David Mundell gave a speech to the Tory party conference, but no one was really paying any attention. Well, I say “gave a speech to the Tory party conference”, but the vast majority of the conference was elsewhere when Fluffy was fluffing. They were off doing more important things like seeing how far they could get their tongues up Jacob Rees Mogg’s backside, or plotting with Boris Johnson about how to overthrow Theresa May, or shopping for red white and blue nail varnish in the nearest branch of Boots. The few who bothered to turn up to listen to Mundell’s inconsequences clustered together in front of the telly cameras in the hope of making it seem that he has as many fans as last year’s boy band. If that is, the fans of last year’s boy band were a bunch of geriatrics with zimmer frames, trying to persuade us that David was the lead singer of Hip Operation. Although not one on the NHS, because thanks to the Tories you’ll have to wait for longer than an average working class life expectancy before you’ll get one.
The truth is that more people have turned out at pro-independence public meetings to meet my dog than could be bothered to listen to Fluffy. Which means that a rescued mongrel dog from Spain has a bigger influence on the Scottish constitutional debate than the Scottish secretary of state. This shouldn’t come as any great surprise to anyone, the person who delivers a double latte machiato to cabinet meetings has a bigger influence on the Scottish constitutional debate. David Mundell isn’t trusted with anything more complex than a used teabag and a pot of lukewarm water. His sole role in Scottish politics is to deliver to Scotland whatever message his superiors tell him to deliver, but since his superiors are incapable of agreeing on whether the sunshine starts the day in the east, the west, or out of Boris Johnson’s backside, all he’s got left is freeform waffle. So he decided to fall back on a trusty favourite, lecturing Nicola Sturgeon on how she’s got to give up her obsession with independence.
Just a couple of days ago, Theresa May told the press that thanks to Ruth Davidson, the issue of Scottish independence had now gone away. This was somewhat contradictory when we consider the contents of Fluffy’s perorations, because if he felt the need to insist that Nicola Sturgeon stop thinking about the constitution, independence, and Scotland’s place in the world then clearly the issue of Scottish independence hasn’t gone away after all. Maybe Theresa just didn’t feel the need to tell the cabinet’s tartan teddy bear that he was now surplus to requirements, which only goes to prove her lack of empathy as she’s clearly surplus to requirements herself.
In any event, it’s not that the Conservatives are dealing with a deck of reality cards. The issue of Scottish independence hasn’t gone away. It’s not going to go away, and all the Tory foot stamping and insistence in the world won’t make it go away. There is no independence movement in the world which achieves the support of about half the population, then says to itself, “Oh well, that’s it all over. Let’s give up and go home,” and resigns itself to the current constitutional settlement forever just because the main party of independence won an election but failed to win it by a sufficiently crushing margin. That would be an election during which the independence party went through the entire campaign insisting that the election wasn’t about independence anyway. As definitions of “gone away” go, this is like closing your eyes when a person you dislike stands in front of you waving a YES placard, and insisting that they’re really halfway around the planet hiking up a mountain in Borneo.
In truth it’s public trust in the Conservative project which has gone away. The party is, in Ruth Davidson’s words, having a bit of a “nervous breakdown” as any semblance of a political consensus in the UK collapses and the Tories cannot agree on how to respond. Just a few months ago the Tories were riding high and were convinced that there was a huge majority in the UK for their version of a hard line Brexit and a return to a red white and blue political nostalgia, taking Britain back into some sort of Downton Abbey. Then they got a rude awakening when Theresa May lost her majority.
These are not political circumstances in which there’s no appetite for Scottish independence. These are political circumstances in which most people who don’t consume politics are either hoping desperately that everything will work out in the end, or are refusing to think about the impending train wreck. Time is however, running out, and when it does run out the independence movement will be there to provide a vision of a way out of the disaster wrought by an arrogant and selfish British establishment.
The Tory party is so adrift from any moorings in reality that a significant section of the party honestly believes that the way to attract back voters who are interested in the socially progressive and anti-austerity messages of Scottish independence or Corbynism is through the hardline Thatcherism and social conservatism that are in store with the ludicrously affected 18th century schtick of Jacob Rees Mogg. Another equally deluded part of the party thinks that the me me me-ism of Boris Johnson is the road to salvation, because in Boris Johnson the party has found the perfect distillation of the selfishness and self-interest that Conservatism stands for.
Today, Tuesday, Boris Johnson gave a speech to the Tory conference in which he waxed lyrical about all the wonderful things that a post-Brexit Britain can achieve for the rich, for global corporations. Meanwhile back in the real world the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution saying that insufficient progress has been made in Brexit talks for the EU to enter into negotiations with the UK about a trade deal. The Parliament supported a motion stating that the UK has seriously impeded talks because of a lack of clear proposals on the part of a British government. MEPs spoke about their frustration and anger that one of the biggest obstacles in the negotiations was due to the fact that the EU didn’t really know who it was negotiating with and their belief that the British government was putting the needs of the Conservative party before the interests of the UK. The Tory party is lost in a fantasy world of its own creation, and its dragging the whole country with it.
Maybe if David Mundell called on his own party leaders to concentrate on the day job instead of their obsession with jockeying for personal position, he might have delivered a speech that would have made slightly more people pay attention. Instead the Conservatives prefer to indulge in their own selfish and petty games, and throw the blame at everyone else for seeking a way out of a disaster that the Tories have created. All the Conservatives have to offer Scotland is some non-entity with no power or influence sounding off about his fantasy life in an empty room. Independence is the politics of the real world.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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