From the Woodpile to the Bonfire
It’s not been the best few days for the Tories. In just a few weeks Theresa May has gone from urging us to ‘Crush the saboteurs’ to pleading with us to help her out. Pre-Brexit we might have used the term Schadenfreude, but that is clearly verboten now.
Now Anne Marie Morris, Luke Graham (new MP for Ochil and South Perthshire) and Richard Cook have combined to bring a week of total humiliation for the Conservative Party. But they are in descending order of significance: one exposes a casual culture of racism; one exposes the desperate quality of the candidates for the Scottish Conservatives; and one exposes a much darker and deeper manipulation of British politics.
Anne Marie Morris is just another racist Tory, and there’s no real story there. Her ‘nigger in the woodpile’ comments just lifts the lid on how a section of society behave and think. For a generation of people the shifts in language of the past thirty years has just passed them by. It’s made May’s majority all the more vulnerable but we shouldn’t be surprised. After all Boris Johnston published a column arguing that black people have lower IQs than others and has said:
“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.” (The Telegraph, 2002) and “The continent (Africa) may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge anymore.” (The Spectator, 2002). These shock-factor of these outbursts shouldn’t be used to avert our eyes from structural and everyday racism but just a reminder of the other-wordly nature of Conservative political culture.
But if Morris is the unacceptable (public) face of Conservatism, Luke Graham is its Scottish poster boy. He replaced Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh to the great joy of the unionist voters [and, while we’re on the subject of racism you’ll remember Nicholas Soames barking at her in Westminster?]
The cheers for the newly elected Scottish Conservatives had barely subsided before we can see them in action in the Mother of All Parliaments.
Here’s the boy wonder at work:
Narrow and divisive political agenda from the Tories clear again. Deputy Speaker puts him in his place though… pic.twitter.com/n7aK3wg1Hr
— Callum Timms (@TimmsCallum) July 10, 2017
That didn’t go so well then.
The Deputy Speaker talks to him like a child.
If Graham’s tv appearance didn’t go well, neither did the more reluctant performance of senior Scottish Conservative Richard Cook who is at the centre of a major Brexit funding scandal.
— Alicia V Perry♀ (@aliciavperry) July 10, 2017
To remind readers of the background to this case Cook is at the centre of a political scandal raging in Northern Ireland.
Back in February, an openDemocracy investigation led by Adam Ramsay and Peter Geoghegan found that donors had taken advantage of Northern Ireland’s secretive electoral laws to funnel hundreds of thousands of pounds to the DUP’s pro-Brexit campaign. Under pressure, the DUP revealed that the party had received £425,622 from a group called ‘the Constitutional Research Council’. It’s run by Richard Cook, former Vice Chair of the Scottish Conservatives.
In an other country these revelations would be incendiary.
The DUP aren’t just homophobic bigots they are actively undermining transparency and democracy before our very eyes. They are a front organisation. Watch Alex Thomson’s report here.
But if Morris and Graham are expendable backbenchers, the links from the woodpile to the bonfire are clear, an ideology based on supremacy and bigotry maintained through secrecy and the exchange of money as the bedrock of power. How ironic that Brexit, the pinnacle of Anglo-British nationalism whose catchphrase is “taking back control” was made possible by collusion and deceit.