I find it intriguing that we should be expected to take such a close interest in the views of the Scottish Tories’ leaderette. How things have changed! Only a few weeks ago, the Tories were generally regarded as a toxic irrelevance in Scottish politics. Now, due to the continuing precipitous decline of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS), Ruth Davidson seems almost significant.
But look at the underlying issue here and we find that it is the same problem that besets all of the British parties in Scotland. The question being asked of Ruth Davidson is to what extent she toes the line drawn by her bosses in London. The very same question as constantly hangs over Kezia Dugdale.
Take the analysis a stage further and we come to an even more pertinent question. Does it matter? Supposing the British Tories’ leaderette and/or the BLiS office manager in Scotland were to disagree with their respective superiors down south, what difference would it make? In both cases, it is what London says that matters. It is what London decides that will be effective. In every instance and in all matters, the Davidson/Dugdale double-act will be overruled by the Westminster elite. They don’t decide what party policy is. Neither is a real leader of a real party.
Davidson’s views on the British state’s latest round of punitive measures against the vulnerable matter only to the extent that disagreement with her bosses might offer a titillating diversion. It’s an opportunity for some finger-pointing and taunting. It’s no more than that.
Ultimately, Davidson’s policy preferences are of no more relevance than Dugdale’s. Both are mere front-persons for the British establishment parties’ operations in Scotland. They do not make policy. At most, they attempt to splash a bit of tartan paint on the policies set by head office.
Which begs our next question. How can the British parties in Scotland possibly have any meaningful role in Scottish politics when they are unable to formulate policies that are relevant to Scotland’s increasingly distinctive political culture?
Does it really matter to the people of Scotland which of the British parties occupies the seats reserved for the official opposition at Holyrood when, to coin a phrase, they are mere ‘conveyor belts’ for the policy agenda of a British ruling elite completely in thrall to neo-liberal orthodoxy and British nationalist ideology?
2 thoughts on “Being irrelevant”
In fact the longer they continue as London branch parties, continually opposing every advance in powers for Holyrood, the more they cement the idea that, if ever elected to power they would spend their entire term giving powers back to Westminster as rapidly as it could be managed. This makes them permanently unelectable. The Tories in Scotland have actually more or less stood still as a rump vote. Labour support is simply melting away to nothing because its role in Scottish politics has been entirely replaced by the SNP.
You make a good point about never being able to trust the British parties. One has to wonder how the individual politicians in the British parties might go about regaining any kind of trust even after independence given that they have so emphatically nailed their colours to the mast of the British state.