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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The new Tories and the Centre Left – but what’s Left of Labour?

The Scotsman cheered me up briefly this morning – House prices in Lothians fall by up to 5.3%

I live in the Lothians, so why the glee? Ah, well I live in West Lothian, which has bucked the trend of the last three months and is up by 7.5%. I examine The Scotsman’s little coloured tabulation of stats, but – what’s this? It refers to Jun-Aug 2001. Have I lost a decade? On the upside, am I ten years younger? Alas, no – it’s a typo, one that shouldn’t occur in a reputable newspaper. But no harm done. Naughty Scotsman!


Twitter brought this to my attention The Way of All Tory Flesh by Alex Massie in The Spectator – well worth a read. A few quotes caught my eye -

“… the party has spent thirty years saying No to everything at a time when Scotland has been minded to say Yes.”

“But a modern and mature Unionism need not be afraid of nationalism. Nor must it continually pretend that independence is an impossible or lunatic dream.”

“It is hard to think of a successful right-of-centre party in Europe that is not in some way identified as the patriotic party. The Scottish Tories have lost the ability to make that claim or be identified with the national interest.”

“At present why should any young, ambitious right-of-centre would-be politician join the Tories? Why not join the SNP and work for centre-right policies from within the SNP's capacious tent?”

Another Massie, Alan Massie of The Scotsman, whose nostalgic Britishness and anti-independence articles usually have little to offer me, offers comments on The Wee Laird o’ Drumlean, Michael Forsyth, who opposes Murdo Fraser’s plans for the Scottish Tories, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, MP and Tory grandee - he of the strange, tortured accent, failed Scottish politician, a former Colonial Governor – sorry, Scottish Secretary of State – who supports the Murdo Plan.

“Tory former Secretaries of state are divided. Sir Malcolm Rifkind now (safely) MP for Kensington, is in the Fraser camp. Michael Forsyth, now (safely) in the Lords, is against him. Nothing surprising there. Lord Forsyth has always been a last ditcher, while Sir Malcolm has always been a Vicar of Bray : pro-devolution, anti-devolution, pro-devolution again.”

The decimated ranks of the Unionist Opposition in Holyrood today face a strong, confident SNP Government as it “unveils a record 16 bills”, to quote The Herald. Gone are the heady days of the SNP’s vulnerability, as a minority government, to the collective dead hand of Tories, Labour and LibDems as they blocked the SNP’s attempts to actually tackle the endemic problems of Scotland, e.g. minimum pricing for alcohol. Now they are reduced to squeaking plaintively, as Willie Rennie does on behalf of his massed ranks of five MSPs – “I hope that the SNP show today that they are the listening government that they make themselves out to be and make sure that the bulldozer is left in the garage.”

They are listening, Willie – to the people of Scotland who elected them, and to the voice of reason coming from the NHS, the Police, the nurses, the BMA – need I go on?

The CBI and various UK government spokesperson went on at length last week about the need to maintain ‘critical mass’, i.e. the Union, reflecting their blind panic at the prospect of losing Scottish revenues, taxes, a third of the UK landmass and 69% of the UK coastline. (I am indebted to Bruce Moglia of Kilmacolm in todays Herald Letters for reminding me of these crucial statistics.)

Critical mass is a term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system to make it self-sustaining and creates  growth.

It is also a term in physics, where it describes the smallest amount of fissile material necessary for a nuclear reaction, i.e. in a nuclear weapon of mass destruction such as the Trident weapons system, currently based in Scotland.

And be in no doubt, it is the loss of this critical mass when Scotland achieves its independence that bothers the UK and the military/industrial complex.


John McTernan continues his work at the seam of What the ****’s to be done about Scottish Labour?, a nice little earner for him. Today, he poses one of the great questions of the age -

Have we really reached the stage in Scottish politics where the Tories are more interesting than Labour?”

Yes, we have, John. Murdo Fraser has made a courageous decision to risk all on recognising the reality of the way things are in his native land, and try to provide a party that really speaks for 450,000 or so Scottish voters who hold centre-right values. The Centre Left now belongs to the SNP, and Labour is a discredited, failed centre right party that is has always been anathema to Scottish Tories, and is rapidly in the process of becoming anathema to the Scottish Left.

What is Scottish Labour for, John? What is Labour for? Keep on asking, John – there’s a good living in it, even if you are out in the cold politically.

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