The Humiliation of Douglas Ross, an occasional series
Less than a couple of months ago the Scottish and UK media was awash with praise for the bold and principled stance taken by Douglas Ross. He was, the story went, stoic, brave, a man of principle able to make ‘unpopular decisions.’
The media coverage was wild, went global. This was important unprecedented stuff. Ross was a serious decent player, a man of substance. Except of course when he was derided by senior figures within his own party.
ess than a couple of months ago the Scottish and UK media was awash with praise for the bold and principled stance taken by Douglas Ross. He was, the story went, stoic, brave, a man of principle able to make ‘unpopular decisions.’ Adam Tomkins said at the time that “Douglas is a man of principle and a man of steel.”
The media coverage was wild. It went global. This was important unprecedented stuff. Ross was a serious decent player, a man of substance. Except of course when he was derided by senior figures within his own party as being a ‘lightweight’.
Quite how you would come to this conclusion, rather than the more obvious one, that this was shameless opportunism from a man sensing his Big Boss’s death-knell and so divorced from any scruples or loyalty as to stick the knife in him for self-promotion, is anybody’s guess.
But there is a long history of both Scottish media giving Tory leaders a free pass and London media doting on Scottish Conservative Leaders. The reasons for this are that the Scottish media krave a ‘balancing act’ and are high on false equivalence. In the absence of credible opposition parties – they invent them. For the London media, it’s often boredom and ignorance and a quaint idea that Tories are different in different parts of the UK. It’s paradoxically a reassuring idea that variant strains of Toryism lie buried in the Celtic hinterland.
This reached its high point with claims that Ruth Davidson was to become the Prime Minister, or to be in the Cabinet, or to be made Deputy Prime Minister, or that she was … the Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had. I’m not qualified psychologically to understand any of this.
Now we’re in a much funnier space.
Douglas, having been (briefly) elevated to the status of ‘national icon’ – ‘serious person’ – and (improbably) ‘key player in UK politics’ – now gets diminished again to an unknown status.
His arguments seem to be that the Prime Minister he said was “completely unfit for office” in peacetime but indispensable at a time of war.
Continuity Johnson and Continuity Ross exist despite the farce of this.
In a beautiful turn to this story, the poor Mr. Ross will now have to welcome Mr. Johnson to the Scottish Tory party conference next month with a wide grin and a firm handshake and probably a cleansing of a few social media accounts.
The extent to which this hypocrisy will be met with MSM apologism will be considered absolutely normal.
The whole episode further erodes Douglas Ross’s credibility and leaves a soiled relationship between the Scottish Conservatives and the Mothership. That doesn’t really matter in electoral terms, as the Scottish Tories are an irrelevance to UK parliamentary gains. It doesn’t really matter to the Scottish Tories because their base support doesn’t really care about their leader’s credibility as long as he is spouting off about the Union and attacking the SNP. It sort of matters for the Scottish media who would love to have a more credible leader to hustle along.
But the failure of Operation Arse 2.0, Ross’s humiliation, and the end of #partygate diminish both Holyrood and Westminster. These aren’t serious credible people, and if they have risen to the dizzy heights of leadership what does that say about these institutions? And, if that really is #partygate over then, despite all the huffing and puffing it remains true that Johnson and others can just do whatever the **** they like.