Most of us in Scotland who support independence have no sympathies with the Tories. Getting away from them and building a politics in which they’re permanently a minority party instead of the usual party of government is in fact the prime reason why so many of us support independence in the first place. We’ve had our fill of their austerity, their greed and selfishness, their lack of compassion and humanity. We’ve had enough of the way in which they blame the poor for the sins of the rich. We’ve reached the end of our tether with they way in which they have normalised foodbanks and the demonisation of migrants. Having sympathy with the political travails of a Conservative is too much like empathising with the mosquito which is killed by the malaria fluke it passes on to a child.
The sorrows of Conservatives still makes those of us with a functioning ability to feel compassion go “Hell slap it intae ye.” However something has changed within the Conservatives of late which, while it might not make us feel any sympathy for anyone who sought a political career in the Tories, ought to make us worry about our own futures as long as Scotland remains subjugated to this binfire of a UK. Former One Nation Tories are leaving the party in their droves. These are the people considered moderate by Conservative standards, the ones who’d give a child on crutches a modest head start before attempting to run them over. The One Nation Tories were the last vestige of upper class Conservative patronage, the Victorian belief that those who had wealth and privilege ought to provide a modicum for the poor, even if it were only to offer their children employment as chimney cleaners.
In the past few weeks and months we’ve seen the resignation of the media construct that was Ruth Davidson, a woman whose fantasy future as the next first minister is behind her. She has been followed out of politics by Ken Clarke, Rory Stewart, David Lidington, Philip Hammond, Oliver Letwin, Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan, and some two dozen more. Others have fled the Conservatives for the Lib Dems or Change UK. Their places will be taken by hard faced closed minded right wing Brexiteers who will strengthen the ranks of the European Research Group and push the Tories even further to the right.
Those who have left Conservative politics are not cuddly liberals. These are not left wing social democrats that we are talking about here. These are politicians who were quite comfortable with the spread of food banks, tax cuts for the rich, blaming the poor for the sins of the bankers who caused the financial crash. They were quite content to preside over the destruction of financial security for the disabled, the bedroom tax, the rape clause, and the privatisation of anything that wasn’t nailed down. But they’re leaving politics or have joined other parties because the Conservative party has now become the preserve of right wing ideologues, chancers, opportunists, and British nationalist extremists, people who are beyond the pale even for them. They’ve gone because even they, with their barely functioning capacity for compassion, fear what’s coming down the line and don’t want to taint themselves with it. They’ve gone because even though the harsh and cruel policies that they were responsible for were acceptable to them, what’s approaching is an order of magnitude worse. If they’re afraid, we should be terrified. It’s one thing to hear a warning about the devil from a saint, it’s quite another to hear it from a demon.
The Tories are now the party of English nationalism, supported by their useful idiots in Scotland who still think they’re in a union. They’re the party of Brexit, of opportunistic hard right wing populism. They’re a party which, and I don’t use this term lightly, are heading for fascism. They’re a party which is hell bent on destroying the post-war British consensus which gave us the NHS, state pensions, and a comprehensive social security system. They’re ultras in pinstripes. If you voted No in 2014 because you wanted to protect those social gains, now the only way you can do so is by supporting independence. They’re already tattered and battered, they won’t last much longer in Tory Ukania.
There is no place left in the Conservatives for compromise, for negotiation. All there is is the philosophy of winner takes all and to Hell with everyone else. The party which considers itself the natural party of British government now considers that reaching out is a weakness and empathy a mental illness. This is the new nature of things, a harsh faced cruelty, the sneer of Daily Mail editorials as British national policy. But they’ll stick a few union flags on things and if we object we’ll be unpatriotic traitors.
The Tories tell us that they don’t want another independence referedum because it would be divisive. But they’re creating the greatest social divisions of all as they take a crowbar to the gap between rich and poor and lever it ever wider. They’re no longer even pretending that they’re doing it for the good of the country. Now they’re going to places where even Thatcher didn’t dare to tread.
Expect the ever creeping privatisation of the NHS. Expect the cost of drugs to rise. Expect more tax cuts for the rich while the government preaches the need for austerity. Expect to see disability payments slashed. Expect to see even more homeless people begging on the streets. Expect an erosion of maternity leave and workers’ rights. Expect even more low paying gig economy jobs offering no security. Expect the loss of what is left of social housing. Expect to see more Tory MPs grinning for a photo op as a new food bank opens in their constituency. Expect despair. Expect weeping. Expect desperation. Expect the flickering flame of hope to be extinguished as more and more people flee into the harmful and destructive self-medication of drugs and alcohol. That’s the British future that we’re being promised. The future isn’t bright, it’s red eyed with tears.
Scotland needs to use this election as a rung on the escape ladder out of the UK. Labour can’t save us. We can only save ourselves. The death of One Nation Conservatism is the death of the UK.
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