Ruth Davidson’s constantly shifting position on a new independence referendum is easily explained. She is a product of the British political system. As such, she believes that the democratic process should serve particular interests – her party and its clients as well as her own personal career – rather than the people.
‘Believe’ is not quite the right term. It is deeper than belief. It is almost in her DNA. The notion that politics should be the servant of the people is quite alien. She can no more think on this basis than she can breathe under water.
This conception of the nature and purpose of democracy as a tool in the hands of the ruling elite is a function of the principle of the sovereignty of parliament. The principle that is the bedrock of the British political system. The principle that legitimate political authority derives, not from the people, but from the ‘Crown in Parliament’.
If places such as Hong Kong have what is called ‘managed democracy’, the British system may be better characterised as loosely managed absolute monarchy.
The true democrat’s attitude to something as crucial to democracy as the right of self-determination is constant and consistent because it is informed by the unshakeable conviction that, ultimately, only the people decide. As a product of the British political system, Ruth Davidson cannot do other than operate on the basis that the will of the people is subordinate to the preferences of a ‘higher power’. Those preferences being determined and represented by whatever political clique currently has nominal control of the apparatus of the British state.
In British democracy (demockracy?), the people decide only to the extent that their choices don’t significantly conflict with the current interests of the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.
British demockracy is equivocal and conditional. British politicians must be able and willing to bend before the winds of expediency. What marks Ruth Davidson out from the herd is nothing more than the fact that she doesn’t so much bend as fall over. And the fact that she is less capable than most of falling over with grace and delicacy.
But then, she has never been required to develop the knack of political subtlety. Ruth Davidson did not achieve prominence by virtue of her political adroitness. She was elevated, and continues to be supported, by a British establishment which desperately needed a disposable figurehead for British Nationalism in Scotland.
Ruth Davidson has been all but totally immune from media scrutiny. Her status has never been questioned. Her abilities and attributes have never been properly examined. A little probing and what we find is, not the serious and effective political leader of media myth, but a vacuous and vacillating nonentity. The spoilt-brat product of British political patronage.
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