As you'll almost certainly have seen by now, the much-anticipated confidence vote in Boris Johnson's leadership of the Conservative Party has at last been triggered, and will take place tonight. It's completely ludicrous that a ballot is taking place on the same day that it's announced - I can't think of any other context in which something like that would happen. It presumably indicates that Graham Brady is working in Johnson's interests and has calculated that a quick vote will prevent momentum building up against the Prime Minister.
The delicious aspect of this, though, is that Douglas Ross is still the Westminster MP for Moray (one of the multiple jobs he refused to give up when he became Scottish Tory leader) and thus will have a vote tonight. At first I wondered if the speediness of the ballot would be a get-out clause for him due to the difficulty of getting to London in time, but it turns out that there will be provision for remote voting. So he's going to have to jump one way or the other, and realistically he's going to have to tell us how he votes. It's not tenable for a party leader to hide behind a secret ballot. Past precedent suggests Ross has no moral compass whatsoever and will be solely motivated by being seen to be on the winning side - but he's been badly burned before after he incorrectly guessed what the winning side would be. My guess is he'll play it safe this time by backing Johnson but making a show of reluctance for the TV cameras: "I didn't vote FOR Boris Johnson as such, quite frankly Colin I was voting AGAINST Vladimir Putin."
An even bigger issue for us is how the outcome of the ballot will impact upon the prospects for independence. Boris Johnson is uniquely unpopular in Scotland, and given that the majority SNP-Green government at Holyrood have guaranteed us that an independence referendum will take place before the next Westminster election in May 2024, there's a strong case to be made that it would be better for the Yes side if Johnson remains in harness to become effectively the leader of the No campaign in the referendum. But unthinkable as it may seem, let's just suppose that the SNP and Greens renege on their #2023ReferendumGuarantee, perhaps because of a volcanic eruption in Inverurie or something. In that case, the next general election would go ahead before any vote on independence. Assuming it would be more optimal for the case for independence to be contrasted with ongoing Tory rule from London, it's arguable that it would be better if the Tories went into the election with someone capable of winning in England - and it's also arguable that someone like Jeremy Hunt is now more capable of that than Johnson.
The last time I made that point, our old friend Scottish Skier (you know, the one with the French wife and the Irish passport, although he rarely mentions them) took to the comments section of Wee Ginger Dug to accuse me of outing myself as a Tory sympathiser. Er, no, Skier, it's called realistic and honest political analysis - something of an alien concept for you, admittedly.
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