To the Bashful Conservative

By Gillian Cummings

A note to the bashful conservative, don’t worry no one knows your name…

Well, well, well, what a difference 3 weeks and a majority win can make in the world of politics and the length of David Cameron’s sleeves. Gone is the rolled up, pumped up look of pre-election fervour. Now both he and his wardrobe are back to the traditional conservative style of stay-pressed perfection, and his politics have followed suit. For the unexpected majority win on May 7th has undoubtedly allowed Cameron, and the conservative party to slip into something far more comfortable regarding their current policy choices. Fox hunting, withdrawal from the European convention on the Human Rights Bill, an apparent drive to keep England’s green and pleasant land appearing, at least on the surface of things, green and pleasant? As they endeavour to abolish Wind Farm Subsidies, while paradoxically backing the high-speed London to Midlands Rail Bill, and apparently, the shale industry’s ambition to frack most of the North Midlands (1). But what’s a few inconsistencies between a party and it’s silent majority.

Yes, this is for you, the ‘shy tory’ that unleashed this careering conservatism on your fellow country folk and threw the polls into such disarray. Theories were plentiful in the space left by your silence. The most convincing one being that you were simply embarrassed. Which as the ICM suggests (2), might explain the correlation between unexplained Tory votes and those of you who ‘just didn’t know’ when asked for your voting preference publicly. It’s a neat trick this subterfuge, and probably explains why the rest of England, some 61%, have been left visibly reeling as the reality of another 5 years of conservative rule takes root.

But just between you and me. Who are you really? What’s your motivation? Maybe no one will ever know, including you perhaps…and why should we care anyway. Like most people, I knew who I wanted to vote for, in my case the SNP. But had I lived down south it could’ve just as easily been the Greens, or Labour. And like the majority I knew why I wanted to vote the way I did. And was happy to discuss mine and other’s choices openly. So I’m feeling pretty pleased about the result. Only I can’t stop worrying about our neighbours down south and wondering about you, the silent Tories. And because I can’t stop wondering. I thought I’d ask you myself…was it something to do with us?

Did you believe David Cameron when he and the Conservatives concocted a scare story that painted a picture of the SNP as a mere symptom of a strident form of resentful Scottish Nationalism, with Alex Salmond as the entry point (3). Are you going to carry on believing this I wonder? When the SNP questions austerity plans for Scotland and the UK as a whole, not because Mel Gibson once painted his face blue, but rather because these cuts are inflicting suffering on working people throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Working people including your neighbours, people who live on your street, in your town. Will you put these questions down to being anti-English too?

If the SNP call for higher taxation and a fairer distribution of resources including housing. Will you accept David Cameron’s or any other Conservative Mp’s accusation, that such calls are tainted by the unpatriotic, separatist character of the speaker in opposition. Because believe me they will make this accusation in a thousand different ways, and more.

And I have to be honest I am afraid. Afraid that if this is your reasoning, as the conservatives predicted it would be, you’re going to keep on listening to them. You’re going to keep on believing them, keep on being angry and resentful towards us. The peculiar ‘Scot’s’ as Douglas Hurd, on the morning after the election, called everyone who happens to live on this side of the border. Including my English, Spanish, German, Irish, Polish and American friends, my English partner and my children.

Do you think that I feel the same way about you? Do you think that I believe in my innate Scottishness and your innate Englishness? In my rightness and your wrongness. Is this the nationalism that you believe in? The kind of nationalism where the past defines the relationships of the present. Where history is revered but seldom understood. Where past hurts and challenges are stolen from the people they belonged to. To be melded together instead by policy makers, in order to create a statue of a national identity that we are told…defines us all. But what happens when you allow these definitions to really become who you are. When ‘I’m English’, I’m a Unionist’, ‘I’m British’ replaces or ranks higher than ‘I’m a father’, ‘I’m a mother’, ‘I’m your friend’, ‘I’m your neighbour’. Or perhaps like your voting preference…you prefer to keep that to yourself as well.

Am I being unfair? It’s possible…I don’t know you after all. I don’t even know if you think of yourself as English. And, if so, what being English means to you. So for me to portray you, your thoughts and your motivation on so little information is unfair. But then so is ignoring your own conscience. Ignoring whatever doubts kept you from speaking up and out with regards to the political choices you made on May 7th and continue to make now. Choices that may well be based on someone else’s arcane and facile definitions of who you are, definitions which keep you from genuinely considering the relevance of these choices to your life, and the lives of those around you. Do you think I’m being unfair? Too personal perhaps…Well don’t worry, I’ll be the last person to address you as ‘you’ for a while. To the government, the pundits and most importantly everyone else you’ll simply be known as the shy dependable tory. Until you learn to speak…and more importantly think for yourself.

 

 

1: 2015, Conservative Party Manifesto. Available from: https://www.conservatives.com/Manifesto, [26 May, 2015]

2: Dealing with Don’t Knows, 2015. Available from: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/faq-dont-knows, [24 May, 2015]

3: Tories are the party of the working people, 2015. Available from: http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/570532/David-Cameron-warns-horror-Labour-SNP-alliance-pledges-Tory-party-working-people, [25 May, 2015]

 

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Comments (32)

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  1. Patricia McTavish says:

    I really liked that, it felt good to read, and I am grateful you articulated so beautifully something I feel strongly about.

  2. Elaine Fraser says:

    Powerful, honest piece .

  3. bringiton says:

    Unlike Scotland,England didn’t have the benefit leading up to the Westminster election of having been exposed to the rabid,right wing English press during our referendum and seeing it for what it truly was…vested interests manipulating public opinion for narrow political and economic advantage.
    Scots having been recently exposed to their vitriolic propaganda were not moved during the election and voted to reject the English based political parties whom the English based press were promoting.
    Until people in England realise that they are being duped and lied to,as confirmed by our very own Malcolm Bruce,they will continue to vote for political parties who do not have their interests at heart.
    Scots can now clearly see,every day,their elected representatives at Westminster sitting across the floor from the English elected Tories in opposition and being told by them how things are going to be in Scotland.
    The Tories think that having one political representative north of the border gives them that right along with,of course,a referendum result which in their view was a validation of continuing London rule for Scotland.
    It is now very clear that under the present constitutional arrangements,Scotland has little say in how our affairs are managed and only the small minority of Tories in Scotland can consider this as “Better Together”.
    We can only hope that Cameron’s slender majority vanishes over the next few years and that the voices of progressive social politics are heard again after the decades of barren wilderness imposed by the Westminster establishment and it’s press pack.
    I would be ashamed to admit to supporting a political party which is backward and inward looking and trying to drag society (which they deny exists) back to the dark ages and perhaps that fits with the view of others but probably not too many.
    Thanks Gillian.

  4. Darien says:

    This is surely academic. The SNP MP’s will tell them to stuff their English parliament…….soon. That seems inevitable given the disrespect towards the way Scots voted. And the English Tories will welcome our brexit. The cultural void between the Scots and English is a bottomless pit. They probably hate us more than they hate the French.

    1. Donald Hodgson says:

      Darien, what sort of world do you live in? I believe most English people do not hate any nationality. Seven to eight hundred thousand Scots born people live in England without a lot of hate. The culture divide you talk about is not a bottomless pit. Remember that and independent Scotland would still have to live on on the same island with the English.

      1. Darien says:

        “Remember that and independent Scotland would still have to live on on the same island with the English.”

        Donald, I suspect the relationship would be far happier if the English governing establishment would stop constantly meddling in Scottish affairs, treating Scotland as a mere colony to do with as they please. And it is the English-Brit media/establishment that drives any dislike and disharmony, and yes even hatred, not the Scots. Scots have had to put up with this noisy messy ungrateful elephant in the bed for more than 300 years – yes we are that welcoming a people! But now the Scots are finally telling the elephant to f orf and the elephant disnae like it.

        1. Don Mc says:

          The relationship the English / british (they are one and same) have with the Irish is the likely model. Up to point where uk and Ireland joined EU, the Irish could be portrayed as stupid without redress, now the uk has to deal with Ireland as an equal, the relationship has matured into one of respect. I see no reason Scottish – Anglo relations post independence would differ.

          Typically English people have problems Scots don’t suffer from, dual identity and mistaking Engalnd for uk. We hear it from politicans, media including bbc, celebrities and the woman / man in the street. Sometimes it’s corrected, some time they are oblivious.

          An example being Dan Snow, he can present a documentary on WWI, whilst mentioning Engish army, mother England and English casualties. This can then go out on the airways without correction after no doubt umpteen internal bbc reviews. Yet this is the same guy along with izzard who headed the celebrity based NO campaign. Mind boggles, is it deliberate or its genuinely oblivious to them???

          cameron has started this “one nation” nonsense to give the impression of healing sores his party caused during the election. labour highlight this, yet their condemnation reinforces cameron”s original message and intention. I do not see this divide closing. It will grow as election after election the unionist vote in Scotland erodes. In England, this rise will reinforce prejudices and result in further polarisation

          The outcome being that those living in Scotland will have to make a choice, next time that choice will be all the more simpler!

    2. Gillian Cummings says:

      Hey Darien, thanks for your comments. I don’t think the question is academic, no. In fact I’d say the opposite. And when you say they, who do you mean?

      1. Darien says:

        “their” English parliament should be obvious. The SNP 56 are clearly aliens in an alien parliament, and treated as such, as last week well demonstrated. ‘They’ are the English MP’s, especially but not only Tories. They may be your ‘countryfolk’, but they are not mine. Some writers on here just seem to be a tad Anglicised. Scottish independence is not for the fainthearted – there is no halfway hoose, its all or nothing.

      2. Darien says:

        “academic”, as in, the Tories are irrelevant in Scotland so why dwell on them or the people who vote for them? The fact that English Tories govern Scotland more or less as a colony and ignore the demands of Scots is another matter, although this will cease soon enough.

        1. James Dow says:

          Darian reply The English have coveted our land for nigh on a millennium, they are still no closer to understanding the Scottish psyche.

          1. Darien says:

            I agree with that James, and the lack of respect shown to Scotland and the Scots aptly reflects their inability to want to understand. Scotland is effectively ruled over by the one shoogly peg ‘Scots’ Tory MP assisted by a spad and a dodgy donor lawyer, the latter two hurried into the Lords to make up the numbers. This unionist trio have the power to block much of what Holyrood is democratically mandated to do, which is a scandal. Thankfully most Scots have had enough of this colonial dross.

  5. Sandy Ritchie says:

    I was warming to the article until the statement SNP raise taxes for redistribution purposes. Reading that I nearly choked on my cornflakes. The SNP who proudly proclaim that Scots council tax payers have saved £1000 in the last 8 years due to their Council tax cap…a priority that the Tories would be proud off given that they only managed the cap for 5 years (so far). Maybe you believe of course that the cash saved would have been well spent redistributing wealth to my local shop keepers…maybe so but at the expense of local services particularly the squeeze on the care of the elderly that LAs are required to fund. So please stop repeating the SNP myth that the SNP are progressive…their actions clearly are anything but

  6. Broadbield says:

    Maybe the SNP aren’t as progressive as some would like, but then they are severely constrained by the devolution settlement and, as Swinnie often says, they don’t have all the economic levers.

    The alternative to the Tory’s austerity is to increase public spending and raise taxes – i.e. taxes on those who can afford to pay more. But this is anathema to UK parties whose economic illiteracy means they think the country should be run like a household.

    By freezing income tax rates (but not thresholds) they have ruled out any progressive taxation policy. Instead we will get hikes in very regressive taxes. There will be more cuts to benefits and other support for our poorest and most vulnerable.

    If you believe the “have yachts” should be helped by transferring wealth from the poor to the rich then I can understand someone voting Tory or Pink Tory, but if you have even the slightest social conscience then it is beyond my comprehension how anyone could vote for 5 more years of Cameron and Osborn oppression.

    Make no mistake, Tory voter, Cameron’s objective is to destroy what remains of the welfare state and hand everything, NHS, Education, over to private profit. That’s what the NO vote has given us.

    1. stephy says:

      That’s exactly Cameron’s intention, and it is outright THEFT!

      Generations paid for those NHS building, to train our doctors and medical staff, to build our railways and infrastructure, and we still give huge subsidies to energy companies who charge us way over the odds.

      To be a Tory is to be either selfish or stupid. There is no other type of Tory.

      The Tories say we must implement austerity so that children are not burdened by our debt in the future. Whit??? Applying that same ridiculous logic, would they choose to pay their maxed out credit card off over three years, (depriving their children of proper nutrition and a warm home)? Or pay it off over 5yrs, (keeping their children healthy and warm)? We all know what they’d do foe thwir own children, but that care does not extend to other families children: they happily, and quite deliberately inflict poverty on other families children. Put simply, they have no empathy: they just do not care.

      I have three young kid’s, and want the very best for them, but not at the expense of other people’s children.

      Turns my stomach 🙁

    2. stephy says:

      That’s exactly Cameron’s intention, and it is outright THEFT!

      Generations paid for those NHS building, to train our doctors and medical staff, to build our railways and infrastructure, and we still give huge subsidies to energy companies who charge us way over the odds.

      To be a Tory is to be either selfish or stupid. There is no other type of Tory.

      The Tories say we must implement austerity so that children are not burdened by our debt in the future. Whit??? Applying that same ridiculous logic, would they choose to pay their maxed out credit card off over three years, (depriving their children of proper nutrition and a warm home)? Or pay it off over 5yrs, (keeping their children healthy and warm)? We all know what they’d do foe thwir own children, but that care does not extend to other families children: they happily, and quite deliberately inflict poverty on other families children. Put simply, they have no empathy: they just do not care.

      I have three young kid’s, and want the very best for them, but not at the expense of other people’s children.

      Turns my stomach 🙁

  7. Jac Gallacher says:

    Brilliant article Gillian

  8. Patrick says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable read. I doubt many of these ‘shy’ Tories will be shy for much longer once Conservative policy comes to fruition.

  9. Neil says:

    I thought that Cameron was asleep for much of the election campaign.

    The SNP aren’t going to raise taxation. I think there is more chance they would cut it.

    1. Connor McEwen says:

      Cameron was not asleep in the run up to the election.
      He knew the more he showed his face the more votes he would lose.
      Dick Dastardly Cameron[farmer] would rather talk to the pigs and sheep, they cannot talk back.
      Hence the reason he ran off to Europe to avoid the duped southerners.
      Cameron is the biggest self serving,careerist, golliwog ever to cheat his way to a second term by southern default.

  10. A Shy Tory Writes says:

    We keep our political opinions to ourselves because of the enormous level of vitriol thrown our way by people on the left who believe their view holds moral ascendency and by extension our view puts us in the same bracket as .

    Much the same for many of the ‘No’ campaigners during the referendum or indeed Labour candidates in Govan who have been followed around and verbally abused by SNP members.

    If you wonder why people are shy take a look in the mirror.

    1. Gillian Cummings says:

      Hi there, thank you for your comments and I’m sorry you feel that way. It can be very diificult to get your point across if you feel that you’re being judged from the outset. But I don’t feel that I’ve shown any malice toward you, and I know that I don’t believe in moral ascendency…quite the opposite. But if you have felt intimidated or threatened regarding your political views in the past, then I can empathise. Sadly, you’re not alone. We’ve got a bit of a history in this country of locking up or
      shouting down anyone with different views from ourselves. But, still people have been brave and managed to get their point across…
      I’m sure you can too, and I’d be really interested to hear why you vote conservative?

      1. Darien says:

        “We’ve got a bit of a history in this country of locking up or
        shouting down anyone with different views from ourselves”

        I would say that Scots are generally the opposite of this. Perhaps another example of your prevailing Anglicised perspective?

      2. Connor McEwen says:

        Shy Tory is a Conservative head office paid lackey to trawl through sites like this to spout nonsense.

    2. stephy says:

      @A shy Tory writes

      “people on the left who believe their view holds moral ascendency”

      You make it sound like you believe you can hold an opposing “view”? Do you even understand the meaning of the word “moral”?

      By dictionary definition:
      moral “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour”

      Are you seriously trying to claim that voting to deliberately inflict poverty and misery on others could ever be considered moral? That’s utterly ridiculous: it is clearly “wrong” and “bad behaviour”!

      I suggest you take a good honest “look in the mirror” yourself, and admit that you voted to inflict poverty on children and disabled people. I trust you will feel no shame.

      So keep on lying to the pollsters and those around you, but don’t pretend that you are ‘shy’. At least be honest: you lie because you don’t want others to know your true narcissistic nature. Let’s face it, you lie only to protect yourself: wouldn’t want us moral lot to stop being nice to you.

      May you reap what you sow…

      (Many ‘No campaigners’ believed staying maintaining union was ‘right’ – do not class them as being like you )

      1. Broadbield says:

        ‘Are you seriously trying to claim that voting to deliberately inflict poverty and misery on others could ever be considered moral? That’s utterly ridiculous: it is clearly “wrong” and “bad behaviour”!’

        Exactly so, we need more people to say that loud and clear and say it more often.

        This is a thoroughly immoral government that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence that contradicts its central economic “philosophy”, that believes in taking from the poor and giving to the rich, that is determined to restrict workers rights even more than they already are, that plans to clamp down even further on civil liberties and refuses to accept refugees from Syria on the preposterous belief that it will only encourage them. I could go on.

  11. John Böttcher says:

    “When the SNP questions austerity plans for Scotland and the UK as a whole, not because Mel Gibson once painted his face blue, but rather because these cuts are inflicting suffering on working people throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Working people including your neighbours, people who live on your street, in your town.”

    I’m curious as to why you’ve singled out working people? are these the fabled ‘hard working people’?

    Because it’s folk who are not in work whether through incapacity, disability or just simply due to the predominant economic policy – structural unemployment is a price worth paying – who are going to be hit hardest?

    1. Gillian Cummings says:

      Hey John, thanks for your comment, you make a good point. I used the phrase working people, because I think that the majority of folk who receive benefits work hard. Only, their work is usually overlooked because it doesn’t have any monetary value. So for example, I would argue that parents looking after their children work, cleaning your own home is work, low paid work is work, volunteering is work. And as additional support needs, for the person who has them, is work. I guess it depends what you mean by the phrase…but thanks I could’ve been clearer.

      1. Saor Alba says:

        Thank you for a really good and thoughtful article, Gillian.
        John did indeed make a good point, to which you replied and explained very well.
        However, I despair when I hear the extremely vague reply from “shy Tory”.
        It is amazing how these stories gather legs.

        1. Gillian Cummings says:

          Hey Saor Alba, thank you for your comments.

  12. meaghan says:

    Many thanks Gillian for this very thoughtful and well-written piece. Unfortunately decades of conservative politics, anti-immigration rhetoric and more recently, anti-Scots rhetoric seem to have struck a chord down South. In the absence of any real debate around these issues “Great British’ culture becomes more insular and inward-looking.

    1. Darien says:

      Hopefully Great British culture may become so insular and inward-looking that they will expel us Scots from their mother of a parliament. evel seems a good start.

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