Saturday, July 27, 2019

Boris Johnson has declared war on Scottish nationhood

I was thoroughly bemused a few hours ago by the muted reaction from Nick Eardley of the BBC to the extraordinary news that Boris Johnson has appointed Robin Walker, the MP for Worcester, as Minister of State at the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland (formerly known as the Scotland Office, and in pre-devolution times as the Scottish Office).  "A snub for Scottish Tories?" asked Nick, as if the only significance is that Ruth Davidson might be mildly embarrassed.  What this decision actually does is rip up decade upon decade upon decade of precedent and tradition.  God knows when the last time was that an MP representing an English constituency was appointed to the Scotland Office or Scottish Office, but I certainly can't recall it happening within my lifetime.  The universality of Scottish appointments was what always distinguished the Scottish Office from its Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts, which were often full-on colonial outfits manned by English MPs.  In "Raj" terms, the Scottish Office was like an Indianised civil service - the appointments may have been made by a Prime Minister in London, but nevertheless individual Scots were in charge of the domestic government of Scotland.  That's why we can look back to a period long before devolution and recall iconic Scottish politicians calling the shots: Tom Johnston during the Second World War, Willie Ross in the 60s and 70s, and Donald Dewar in the late 90s.

What makes the selection of Walker even more bizarre is that the tradition of only appointing Scots was even maintained when there was only one Scottish Tory MP in Westminster.  The Scottish peer Lord Dunlop filled the breach as David Mundell's sidekick when Mundell was the entire Scottish Tory parliamentary party.  And yet now that Boris Johnson has got 12 Scottish Tory MPs to choose Alister Jack's deputy from, he's ignored them all, and he's ignored all the Scottish Tory peers.  Some people are putting this down to concern that the Scottish Tories may be wiped out at the next general election.  That's good as a taunt, but makes no sense if taken seriously: if a Minister of State were to lose their seat at the election, it would be the easiest thing in the world to just replace them.  No, this is Boris making a statement.  He's saying that London owns Scotland, and that he sees no reason why Scotland should be governed any differently from Worcestershire or Hampshire or Nottinghamshire.  The mind boggles as to what this portends for devolution if Boris has a longer tenure in office than most of us expect.

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Just as an aside, this means that neither of the men now running the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland actually has a recognisably Scottish accent.  Alister Jack appears from his biography to be 100% Scottish born and bred, but presumably owes his plummy accent to his education at Glenalmond.  This may be a good way to appeal to traditional Scottish Tory voters, but I'm not sure it's going to do much for the working-class unionist voters that Ruth Davidson has been courting over recent years (ie. the "Rangers vote").

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I'm hoping we might get an independence poll in the next few days, just to see if the No Deal revolution at Westminster over the last 72 hours has shifted the dial.  You might remember that there was a Yes surge in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, and that it quickly faded.  We'd never even have known it had happened if opinion polls hadn't been commissioned at the correct moment.  I hope the history books won't be left in the dark about Scotland's instant reaction to the events of the last week.

39 comments:

  1. Robin Walker does not seem to have any previous track record of interest in Scotland, apart from a strong belief that it should remain part of the Union. His on-line presence suggests that his whole career has centred on supporting local interests in Worcester. He was a junior minister in the Brexit department.

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  2. I see Johnson is spouting about delivering the Manchester - Leeds raill corridor improvements; something that government has long shied away from.
    I think we are in for a long summer of wild promises to bolster English votes and colonial pronouncements about ‘some Scottish things’ to effectively do the same.
    They will all be purely political and will turn to dust as autumn progresses through whatever horrors lie in wait.

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  3. Aside: no brexit party candidate for Shetland by election. Is there any meaning to this other than a general ‘who cares?’ about an un-winnable far-away seat attitude from the single focus party?

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    1. as in ‘who cares?’ about an un-winnable far-away seat In the irrelevant Scottish parliament ..,

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    2. It may be significant in that if they sit out Holyrood elections, or even just Holyrood constituency elections, it could make the Tories' life a lot easier. But maybe it's just because Shetland seems like another planet to them, who knows.

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  4. Europe thinks we have an election looming

    https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2019/0726/1065462-boris-johnson/

    He can promise the moon all summer long with no real domestic English political consequences

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  5. Scottish Tories get their first taste of English nationalist anti-scottish racism.

    There's a pile of shoes to shine in hall guys, then the toilets need a scrub...

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    Replies
    1. Aye at least making the tea gave David Mundell a tiny sliver of self respect. What a demotion lol.

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    2. Colonel Ruth DavidsonJuly 27, 2019 at 9:36 AM

      Congratulations to Ross "Coke Zero" Thomson, Douglas "Who?" Ross,K Hair-Brain and the nameless others on their promotion from obscurity to... Eh... Scrub that ..

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    3. Luigi: your name suggests a foreign origin. Maybe time to think about going home.

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    4. Kaiser Wilhem 111July 27, 2019 at 10:37 AM

      Ich hassle das Englander mehr als Skifahrer.

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    5. Robin of LocksleyJuly 27, 2019 at 10:42 AM

      Purse.
      Cordelia and purses.

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    6. Scots word "coke" (and pronunciation) is English word "cock". 100% true.

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    7. Louise - you sound like you'd be better off getting your man's breakfast for him and cleaning your house. Better than spouting a load of nat si shit on here. And clean up that midden of a house. It's a minging disgrace.

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  6. And why are you surprised, folk who have been warning of what is coming were accused of being paronoid,election or not Boris will do as much damage in the time he has.

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  7. Nigella ChurchillJuly 27, 2019 at 10:01 AM

    At last! We can drop the pretence that Jockistan is any different from Staffordshire.
    Can we now drop the nonsense of their separate education and legal systems?

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    Replies
    1. I see William is purving again. Are you not on some register by now?

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  8. Ruth Davidson will be relieved to have Alasdair Jack as boss with an accent she instinctively knows how to kowtow to. It must have been difficult for her taking orders from someone who sounded like Molly Weir.

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  9. Todays speech by Borris shows the problem he has if there is going to be an election. He knows the SNP is going to take seats from him in Scotland and that the Lib Dems will take seats (or take votes to swing the seats to Labour in maginals) but he needs to get more seats than he has now, so hes left trying to convince hard core Labour voters in leave areas that a hard right Conservative Gov would not be such a bad thing if it ment getting Brexit.

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    Replies
    1. Hard right Tory Gov thats a laugh. The austerity programme introduced by Labour in 2008 has been embraced by the Tories and their Tartan Tory pals as well as the EU who slaughtered the Greeks.

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    2. Robin of LocksleyJuly 27, 2019 at 12:58 PM

      Purse.
      Cordelia and purses.

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    3. I can't see Johnson going for an election. He will lose most or all of the Tory seats in Scotland, and 13 seats will count. He will lose some seats in England to the Brexit Party and the Liberals, and at least 3 DUP MPs could be in trouble.
      Mind you, facts and reality didn't stop May in 2017.

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    4. There is talk of the Tories and Brexit party forming an electoral pact.

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    5. They already have - it is the same voters, the same tune and both dance to it.

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  10. Are about to be stabbed in the back again? probably!

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    Replies
    1. Again, you mean they stopped at some point. Westminster has continually treated all other partners in this union with disdain and contempt. The illusion has been there for so long we now accept the abuse as normal and get on with life.
      I have said before this is similar to Stockholm syndrome and until people realise what they suffer from the chances of getting help are slim never mind getting away from those abusing them.

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    2. Carstairs open day is it?

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    3. Robin of LocksleyJuly 27, 2019 at 4:42 PM

      Purse.
      Cordelia and purses.

      Delete
  11. The MP from Worcester says:

    "I'm going to make Scotland the sauce capital of the world"

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    Replies
    1. Chlorinated chicken is OK with Worcester sauce. Look at the heid of hair it has given me.

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    2. Chlorine is very good at getting rid of germs. I dip my chicken in the local swimming pool before eating it.

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    3. "Sauce capital of the world"? Is he going to be making Carry On films here?
      Ooh, matron!

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  12. James. Alberto da Costa was recently a PPS to the Scottish secretary. He represents a seat in Leicester, I think...

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    Replies
    1. da Costa is Scottish though, certainly sounds it more than Jack.

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  13. The Tories will never lose the "Rangers Vote" it is, and will remain fixed for many years to come. A solid base of the greedy and the bigots. It fits well with the Tory voter profile I England.
    We should accept that and focus on those who believe but are held back by the fear generated by media propaganda.

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  14. The Tories will never lose the "Rangers Vote" it is, and will remain fixed for many years to come. A solid base of the greedy and the bigots. It fits well with the Tory voter profile I England.
    We should accept that and focus on those who believe but are held back by the fear generated by media propaganda.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You can the English Channel from Kitty's upstairs window.
    Fact.

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