Scottish Tory policy is like holding an empty sack

Scottish Tory policy is like holding an empty sack

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Tuesday 7, May, 2019

FEW CAN ADMIT to having escaped some of the myth and hysteria (can we still use that word?) about Game of Thrones. It is for many in politics the new House of Cardsand the parallels between it and the Conservative Party are plentiful. For those who ask me why that dragon won't just fall out of the sky my answer on the PM's refusal to resign is a simple one.

The Conservatives are not a party.  What we have seen for years in the Scottish branch we now see very clearly in Westminster too. The party membership does not matter one bit to the leadership. It has become instead a guild, admitting new members on the basis they serve the same interest as current members and agree above all to preserve monopoly on any politics right of centre. A self-selecting guild of power.

The Scottish branch has gone further and now behaves as a guild within a guild, only paying homage to the mother guild when it suits. As Adam Smith would say,

"...and when any particular class of artificers or traders thought proper to act as a corporation without a charter, such adulterine guilds, as they were called, were not always disfranchised upon that account, but obliged to fine annually to the king for permission to exercise their usurped privileges."

There is of course no formal Scottish Conservative Party. It does not exist. 

There was once a Unionist Party but that was swallowed up in 1965 – 54 years ago. Instead we have a guild based on the autonomy of a leader elected EIGHT years ago on a mandate not to split off the Scottish sectionof the Tories. On that mandate everything now rests. 

Where associations once selected candidates instead they now, kind of, happen. We behave, we cheer, we wave flowers and hope for a cookie for it all. Not that I would dream of suggesting the Scottish leadership plays favourites. Heavens above!

Still the input of the membership on anything is minimal and often token. Instead there are appointees and appointees' appointees. Rather like the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang there are set pieces choreographed. The leadership becomes the audience, the audience the leadership, the party is as one, chosen loyal speakers promoted and notes taken of who attended. 

For the record I was busy with family during the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen this weekend as I understand records are being kept of those who did not make the trek and spend the silver to hear... exactly the same thing as we always hear. 

There are core messages to note:

1. The leader is here. Rejoice and wave red begonias for extra points.
2. There is an enemy that divides us and that enemy must be opposed for their wickedness. Only by opposing the opponent can the revolution survive. 
3. There must be compromise from others where there is not yet dominion from us. The outsiders who shamelessly reject the idea that "no deal is better than a bad deal" (and was only ever meant in the abstract) are the only barriers to Brexit capitulation, which the leadership is fully signed up to.

It's a joke. So too are the half empty halls (clearly I wasn't the only one babysitting). What is moreover a joke is that our one MEP could lose her seat to someone no one has heard of, from a Brexit Party that only exists because our other Dear Leader did a number on us and extended Article 50 entirely on her own initiative. 

We have seen serious momentum gather around Nigel Farage. We have seen opinion polls showing our support leaching as if drenched by acid rain. All the while support for indyref2 has stalled, only a shrinking minority wants independence at all and there are no solutions in the offing for those who do. 

We hear only Ruth can stop indyref2 – then we hear Fluffy and Liddington say now is not the time and that there won't be one for the foreseeable future. This will only wash so long. Rather like a dam breaking, the opposition to a democratic exercise will only hold water up to a height. If the head of water rises enough the dam will break and we will be the losers for it. 

It isn't sustainable if the water rises. We know it isn't. So does the SNP, which is why it keeps rolling that boulder down the hill. For all the press releases, the contrived interventions in the upcoming Westminster leadership race, we are holding an empty sack. Our saving grace is that the SNP are not faring much better and Scottish Labour are but a stubborn stain in the toilet pan that won't quite flush away. 

Every party in Scotland is simple holding up the others – ironically there is unity in separatism after all. 

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