the 2014 referendum that needs to be respected for a generation, the outcome of the 2016 referendum can be brushed under the carpet and have a tank parked on it. Then Ruth can pose for her gaggle of adoring press fanboys and pretend that she’s got some policies.
The Tories are the infants of Scottish politics. They’re still struggling with the concept of causality, although to be fair even tiny babies have a rudimentary understanding of the idea that one action will cause another one. The Scottish Tories are like a toddler in a high chair who keep dropping their rattle on the floor in the expectation that next time it might not be susceptible to gravity. The simple fact of the matter is that Scotland is where it is politically right now because the Conservatives haven’t kept the promises and commitements that they made to Scotland two years ago. Another independence referendum is on the cards, and it’s entirely the fault of the Tories. All the dropped rattles in the world won’t change that fundamental truth. That’s why Ruthie’s got a permascowl, which is merely a more adult version of a toddler tantrum.
So if the Tories want the independence movement to drop the idea of holding another independence referendum within the next couple of years, it’s very easy. All they need to do is to demonstrate that they were telling the truth to Scotland. That means acknowledging that Scotland is a respected and valued partner in the supposedly most perfect partnership of nations, and not a recalcitrant northern province that should do what it’s told. It means granting Scotland the Home Rule that they vowed to give us in the fag end days of the referendum campaign and that in turn means the Scottish parliament should be receiving far more powers than the hauf airsed and hauf heartit tweaks of income tax and minor benefits that were finally conceded. It means the MoD placing an order for 13 type 26 frigates on the Clyde. It means saving the jobs of the 3000 tax office workers in Cumbernauld and East Kilbride. It means investment in Scotland’s renewable energy industry. It means no Trident renewal. It means no Brexit. Because all those things were promised to Scotland in 2014, and all those things were denied to us. But then if you’re a Unionist, it’s only the Scottish government that needs to be held to account. Westminster gets to do as it damn well pleases, and Scotland is expected to suck it up.
Of course there are those of us, like me, who believe in Scottish independence and who will never stop arguing for it and campaigning for it. The point however is that we’re only finding an audience a mere two years since the last indyref because the Tories, along with Labour and the Lib Dems, stared into the face of their worst nightmare, the end of their precious Union, and then presented with a narrow victory decided it meant that they could go back to business as usual. Back to ignoring Scotland. Back to dismissing Scotland. Back to patronising Scotland. Their problem is that they didn’t change, but Scotland did.
If the Tories had kept all the promises made to Scotland by the Unionist parties during the 2014 indyref campaign, we wouldn’t be here now. There would be no real appetite or demand for another independence referendum. What the Unionist parties are learning now is a lesson in causality. Or karma, as the Buddhists put it. It’s their own actions that have led us to this point. Ruthie dropped her rattle, and the rattle has hit the floor with a resounding noise that’s woken up a country. She can scowl all she likes but she’s only got herself to blame. That’s the law of karma.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-8th-sept-2016
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