Our Tory Rulers

The responses to the financial violence of the banking coup has been massive – a whole new movement has been created (#UKUncut to name just one) – and a whole generation has been politicised or radicalised by the closure of a raft of basic social opportunities in education, housing and employment.

This week we have the Tory Party conference and responses to it are telling. I find George Osbourne economics unconvincing. I’m not alone. The Tory-Liberals call it ‘Credit Easing’ – Labour called it ‘Quantitative Easing’. You and I call it printing money. The Tory-Liberals will charge you £9 k for a university degree, Labour £6k. We all know this is just education for an elite few. This is government by a political class that is intellectually bankrupt.

The annual cycle of UK political parties revisited obsessively by the media seems increasingly detached from Scottish politics. With David Cameron lecturing the Scottish Government, elected with a landslide he can only read about, the question of this UK Govts legitimacy arises again.

In this context I find Gerry Hassan’s stout defence of the Tory Party bizarre. He writes:

“The Conservatives are reduced to a series of stereotypes: of being selfish, uncaring, just for the super rich, not understanding what it is like to live on modest means, unmoved by poverty, and wanting to turn back the clock to Dickensian Britain. If these clichés were true the British Conservatives would be reduced to some impotent rump the size of the Scots Tories or Lib Dems. But they are not because they have always spoken for a large swathe of British society.”

No they haven’t, they have always spoken for a large swathe of English society.

But Hassan is wrong about more than this simple fact. The same weekend he penned his defence the Bureau of Investigative Journalism ‘uncovered’ that over 51% of funds for the Tories comes directly from the Square Mile. It’s hardly a ‘stereotype’ that they are just for the super-rich, it’s public record.

The influence of the City over the Conservatives has been laid bare showing that more than half of the Tory party’s donations since the general election have come from individuals and businesses working in finance.

Hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed more than a quarter of all the Tories’ private donations – which this year poured in at a rate equal to £1m a month – the study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.

This is hardly surprising, but it is now laid bare.

Hassan writes: “Despite the economic gloom and doom, which you think might lead to a revival of left thinking, so far the running has been made in ideas from the right. There is a thoughtful Conservatism out there trying to address some of the challenges, post-Blair Bubble. And it is made all the more potent by the paucity on the left, and the blinkers many have about the Tories.” But what are these ideas? And what is the left that Gerry describes?

On economics, on constitution, on social issues, on ecological crisis? What is this renaissance of Tory thinking that demands our respect?

The reality is a desperately divided party in Scotland that looks likely to split and indeed re-emerge as two rumps of right-wing groups with half the funding and half the vote they currently muster, still clinging to the same reactionary views of the world as the likes of Ross McFarlane and Stewart Green. We do not live in the world of Philip Blond’s ‘Red Toryism’ (which Gerry calls a powerful exciting thesis) but the world of casual racism, bigotry and economic austerity.

These are important questions for Hassan to clarify. Let’s avoid visceral tribalism, but let’s also avoid being detached from reality into a realm of commentary. Hassan continues: “As long as there is a United Kingdom there will be a powerful British Conservative constituency. It is now mostly in support an English Toryism, but Scotland and Wales matter at an instinctual level.”

But what does this mean?

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  1. James Morton says:

    I posted a reply to Gerry’s article yesterday, and I am also puzzled at his defence of Conservatisim. I have never seen thoughtful conservatisim that doesn’t lead to quite heinous policity decisions. Look at the new policy regarding unfair dismissal: under their lead, if you are unfairly sacked you will need at least £1250 pounds just to have you case dealt with, and that is only if you have been employed for 18months or more. His notion that the conservatives are going to be able to attack Salmond and his definition of independence is just as confusing – they can’t even define positive unionisim, falling back on the endless negativity.

    The Tories lost Scotland in 1997 – but they also lost the rest of the UK in 1997. It took them until 2010 to get in position to win, and even then they govern only through the coalition with the Lib Dems. England seemed quite prepared to forgive them to a degree but not enough to let them win completely. In Scotland they’ve never been forgiven, leaving them as a voice in the wilderness as Scotland moves on. David Torrance has said that their villification is unfair and has stated that it has gone on far too long, “we should have gotten over it by now” he claims. But as I said in Hassans post – You wouldn’t lend your car to someone who had broken the headlights, the last time they borrowed it. It’s simple commonsense really.

    In the end, its a democracy we live in – we vote for what we think serves our best interests. We don’t vote Tory – because we do not believe (no matter how loudly they protest otherwise) that they speak for Scotland. We also don’t trust them – or rather – we do trust them to be Tory and do mean and hateful things beacuse it is in their nature to do so.

    I can’t be sure if Gerry is trying to be ironic or if he actually wants us to forget past injuries and hug a tory.

    1. Ard Righ says:

      “You wouldn’t lend your car to someone who had broken the headlights, the last time they borrowed it.”

      In the same way you wouldn’t allow someone access to the vault had they stolen from.

      It would be an interesting argument on independence that we should return Scotland to the percentage ratios of national wealth prior to the financially enforced union. Suddenly, we had the English national debt forced on us with the advent of the union. Declare repudiation on re-independence.

  2. Ard Righ says:

    It may be more correct for the caption to read ” I control Scotland and you didn’t vote for me”

    All politics sound like marketing strategy these days, you know, perverting language.

    Quantitative easing, or printing more money, used to be known as debasing currency- a far more accurate term. In the event of a sovereign declaring war, often currencies had the silver or gold content lessened in coinage, so value decreased and the currency became debased. We now have the absurd situation of cash having no remunerative value to mineral wealth and in real terms is just debt as a promissory note. The next level is “cyber cash” which is another tier of removal from what could be perceived as real value, a bunch of ones and zeros propped up by a belief system!

    Obsolete institutions are all destined to collapse. The sooner the better.

  3. vronsky says:

    I think Gerry is being offered to us as the sane voice of the respectable left (a quite imaginary creature, I hope). Whether he is offering himself or being offered by others I do not know, but his enthusiasm for the left seems conditional on this ‘left’ remaining quite far right of centre. He leaves me feeling that when I call the politics of the right ‘the politics of the right’ I am exposing some sort of naivety. If I were to offer a précis of his views on Scottish politics I could get it down to few words: “all will be well when we desist from this ‘thinking’ nonsense and vote Labour again”. Maybe someone could further shorten that – it’s not very punchy, and the right could do with a decent slogan.

  4. The Yougov poll asked the questions:

    “How well or badly do you think the Labour party represents and understands voters in … Scotland”

    The GB panel responded: Well 32% : Badly 26%
    The Scots panel answered: Well 28% : Badly 50%

    The figures for the same question asked about the Conservative party representing and understanding voters in Scotland revealed:

    The GB panel responded: Well 10% : Badly 50%
    The Scots panel responded: Well 11% : Badly 68%”

    So it appears that Gerry’s attempt to put a better face on The Tories relationship with Scotland is dead in the water. Not even English voters think they have a clue about Scotland. As for Labour while English members of the panel are not that much different in the percentage share that Labour is doing a good job in Scotland the results of the Scottish panel members indicates just how divorced Westminster and England are from what is actually happening in Scotland – a major rejection of Unionist Labour and its future view for Scotland.

    This leaves the question wide open as to who from the big two is going to lead the ‘Stop Wee Eck and save the Union’ platform?

    Moore’s a joke, Mundell still has to have his day in front of the Court of Session on an alleged expenses fiddle and Murphy has all but disappeared from the radar after the kicking his plan to revamp Labour’s Scottish region received from sitting worthies, constituency parties and the current blood letting going on amongst Glasgow Labour. McAveety’s Bus could be the thin end of a wedge that lets Strathclyde’s finest past the barricades of obfuscation thrown up by George Matheson over Purcell, dodgy land deals, Glasgow’s Organised Crime’s place in the warp and weft of council contracts and City Buildings.

    The message to Cameron, Milliband and nearer to home from the Scots to the London based parties is increasingly, “Awa an’ bile yer heid, ye numptie, were no buyin’ it git aff oor lawn!”

  5. Scottish republic says:

    “””””There is a thoughtful Conservatism out there trying to address some of the challenges, post-Blair Bubble.”””””””

    No such thing.

    “””””And it is made all the more potent by the paucity on the left, and the blinkers many have about the Tories.” But what are these ideas? And what is the left that Gerry describes?””””

    Well, it certainly isn’t the Labour party. The Tories are off so far to the right they are busily completing Thatcher’s Milton Friedman ‘privatise everything’ philosophy and Labour sit silent because they were going to do the same thing albeit slower (maybe). Labour never reverse Tory policies once in power (whenever that happens).

    The only left is the SNP and they don’t have a ‘paucity’ of ideas, quite the contrary because they see government as a vehicle for improving people’s lives not for pleasing the steamroller desires of big business.

    Gerry does write some odd stuff.

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