Scottish Conservative Party

Kill All Taigs – Fuck All Papists – The Tory Party Plays The Orange Card In Scotland

British Nationalism: KAT “Kill All Taigs” (Irish Roman Catholics), FAP “Fuck All Papists” (Roman Catholics) – (Photo: Moochin Photoman)

Ever heard of Tory Hoose? No?

Well you’re about to:

“Tory Hoose is a new chapter in progressive thinking and conservatism within Scotland, a grassroots and independent alternative to the party machines. What sets Tory hoose apart from other centre right Scottish blogs is that this is not the musings of an individual, but a home for the whole broad church of conservative thinking.

Scotland deserves a positive alternative, to the sanitised doctrine based ideology of the left wing parties, and this is the role Tory Hoose hope to fill.”

And their positive alternative for Scotland?

“Today being the 322nd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne brings one to think of the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland and its relationship with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

It can be said that Orangemen and woman have contributed to Conservative and Unionist successes in the past… The concern here for the Conservatives is that for many in the Order, Labour has become the Unionist party of choice as it has more power in terms of votes cast to attempt to keep the SNP out and I dare say that the Anglo-Irish agreement still leaves another bitter taste from the 1980’s

It is true that many members and sympathisers of the Order still continue to support the Party, but should we do more to reach out? The Orange Order claims that it stands for ‘civil and religious freedom’ and for the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and I believe that this echoes core Conservative beliefs too.  …perhaps this is another area where the Party can try and re-engage its ever declining core vote.”

Does engaging with the Orange Order include such delights as the common slogan KAT? That’s “Kill All Taigs” to you and me. “Taigs”? Roman Catholics. Particularly Irish Roman Catholics. Or how about FAP? “Fuck All Papists”.

The coming debate is about the future of the union between Scotland and England. And it seems that if Unionists have their way that future will be orange. Blood orange.

(Thanks to SRSM Alba for the link)

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Scottish Tory Blues

With the SNP emerging triumphant from the most recent electoral contests to become the dominant force in Scottish politics the British Conservative Party is joining its Labour Party peers in an increasingly desperate search for a panacea to cure its many ills. The latest, a proposed split from the London-based party HQ, seems likely to cause more problems than it will solve. According to the (admittedly excitable) Daily Express:

“THE Scottish Conservatives are heading towards an irreparable split with one of the party’s most senior figures today set to promise to fight against leadership contender Murdo Fraser’s breakaway Unionists.

David Mundell, the country’s only Tory MP, is set to publicly declare that he will not “betray” Conservative voters or his colleagues at Westminster by joining any new and separate party.

Mr Fraser, who is currently deputy leader at Holyrood, wants to dissolve the Tories and create a new Scottish Unionist party, allied to David Cameron’s MPs at Westminster but without the “toxic” legacy that has alienated it in the eyes of millions of Scots.

However, Mr Mundell’s remarks now highlight the possibility that the Tories could fracture and Scotland could end up with two right-of-centre Unionist parties.”

Which one might suggest is highly unlikely. Two competing right-wing Unionist parties in Scotland would simply cancel each other out, worsening the Unionist case in any future independence referendum, and not even the most obdurate Tory grandee north of the border wants to see that. So expect some fast-foot shuffling over the coming months and the heralding of a new venture (for which one can read compromise) for the Conservative Party faithful in Scotland.

Desperation In The Ranks – Labour And The Tories In Scotland

With the debate amongst the rival candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party in Scotland becoming increasingly divisive as competing visions for the party’s future jockey for position, it seems the Labour Party may be about to follow suit. According to the Daily Record:

‘SHELL-SHOCKED Scottish Labour are planning their biggest shake-up in 100 years in a bid to take the fight to Alex Salmond.

Proposals by MP Jim Murphy will go before their ruling executive committee today which could “transform” the party.

The blueprint is the result of a four-month review led by Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack following Labour’s crushing defeat in the Holyrood election.

Insiders who have seen secret presentations by the pair say the plans amount to Labour’s biggest shake-up since 1918.

But some changes could prove so controversial with sections of of the party that there are no guarantees the committee of MPs, MSPs, union leaders, local party bosses and others will give their approval when they meet in Glasgow today.

Under the radical plans, Scottish Labour would:

● Loosen ties with the UK party.

● Appoint a Scottish leader – who might not be an MSP – with unprecedented powers to shape policy and plan strategy north of the Border.

● Kick out long-serving MPs and MSPs and train a new generation of “top notch” candidates.

● Reconnect with the business world.

● Haul themselves into the 21st century by using social media for campaigning.’

The reactions to the new proposals have been, to say the least, mixed and they are sure to stir up the same sort of hornets’ nest that is currently buzzing around the heads of the Tory Party. It also reveals just how pessimistic both main British political parties have become about their electoral fortunes in Scotland. In Irish terms Labour has increasingly assumed the role of the SDLP to the SNP’s Sinn Féin, the Scottish Nationalist’s now dominating the centre-left of Scottish politics. As with their ‘sister party’ in the North of Ireland, Labour find themselves increasingly an irrelevance in modern Scotland, a party whose traditional ideological territory has been occupied and annexed by its main rival and which has sought electoral refuge in the dubious safety of British nationalist rhetoric.

Meanwhile the Conservative Party seems determined to inflict more damage on itself, caught like a rabbit in the headlights unable to decide which direction to head in. With a nationalist juggernaut approaching ahead the middle of the road is no place to be and in the coming years the gap between Scottishness and Britishness can only grow. The Tories, like Labour, may well find that in 21st century Scotland the gap between the two can no longer be bridged.

The Scottish Unionist Party?

With the news that some in the Conservative Party in Scotland want to re-brand the political grouping as a non-Tory, centre-right Scottish Unionist party, Joan McAlpine offers up some pertinent comments in the Guardian:

‘It gives a whole new meaning to the “Vote for me and I’ll resign,” approach. The campaign slogan of Murdo Fraser, the frontrunner to lead the Conservatives in Scotland, appears to be “Vote for me and we’ll all resign”.

The deputy leader of the small band of Tories at Holyrood advocates a year-zero approach to reviving the party’s fortunes in Scotland, where they have only one MP and saw their support fall (again) to 12.4% of the regional list vote in the Scottish election in May. If he is elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives next month, Fraser will disband the party, he says, and form a new centre-right party.

Putting the Tories into receivership will go down well with most Scots. But the thin blue line of Scottish Conservative opinion is being tested. The Telegraph, along with the former Scottish secretary Lord Forsyth, describe the move as suicidal, while the Spectator magazine is supportive. David Cameron has maintained a diplomatic silence, but Francis Maude is said to be enthusiastic about a split.

But if a ship is fatally holed below the waterline, can you prevent it sinking by giving it a new name?

There is also a deep contradiction in Fraser’s proposal. He says the new party will reinvigorate and defend the union. Yet he believes that while independence will benefit the Scottish Tories, it will be bad for Scotland.

Since the SNP’s historic landslide in May, the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems have formed a united front to attack the SNP and defend the UK as it stands. The Scots appear unimpressed. A Mori poll at the weekend showed the SNP on its highest ever rating of 49%. More than two thirds, 68%, thought Alex Salmond was doing a good job, giving him a positive rating of +34, compared to -14 for Ed Miliband and -36 for Cameron.

Fraser and his supporters will argue that a separate party has been tried before, and it worked. From 1912 to 1965 they were not called the Tories – let alone “the bloody Tories” – but were an independent Scottish party called the Unionists. They fought and won local council seats in an even more cunning disguise, calling themselves “independents” or “progressives”.

But Scotland has changed. It is more secular, the Orange vote has declined. The empire is gone and with it loyalty to old institutions and the union itself. The SNP’s success in May was not simply numerical, it reflected its ability to reach across society, gaining support from trade unionists as well as business leaders. It has convinced the electorate that it is the only party that will put Scotland’s interests first.

The Tories require more than rebranding and fresh leadership to change their fortunes. The departing Scottish leader, Annabel Goldie, is warmly regarded for her good humour and lack of pretension. During the election she promised Salmond and his Labour rival Iain Gray she would “grab them by the short and curlies”. How we laughed. But we still didn’t vote Tory.’

It seems the Tories are looking at the sort of re-booting in Scotland also contemplated by the Liberal Democrats following on from their troubles at the ballot box. However, it is hard to see how Scottish Tories can disassociate themselves from the London party while maintaining some sort of external links with the British Conservative party as a whole. Indeed both the Tories and the UUP in the North have seen just how problematical that particular balancing act can be – and the hard way.

So, with re-branding in the air how long before the British Labour Party in Scotland jumps on the bandwagon? Or are they too far gone for any such renewal?

Scotland: Distinct, Separate And Different

Former SNP member and columnist Duncan Hamilton has an interesting article in the Scotsman on the coming referendum on Scottish independence. Or perhaps we should say referendums?

‘Scotland is heading towards a referendum at which the country will almost certainly vote for a more important change to the way we are governed than anything we have seen in 300 years. The coming referendum will be more important and more radical than that which established the Scottish Parliament. Why? Because the Scottish Parliament was essentially the powers which were already under the control of the Scottish Office with the addition of a layer of accountability through a democratic Parliament. This time, there will be a referendum on full independence. There will also, crucially, be a second question which will allow some version of fiscal autonomy whilst remaining in the Union. Either will be a massive step forward for Scotland.

And yet, there is something missing from this debate. The SNP will, and must, define and explain independence.

By contrast, the gaping hole in this debate is the second option – that of fiscal autonomy. If the polls are to be believed, the majority of Scots want such control whilst many remain wary of full independence. That can change in the years between here and the referendum but is it not startling that no leader, no party and no campaign is yet voicing the majority view? Modern politics is usually about a rush to capture the middle ground. Yet in this referendum, the vast middle ground is deserted.

It is all the more remarkable when you consider that there is a strong case for each of the other major parties to champion a positive case for fiscal autonomy.

The Liberals are the most obvious candidates, not least because the Steel Commission which backed the idea remains their party policy. Has the Clegg stranglehold on the Lib Dems reached the stage that the Scottish Liberal Democrats cannot stand up for their own position? With the Lib Dems nearly extinct in Scotland, wouldn’t fronting that campaign be the obvious place to start in rebuilding a Scottish Lib Dem identity?

And what about the “Scottish” Labour Party? Now that the Calman Commission has been largely forgotten, isn’t it time for that party to ask why it is now the most vociferous voice of unionism in Scotland?

What of the Tories? Again, opportunity knocks. Murdo Fraser will presumably become the next leader and has for years been in favour of fiscal autonomy. Like the Lib Dems, don’t the Tories need a radical pro-Scottish agenda in order to get back in the game? What on earth do they have to lose after yet another election delivering no progress whatsoever. The Tory brand remains toxic to many – why not make the bold step and outline a low-tax, high-growth vision of what fiscal autonomy can deliver? The Tories might find themselves making a case favoured by the majority in Scotland.’

I believe Hamilton has summed up in general terms what will be at least two of the questions in the plebiscite promised by the SNP government in Scotland, and some of the potential policies or strategies that may be pursued by the main parties leading up to it. Certainly there are those in the Scottish wing of British Labour who find it somewhat uncomfortable being defenders of the Union in the same company (sometimes literally) as the Conservative Party. But then again many Labour members in Scotland loathe the SNP more than the Conservatives and regard them as their true political rivals. Defeating the SNP, or any policies of the SNP (and Alex Salmond in particular, Labour’s number one bugbear), has become so ingrained in the party faithful that cutting off their nose to spite their face now seems entirely rational in a party that is increasingly becoming the embodiment of irrationality.

Meanwhile many in the Conservative Party are so eager to wrap the Butcher’s Apron Union Jack around them that they too seem unable to see the wood for the trees. Having being politically marginalised and ostracised in Scotland for some three decades now martyrdom has almost become second nature to them and a glorious political death for queen and country seems more palatable to some stalwarts than any amount of savvy compromises. For many a Scottish Tory it really is a case of, ahem, no surrender.

If one is looking for a little sense and logic in British or Scottish politics one normally turns to the Liberal Democrats. But these days you’d need a magnifying glass to discover them north of the border. The one-time king-makers of Scottish politics have seen their alliance with the Tories south of the border bring an electoral cooling that has left their numbers in the Scottish Parliament heavily depleted. Though the Lib Dems favoured a federalisation of Britain in times past that particular policy no longer receives the prominence it once did and many in the party are increasingly sounding more Unionist than Federalist. In fact, it is hard to find a senior Lib Dem outside of Scotland who still seems passionate about devolving further powers to the historic nations that make up the UK.

No surprise then that some Lib Dems in Scotland are thinking outside the London-HQ diktats and talk of a split with their southern compatriots and a go-it-alone Scottish Liberal Party are doing the rounds. Supporting the full fiscal autonomy (FFA) option in any multi-option referendum on independence would be one way of staking out a distinct identity in Scottish politics again, and one with the potential for a real return in terms of support if the FFA option was the one chosen by the electorate. After all everyone wants to back a winner.

Meanwhile in other Scottish news, this time from the Belfast Telegraph:

‘Scotland’s eight police forces are to be merged into one following an announcement next month, it is understood.

Although a vote would be needed to introduce the legislation, the SNP government’s majority in Holyrood is expected to see it approved.

A draft business case for the Scottish Government, obtained by The Sunday Herald newspaper, has also revealed the potential savings from the merger.

A single force would cost around £207 million to deliver during five years but save £390 million over that time. It would also save around £1.9 billion over 15 years.’

While the financial and organisational benefits of the move to create a single national police force for Scotland seem entirely sound there is more to this than meets the eye, for note the most important word in the sentence: national. Alex Salmond and those advisors around him know more than anyone else that for Scotland to want to be a nation it must first feel like a nation. Distinctseparate and different. In recent years we have seen the SNP embrace the Scottish language (Scots Gaelic) from a previous stance that ranged from vague interest to complete indifference. For a distinct, separate and different nation must have a distinct, separate and different national language. We have also seen SNP minsters (and supporters) focus on the need for an independent, national Scottish broadcast media, a public service television and radio service solely for Scotland. For a distinct, separate and different nation must have a distinct, separate and different national television service.

I have stated before that Gerry Adams is the grand, long-term strategist of Irish politics. However, in Celtic politics he has a close rival in Alex Salmond, a man who has led the transformation of his party – and perhaps in time of his country.

Playing The Red Card – British Unionists, A Free Scotland And The United States

We’ve all heard and read about British Unionists Nationalists playing the Orange Card to protect the ‘Union’ as Ireland reached its penultimate struggle for independence in the early 1900s but now the Conservative Party is playing a Red Card to defend the ‘Union’ – and to an American audience. The failed Scottish Tory-leader Annabel Goldie has claimed to the American news media that an independent Scotland would be,

…a left-of-centre, socialist administration with already well articulated views on issues like nuclear — Trident (nuclear missiles) or nuclear energy — and very strong views on social issues … all sorts of views which are somewhat alien to the American ethos.

There is much more of this in a lengthy, mixed MSNBC report entitled, Scotland to split from UK and ‘be a nation again’?

How long, I wonder, before the desperation of the British nationalist parties, Tory, Labour and Lib-Dem, makes them take up the Orange Card as a way of stoking communal strife in Scotland to forestall independence. Unlikely in this era? People thought the same in the ‘civilized’ political ethos of early 20th century Britain but the likes of the Churchills and other Tory grandees were only too happy to see anarchy and bloodshed on the streets if it meant the continued integrity of their United Kingdom. 

Let the Scots take warning. The referendum for independence is only the first step in a long and difficult process (and even that basic expression of democracy, a referendum, is being threatened by the qualifying diktats of London politicians and civil servants). Hopefully any future Scottish Revolution will be an entirely bloodless one. But if it means ‘saving’ the United Kingdom from a fatal fissure, there are many in the British establishment who will do to Scotland in the early part of the 21st century what they did to Ireland in the early part of the 20th century. 

If that happens what 1916 will save Scottish nationhood and democracy? Or will it simply fade into the past, subsumed again under the Greater England that hides behind the façade of the United Kingdom? 

On a slightly more optimistic note, if there is a Scottish Revolution, perhaps this will be one of its voices?