The Prime Ministerial Parrot visited Aberdeenshire on Saturday to squawk a few sound bites at some business where the employees were instructed to stand in silence, then repeated them before an invited audience of Tories who clapped like trained seals. Strong and stable! Coalition of Chaos! Precious Union! Now is not the time! Theresa wants a cracker! Then the entire charade will be reported in the press as though the Prime Ministerial Parrot had made an intervention in Scotland and had bravely dared to take her squawks, sorry, message, into the SNP’s heartland. At no point in the process will she be confronted by any Scottish person who might dare to say to her, “No Theresa, ye cannae get a cracker.”
Theresa May represents the final apotheosis of the trend that was begun by Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, when the Tories’ other female leader started the transformation of the office of Prime Minister into that of an elected dictator. A dictator moreover, who was elected on a deeply unrepresentative electoral system. The trend was strengthened under Tony Blair with his sofa government, in which all power was concentrated into the hands of Tony and a small group of his associates. The most notable power struggle throughout the Blair years being that between Blair and his former ally Gordie Broon. Under what passes for a constitution in the UK there were never any real checks and balances against the concentration of power in the office of the Prime Minister, and throughout the last few decades successive PMs have taken full advantage of that fact. Parliament has been reduced to process of rubber stamping by a mass of minions. The supposedly collegiate cabinet in which the PM was once merely the first amongst equals has transformed into a yadda-yadda of yespersons. Whatever a PM with a majority wants, a PM with a majority gets.
Now Theresa May is taking the dictatorisation of British politics to its logical conclusion. The only reason this election was called in the first place was to ensure absolute power for Theresa May. Once she secures her crushing majority, there will be no checks and balances on Theresa. There will be no way to hold her to account. There will be no limit to her authority. And that’s exactly how she likes it. The British parliamentary system began as an attempt to prevent a monarch exercising absolute power, and it’s transformed into a system in which the Prime Minister exercises absolute power instead, and does so even though he or she is elected by less than half the votes cast.
It’s not even as though Theresa May is specific about what she wants to do with the power that she craves. All we get a soundbites that could just as easily be squawked by a parrot, and a complete refusal from Theresa May to put herself in any situation where she might be forced to answer questions, never mind debate and defend her policies. That’s the fate of the UK in the 21st century, to be subject to the absolute power of a dictatorial parrot. Theresa wants a cracker! Theresa wants obedience! And just like a parrot, Theresa makes sure that the newspaper is covered in crap.
Obstensibly the reason for this general election is to strengthen Theresa May’s hand in negotiations with the EU. In what way exactly does gaining an even larger majority in a domestic parliament strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU? Does she honestly believe that the rest of the EU is going to say “Oh well, Theresa May’s got a bigger majority in Westminster now, so we’d better give her want she wants in negotiations.” Because Poland is going to surrender the rights of Polish citizens in Peterborough because Theresa May achieved a larger majority. Spain is going to give up on its claims to Gibraltar because more people in Wiltshire voted Tory. Germany is going to stop trying to attract financial service industries formerly based in London because a Conservative MP in Kent was reelected with a larger majority.
It’s such an obvious nonsense, yet her acolytes in the media and her party don’t challenge or question her, and Theresa does her utmost to ensure that no one can ask her any questions. And on those occasions when she does get asked a question, she squawks her parrot replies. Strong and stable! Brexit means Brexit! Theresa wants absolute power! OK, maybe not that last one.
Derek Bateman pointed out in a recent blog that despite their much vaunted revival, this current bunch of Scottish Tories are the weakest in history. There are no occasions on which David Mundell or Ruth Davidson have stood up to their boss and said that Scotland needs to do things differently. This is a marked contrast to the Scottish Tories of the past, who saw it as their responsibility to ensure that Scottish distinctiveness had a voice in the corridors of power. Mundell and Davidson see their job as being the voice of the corridors of power in Scotland. They don’t exist to represent Scotland in the Union, they exist to represent the Union in Scotland. Determining how that Union is constituted, shaping that Union, ensuring that Scotland’s voice is heard at the highest levels of the Union, that’s not their job. Their job is to deliver Scotland into the claws of the elected dictatorship of the Prime Ministerial Parrot.
Labour are Unionists. The Lib Dems are Unionists. For all their blind opposition to independence those parties at least seek some form of devolutionary settlement in which Scotland’s distinctiveness can be represented. The Tories don’t. The Tories stand for incorporation. They want a weakened and neutered Scottish parliament. They strive for a Scotland in which opposition is silenced and which is forced to bend its knee and submit to the will of the Prime Ministerial Parrot. When the Tories say that they will stand up for the Union, what they mean is that they will enforce the will of an increasingly dictatorial Prime Minister in Scotland. They stand for the destruction of one of the last remaining power bases in order to further the concentration of all power in the hands of the Prime Minister’s office. The reality is that when the Conservatives describe themselves as Unionists, they’re lying. They’re incorporationists. Scotland for them is just another perch from which the Prime Ministerial Parrot can squawk her soundbites. The Tories stand for the slow death of Scottish, and British, democracy.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-29th-april-2017
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