Boris Johnson’s new regime is firmly in charge and, under the guidance of henchman Dominic Cummings, the Tories are now mimicking the Soviet Politburo – a veneer of supposed democracy but it’s not even the party line but the leader’s dictat that matters. Unswerving loyalty demanded, purges a plenty and once-loyal comrades denounced.
The image cultivated by the Conservative Party over centuries of stability and respect for parliamentary democracy has been replaced by turmoil and political chicanery.
Lying’s unacceptable in politics but an absolute no-no in Government. For sure, politicians can make extravagant promises that are unlikely to be fulfilled but straight-out lies, despite what the public think, are thankfully few. Often, it’s just hyperbole but usually with genuine intentions.
Likewise, in Government you can wriggle and squirm, and I’ve endured moments, but lying’s just not on. Thatcher struggled on the sinking of the Belgrano from callers to TV shows through to forensic questioning by Tam Dalyell, but was always wary of a straight out lie, which was no doubt why the Iron Lady was far from solid in her rebuttals and wobbled when pressed. Even genuine errors honestly made require ministers to return to the Commons to apologise profusely.
That a minister would even consider not implementing the law is truly incredible. That Michael Gove prevaricated, rather than saying that reluctantly they would abide by the law or resign on principle, wasn’t just unacceptable but undemocratic. But it’s what they’ve become.
Johnson, both in opposition and now Government, has refined duplicity as an art form and shown scant respect for parliamentary procedure, let alone democracy. Downright dishonesty over proroguing parliament, following on from shameless lies during the Brexit referendum.
Disparaging Westminster and snide comments about MPs speak to his sense of entitlement. A birth-right to rule, elections just an inconvenience and those that are MPs simply there to make up the numbers.
Like his mentor, President Trump, he has no shame and is the embodiment of the phrase that you know he’s lying because his lips are moving. It’s no surprise that many are now jumping ship in genuine disgust. It’s a wonder actually that more haven’t gone but they surely will. As Justine Greening said this isn’t the party that she joined. As with the Republicans in the USA, however, they’ve unleashed a monster and he’s now in charge.
Now I’m one of those Scots for whom it’s an anathema to consider voting Tory, though I could respect the decency and integrity of many. But not him and his cohort. They’re entirely distrustful and the Scottish Tories are going to pay a heavy price for it.
For if his tactics are more Stalinesque than in keeping with the party of Disraeli or even Thatcher, then the Scottish wing has as much legitimacy as the Communist Party in a former Soviet satellite state. When Alexander Dubček tried to liberalise communism at the time of the Prague spring, Moscow was having none of it.
To be fair, tanks aren’t going to roll into Scotland but the political equivalent of removal of the local leadership took place there and has happened here. As in Poland before it and with other client states, anyone deviating from the Moscow party line was out. And so, it proved for David Mundell and Ruth Davidson. The supposed modern and distinctively Scottish party image portrayed since the independence referendum has been shown to be a mirage. Scottish Tories have neither freedom of action nor indeed of thought. Remaining in the EU was never going to be tolerated but even the fall-back positions weren’t ideologically pure enough.
Shamefully, neither Mundell nor Davidson went with either a fight or even a whimper. Instead, mirroring the craven loyalty of erstwhile communist leaders, they’ve soaked it up. The suggestion that Ruth Davidson looked Boris in the eye and was convinced he was trying to do a deal is fanciful to put it politely. It’s more reminiscent of ousted Soviet leaders pledging undying loyalty to the regime as they were led away to the gulag.
This might not be an army of occupation but it’s a political occupation all the same. The Scottish Tories can change their name but the Polish United Workers Party was still Moscow’s lackey. And whatever they call themselves, Scottish Tories will still be London’s placemen, doing their every bidding, no matter how perverse or shameful they look.