Tag Archives: Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson: Playing The Sectarian Card

Jeremy Corbyn seems to be suffering an incredible amount of coordinated attacks regarding his stance on terrorism. Depending on the sources Jeremy Corbyn ranges from being soft on terrorism to a terrorist mouthpiece, all the way through to an appeaser of terrorists. It’s been revealed that he was the subject of MI5 interest  over his stance on Ireland and the IRA, and it’s this which has ramifications on the Scottish political scene.

I’m not a great fan of Mr Corbyn. He supports a united Ireland but not an independent Scotland. So no matter how attractive some of his policies are, for me they are trumped by Scottish independence. Jeremy Corbyn offers a sticking plaster on a constitutional question which requires major surgery, a temporary solution to a more permanent problem. Take fox hunting as an example. Banned by Labour, it looks set to be legalised by the Tories; legislation is not permanent and can be undone by future governments. The Scottish Parliament can similarly be removed by a future UK government, if that government is strong enough to ride roughshod over Scotland. That future is looking increasingly more likely, with a Tory majority in England highly likely and a vocal element rallying to the Scottish Tories as a purely unionist party. Combine that with a compliant press and media and you have a recipe for Scotland apparently “demanding” that Holyrood be closed down and Westminster complying with our “wishes”.

The Tories in Scotland have cast their net out into the sectarian pool for votes and have dragged in a large haul, and this has led to their fielding quite a few dubious characters, and I can only expect this to grow. Not only will this grow but as those numbers grow you can expect to see policy change, simply because they are targeting a group of people who have a specific set of views and will bring those with them to the party. It will be become more unionist orientated rather than Conservative and Unionist.

In the lead up to the 2014 referendum the Yes movement didn’t cast it’s nets into a narrow pool of opinion, but into a far wider one, and in the 2014 post referendum flood of new SNP members there were no doubt many supporters who had dubious backgrounds too. That’s to be expected. Some of these people supported a united Ireland, and to be honest I can see no reason why if the people of Ireland wanted such a thing that it should be denied to them. But that’s something to be achieved through the ballot box, not by guns and bombs. Yet there are people within the Yes movement who see no problem in praising and celebrating terrorists and terrorism in an Irish context, but who decry it elsewhere. That’s not an acceptable stance. It’s also one which is being seized upon by some extremist Tory supporters to try to brand the whole Yes movement as somehow an “Irish republican YeSNP” movement. Pictures of one Glasgow councillor in an Irish republican flute band are passed around as though they represent all of Yes or the SNP. Old photographs of Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon posing with Martin McGuinness are often shared as if if to say “See! Here’s the proof!” while conveniently ignoring pictures of the Queen and Mr McGuiness together. Or ignoring the fact that the Tories actually have a former IRA member serving as a councillor in London.

Terrorists are the lowest of the low. Celebrating their attacks on civilians is as low as it gets I suppose, and people who hold these kind of views should be exposed for their views wherever possible. If a candidate for a party I supported had such a background I certainly would not vote for them. The problem for the Tories is they are specifically targeting and recruiting from what would appear to any independent observer to be sectarian and extremist groups, albeit British Nationalist ones. So while the charge made by those extremists that the SNP or Yes are pro-IRA/ Irish Republican in nature fails to hold up, the reverse is certainly true of the growing Tory/British Nationalist movement.

In England they don’t have the same trouble with sectarianism as we do in Scotland. They do have a problem with xenophobia though. In the attempts to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a friend to terrorists in the English media, this will have an inevitable ripple effect here. For Ruth Davidson, using the union flag as a dog whistle to attract support is one thing; going full on bigot is another.

 

The British Nationalist Delusion

It really was ironic that Ruth Davidson used her invitation to the Orwell Society to display Doublethink in action. According to Davidson, nationalism is divisive, while patriotism is uniting. Yet by stating that “if it came to a choice between the country or the party, for me, it’s the country every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.” she demonstrates beyond all doubt that she is a nationalist, albeit a British one. For someone who apparently isn’t a nationalist she does a very good impression of one.

Up until now it has all been fairly harmless, if you ignore the use of terms like “fratricidal conflict” and ignore her parties courting of sectarian groups and right wing extremists. Ruth has played the fool, posed with any number of animals and armoured vehicles, all with a patriotic union flag backdrop. But now the gloves are off and Davidson is becoming clumsy. Her attempts to link support for Jeremy Corbyn with the IRA are seen by many as trying to stir up sectarian support ahead of the general election and are a new low in Scottish politics from a woman who should be mindful of the pool she is dipping her toe in.

Her u-turn on Brexit was a perfect example of her arguing on a principle, then abandoning it because it threatened her British nationalist perspective. Her announcement this week of a Tory u-turn on free prescriptions was a particularly ham-fisted abandonment of principle, considering that it was made to woo voters in a Westminster election, yet health is devolved to Holyrood- the parliament she actually sits in!

In short, Davidson is a woman who has no principles, other than her nationalism, and the more scrutiny she receives, the more apparent that is. The question the Scottish electorate have to ask themselves is; can we trust this woman? The answer among those who aren’t hard line British nationalists is no, we can’t. This is why there may be some gains by the Tories in the June election, but not enough to unseat the SNP. That won’t stop poor, delusional Ruth though; she will claim the few SNP scalps as an outright victory, and will no doubt use what scraps she gets as proof that Scotland rejects a second referendum, when in actual fact the SNP gaining a majority of seats again will be an endorsement of the decision the Scottish parliament has already taken: to support a Scottish referendum and to take us back into Europe when the rest of the UK has left.

That Tory Resurgence…

Before last weeks council elections I made a prediction about the Airdrie North seat. I said that there would be one SNP, one Labour, one Independent and one Conservative and I was bang on. The so called “Conservative Resurgence” is being painted as an end to any hopes that Scotland will become independent, and I’m sure that over the coming month in the run up to the General Election this will be repeated ad nauseum.

To those who are open minded this came as no surprise. I read many social media comments before the local elections which were not only gloating at the imminent demise of British Labour in Scotland, but scathingly dismissive of the Conservatives hopes of returning any councillors. The media seemed shocked too, with the Sunday Herald aghast that the Tories and Labour (though mainly the Tories) had been infiltrated by the Orange Order.
Those who are able to step back and see the big picture were less than surprised. The signs had been there for some time, and Ruth Davidson had been banging the drum (if you’ll pardon the pun) for so long that she was referred to as the Ruth Davidson Loyal Party for Ruth Davidson. So why didn’t everyone see it coming?

Everyone had seen for some time Ruth Davidson being the public face of attracting hard core British Nationalists to vote Tory. Davidson carried on with normal Tory policies and made no attempt to soften the image or play down what was once unpalatable to the majority of Scottish citizens. Instead she’s gone with a policy of ‘Never mind the policies, smell the flag’ and it has been devoured by the British Nationalists. In doing so she has attracted a new generation to the Tories and while she has been distracting us with her public sleight of hand, the real trick has been taking place just at the edge of your vision.

Something I had noticed with some of the Tory candidates was their surprisingly clean social media profiles. In this day and age when confronted with an unknown we find we can learn about most candidates from social media; in fact when I voted in the local elections I specifically ranked candidates with no social media presence lower. So to find numerous candidates with bare profiles sparked my interest. By chance I happened across one candidate entirely by chance, given that his social media profile was under a variant of his own name. While his profile appeared to be private he had liked some online content, so although what he had posted couldn’t be seen, his likes could:Loyalist flute bands. Follow the bands, follow the likes. Time consuming, but revealing. It shows a network of locked profiles and invitation only groups, mostly Loyalist in nature. This is the beating heart of the Conservative revival; hidden and protected. To get in you have to be known. There are no intruders, no lurkers. Those inside are often rabidly pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant, British Nationalists. The Tories didn’t have to build a network up, they simply leeched on to an existing network, and it’s huge. Unlike the Yes movement, it isn’t confined to Scotland and draws support from across the UK. Compare the likes /shares on a post on Bella Caledonia with a post on one of the more extreme British Nationalist sites and you can see the weight of numbers being utilised to spread pro-British/Anti-Scottish content. That pro-British content is by and large aggressive and negative, seldom positive, and is often accompanied by racist and sectarian imagery or comment. It’s a cesspit, and the Tories haven’t just dipped a toe in, they are now in up to their neck. The danger for them is that having targeted an organisation for support in the form of volunteers and votes, those people become members and inevitably stand for the party. Which is precisely what has been seen across Scotland as there’s a drip, drip, drip of new councillors and candidates exposed who have either expressed questionable views or shared unsavoury images. There’s only so many times you can share a Britain First image while feigning ignorance of who Britain First actually are.

So in light of the above Ruth Davidson’s miraculous Tory revival is anything but; it’s merely a repositioning of the less principled and more unsavoury element of the unionist support from Labour to the Conservatives. The Tories aren’t reducing the SNP’s support, they are reducing Labours, and so long as the combined British Nationist vote is smaller than the combined Scottish Nationalist vote then there are no grounds for claims that Scots have rejected another referendum. In fact, on looking at how the vote played out cross North Lanarkshire the unionist parties created a symbiotic relationship where by and large British Nationalist votes cascaded downwards, and where the candidate failed to win on FPTP was elected at a later stage- by Labour 2nd preference votes!

June’s election, like the local elections, will be played by the Tories as a defacto vote on the constitution, and if the SNP want to mobilise their voters in June then they have to respond in kind. They failed to do so in the local elections and failed to make the big gains that some predicted. It was the constitutional question which returned 56 MP’s in 2015, and will be in June if they want to come anywhere near that result again.

Popular Misconceptions No2: Scots Knew There Would Be An EU Referendum

On Question Time last night a lady piped up with her opinion which received rapturous applause from the audience in Bognor Regis: Why are the Scots demanding a referendum now, because when they voted in 2014 they KNEW there was going to be a Brexit vote.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this stated. It’s nonsense of course and anyone with decent powers of recall or even better, access to google should be able to establish a few basic facts. But let’s give the good lady from Bognor the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t following the situation in this country as closely as we were here and look at just why she’s mistaken.
Joanna Cherry MP had a decent stab at addressing all the points put to her and to be honest it could have been an hour long show with just Ms Cherry, David Dimbleby and the audience of Bognor Regis, but the question above was one she didn’t respond to and in my view should have.
In the lead up to the September 2014 referendum Scots were being told by the print, radio and television media and by Labour politicians that if they voted No a Labour government was just round the corner. That if they voted No, in less than a year they could sweep the coalition from power and that Ed Miliband would become a Prime Minister who would hold Scotland in high regard. Indeed Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson deliberately played down the Tories chances of returning to power to reassure Scots voters that they should vote for the union. I was one of many warning that this wasn’t the case; that Ed Miliband was unelectable and that the Tories would not only take power but seek to emasculate Scotland in the process. I was correct on every single point.
From The Guardian, September 2014
“Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, highlighted fears of a yes vote when she told a cross-party referendum debate on STV on Tuesday night that the Tories are on course to lose the UK election. This was seen as an attempt to reassure wavering voters who are more likely to vote for independence if they believe the Tories will win the UK election, according to the former Labour first minister Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.”
“Citing unguarded remarks on Monday night by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, that the Conservatives were unlikely to win the general election, Miliband will insist that Labour would win in 2015 – a year earlier than Scotland could become independent.”

But I digress. In the lead up to September 2014 the Tories were having internal rows and were under pressure from UKIP and David Cameron was floating the idea of an EU referendum to quiet the unruly within the party and to stop wavering voters from switching to UKIP. The EU referendum bill was actually introduced to the UK parliament in October 2014, just over a month after the Scottish referendum. It passed its first hurdle then floundered, before David Cameron included it as a manifesto pledge for the May 2015 election, and it was confirmed as going ahead later that month.
So in the pre-Indyref campaign the possibility of an EU referendum was certainly there, but it was being played down in Scotland by the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems, with all three campaigning on the same message: voting Yes was a sure fire way of taking Scotland OUT of Europe.

At the Labour Party (Scotland Branch) conference in March 2014, Margaret Curran made a conference speech in which she said:
“Because Alex Salmond knows Scots don’t really want independence.
What they want is a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour Government.
And rest assured, Conference, Alex Salmond know that his biggest threat is Ed Miliband is throwing David Cameron out of number 10.”

While the main thrust of the No campaign was squarely behind the Project Fear approach the one positive aspect that they did try to sell was a tenuous house of cards. If any one aspect was removed it all fell apart. Everything hinged on No winning, then hapless Ed Miliband winning the general election, so that there would be no EU referendum. Even the dog’s in the street could see that Ed was the weakest link in that chain, yet he was talked up by Labour as the best of both world’s. And still no one was willing to admit what anyone with any sense could see: that he was a short term solution to a long term problem, and that even had he by some miracle won that the Tories at some point would be back, vindictive as ever. The plan fell at the second hurdle and left Scotland facing another Tory government.
As we saw afterwards, once Scotland was secured within the union, focus returned to Europe. The Conservatives, ran their campaign with two major themes; that they would deliver a referendum on EU membership (which Cameron fully expected to win) and that Ed Miliband would be a puppet Prime Minister worked from the back by Alex Salmond. Having told Scotland it would be a valued and equal partner, within months Scotland was the enemy within, and while Labour tried to blame their loss of seats to the SNP for their defeat, simple mathematics showed that Labour had been roundly defeated by over a hundred seats and even had they retained their Scottish seats would still be languishing effectively a million miles behind the Tories.
Having brought in English Votes for English Laws which stripped Scottish MP’s of some voting rights the UK parliament has now moved to reduce Scottish MP’s by scrapping 6 seats. With a now tried and proven system in place for the election in the form of whipping up anti-Scottish sentiment and insinuating that Labour will (if they remain as one party) enter coalition with the SNP to deny the English electorate their rightful government, we have a recipe for Tory government in Scotland for years to come. So if there’s a way out of Brexit and from another lost generation of Tory rule, I’d grab it. Margaret Curran might think otherwise though…

 

Edited to add: Murdo Fraser caught red handed trying the same line with Andrew Neil today…

Davidson plays down Tory chances
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/03/calls-to-postpone-uk-general-election-scots-independence
Tories commit to EU Ref
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15390884

http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/speech-to-scottish-labour-conference-by-margaret-curran-mp#sthash.89QQqAx2.dpuf

Davidson, Mundell & Cleese: That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore…

Letter to The National, 03/10/16

Dear National,

I’m old enough to remember when John Cleese was funny and I had perhaps thought that his tweet about the obsequious behaviour of some Scots was the product of some new character he was trying out. Unfortunately the character was his own and while he clarified his feelings about Scots in general and displayed a broader ignorance of Scottish affairs, in the process he touched on an interesting trait which is prevalent among the more senior British unionists in Scotland; where they try to demonstrate their loyalty by trying to “out-anglicise” their London masters. David Mundell is one such “Union Jock” who would be best starting his sentences with “Theresa says you can do…” as he is no more than her messenger boy. Powerless and pitied to such an extent that his nickname ‘Fluffy’ displays how inconsequential he is, that Toom-Tabard would be more fitting. Ruth Davidson on the other hand is more venomous. Her recent comments that ‘Scots were usually placed where nothing could be stolen or broken’ were a new low for her. This is the woman who wants to be First Minister for goodness sake! If she want’s to be seen as an actual alternative government rather than a Quisling style puppet government then she has to stop behaving in this manner. She has to stop demeaning Scotland at every turn so that she can get a pat on the head from London. She evokes an image of some Union Flag bedecked Mr Punch puppet who says to the puppetmaster “No, don’t you get your pretty hands dirty, I’m so compliant I’ll stick my own hand up my own rear end and work it for you- and still have a hand free to beat the Scotch with my austerity stick!”
What shocks me more than anything is how a compliant media which explodes at the slightest gaffe or verbal slip from anyone of a pro-indy bent suddenly becomes deaf, dumb and blind to this. Had Salmond or Sturgeon made such a remark I’d expect at the very least a large swathe of the front pages and a Call Kaye specially extended edition! In Ruth’s case, it’s “Look, squirrel” and the headlines once again focussed on those nasty immigrants and how bet “we British” can identify them, marginalise them and get rid of them, and Ruth, being a proud British nationalist surely has no problem with that.

Yours,

James Cassidy

Ruth Davidson: A New Hope…

Tank Girl

Watching the news and analysis of Thursday’s election coming it would be easy to think that Ruth Davidson of the Ruth Davidson Novelty Photo-shoots and Fun (No, we aren’t Tories, honest!) Party had won a resounding victory over the SNP, and that that Scotland was back in the unionist fold. There’s only so much I can take from the BBC, luckily Russia Today reassured me that Ms Davidson’s party hadn’t actually won, and that the world was still spinning on it’s axis as before. What did happen was that the Unionist vote shifted within itself, with one faction merely taking votes from another faction. Hardly sensational stuff, and to be honest everyone but Kezia Dugdale saw it coming. Labour have now been punished by both sides of the electorate for their treachery; by Yes voters for siding with the Tories, and by unionists angry that she wobbled in her unionism by appearing to allow a free vote in a future referendum. On close analysis the unionist FPTP vote is pitiful. Of 73 FPTP constituencies the Tories won only 7, the Lib-Dems 4 and the Labour Party an embarrassing 3. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the union, is it?
Ruth Davidson is the new poster girl of the Unionist media, be it in print, television or indeed on BBC Radio Scotland, where Kaye Adams accidentally stated that “we’re up 8 point…” before remembering where she was and correcting herself by saying that the Conservatives were up 8.1%. Tank Girl, with the aid of her chums in the media, will call on Nicola Sturgeon to forever rule out another referendum, a call she will repeat every week, day and hour for the next five years. Davidson realised that there are people who value the union flag more than social justice, more than equality, more than the NHS, more than the welfare state, and who will endorse the Tories wholeheartedly to protect the union. Never mind the policies, look at the pretty flag. For many voters Thatcher is someone from the history books, and they do not share most right thinking Scots contempt of the woman and her policies. When Margaret Curran was asked if she would prefer a Tory run Scotland to an independent one she squirmed and twisted and struggled to answer. With the death of the Scottish branch of the Labour Party she may one day have the chance to see that scenario in action.
But to spend so much time talking about the unionist situation means that we ignore the failings or successes of the Yes side, if we can still refer to them in such a manner. While most of the Yes support has gone to the SNP, those supporters must remember where they came from. Tribalism within Yes will keep us down and divided, and we must get smarter if we are to have a Yes parliament, not simply an SNP dominated one. Reaffirmation of the Yes movement is needed and agreements should be made for the mutual benefit of the independence movement. Clearly the decision by the Greens to stand against Ruth Davidson cost the SNP that seat and allowed Davidson to claim victory as an endorsed constituency candidate. In some areas such as Glasgow or Central Scotland where polling showed it very likely that the SNP would sweep the board an official SNP 1, Green 2 campaign would have had a significant effect on reducing the unionist bloc. This would mean the Greens would have to agree not to stand in the constituencies and the SNP agreeing not standing on the list. Of course where this falls down is that this would mean some people putting the good of the cause of independence before their personal ambitions.
As for the minority parties such as Solidarity and Rise, I think that we need to accept that for now they are a diversion and despite some of their fine ideals are not a realistic proposal for the pro Indy voter on the national stage. Over exposure in the National and to some extent The Herald skewed the perception of RISE, and if the don’t completely fall then perhaps the council elections next year may be a more realistic platform for them, where they can help deliver real benefits at a local level.

SNP 1&2: The Wrong Tactic in the Wrong Area

Here in the Central Scotland regional list area the SNP won every single constituency seat, and as reward gained no list places. Every silver lining has a cloud though, and Yes voters need to accept that the SNP 1&2 campaign was entirely the wrong tactic if you are looking at having a wider pro-Yes representation. The SNP were expected to win every seat, and to do so comfortably. Such was the strength of the SNP vote locally that Labour Elaine (Not C) Smith was beaten by the empty chair candidate Fulton McGregor. So an alternative strategy was a MUST here. Likewise in Glasgow. If the parties are canvassing and the returns are as good as what the polls were suggesting then a softer approach is required to and SNP 1 and AN Other 2. Agreements should be in place about some of the broader issues beforehand.
I think that what must also be accepted is that while many people are supportive of the aims and sentiment expressed by the likes of RISE and Tommy Sheridan, that they are not a realistic option for the receipt of a second vote in such a polarised contest. The YES movement has gathered round the SNP, while the hard NO vote is being gathered round the Ruthless Davidson Party for Ruthless Policy Party. Should that continue then having a number of Pro Yes parties will weaken the case for independence, not make it. Tactical voting only works where the options for choice are limited.
In my opinion the Greens are the ‘AN Other’ party in the above scenario, where they would be the main beneficiary when the SNP sweep the boards on the constituency vote.

I spoiled my paper in the constituency vote. I voted Green on the list. What happened? SNP got in with an increased vote, took all the seats in the central area and therefore got NOTHING from the list.The SNP gained a majority on the first vote alone and they simply weren’t going to get ANY list seats. It made perfect sense to vote for the Greens as the next most likely recipient. In fact it could more likely be said that RISE and Solidarity took votes from the Greens in that respect, with a combined total of all non SNP pro-independence votes being 6.5%. That meant one more unionist and one less pro-indy.
We have to get smarter about there is and adopt regional tactics. A Scotland wide call for SNP 1&2 DOESN’T work.