Amid much bravado and authority, Nigel Farage dictated terms for his Brexit Party’s engagement in the General Election on 12 December. Boris’s Deal was in effect May’s Deal and was unacceptable. Support No Deal or we’ll stand against you in all 632 GB seats, Farage telt Boris.
Fast forward two weeks and Boris has effectively called Farage’s bluff; and the Essex stockbroker capitulated. Now the Brexit Party will only fight non-Tories in the most blatant electoral pact since… the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru agreed a deal last week!
In Scotland, the removal of Brexit Party candidates is likely to give the Tories a 5% boost across the country and possibly disproportionately in Tory-held seats. However, the Tories are still running scared. Thankfully.
Just as pro-Remain voters are deserting the Tory party, many Tories on the doorsteps are clearly saying that Britain is broken and Brexit does not espouse the values they believed Britain stood for: welcoming, open, fair, tolerant, enterprising, etc. etc.
So scared is Jackson Carlaw’s side – it really does not have the same mantle as oor Ruthie! – that it is well-known that Orange Order/Loyal Unionist sympathisers are now actively campaigning to support Tory candidates in preference to Labour.
Scottish Protestants Against Discrimination (SPAD) is at the forefront of mobilising Unionist support for Tories across the country but particularly in Tory-held seats. Further breakdown of polling districts where the Labour Unionist vote is strong, shows a parallel support for Leave in the 2016 European Referendum.
Blowing the Orange Order dog whistle is a dangerous precedent set by Ruth Davidson in 2017. This is importing a hardline Unionist attitude from Northern Ireland into modern Scottish mainstream politics. It does not bode well for anyone.
Originating in Ireland in the 19th century, the taunt of Home Rule will lead to ‘Rome Rule’ was a slogan oft spoken by opponents in the 1960s and 70s to appeal to Scotland’s protestant majority not to trust the SNP. Those days of religious hegemony have gone. Such prejudice plays no part in today’s Scotland and brings shame on SNP opponents who stir this up at their peril.
Scotland still has a sectarian problem to solve but Tories actively playing the Orange card does nothing to sort this. It’s time to call it out for what it is: bigotry of the first degree.