Saturday 7 May 2016

We are all Tories now

The greatest certainty for most people all over the world is that they live in a place that is stable. Whatever else happens they can draw comfort from the security of knowing that their country will remain intact. This is their bedrock and their foundation. Whatever natural disaster happens, whatever personal distress, at least there is the stability and security of citizenship and belonging to a nation state that has existed for centuries before and will exist for centuries after. For most people in the world this feeling is only threatened in time of war. In such times, people wonder if their country will be invaded, or dismembered. For years they live with the tension and the uncertainty has a cost that everyone must pay. For the past couple of years it has felt rather like this in Scotland. But it feels much less so now. Scottish nationalism has been checked. It may already be past its peak. It is possible to see a new opportunity and an unexpectedly different future for Scotland safe and secure in our UK homeland. Only from the perspective of the future will we know for sure whether this was the decisive turning point. Such things are never known at the time. After this perhaps we’ll say we never had a defeat.

Something has changed. Ordinary Scots are sick of SNP threats. How are we supposed to plan when at any moment Nicola Sturgeon thinks she can decide to put us all through the mincemeat machine once more? I hated the independence referendum. I would do absolutely anything to avoid having that experience ever again. I think most No voters feel exactly the same way about it. Living with this continual uncertainty is both economically and psychologically damaging.  Eventually it becomes too much. Some people decide that they can’t face living in Scotland any more. Others do something more positive. They deny the SNP the opportunity to make its threats.

The main worry has always been that the SNP would have an absolute majority in Holyrood. What if they once more decided that they wanted another referendum? Well, of course, just like last time they would have to ask permission from the UK Government.  That’s the only legal route they could take. What would the UK Government say? I have no idea. They would be perfectly within their rights to say sorry you’ve already had your referendum. You need to wait for a lifetime. They could even go down the Spanish route and say the UK is indivisible and the parts have no right to secede. Few European countries after all would give a referendum on secession to their formerly independent parts. Germany would not allow Saxony to secede, nor would France allow Burgundy. So there would be no problem theoretically in blocking the SNP forever. But would the UK Government act in this way? I honestly don’t know and for this reason an SNP majority worried me. Thank goodness they no longer have one.  

What I would really like is a new Act of Parliament that stated that no-one had the right to threaten the security and integrity of the UK, just as no-one has the right to threaten the USA. But in the meantime I will settle for the fact that SNP threats have turned out to be empty.

Some Scottish nationalists will maintain that they still have a pro-independence majority as the Greens are pro-independence. But the Greens don’t want an independence referendum any time soon, even if the UK should vote to leave the EU. Moreover it will be Nicola Sturgeon who will be asking for a referendum and it would be much easier for the UK Government to point out that the SNP didn’t win a majority of seats at Holyrood. There’s nothing undemocratic therefore in refusing such a request.

The reality of the situation is this. If the SNP were destined to ask for a second referendum any time soon they would have won a majority in Holyrood. The fact that they didn’t puts independence off the agenda until and unless they do. We must remain vigilant and we must continue fighting hard, but for the moment the UK is safe.

The long term key to defeating the SNP in Scotland is that support for the Conservative Party increases here. The root cause of support for Scottish independence is that Scotland votes differently from the other parts of the UK. This was the reason why Labour went down the nationalist path of setting up a Scottish Parliament in the first place. They couldn’t bear the fact that they won in Scotland, but lost in the UK overall. The result is like a Greek play, tragic but inevitable. If Labour could get in a time machine and go back to when they first started demanding a Scottish Parliament, would they still do so? Somehow I doubt it. They don’t seem terribly good at the moment at learning from their mistakes.

The problem for Labour is that they can’t win in the UK without winning Scotland. But the idea that they are going to overturn the SNP anytime soon is becoming ever more unlikely.  The result is that a Labour leader will have to answer the same question as Ed Miliband. Will you do a deal with the SNP? Well the only way you can get a Labour Government in Westminster is if they do a deal with the SNP. The answer therefore obviously is Yes. This means that voting Labour in England gets you an SNP coalition. English voters, just like last time, will vote for anybody to avoid this. Voting for the SNP therefore all but guarantees a Tory Government.

The grievance will continue therefore that we in Scotland vote for one party (the SNP) while we get a UK Tory Government. Long term this is the biggest threat to the UK. There is only one solution and many Pro UK Scots have already grasped it. Scotland needs to return more Conservatives. If Scotland votes more like the other parts of the UK there is no longer any grievance.

The UK Labour Party is led by an extremist who is happy to stand at May Day parade where people wave Stalin flags. People who hate the UK and everything we stand for he calls friends. The Scottish Labour Party is led by someone who is at best lightweight at worst undecided about whether she is Pro UK or not. Pro UK people should only vote for a party which is unambiguously Pro UK. Nothing else matters.

The Conservatives in Scotland have in Ruth Davidson someone who is moderate and capable of attracting support from Pro UK people right across the political spectrum. Our best chance long term of securing the future of the UK is for us all to get behind her.

The SNP has depended on the fact that although we are the majority, we have divided our support. This is to break the first rule of warfare. Never divide your forces in the face of the enemy. It enables him to defeat you in detail. Now it is time to recognise that there is only one unconditionally Pro UK party in Scotland. If all Pro UK people unite behind Ruth Davidson in time we can defeat the SNP decisively.

We are justified in feeling good today. Let us all feel a sense of relief. It's our best day since September 2014. But there are still battles to be won in the future. The SNP are the anti-Tory party. They gain their strength by using the word ‘Tory’ as if it were the worst insult they could imagine. But look what they have done. The SNP have made it so that Tory is no longer a toxic brand. People from all parties and none are getting behind Ruth Davidson because 'Tory' in Scotland now means Pro UK. If that’s you then you already are a Tory. Embrace that fact and come out fighting together.