I have frequently noted the inconsistencies and contradictions that riddle British nationalist commentary. David Torrance can always be relied upon to illustrate the point. Here, we have him both acknowledging and denying the “realignment of Scottish politics” according to what is expedient at any stage in his customarily blinkered and shallow analysis.
At times he recognises that this realignment has moved Scotland away from the old faux rivalries of the two main British parties and into two genuinely opposed “entrenched camps – unionist and nationalist”. Elsewhere, he insists that this recasting of Scottish politics is marked by a “Tory revival, or rather continuing revival”.
Now, it may be argued that these two things are not mutually exclusive. But, even if we allow this, awareness of the conflict or, at the very least, distinction between these two perspectives – party political and constitutional – does cast the supposed Tory revival in a very different light. The interesting question is, why the Tories? Given that both the British parties have adopted what is basically the same rigid anti-independence, anti-SNP, anti-democracy line, why is it the Tory brand of hard-line unionism which is being favoured?
Taking a party political view would imply that the supposed Tory revival is to be explained by support for their policies. But not even David Torrance tries to suggest that this is the case. It is only be looking at the situation as a contest of constitutional positions that we get an idea of what is really going on. And what we see is, not a Tory revival, but merely the hard-line unionist vote shifting from British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) to the British Conservative and Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS). What, in a frenzy of false analysis and wishful thinking, is being portrayed as a Tory revival is actually no more than the core unionist vote coalescing around Ruth Davidson and her brand of fervent British nationalism.
There is no endorsement of Tory policies at UK level. Every other indicator tells us that those policies are no less rejected now than when BCUPS barely managed to get a single MP elected. Not only did the SNP win the local elections by every meaningful measure, the party is also in line to take the vast majority of seats in Theresa May’s snap UK general election. And there can be no endorsement of BCUPS policies on local issues for the simple reason that they don’t have any. You’ll struggle to find any mention of local matters in any of their leaflets.
If the fundamental divide in Scottish politics is now between the pro- and anti-independence camps – which few would deny – then the meaningful inquiry revolves around what the local elections tell us about that divide. In those terms, the only possible conclusion is that the pro-independence side made modest but undeniable advances. It only looks a bit like a Tory revival if, halfway through the analysis, the terms of reference are altered so as to replace ‘unionist’ with ‘Tory’. This is just what David Torrance does. By a carefully contrived framing of the question, he arrives at the answer that he wants.Views: 4744
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