Over the weekend, Ruth Davidson crossed the thin red line between jolly photo opportunities, and dangerously narcissistic attention seeking. She appeared for her adoring public, or at least for her adoring pals in the press, dressed in army uniform as Colonel Ruth of the 32nd Signal Regiment. She was signalling that Scotland is now in the same league as a tin pot authoritarian state whose leaders adorn themselves in medals and braid and fancy uniforms. Still, it did mean that she was able to avoid difficult questions about why her pal Ian Duncan has now got a job as a government minister in the Scottish Office even though he was rejected at the ballot box by the voters of Perth. Ach silly me. Imagine thinking that the Scottish Unionist press is going to put difficult questions to Colonel Boakie. Oh how we laugh.
There are plenty of difficult questions which Colonel Boakie avoids by dint of her sick makingly manipulative photo opportunities with captured wildlife, dead fish, uniforms, dogs with bits cut off them, and weaponry – all things which the Tories are exceptionally fond of. She’s avoiding the question about Ian Duncan’s legitimacy. It will be interesting to hear Ian tell us that “the people said no and they meant it”, because apparently it doesn’t appear to apply to him. She’s avoiding the question about the assurances that she was reportedly given by Theresa May on LGBTQ rights, shortly before Theresa went and appointed an inveterate homophobe as her Justice Secretary and then did a deal with the DUP whose idea of LGBTQ rights is the right to stand outside a gay person’s house and scream Satan! Apparently hurling abuse at gay people is a lifestyle choice, so we shouldn’t be judgemental. All the episode proved was that when it comes to exerting influence on the British government, the Scottish Tories are regarded as just another bunch of moaning Scots with chips on their tweedy shoulders.
Now she’s avoiding another difficult question. Just a few days ago Colonel Boakie’s very own Fluffy Bunny and Governor General assured us that there would be no deal with the DUP that involved Northern Ireland getting money that circumvented the Barnett Formula. The Scottish Tories were going to fight Scotland’s corner and wouldn’t approve any deal that saw Northern Ireland get cash that was denied to Scotland. No, really. Stop laughing at the back there. They weren’t going to approve any deal that entailed going via the back door to avoid the Barnett hallway.
But then of course their bosses in Westminster went and did that anyway, because when it comes to saving their own political necks, and more importantly their careers, the concerns of the Scottish Tories are as much interest to them as the vegetarian option is to Sawney Bean. The Scottish Tories can disapprove all they like, but they’ve got bugger all means of stopping their bosses doing exactly as they please. And when their bosses go ahead and do it anyway, the Scottish Tories rush to their defence like the good little toadies that they really are. Fighting Scotland’s corner really means doing nothing, and then defending what they said they were going to prevent from happening. If this is how Colonel Boakie fights her corner then she’s wasting her time posing in her military uniform, we’d be as well replacing the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence with a freephone telephone number and a recorded message saying мы сдаемся, which is Russian for “we surrender”.
Because of this dirty little deal with the DUP, the Westminster government is now going to give an extra £1 billion in funding to Northern Ireland. There is a magic money tree after all, and it comes into fruit when the political careers of Theresa May and her cabinet are at stake. All it takes is fertilisation with a whole load of bull and a pork barrel full of hypocrisy. Colonel Boakie is good at bull, having posed on the back of one for a cheery photo opportunity. The extra money being thrown at Northern Ireland would work out, proportionately, at around £3 billion extra for Scotland and about £2 billion for Wales. Neither Scotland or Wales or anywhere in England is getting an extra penny.
The Tories lost the election in Scotland. They lost in Wales. Across England millions voted for change. Theresa May stood on a platform of trust in the most presidential election campaign the UK has ever seen, and she lost her majority and with it the trust of the voters. Yet it’s only Northern Ireland which will see the end of austerity, and that only as a result of an underhand deal in order to keep Theresa May in her job and to keep on imposing austerity on everyone else. Meanwhile the Irish Peace process is shattered and battered and the fate of the UK is put in the hands of the heirs to Ian Paisley. How’s that Ulsterisation of our politics working out for those unionist journalists now? Trust in Theresa plummets even lower with this underhand deal.
What makes it even worse is that it’s a deal that never needed to be made in the first place. It’s not like the DUP were ever going to vote to bring down the government and allow Jeremy Corbyn, friendly as he is to Irish Republicans, into power. This deal proves Theresa May’s lack of political sense and negotiating stupidity. She’s given away a large chunk of money. She’s put the Peace Process at risk. She’s undermined the Union even more. She’s angered the English regions. And all for nothing. And this is the person who’s supposed to get Britain a good deal from the EU.
For the Scottish Conservatives this deal and the failure of the British government to listen to anything that Fluffy or Colonel Boakie say proves that the Union is effectively dead. They’re all noise and no heft. The Scottish Conservatives are proving that they are the voice of the Union in Scotland, not the voice of Scotland in the Union. If a union provides benefits only insofar as it’s useful in propping up the rule of a particular political party, it’s no longer really a union at all. It’s a tin pot semi-democracy where politicians think its appropriate to dress up in public in military uniforms while their cronies get jobs in government even though the voters rejected them. Colonel Boakie’s march will drive Scotland to independence.
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