Tuesday 11 June 2024

Rishi Ross : the same failure


The problem with Douglas Ross is the same as the problem with Rishi Sunak, both have too much ambition, but too little political instinct.

Ross blew up the Scottish Conservatives campaign by deciding to replace the present Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid in the new Aberdeenshire North and East Moray seat. Duguid has recently been ill with a spinal condition.

Boundary changes mean that Ross’s own Westminster constituency of Moray has become Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey. Perhaps Ross thought this was less winnable than before, but the result of his actions is that the Scottish Conservatives are likely now to win neither seat.

It might have been reasonable to point out to Duguid that he was too ill to stand for Parliament. But Ross required Duguid’s cooperation in this and the consent of the local party. He also required the general agreement of other Conservative MPs, MSPs and supporters. His failure to obtain these shows that he wasn’t leading anyone and so naturally it became untenable for him to remain party leader in Scotland.

The failure is not merely one of leadership it is one of judgement and instinct. How would it look to force an ill MP to resign when that MP wanted to continue? It would look terrible.

If Duguid had been allowed to stand he may have gained some sympathy from voters for his steadfastness in the face of illness and determination to carry on with his job. Instead, Ross will now have no sympathy at all, and the seat is liable to go to the SNP.

Ross is ambitious but is not obviously intelligent. If he were he would not have made such a stupid judgement as he has just made. It’s also entirely unclear what if anything Ross believes. We know that he supports the UK, but what does he believe about anything else? Just the usual Scottish Tory wet mush where we argue against Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP but agree with them on every substantial economic issue.

The difference between Rishi Sunak and Douglas Ross is that Sunak is genuinely intelligent and talented. The similarity is that he too lacks political instinct. This is not merely about his missing the photo opportunity on D Day. Again, a reasonable case could in Sunak’s mind be made for going back to Britain to conduct an interview. The problem like Ross is that Sunak failed to have the instinct of what it would look like. One interview was not worth the days of negative coverage. The problem is that despite his intelligence Sunak just did not get this. That in the end is how history will judge him an intelligent decent man who did not get it.

Again, the problem is that while Sunak clearly has ambition enough to plot against Boris Johnson and then again against Liz Truss, it is entirely unclear that his ambition was connected with any real political beliefs. What does Rishi Sunak believe apart from the same centrist wet mush that we are soon going to get from Labour? Nothing. This is why he is going to lose.

There is an argument that elections are won from the centre and sometimes this is true if one of the parties is viewed as extreme. But the problem is that the political centre doesn’t achieve anything. It neither gives you socialism nor does it give you free markets. All it gives you is ever higher public spending, ever increasing debt and deficit, ever higher taxes and a larger state.

If this is what Rishi Sunak, Douglas Ross and the limp wet Scottish Tories want why don’t they join the Lib Dems or Labour. The result would be the same.

Elections can be won from the mainstream right. Margaret Thatcher won three of them and would have won a fourth if she had not been kicked out by the Tory wets who could not quite forgive her victories. Because of her genuine political beliefs and goals, she was able to transform the British economy and reverse the decline that had set in since 1945.

If the Conservative Party in 2019 with a large majority had set out with a similar goal to transform the British economy to lower taxes and shrink the size of the state while doing everything in its power to keep legal and illegal migration to around 100,000 per year it would not now be losing so badly that it may almost cease to exist.

The pandemic was an unexpected event, but the Conservatives responded to it with authoritarian socialism, giving free money to those who did not work and forcing upon us the greatest loss of collective liberty in our history. Worse this response far from saving lives cost more than it saved. If you vote Conservative and get authoritarian socialism you may as well vote Labour. This is what the country is now going to do.

The right has to stay mainstream, but it has to offer a smaller state, lower taxes and prosperity with a straightforward long-term plan like the one that Thatcher offered and a deal that says if you are law abiding and work hard you will prosper, but we won’t reward idleness and criminality.

Voters will reject any sort of extremism either from the left or the right, but capitalism is not extremism and reducing the size of the state and reforming public services so that they are more cost effective and efficient would benefit all of our lives. But none of these things were even attempted by Ross or Sunak and neither even made the case for Conservatism.

Both Ross and Sunak have failed because of lack of political instinct not merely in the short term by stupid misjudgements that looked terrible, but more importantly because neither made the argument that you should vote Conservative because capitalism works and will improve your life whether you live in Scotland or anywhere else in Britain and that this improvement can only be obtained by voting Conservative.

Only the right can offer a genuine alternative to the social democracy and the managed decline that forms the consensus that unites Labour with the Lib Dems and the Tory wets. The reason the Conservative Party is going to be destroyed is that since 2019 it has not even made the argument for right wing economics let alone done anything to transform the British economy.

What is the point of Ross and Sunak’s ambition if they do nothing with it?


If you liked this article, then cross my PayPal with silver and soon there will be a new one. See below.