2007 - 2021

Mr Nobody, Citizen of Nowhere

The contradictions and hypocrisy of being a Scottish Conservative are spooling out across the political landscape as the Cummings debacle rolls on. Yesterday the valiant figure of Douglas Ross stood out against the prevarications of Jackson Carlaw in the hope he might gain at least some glowing media attention for his bold principle.

Unfortunately for Mr Ross it only had him rewarded with a BBC feature titled “Who is Douglas Ross?” and being dubbed a “Nobody” by No.10. Such are the rewards for fealty in Brexitland.

The BBC feature did include the wonderful nugget: “He worked as a dairyman at local farms – he once told Holyrood Magazine that “some people like big tractors, other people like sheep, I was just really interested in dairy cattle”.

Speaking of wonderful nuggets, Jackson Carlaw has told everyone he’s made his views known to Downing Street and that Dominic Cummings should now consider his position. He is, according to Carlaw “Proving to be too much of a distraction in the efforts to tackle coronavirus.”

In other words Operation Arse is back. This time it’s likely to be as successful as it was the last time, in other words, not at all.

The problem for the Scottish Conservatives is they have to constantly distance themselves from the malignancy of their own party in government, whilst simultaneously activating their dwindling base support here, and also affecting the notion that they somehow have an important role to play in discussing matters of state with their colleagues in No 10.

Back when Scottish-based journalists entertained the fantasy that Ruth Davidson was going to become First Minister, or even Prime Minister, this was much talked about in ‘serious’ newspapers like the Telegraph, the Times and the Scotsman. Now, sans the khaki one, and with Carlaw at the helm, you hear this less.

In part because Carlaw lacks the colourful backstory and supposed media skills of the Colonel, but also because Operation Arse fell on its, er, arse, so spectacularly. The idea that a Scottish Tory leader had sway or influence in the Conservative Party, or that they could prevent the rise of a Boris Johnson was exposed at being ridiculous. The role and influence of the Scottish Conservatives mirrors exactly the role and influence of Scotland within the union.

Now that cleaving to the Union has been revealed to be a question of morbidity rather than just the constitution, the wind has rather come out of the sails of the “phalanx” of Tory MPs that appear now as the over-hyped high-water mark of a failed political project.

There’s a bitterness to this tragedy unfolding as you may recall the gushing enthusiasm with which Ross backed Boris for PM. Now, as Johnson and Cumming’s lies unfold Government approval is now minus 2 per cent, dropping 16 points in a day, according to the SavantaGroup/SavantaComRes Covid-19 daily tracker, with Mr Johnson’s approval rating at minus one per cent, having been at plus 19 per cent four days ago.

It seems Johnson’s tactics are failing badly.

The reason this is not going to work is that this is not just a run of the mill case of politicians lying and denying it. As Fintan O’Toole has commented:

“The ordinary treachery of saying one thing and doing another – there will be £350m extra every week for the NHS; there will never be a border in the Irish Sea – is mother’s milk to them. Perhaps because it is so habitual or because they are so used to getting away with it, their sense of how it works has become dulled. They missed the crucial fact that this time it’s different. This time it’s personal.

The mundane duplicity that is Cummings’ and Johnson’s stock in trade comes with a knowing smirk: you didn’t really think we meant that literally, did you? It is part of an elaborate, highly performative, game. But the rules for collective survival in a pandemic are not ironic. They are intimate.”

This revelation may be more of a game-changer at a UK level than in Scotland where the Tories are already a busted-flush. If, as now seems probable, the Johnson regime crumbles sooner rater than later, Douglas Ross’s resignation will be a footnote.

Ross’s strange discovery of principle has done nothing but expose the craven nature of his colleagues at Holyrood.


Comments (9)

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  1. Dougie Harrison says:

    Who wrote this, and why, for the first time I remember on Bella, is this piece not attributed?


    1. Hi Dougie – I did – hopefully fixed now – there’s an occasional glitch that, frankly is my Lockdown stupidity/busyness (sorry)

  2. Daniel Raphael says:

    Michael, is that you? I assumed that an unattributed article would effectively be an editorial…which would be you. Yes?

  3. Devine says:

    In Military circles its said you become a soldier when you obey the uniform & not the officer- the Scottish Tories must make very good soldiers if we follow that axiom. Come Hell or Highwater they obey the dictats & orders of the PM no matter what they are. The Scottish Tory is such an obedient little soldier they would no doubt make a perfect Kamikaze. An unwillingness to surrender. A tradition of death instead of defeat. Indeed, the essence of the Bushido code, is ‘loyalty & honour onto death’. The high price of fealty. And the Japanese Empire, more or less a Mass Death Cult, adopted the Kamikaze code as a consequence of Japan’s ‘no surrender policy’ ( remind you of another war-mongering death cult?) out of the wild frenzied desperation of witnessing Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands. In defeat death cults are always pushed to the extreme of self-destruction. It was the same with Hitler and the Nazi’s: Meine Ehre heißt Treue “My honour is called loyalty” was the motto of the former National Socialist organization, the Schutzstaffel (SS). Terms related to virtue, such as ‘honour’, ‘fidelity’ and ‘obedience’ were abundantly used by the SS. The word ‘fidelity’, used alone, was often a reference to Hitler personally, as in the pledge of allegiance of the SS. This nazification of vocabulary was aimed at obtaining the sort of unconditional obedience that law could not provide, as it required a pledge akin to traditional obedience to a Feudal Lord. The Scottish Tories would be as well adopting the same approach: ‘We swear to you, Herr Boris… fidelity and bravery. We solemnly pledge obedience unto death to you, and to those named by you as leaders such as Herr Cummings, Herr Gove… the Scottish Tories, hollowed out of convictions, principles or policies, now resembles a suicidal Personality cult with a death-wish: there is no fidelity to an ideal or any ethic but absolute obedience to the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
    All hope is not lost, even with the polls increasingly indicating growing support for Scottish self-determination, as the Japanese Empire during WWII, in addition to kamikazes, planned for non-aerial Japanese Special Attack Units, including those involving submarines, human torpedoes, speedboats and divers…so perhaps wee Dougie, Ruth the Truther, & Mad Murdo could convert the failed used-car salesman into a human torpedo- with NO SURRENDER! graffiti-ed on his helmet- and like a multi-dimensional Exocet fire him at the Scottish Parliament…if all fails

    1. Paul McMillan says:

      No fan of Boris but to bring in the Nazi SS…..come on. These people murdered millions, Boris for all his faults is just a bumbling upper middle class pillock who for some strange reason people (mainly in England) seem to find appealing. No idea why but the ‘english’ voted him in and I’m pretty sure they’ll soon vote him out. To be replaced by. . ……now that from a Scottish prespective could be worrying.

      1. Devine says:

        Is the last line is not hint that I firmly had my tongue in my cheek?! Jeezo! Irony bypass alert! Wee-oww-Wee-oww-Wee-oww!

  4. Chris Ballance says:

    Nevertheless Mike, there would seem to be a growing split within the Tory high echelons – with the Torygraph, FT and even the Daily Mail frequently publishing articles about the failure of Boris’ government. So the question is – is some former leading Tory currently sharpening their knives in order to launch a leadership bid once the pandemic has moved further on? Sajid Javid? I can’t hep feeling that the Tory hierarchy is looking at things and reckoning that it will be better at some point to change the leader than the government,, so the Tories go into the next westminster election with a leader able to distance themselves politically and socially from Johnson. Johnson may still have a year or two to run, but his days are surely now numbered?

    1. Neil says:

      Can easily see a situation where Johnson is still there in 4 years time.

      However, that depends on the choices they make on the way. For example, ‘Test & Trace’ as it is in England may work in principle but in practice it means people who can’t work at home (who are of course more likely to contract the virus) more likely to lose out on income because SSP is woeful, the furlough scheme isn’t universally adopted (and has a minimum furlough period of 3 weeks, not two week isolation), and other income benefits are slow to respond. With hubris they think they’ve done everything and it will be fine but you can plainly see that either, people will isolate and lose out economically or they won’t isolate and spread the virus.

      And this is just one aspect of a wide ranging pandemic, a hundred clusterfucks together, at some point its gonna busy some way.

  5. Wul says:

    Will a light bulb ever go on? Will Scottish Tories ever realise that they don’t actually matter. Simply because they are Scottish.

    None of us matter. We are just the people who happen to live in the valuable British possession of Scotland. ( Ruthie kens this, but she’s happy for now being a maw)

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