Fools and puppets

In 1921, Sir Edward Carson in a speech opposing what became known as The Anglo-Irish Treaty, famously said “What a fool I was! I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into Power.”

I mention this, not just because it was 100 years ago but more because it contains a truth which should be learned by every Unionist as much as it’s known by Nationalist; you cannot trust the Tories. The colour of tory is irrelevant, red, blue or gold they will pursue two aims only. One being the unbridled pursuit of power and the other is what they perceive to be in England’s interest. And on the occasions when they differ then they are pursued in that order!

Many know that Carson was the driving force behind the formation of the Ulster Volunteers. What is less known is that he was possibly as opposed to the machinations of Westminster in dividing Ireland, to create Eire, as he was to Home Rule itself. Speaking of the Orange Order, Carson likened them to “the unrolling of a mummy. All old bones and rotten rags.” So, he was a Unionist and British Nationalist to the core.

After the partition of Ireland, Carson repeatedly warned Ulster Unionist leaders not to alienate northern Catholics. In 1921 he said: “We used to say that we could not trust an Irish parliament in Dublin to do justice to the Protestant minority. Let us take care that that reproach can no longer be made against your parliament, and from the outset let them see that the Catholic minority have nothing to fear from a Protestant majority.

If we come forward a century, we can see so many parallels between the conduct of the Tories then and now. We know to the bitter cost of so many that “Getting Brexit Done” was not an exercise in making people better off, creating jobs or improving living standards. No, it was simply about keeping Tories in power and one Tory in particular.

Across the UK Brexit was sold on an entirely false prospectus and yet was eagerly accepted and bought by a predominantly English electorate knowing and accepting that the cost might be the end of the United Kingdom. 

A 2017 poll for the Daily Telegraph found that while 59% of people across the UK were opposed to Scotland leaving the UK, almost the same number said Brexit was more important than the potential break-up of the Union. Brexit more important than keeping the UK together, public say in poll for the Telegraph

A similar poll by Panelbase in 2019 found that 52% prioritised getting Brexit done, 36% thought the UK was more important and 11% wanted neither. Which do you think is most important, getting Brexit done or keeping the four nations of the UK together? – What UK Thinks: EU

For Scotland’s Conservative, and Unionist, community there are many lessons but chief among them is that for London, you are disposable! 

There is a perfectly reasonable place in the political firmament of post independent for Scotland for a sensible right of centre political party. Indeed, it’s an essential if we are to have a proper gown up democracy. We can’t say that we want an open and inclusive society if we can’t find a place for those with whom we disagree. The current Conservative and Unionist Party was formed to defend the union with Ireland. Not Scotland. It failed.

Scotland and England are on very different trajectories just now. While Scotland sees herself as an open, international community, England has still to decide what and where it wants to be, not just in relation to Europe or the other Nations of the UK but with itself. The stupidity of a Government which can proclaim that when fish swim into UK waters, they are both British and happier, yet use every device on hand to reject people who come into the same waters is as breath-taking as it is nauseating. 

The question for the socially and economically conservative in Scotland is do you want to repeat the error of Carson or do you want to play a part in building a better society than we have just now? No-one can seriously imagine that the Linesman, or the Baroness, care for any thing or cause half as much as for themselves.  If fools, then like Carson, they are willing fools and puppets!