2007 - 2022

Blue Order

13177485_1026694814086826_3297118288587093760_nThe past few days has seen the political movements in Scotland, England and the UK (in that order) realigned and exposed as never before. As George Kerevan has written: “There is no third way in Scottish politics any longer. It is an independent, socialist and green Scotland – or a Unionist, Tory and exploited subsidiary of the City of London.” As the Scottish Tories go into an orgy of self-satisfaction, their southern colleagues are engaging in a very public fratricide. This won’t work.

Kerevan is quite right, this crisis is a denoument of power relations: “I for one welcome this new political clarity. It’s not that I wish to polarise the Scottish nation deliberately. On the contrary, the independence cause has advanced precisely because the SNP’s brand of civic nationalism has remained peaceful, positive and pragmatic. But the vested interests of the ailing British state and its baying media hacks are too entrenched to let Scotland go quietly.”

CiC3xGoXEAAY3RaYou can watch it unpeeling from the bottom up.

If you think Zac Goldsmith’s dog-whistle campaign against Sadiq Khan was bad, the Tory English Civil War is about to get worse. Bereft of rational economic arguments they are about to come unmuzzled into the light and will turn almost exclusively to the issue of ‘immigration’.

Michael Gove, writing in the Daily Mail at the weekend produced a stream of anti-migrant bile saying: “If you think the EU’s bad now? Wait until Albania joins.” [You can give him a slap here].

While the Sun leads today (see right) with every Little Englander’s very worst fear – the Fritz! The idea of poor powerless Britain being manipulated by Germany is such a powerful / comic piece of false victimhood, but who knows, it may play well amongst the hard of thinking.

Now we hear that IDS – the Minister for Foodbanks – is said to be about to ‘spill the beans’ about the inner feuds of the Cabinet. So it’s about to get more and more toxic.

13139179_10153845133143300_2680402642956712201_nBut for anyone thinking ‘this can’t possibly happen’, yes it can.

Current polls put 42% on Remain versus 40% on Leave. While yesterday we reported on the delicious irony suggested by one poll, that Scotland will hold England in Europe against its will (see above). It’s good to see the Record following this up today.

This (unlikely) scenario throws-up some wonderful connotations for the Better Together celebrants, who’s own same people are now moaning about ‘government from afar’ and the traumas of ‘remote rule’ from unelected Brussels. The irony of the language will not be lost to many of you.


Of course the newly beatified leader of the opposition isn’t responsible for the conduct of the Brexit campaign, nor the failed Conservative mayoral campaign, but she is culpable for the actions of the government we didn’t elect, and she is suffering from a strange understanding of democratic mandate.

Both at a personal (constituency) and a political (national) level Ruth Davidson is facing grand over-reach in her hyperbole. With Nicola Sturgeon on 65% of constituency vote with a majority of 9,593 and Ruth Davidson on 30.4% of constituency vote with a majority of 610. Or to put it another way with the SNP on 63 seats with 46.5% (1,059,893) of constituency vote and the Conservatives on 31 seats with 22% (501,844) of constituency vote there is little credibility n Davidson’s elevated status. As Ross Colquhoun has out it: “It’s bizarre that Ruth Davidson thinks she has a mandate to challenge SNP, but that the SNP doesn’t have mandate to act on its manifesto.”

Davidson has outlined her strategy here: “It was about being a strong counterpoint to a government which many people – especially no voters at the referendum – feel ignored and let down by. There is a real yearning in Scotland for someone – anyone – to take the SNP on. Someone who will stand up to them and tell them ‘no’ every once in a while.”

That’s a one-dimensional campaign plan, not an alternative for Scotland. As we said before the Tory revival is hugely overblown, and if the Conservative civil war continues then Blue on Blue action will mean casualties, and how will these rookie Tory troops cope? Will anyone ask them anything?


You can Meet your 31 Scottish Conservative MSPs here.

Even today as Prince Harry bawls his eyes out about media intrusion (Memo to Harry: that’s the job, it’s the only job you’ll ever have), Davidson is setting the mould for a new type of politician-as-quasi-celebrity. She doesn’t need to set policy she doesn’t seem accountable for her parties actions, she just exists in a  Tory holodeck of photo opps and soundbites floating above the mayhem and insecurity brought to so many by her government. But this won’t work for the new recruits. You can only run this trick with one single figure, not thirty. You can’t make Adam Tomkins and Murdo Fraser and Edward Mountain into loveable contentless media caricatures.

This is reality that Davidson’s many cheerleaders in the press box haven’t quite grasped. Iain Martin writes: “The SNP is back in its box, by which I mean it now has to trade on day to day legislation with minority parties in the Scottish parliament. The embarrassing pre-election hype – all that Chairman Mao/Sturgeon meets Kazakhstan despot graphics – now looks silly and they have to contemplate the reality that politics is not a magical phenomenon that sweeps them along to ever more victories.”

This is wishful thinking on a grand-scale. In fact the Conservatives crisis is Scotland’s opportunity. George Kerevan again: “The Unionist parties place defence of the undemocratic British constitution above all else. In office, the SNP can (and must) prove we are competent at governing the country. But that is not the primary ground of political combat – certainly not the one chosen by our Unionist opponents. Which means our practice in government has to be a pointer towards independence. We must govern for Scotland as if we were an independent state and challenge the Unionists to get out of our way.”

There’s been a lot of negativity recently but Kerevan is right, the space for forging a new politics is here and the sun is out.

The British establishment is facing a Brexit crisis of identity of its own making that has been churning away for thirty year or more. It’s inconceivable that there won’t be fallout for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the media bubble will burst.



Comments (23)

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  1. Graeme McCormick says:

    Was in Richmond on Thames on Saturday and spoke to Brexit campaigner.

    He looked at the sky and pointed to a plane overhead and said the pollution was caused by the EU. No kidding!

    I asked why the 3rd runway should be built in London and not anywhere else to reduce pollution and spread economic activity and he said that had nothing to do with it.

  2. Michael says:

    Good stuff, Mike, just one niggle, there is no such office as ‘leader of the opposition’ in the Scottish Parliament.

  3. Smeddum07 says:

    I have a quick dilemma that I can’t quite answer on brexit. I voted yes in the referendum.
    However why is it not ok for Scotland to share sovereignty with England but is ok for the uk to share sovereignty with an even bigger Union.
    I think ukip would answer the opposite of this (if they were honest) that Scotland is not a country but how do yes voters answer.
    Honest question I would prob vote to stay in brexit but not sure

    1. Alistair Gray says:

      The EU is an alliance of independent nations. The UK is not. That’s why the UK does not need the EU’s permission to leave the EU, but Scotland does need the UK’s permission to leave the UK.

      Shared sovereignty is fine, so long as it is a voluntary agreement between equals, an agreement which either party can terminate at any time. That is the case with the EU. It is not the case with the UK.

      If Scotland does leave the UK, she will certainly immediately cede sovereignty back to the rUK in the form of treaties to cover areas of common interest. But Scotland will negotiate these treaties as a free and equal partner. Right now, we get what the UK parliament gives us.

      1. Andy Ellis says:

        Small point; Scotland does not need the UK (or indeed anyone else’s) permission to leave the UK. Self determination is a right, not a privilege. The situation of polities like Scotland, Quebec and Catalonia may be very different from cases of de-colonisation, but to accept that the right of these (or indeed other) peoples to assert and obtain their independence is contingent on the gracious favour of the larger units is both dangerous and profoundly anti-democratic. The sovereignty of the Scottish people is a matter for them alone.

      2. Thrawn says:

        Erm…it is the case with the UK that Scotland can reclaim sole sovereignty whenever it wants…that was the whole point of the referendum we had if i remember rightly.

        And if you want to ba a masochist about it you can lose a soveriegnty referendum every day to prove that point

        In response to the Smeddum07 question there is in fact no difference other than scope…Scotland as still a voluntary (deal with it Alistair Meh) part of UK has less sovereignty (although catching up under Cullen) than the UK has in the EU. But your question raises an interesting point (for me anyway) about sovereignty vs independence. I would argue that an independent Scotland in EU would have greater sovereignty but not really much more independence…if you want to get an idea about how small nations can be treated in the EU take a look at Greece or Ireland or Portugal in the last few years

        1. Andy Ellis says:

          I see your point about the distinction between sovereignty and independence. I guess I just get tired of the Europhobic line that EU membership equates to “pretendy” independence, a line used by folk from a surprisingly wide range of backgrounds. Their unthinking generally evidence free attachment to the idea is a great demonstration that you just can’t kill a bad idea (c.f.: gaming the d’Hondt system etc). I don’t think Scotland would really be in the same category as Portugal, Greece or Ireland but it is instructive that even in spite of the shabby treatment meted out to Greece in particular, and the apparent rise of Eurosceptic feeling in many places, there doesn’t appear to be much chance of any of them voting to leave?

          1. Thrawn says:

            Its a good point that despite how the EU treated them those countries still have strong majorities favoring remaining in the EU…probably because they trust the EU technocrats more than their elected politicians….

            But do you not find it curious and satisfyingly ironic that one the most enduring reasons for the EU’s popularity in those countries is that it can step in save them fromselves…hardly the independence the SNP are selling

          2. Jilly Hayden says:

            To say that the reason the EU is popular in Ireland “probably because they trust the EU technocrats more than their elected politicians….” is more than a little insulting.

            Firstly, it’s not that popular.

            Secondly, no, it’s not because we don’t trust ourselves to govern ourselves. We like our independence, it’s served us very well. That’s why the part of Ireland that’s independent is doing better than the part that relies on the UK treasury.

            We have an export-led economy and the EU offers us trading opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have. We like visa-free travel and immigration is good for Ireland. Remember, the population in the whole country, North & South is only 6.8m – we still haven’t recovered from the famine.

            Greater EU integration has also helped to soften the border, which is good for both peace and trade.

            Our membership of the EU is an entirely pragmatic position. It’s got nothing to do with some weird lack of self-confidence

        2. Thrawn says:

          Also although you wouldn’t know it know due to the SNP’s stalinist media control operation but there is a long tradition of Independence supporters being against the EU e.g Jim Sillars

          (But to be clear I am pro-europe and will be voting remain in the upcoming referendum)

        3. Alistair Gray says:

          The difference between the EU and the UK seems to me absolute. The EU is an alliance of sovereign states negotiating as equals, where the UK is a unitary state in which the powers of component regions are determined by a majority of MPs in a unitary parliament. The UK can abolish the Scottish parliament. The EU cannot abolish the UK parliament.

          There is no agreement about the legal right of Scotland to secede. The UK government certainly regards the right to hold a referendum as something for Westminster to grant at its discretion. Many even in Scotland agree. Certainly there is no UK constitutional right to secession. We will see how willing a future UK government may be to grant a referendum, if it should become clear that the independence vote is likely to win. By contrast nobody contests the right of the UK to withdraw from the EU as and when the UK sees fit.

          Greece has been crucified outrageously by the EU, but that has been possible only because Greece is in the Euro and the Euro does not work: it’s a single currency with no accompanying system of fiscal transfers, with the inevitable consequence that some parties become ever-deepening trade debtors to others. I would certainly oppose an independent Scotland entering the Euro.

          I understand your point about Scotland in the EU being sovereign (in the sense of being free to leave) but not independent (in the sense of being subject to EU treaties, in the negotiation of which she has only a limited voice). But while that may be an argument against being in the EU, it can’t be an argument against independence, since Scotland currently has virtually no say at all in EU treaties, which are negotiated in effect by UK ministers beholden generally to English parties and English constituencies, and of course Scotland currently cannot decide independently whether or not to leave the EU.

          I am myself in favour of Scottish independence, and (with gritted teeth) in favour of staying in the EU.

          1. c rober says:

            Might I interject a couple of observations , seeing as how I do frequent 2 of those three EU countries mentioned.

            They were not thrown to the wolves , I agree that a one size fits all does not work , but there was flaws , either from entering , prior to or afterwards. IE cooked books with Greece , free market avoidance from Portugal , an Irish population and private companies that weighthed GDP to private housing.

            Greece decided that debt and increasing the civil service was something that its politicians wanted to remain in power. The result is what we see today. They can thank the politicians in Athens , not those in Brussels. Plus you have olympic levels of tax avoidance.

            Ireland , same plus debt and like Spain in build and build , bubble , debt collapse.

            Today they are looking like they won the war , its economy and housing price recovering , having went in another direction than the banks would have prefferred and selling property based assets to the highest bidder or bulldozing increasing value , just like Wesminster and Council housing.

            Portugal is in dire straits again due to politicians in the Capital and local ones , nothing again to do with brussels.

            OF the key joining articles is has done 11 of the 20 , in nearly 20 years its still to do the core ones. Its corrupt , the people know it is , its protectionist of the elite , where they still blame everyone outside of Portugal… especially the brit , and the voter swallows it.

            IT got lots of EU joing funds to bring it into the 20th century , like sanitation , yes you read that right. Got new motorways , then sold them off without a legal challenge from brussels in a PFI style … where the taxpayer is still paying for it , both from Portugal and the EU.

            ITs telco is protectionist , and was exempt from the joining rules , not a batted eyelid from the EU. Hardly surprising given that other EU countries have done the same , Germany , France etc practice stealth protectionism.

            Its taxation on personal imports is illegal , yet brussels is happy to merely fine them less than the income from it.

            Its former president is just after spendig some time in the pokey , and its former enviroment minister sold off oil concessions meaning 10c a barrel to the treasury and is also expected to do the same.

            Portugal is around double Scotlands population.

            No Oil , and just like Greece with an overemployed civil service , that they were supposed to trim , they did , but just this year increased their pay , benefits , employment levels back to where they were , and back to 2 months paid holidays – yet another election bribe , continuing the spiral , exactly like Greece.

            The UK on the other hand still enduing austerity , and that is in no way a problem to do with the EU. IT bailed out banks and continued its spiral , those bad bank assets were sold off to other banks to profit from , not instead sold off to the highest bidder for the taxpayer that funded the bailouts , the housing and debt bubble is protected , banks are in control.

            Socialised debts , privitised profits stemming from greed that is and was the problem , even when it was socialists in power.

  4. bringiton says:

    Since the Britnats are citing geography as a factor in deciding the location of your seat of government,for the record:
    Edinburgh – London 330 miles
    London – Brussels 200 miles.

  5. Neil MacGillivray says:

    There is no limit to the ambitions of Ruthie Tank Commander it seems but how long will that last I wonder!

  6. Thrawn says:

    Zac Goldsmiths campaign had many failings but the dog whistle charge is one I completely fail to comprehend…how is it dog whistle politics to point out that Sadiq Khan has shared platforms and had regular contact with individuals who have supported some of the worst acts of terrorism and brutality in the 21st century? If there had been evidence that Zac Goldmsith had so much as been in the same building as Nick Griffin Labour wouldn’t have pilloried him?

    Also I love the fact that the writer in listing the undisputable fact that the SNP won the election (albeit in the far from crushing way their self-swallowed hype expected) somehow extrapolates from that any opposition to them is somehow illegitimate. Also whether he or Ross Poltroon likes it or not…the fact the SNP failed to win an absolute majority means yes their mandate to act on thier manifesto is circumscribed by what the other parties in the SP allow them …and that includes the Conservatives

    Also when Brexit is rejected (and I am quietly confident the majority of people will realise we are better together with our european neighbours….see what i did there) and independence is off the table for the foreseeable future then yes as George Craven states the SNP will be judged on its record like any other governing party…a governing party with already 10 years of record…a governing party with little or fresh new blood…a governing party who can no longer hide behind reserved powers…a governing party subject to scandals, screw-ups or sloth like any other normal governing party.

    Finally one little curiousity from the graph that Mike Small (no joke required) included…you could argue that if the pendulum did turn to Leave it wouldn’t be the English who were responsible for over-riding the views of the Scottish people but the Welsh!! Where are the reams of furious editorials against the little welshlanders i wonder? Or the ruminations on how the Welsh establishment are now reaping what they sowed on Europe…..

    1. Andy Ellis says:

      The welsh electorate is circa 2.1 million compared with around 3.9M in Scotland, 37.4M in England and 1.2 in NI. The chances of the Welsh result being pivotal are therefore less, although the impact of differential turnout has to be factored in too. Given the consistent Scottish poll ratings for Remain of 60-65% (with the latest at a whopping 76%) it is much more likely that a convincing Scottish Remain vote on a reasonable turnout will indeed overturn a close Leave vote in rUK, where polls consistently suggest the sides are within a few % of each other.

      As for your assertion that the SNP somehow lacks a mandate because it doesn’t have an absolute majority, in practice how do you see that working? There are relatively few issues I can see the Greens voting the SNP down on. 63 seats is 50% more than Salmond had when he ran a fairly successful minority administration. Even if the Greens and/or LDs abstained, that still leaves the combines Tory and Labour bloc short if they’re trying to overturn any SG decision. Just what areas do you see all 4 opposition parties combining to oppose…?

      1. Thrawn says:

        I absolutely accept that your scenario vis-a-vis the Eu referendum is more far likely than mine given the respective populations. But on a knife edge vote like this will be…it is not impossible and my point was that amid all the hyperbole seen on this site and others about the British Establishment and the Tory party civil war it is in Labour and Plaid Cymru Wales that support for the EU is at its weakest

        For your second point…the SNP alone does lack a mandate because it doesn’t have 65 seats. On certain issues there will be a mandate in the parliament to enact SNP policies using the support of other parties…but that is not the same and will be based on compromise. Also while the Greens are pro-independence they have no incentive to help the SNP (and end up like the Lib Dems in the Coalition)…in fact if they want to grow their support they have every incentive to attack the SNP from the left. On tax for example you could quite easily have a situation where Tories and Labour vote against a tax increase because it is too much and the Greens because it is too little.

  7. John B Dick says:

    Conservatives have copied Labour’s primary policy: SNP = BAD.

    That’s all there is to it.

  8. Bill Melvin says:

    As politics in the developed world evolve in quite extreme ways compared to even 15 to 25 years ago it is staggering that there are people still arguing that the pathetic, corrupt, self serving so called democracy of the UK is still the best option for Scotland. We are as resourceful and rich as any small country anywhere in the world with the genuine potential to create world leaders in any field we choose to and the capacity to innovate and raise the bar in many different sectors. Yet we don’t have a confidence that reflects this potential and still struggle to develop such. I hope and trust that the Governments commitment to restart the independence conversation and to bring more people over to the idea of what this would mean for our future turns into a vibrant positive debate free of the scare mongering of the indy ref. Watching the Brexit supporters now convey their displeasure at project fear on the Europe referendum represents hypocrisy of the highest order, especially as the MSM gives them the air time to express these views.

  9. Hamish says:

    Membership of the Orange Order is not the same as membership of the AA. It’s all a matter if choice, who you want to associate with and on what terms.

  10. David Sangster says:

    Bleugh! One of your links sent me to the Scottish Conservatives website. I had to disinfect my computer. Apart from that, an excellent article.

  11. John says:

    “the SNP alone does lack a mandate because it doesn’t have 65 seats. On certain issues there will be a mandate in the parliament to enact SNP policies using the support of other parties”
    The SNP have the mandate to enact their policies, they are BY FAR the largest party in the SP, I take you belive the Tories in the last UK goverment had no mandate to enact their policies even in coalition with the LibDems?

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