Saturday, 25 April 2015

The symbiotic relationship: Tory racists and the SNP hegemony

For the self-proclaimed defenders of the Union, the Tory party and its retinue are combining to reveal their ultimate ambition - the separation of Scotland from the remainder of the polity.  This is a electorally-strategic direction - since the early 1980s Tory presence in Scotland has been declining, and fed only by the annoying presence of proportional electoral systems for the Parliament and local government.  On their beloved first-past-the-post system the solitary current seat would represent an apex of potential achievement - most Scottish people have seen through them and it will be several generations before readmission to the human race is deemed appropriate.

In the current General Election campaign, Tory resurgence has not occurred to date.  There is no strategy that will convince people that the alleged modernisation introduced in the first decade of the century was anything more than a marketing exercise.  The Ratners of politics are discovering that re-branding a pile of manure is not a viable route to achieving mass endorsement.  Moving the party closer to the fruitcakes may shore up some core vote from defecting to the overt crypto-fascists of UKIP, but it does nothing to restore a centre-ground vote.

An uncomfortable truth for the Tories (and for Labour) is that the pro-Union strategy that was used to defuse the threat of independence has unleashed the predictable outcomes.  Behind the rhetoric, the post-referendum Smith Commission presented a range of further devolution measures, awaiting post-May enactment, broadly consistent with the promises that Dave and Mister Ed made to the Scots before the referendum.  Positively, the SNP has capitalised on the role of champion and guardian of these commitments, while negatively Labour has managed to blend itself into a vague right-wing Westminster clique.  After fifty years of near-hegemony, it is hardly surprising that the cracks have turned into fissures and the SNP has managed to fill the gap.

What this does is reframe the West Lothian question.  The Tories have raised the spectre of a Labour government being reliant on Scottish Labour votes for both the passage of legislation and the supply of Ministers.  If, as seems entirely likely, the SNP wipe out most of the Labour representation in Scotland, then this becomes specious.  If Labour and the Tories are neck-and-neck in England and Wales, then suddenly the arithmetic becomes different and the argument that the Tories have deployed explodes like Eric Pickles in a Monty Python reenactment.

So we now see the racism card being played.  David Cameron has turned to Neville Chamberlain, who let down the Czechoslovakians in 1938 with the immortal phrase "a faraway country of which we know nothing".  To read the right-wing press at the moment is akin to reading some of Goebbels's more extreme organs - the impression that the Scots are a bunch of savages, remote from London and that the SNP would insist on some form of Scotsgeld in the form of Home Counties first-born piped in on Burns Night is buried not far below the surface of concern that a party not embedded in the South-East political elite might influence government.

Forgetting how the doughy champion of the Tory Party, Sir John Major, relied on the Ulster parties to support his vain struggle against the swivel-eyed bastards, this is an attitude that stokes up racism.  In six months, the Tory presentation has shifted from a plea to remain in the Union to vague threats of retribution for presuming to vote in MPs whose avowed aim is to disrupt and reformulate the constitutional arrangements.  Small wonder they are not seen as either benign or consistent.

Cameron is much closer now to the hegemonists of the former Eastern Bloc.  One wonders how Samantha's shoe collection measures up to the former dictator's wife in Bucharest.  Even after the de facto annexation of the East by the Soviet Union, a maintenance of illusory pluralism was permitted.  Supposedly liberal and centre-right organisations were allowed to put up candidates approved by the incumbent Communist party.  The attitude to Scottish voters is the same - they can vote for people like us, but if they presume to deviate from the permitted orthodoxy they are to be excised from the political debate.

There are uncomfortable truths for Cameron, Miliband and Clegg (if he counts for anything in a fortnight's time).  Through the electoral system that the two major parties have endorsed, the Scottish outcome will be distorted.  It will, however, be legitimate in the context that they have defined.  The voters of Scotland are still part of the UK, so their decisions have the right to be respected, and formation of an administration will depend upon the stability of the voting blocks in the House of Commons.  This is all part of the system that Tory hypocrites seek to defend.

The true racism of many Tories is now emerging.  It is even more disturbing that it is being directed to a group they were embracing viper-like very recently, as it should send a signal of the combination of cant, expediency and downright duplicity that they will exercise.  If the outcome is as currently projected, then we may need to look back thirty years to the narrative of what happens next with an unrepresentative and out-of-touch clique in power.

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