The nonentities

The big mistake here is to think of the “Scottish Tories” as a distinct Westminster parliamentary group. That is how they have been portrayed by the media as part of the process of elevating Ruth Davidson to the status of ‘Queen of the BritNats’. But the reality is that there are no “Scottish Tories”. There are only British Tories. They may be British Tories from constituencies in Scotland. But that alone doesn’t distinguish them in any way from all the other Tories.

At least as nonsensical as the idea of a “Scottish Tory” group at Westminster is the notion that this group might come under the authority of Ruth Davidson. Davidson has precisely no standing at Westminster. Whatever nominal authority she may have over the Tories’ branch operation in Scotland, when they go to Westminster those “Scottish Tories” are just part of the British Tory herd. There is not a single Tory MP who doesn’t take precedence over Ruth Davidson. They take their orders from the party Whips the same as every other British Tory.

Of course, in all of the foregoing one could pretty much replace all references to ‘British Tory’ with ‘British Labour’. Precisely the same applies. The difference being that not even the British media would try to sell the idea of the British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) branch manager having any kind of clout at Westminster. Kezia Dugdale lost out to Davidson when the British media were looking for someone to present as pretender to the office of First Minister. And even BBC Scotland baulks at trying to paint Richard Leonard as the ‘Hammer of the Nats’.

Much of the brassy shine may have worn off Ruth Davidson, but she’s still the ‘Great Brit Hope’. And that’s as far as it goes. Davidson is being used by the British establishment Her utility is as a front. When the British media spin their tales of Nicola Sturgeon having been dealt a ‘blow’, somebody has to play the part of the one dealing it. Davidson’s only qualification for the job is that she may be marginally more credible in the role than anyone BLiS might send along to the auditions.

Pete Wishart may be correct in assuming that those “Scottish Tories” being passed-up for promotion is a comment on their lack of talent. But when did an absence of any evident ability prevent a British politician achieving high office? If lack of talent disqualified an MP from ministerial office, how are we to explain Boris Johnson? Or David Davis? Or Theresa May? There is ample evidence that being stupid and dishonest and corrupt is no impediment whatever to advancement in the British political parties.

If the “Scottish Tories” being neglected by their bosses isn’t entirely explained by them being considered unworthy to carry a minister’s bags, what then? What other reason might there be for snubbing ‘Ruthy’s Troops’? Perhaps the fact that they are perceived as ‘Ruthy’s Troops’. There may be concern among Tory party managers about unintended consequences of affording Davidson such a prominent public profile. Maybe they’re afraid that she could seek to give some substance to the fictional power. Maybe they’re afraid that she’ll be taken in by her own hype and get ideas above her station. There’s already been talk of Davidson as potential leadership material. That sort of ambition has to be crushed at an early stage.

But there is another possibility worth considering. What is the point of launching MPs from Scottish constituencies on a career trajectory which can’t possibly go anywhere? The job of Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) is generally regarded as a rung on the promotion ladder. MPs get to be a PPS when they are being groomed for bigger and better things. But what bigger and better things might a “Scottish Tory” MP aspire to? The introduction of EVEL – English votes for English laws – means that MPs from constituencies in Scotland are effectively barred from any of the high offices of government. With the sole exception of Secretary of State for Scotland, ‘Scottish’ MPs cannot hold senior ministerial posts because there would always be the risk of them being prohibited from voting on legislation for which they are responsible. Which would be rather embarrassing.

It stands to reason that the British parties would wish to avoid drawing attention to this anomaly – particularly given current constitutional tensions. Better not to put any “Scottish Tories” into positions which might prompt speculation about their future, lest someone point out that they don’t have one.

All of which further illustrates just how dysfunctional the Union is. It is broken beyond repair. Time to end it.

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About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. No attitude immutable. No conclusion final. No opinion humble. Lifelong campaigner for the restoration of Scotland's independence.
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2 Responses to The nonentities

  1. Alan J. Magnus-Bennett says:

    Thank you Peter for putting all this malarkey about ‘Scottish Tories’ into perspective. Can I suggest you submit the essence of this into a letter to the National so that any disenchanted Scottish Tory voters might be enlightened more so, and even perhaps rethink Brexit, although I doubt that.

    More importantly, the twelve Tory disciples’ (as I choose to refer them as) constituents might now see them for what they really are and what they voted for, just more Tory cannon fodder for the Tory Whips when it comes to a vote for a policy that creates more social injustice and saves money.


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