Street Tories and the Precious
It was difficult at first to put your finger on the strange emotions evoked by seeing senior Conservatives in public in Scotland this week. Revulsion of course, but also shock probably comes closest. We just don’t really see Tory politicians speaking on the streets or appearing in public. George Osborne notoriously flew in and out without questions at a crucial moment in the indyref, the Tories famously met in a secret location to campaign in 2017 and in a garage in Granton. Ruth Davidson rarely if ever does anything other than set-piece media events.
Sure Rory Stewart’s ‘walkabout’ was confined to the leafier parts of Edinburgh’s New Town, and there is something genuinely funny about the Tory revelation that social media exists, and the traditional media’s gasps of astonishment at the crazy innovation and bravery that such antics represent. But there’s something odd going on too.
Why are the Tory hopefuls leadership queuing-up to come North and proclaim the glories of the Precious Union?
Perhaps because they want to remind their tiny electorate that Boris would be a disaster for the Preciousness?
Whatever the reason the delivery is darkly comic. Did Jeremy Hunt really not have anyone who could advise him how to pronounce Culloden?
As your PM I’d do everything I can to protect our precious union 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/6O9cH51Cha
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) June 1, 2019
Setting aside the incredible historical ignorance of citing Culloden in his “precious union” speel: the last battle on British soil; the site of war crimes; the trigger for the systemic destruction of Highland culture and language; and the most divisive scar in Scottish psyche, Mr Hunt throws in a (routine) complete misunderstanding of Adam Smith. For a different take see ‘A Defence of Adam Smith, from Chomsky and Kropotkin’.
But its worse than that.
Hunt’s notion that you can bring people together “to maintain, preserve, protect and cherish our precious union” by ignoring the democratic wishes of the Scottish people to remain part of Europe, and by repressing a future referendum on independence is remarkable.
Of course we are not the target audience for these stunts and soundbites, its all aimed at the tiny electorate of the Conservative party membership. But is is cheering to see such desultory ignorance on display.
“Unite to Win.”