2007 - 2022

Whatever Happened to the Tories, Ma?

cameron_1030639aAll the way through the referendum, I could feel my Tory ancestors tugging away at my insides somewhere. As I watched the various intimidating manoeuvres of the Better Together campaign, I could hear their ghosts muttering, “Jesus! Can’t we do better than this? Has the Britain of the Empire and the Welfare State really got nothing more elevated to say for itself? ”

And since the result, since the very morning of the Union’s victory of fear over aspiration, it does seem that the mean but professional campaign that was run by Scottish Labour on behalf of Past Glory really did mask something much more tawdry and diminished than any of my forebears from the left or the right would have recognised. It was Scottish Labour that paid the price of course. But May’s election result has revealed something decadent and terminal in the Tory soul as well.

They are so delighted with themselves, so stunned that they won so decisively. They are empty shirts…they know it. They’re a weird agglomeration of sock puppet creatures of the Masters of the Universe, and whiny, provincial Daily Mail readers whose sense of victimhood shrieks from every appalled and hateful headline. The UK electorate have been, apparently, sold on the idea that suffering should only trickle down one way as, free of the social responsibility of even pretending to give a stuff for collective welfare, those who already have far more than they need loot the nation and the planet as a shore against the economic and environmental ruin their cupidity is bringing down on us like a hammer. They are free to pursue an agenda made up in equal parts of pure resentment and pure class interest.

To bomb Syria in revenge for an attack planned in Libya on British tourists in Tunisia! To redefine child poverty out of existence! To turn teachers into the thought police! To destroy the BBC and flog off the remainder of welfare state to their chums!

And they owe it all to Scotland.

That’s how they feel. That’s why they cheered like they did in the Commons when they rubbed our noses in our numerical irrelevance. That’s why they’re trying to smuggle the constitutional monstrosity of English Votes for English Laws through by a hole in the corner Standing Order. They are not trying to solve the West lothian Question. They’re trying to exacerbate it. They’re rubbing salt in the wound. Because they think that’s how they won the election. They turned their whole campaign around when they stumbled so decisively onto “Scotophobia”as a way of shoring up their base. Remember, the Tories might swagger around like suited and booted Lords of all they survey, but their electoral base is made up of people stoked into ever deeper anxiety about clinging on to their little bit of England in the face of bloody Europe and bloody immigrants and bloody paupers and bloody Jocks….

If it ever did, the Tory Party no longer represents a settled, conservative Britain. Instead, it lives entirely by exploiting fear of the other, including the other within. And just as the presence of 56 SNP MPs is dramatising so clearly and decisively for the Scots electorate the sheer hopelessness of trying to continue as if the flag still flew over a quarter of the globe and as if there was any such thing as a UK National Duty of Mutual Care, so for the Tories, in the short term, the more we can look like marginalised, irritating little tykes, the better they like it.

In short there is going to be a row about what defines “English only” legislation every single time there’s a finance bill, then that’s not a problem. The Tories think will work for them. As in the election, they will trap Labour into looking if not anti-English, then dependent on the Scots. It worked for this last election, it will work for the next one. This isn’t so much grubby English nationalism as squalid realpolitik. They’re doing this because they think it will work for them.

It is not just my British Ancestors who I can feel rotating in their graves.

Even at its best, politics is a myopic, short term business. We are unfortunately well acquainted in Scotland with the sterile territorialism that seems to hobble the very considerable talent we have in our political parties. We glimpsed, I think on all sides, in all parties, a rather more interesting and enlightened civil society in some of the arguments that we traded during the campaign. Still, it is rather a shock to my Unionist DNA to see what has become of the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain. Daily they shrink into nasty little parochialist monkeys dancing to the tune of powers that they ape but don’t seem capable of understanding.

Last year, we hesitated to end the Union that has played so large and complex a role in the world for the last three hundred years. But then, breaking that Union was always too big a job for Scotland. Now we feel that we can only watch in shocked, mournful silence as the big boys next door blunder so inanely into doing it for us.


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  1. Martine Le Glaunec Landis says:

    I watch with a mix of anger grief and fear. I know that I do not stand alone in the dark woods…
    How do we fight when good sense and reasonable arguments are dismissed?
    How do we reclaim the humanity stolen from us?
    How do we hang on to hope for change without forcing our way out? Without screaming freedom?

  2. kevin says:

    Great words, Peter, but you left me with a feeling of; ‘So when WILL we have another Referendum?’
    I’ve read all of the great and angry words from all of the great wordsmiths since last September – Bella, Wings, Ginger Dug, Derek Bateman, ScotNational, Macwhirter etc, etc – and we’re still being monumentally insulted on a weekly basis.

    I want a proper debate and a ‘conclusion’ about Ref2 among all of you wordsmiths that’ll make me feel I have some sort of hope, instead of eternal hopelessness and the gnawing irritation of having only the reading of ‘great words’ to placate me.

    See your next article, Peter, could you include something like; ‘I foresee a second referendum vote next September – be prepared’ ? cos that’s the great words I really want to read right now.

    1. Alan says:

      IndyRef 2 will definitely not happen before the Holyrood elections next year – ffs we’re still in the Holyrood term that gave the SNP the original mandate to hold the first referendum. It will probably not happen before the EU referendum.

      It is up to the SNP’s members to decide what form of mandate for independence they’ll fit into the Holyrood manifesto next year(e.g. will hold IndyRef if Scotland votes to stay in EU and rUK voted to exit – but if we all vote to stay in, the opportunity is gone until after 2020).

      Personally, I hope the SNP manifesto will offer a referendum before 2020 should they gain more than 60% of the list votes.

    2. IAB says:

      Our problem is the older generation (and I am one) who watch the unionist media and read the Torygraph or the Daily Malicious (which I don’t). They are scared that they will lose their pensions etc and believe the hate-filled rantings of the Malicious. I have been for independence since I was considered a weirdo in my teens and we are so close now. Timing of the next referendum is crucial and I just wish we had a better hold of the media. It will come – I just hope in my lifetime. All we can do just now is counter, build and keep moving forward.

    3. John says:

      Kevin, I and I’m sure many people in Scotland (and maybe even some in England) would want a second independence referendum right now. But not everyone in Scotland feels the same way. So until there are polls that are consistently showing a clear majority of support for independence there will not be another referendum. If we lose a second referendum the game is over. I share the frustration of seeing our SNP MPs being humiliated in Westmonster, but that is what this game is all about, and is the best recruitment sergeant for support for Scottish Independence.

      1. kevin says:

        You’re absolutely right, John. I am the first person to advocate hanging-fire when it comes to our second Ref. I’m mindful that not everyone has the means, the access to or the truthful information for normal, Independence thought. We’re working on this and thankfully it’s proving successful – the internet has a habit of revealing the truth where the lies and injustices of centuries have been hidden.

        Like IAB, I am an ‘oldie’, a lifelong independence supporter, and someone who does have access to genuine news and facts. However I confess I have occasional doubting Thomas moments and will vent in order to deal with it. My bad.

        My 80 year old mother voted Yes last year, she also voted SNP in May, likewise my daughter and all of my email address book – many personally thanking me for properly informing them. We’re getting there, I know this, and I can wait for the right moment.

    4. Michael McCourt says:

      Well said…….WELL SAID. THANK YOU.

    5. Maxi kerr says:

      Kevin, Slowlee softlee, catchee monkee.

  3. Borders says:

    I agree with Kevin, everything seems totally hopeless with this Tory government – we need our independence.

  4. johnp45 says:

    Well expressed, but this can only ever be a ‘preaching to the converted’, which is our online community.

    Articles like this have to be somehow delivered to the mass of people who do not use computers for their ‘news and views’. There is still a preponderance of newspapers that, by tradition, are purchased daily (if even only for sport etc) by Scots, that will toe the unionist line.

    Similarly, the BBC still produces very heavily biased output.

    Until we can combat this and get some balanced reporting it could be a big mistake to go for another referendum too early.

    1. IAB says:

      Totally agree

    2. Hazel says:

      Johnp45 you might like to keep an eye on this proposal and if you like what you see or can add some thoughts maybe throw in your help?

  5. Stuart says:


    If only Peter Arnott had realised that EVEL is this weeks ‘manufactured outrage’ item for the nationalist camp, then we could have all been spared this article of his hand wringing angst over EVEL…

    Take a look at what the SNP in the person of Angus (with the silent ‘G’) Robertson no less, said about EVEL last year;

    “And showing growing frustration at the refusal of Mr Hague to give way in the debate, the group leader Angus Robertson (Moray) raised a point of order with Speaker John Bercow.

    He said: “Is it not the case today’s debate is about devolution following the Scottish referendum rather than a general debate about English votes for English laws – that many of us have great sympathy with”


    Yet again not only do Nationalists face two ways at once, perhaps someone can explain why Angus Robertson came out with that comment, and what has changed since he made it?

    1. kevin says:

      Good ol’ Stuarty, we can rely on him and his cronies to ensure Scots are ‘kept in their place’. Tell me, Stuarty, what category do you fall into; ‘Proud Scot, but; privileged toff; blinkered Unionist; pal of Broon’? You sure don’t resemble any genuine Scot I’ve encountered in my lifetime.


    2. Scot in Sweden says:

      A lot has changed such as the lies of permanence of the Scottish parliament have been reneged on, former (suggestion that current one too) government ministers have been found lying and passing off smears about the FM to supportive propaganda media, Scotland has sent with a popular vote of 50% a contingent of democratically representative individuals to Westminster to oversee the fulfillment of the “Vow” and act in the best interests of their electorate and Scotland as a whole and have since been treated like lepers and denied any of the respect expected of representatives by the establishment and BBC has lost 150 million quid because people aren’t paying the TV license.
      So since you’ve been asleep Mr Van Winkle I believe there are many sources of archived information about the happenings in the Empire of choice for the ill informed to be found on the interwwweb. Just look

    3. jimnarlene says:

      The point Angus Robertson was making, the SNP do not vote on solely English matters; which is right and proper. However, when English matters have a knock on effect detrimental to Scotland, Scotland’s representatives in Westminster have every right to engage in the debates and vote to protect their constituents interests. Not a Janus position at all.

  6. Socrates MacSporran says:

    I’m with Angus Robertson – I have sympathy with the notion of EVEL. If the United Kingdom was properly-governed, EVEL would make perfect sense.

    But, for this to happen, we have to have a federal system of government – English Votes for English Laws, Scottish Votes for Scottish Laws, Northern Irish Votes for Northern Irish Laws and Welsh Votes for Welsh Laws, four parliaments/assemblies, with powers devolved from a Federal Parliament, which covered the UK-wide issues, such as defence and foreign policy.

    The biggest failure when the assemblies/parliaments were set-up in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh was – the English didn’t get their own parliament.

    Westminster IS NOT and HAS NOT BEEN since 1707, an ENGLISH Parliament, it has, for the past 308 years been the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is the Tory Party’s refusal to recognise this which is causing the current problems. With their majority, they will see no need to tackle this anomaly, but, until they do, they are risking the future of the UK.

    Because, if the Tory majority continues to stamp all over the elected representatives of Scotland, nothing is more-certain than, Scotland will be independent by 2020.

    1. Iain Ross says:

      “Westminster IS NOT and HAS NOT BEEN since 1707, an ENGLISH Parliament”

      Well that may be true on paper but in reality it is the “English Parliament” due to the way it functions and the way in which the English population out number everybody else.

      I agree with you that the only way to save the UK (why bother?) is a federal system of government but there is not a chance in hell that any of the Unionists shall consider that. You only have to look at the voting behaviour of the self proclaimed federalist Lib Dems to see that.

      Still from a tatical point of view I would like to see the SNP stand on a FFA ticket for Holyrood next year to try and force a federal UK. Any failure to move on this issue could then be used to trigger IndyRef2 and hopefully enough No voters shall have had their eyes opened by then.

  7. Darien says:

    The Scottish 56 will have nae choice but to walk out of Westminster soon enough, as many of us predicted in May. There is clearly no point in them being there, unless they think it important to take the unionist shilling, and to listen to all those chummy yet pointless ‘maiden’ speeches.

  8. HerewardAwake! says:

    The Tories will fail. Their paper-thin hold on reality is dissipating rapidly in the cold winds of reality. Their leader is a lame duck with a random, scattergun response to crises. Their electoral mandate and parliamenary majority are not sustainable. The Westminster system, disintegrating as is the pile which contains it, has failed and must be re-invented. Assumptions that the English are a just a Tory-directed herd are wrong, though England certainly faces a long, hard battle to restore lost decencies. Just how this will all end up is uncertain, but in the meantime don’t assume that the English are a spent force. Many others have made that mistake, including the Tories.

  9. Jamie says:

    Seeing as Scottish independence referendum can not be won for approximately 10 years due to the pensioner vote, is it time to consider a referendum on Devo Max/FFA so that we can try to build a better country in the short term and use it as a stepping stone to independence? On the other hand I do see the other perspective, the more suffering now the more likely people will be to vote yes should there be another referendum in say 3 or 4 years, but is it worth the suffering which looks like it will be quite brutal if the latest Tory announcements are anything to go by?

  10. Daniel Watson says:

    We will see our Scottish Government arrested and English troops on our streets before Westminster allows another referendum.
    Remember the deceit of Suez.

  11. t nicholson says:

    some 40 years ago the liberals proposed a federal system,of course, the tory and labour party,s couldn,t have that!no way! now it seems the chancellor commutes up to manchester where they will have a lord mayor and nearly federal power? .. then perhaps manchester,leeds? no matter, by the time they realise they have a federal system,they will find the real power is still at westminster.the change will be so slow and weak so they still keep control! westminster is no longer fit for purpose! let them keep their customs and traditions, give me a modern scottish parliament.there will be another referendum it WILL be caused by the tory,s only this time they have no weapons or threats left to scare anyone.i hope the “rUK”do get a federal ihope they embrace it.we will do all right on our own

  12. James Dow says:

    HerewardAwake Describe these English off which you speak? As a Scot I would have no difficulty describing my distinctive people. I await your attempt at a descriptive response.
    It should not take long with so little to work with.

  13. Connor McEwen says:

    Have a wee shufty at; http://captiongenrator.com/47381/TORY-PR-PLAN-TO RULE BRITAIN

  14. Connor McEwen says:


  15. James Dow says:

    HerewardAwake The English are worse than a spent force. They are non recognizable as a separate people if indeed they ever were, unless you count latter day Romano, Franco, Germanic pilgrims as “a people” not to mention your new age additions,

    1. Duncan McKellar says:

      Walk down Peckham, Lewisham, Whitechappel, Southall or any other high street in London, nothing is recognisable of England. Similar circumstances exist in other large English cities.

      Go to the countryside in England, the opposite is true, it is completely recognisable as England.

      This is white flight and migration on an epic scale.

      England has lost its soul and is becoming something else. I have no opinion of this change, be it positive or negative other than it is happening. I think Scots are completely unaware of these changes in England or how they will impact Scotland.

      I believe Scotland will increasingly become an irrelevance to England as England struggles to cater for its own competing minorities. As such Scotland can sit back and wait, however I see this a big mistake and missed opportunity. To date I have been pleased with Scotland’s changed politics since last September, but we need to raise our game further and press home advantage whilst we have it.

      We have seen the tories cut funding from Scotland without consultation, the tripple purpose of this is that Jock bashing is popular south of the border, it ruins Scotland’s economic performance and builds in dependency. No way to run a union, let’s up our game!

  16. Frank says:

    In regards to the second referendum I can’t see it being in the SNP manifesto next year. Friends who I know who are in the SNP, including a prospective MSP, said it would be a ‘monumental mistake’ to campaign for a second referendum and I have to say I agree, for a number of reasons. For example, I don’t think there has been any real analysis on why we lost last September, and some of the comments on here, about people failing to see ‘the truth’ is deeply problematic and also arrogant. Scotland remains a divided country and probably shouldn’t be independent until the yes side can win more than 60% of voters.

  17. HerewardAwake! says:

    Yes, James. Celtic, Pictish, Roman, Viking, Saxon and more, all mixed up and eventually called The ‘English’. A mongrel breed and I’m not ashamed of that, mate, and would never seek to delineate any nation simply in terms of its apparent racial purity. That’s a very dangerous and nasty path to tread as many have found out. Now with respect to your own fair acres the population can hardly be described as homogenous – in fact I gather your Pictish anticedents were not overly happy at the the invasion of their fine lands by Celts, mainly Irish, who I understand they called ‘Scots’ – foreigners, let alone Vikings and the southern hordes. Our national pudding is certainly very mixed-up, like it or not, but don’t make the mistake of confusing ‘English’ and ‘Tory’. They are not one and the same. Sure, we non-Tory English have got our hands full at the moment but we’ll fight our way out of it, I’m sure.

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