The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.John Kenneth Galbraith
Sometimes it’s the little things that get to you. The memory from yesterday’s demonstration at Perth Concert Hall that is most vividly imprinted on my mind is one of those little things. From what Police Scotland deemed greater than egg-pelting distance, I was watching members of the British Conservative Party (North Britain Branch) as they filed into the building where they would be among the select few privileged to participate in the process of choosing the next British Prime Minister to be imposed on an evidently unwilling Scotland. As they followed the route reserved for them many seemed to hug the Concert Hall’s curved glass facade as if unsure the steel barricades and serried ranks of police officers and security guards were enough to protect them from the crowd gathered to protest against everything these staunch Tories stand for. As I watched, I couldn’t help wondering what kind of people they are, these Tories. What manner of person is it who could think the exercise in which they were engaged was normal and democratic? What goes on in their minds?
As if responding to my perplexity, a tall, white-haired, bespectacled gent in full country-casual regalia of tweed, cavalry twill and brown brogues turned to regard the protestors just before he passed through the heavily guarded doors. The expression on that bastard’s face is the image that has stayed with me. Brief as it was before, with a despairing shake of the head, he returned to the business of being part of the divinely-ordained ruling class, that glance conveyed a contempt and revulsion so profound that it hit me almost like a physical blow. There was real hatred in that look. It may have been just a fleeting glance but it left no doubt that this Tory considered me his enemy. My lizard brain responded as nature intended. Hate begets hate. In that fraction of a second I was filled with the urge to beat that look off his face. His entitled outrage had to be at least matched by my righteous anger. They coexist. There cannot be one without the other.
That moment of visceral antipathy passed ─ for me, at least. Rationality returned. Of course, I was not going to rip that guy’s eyes out. But even with all of them intact we are never going to see eye-to-eye. There can be no compromise. There is no compatibility. No possibility of consensus. To employ the vacuous cliche, we cannot simply ‘agree to disagree’. This is not merely a difference of opinion. It’s not just a conflict of ideologies. It is something much more fundamental. We live in different worlds, the Tory and I. Were my own mental map of the world to somehow be instantaneously replaced with his, I would be totally lost. I wouldn’t recognise anything. Nothing would be familiar. The inside of his head is a place that is totally alien to me ─ as mine surely is to him. However much we may have in common, we share nothing. If his entitlement is to be preserved, I must be subjugated. If I am to avoid subjugation, he must be stripped of his entitlement. Until one or other of these things happens, there can only be constant conflict.
Unionism / British Nationalism is but one aspect or manifestation of the sense of entitlement to which I refer. Most Unionists or British Nationalists are Tories and most Tories are Unionists or British Nationalists because both are rooted in the same worldview and the mindset that derives from it. There is no such thing as a typical Tory. They can’t be identified by appearance. Outwardly, the people entering Perth Concert Hall yesterday were as varied as those prohibited from even getting close. Although the demonstrators were definitely more colourful. What distinguishes one from the other is their attitude to other people and society as a whole. If I was forced to use a single term to illustrate this difference that term would be social conscience.
What was separated by the barriers and police presence at Perth Concert Hall yesterday was not two opposing viewpoints with the possibility of some middle ground where minds might meet, but two states of mind which are totally incompatible and completely irreconcilable. One side of the barriers was awash with social conscience. The other side was a desert by comparison. Which will prevail is not at all clear. But I know where the power lies.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.