Ruth Davidson: SNP guilty of "Orwellian" nationalism

Tory leader Ruth Davidson has accused the SNP of pursuing 'Orwellian' nationalism as she launched an unprecedented attack on the 10th anniversary of the party seizing power in Scotland.

Ruth Davidson says pro-union Scots are treated like "aliens"

She accused the SNP of driving a gulf between pro-union voters in Scotland viewed as “foreigners” and “authentic” Scots who support independence - with many feeling “hectored and bullied” into voting for the Nationalists.

But the claims were angrily dismissed by the SNP and Labour last night who accused Ms Davidson of draping herself in the “union flag” and being an “embarrassment.”

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They claimed the Tories were the party which returned “right wing extremist” candidates in this month’s council elections in Scotland.

Ms Davidson was delivering the annual speech to the George Orwell Foundation in London today where she claimed Scots who don’t vote SNP have been made to feel outsiders.

“The implication hangs in the air: those who are not orthodox, do not follow the right way, are foreign, we are alien, we are other,” the Tory leader said.

The constitutional issue has come to dominate the political debate in Scotland in recent years, with the council elections this month revealing voters are increasingly split down pro-independence or pro-unionist lines. But it has brought about a Tory revival, pushing Labour into third place, as Ms Davidson has successfully positioned her party as the one which will defend the union. The SNP will celebrate the tenth anniversary of coming to power at Holyrood on Tuesday.

Ms Davidson pointed to the key characteristics of nationalism identified by 1984 author Orwell: obsession; instability; and indifference to reality.

“For many of us in Scotland it all sounds very familiar,” Ms Davidson said.

Orwell’s observation about the Nationalist obsession with the “superiority of its own power unit”, was highlighted by Ms Davidson, who said it “all rings very true” to the situation in Scotland.

“In Scotland, political nationalism has introduced the idea that only one side of the constitutional divide can be the authentic voice of `the people of Scotland,’” the Tory leader said.

“That only it has the right to be heard. That other voices are, by their nature, illegitimate and phoney.”

All parties have been guilty of attempting claim a monopoly on the national mood at some time, the Tory leader admitted.

But she added: “I would suggest that the modern SNP has made this technique its own.”

Ms Davidson insisted that Tory supporters in Scotland - with the party gaining more than half a million votes in last year’s Holyrood election - are increasingly vilified by senior SNP figures.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown was singled out for comments during a Brexit debate at SNP conference in March when he told delegates: “This debate comes down to Scotland versus the Tories and Scotland is going to win.”

The Tory leader hit out: “I’m Scottish. In fact I’ve never lived or worked outside of the nation of my birth. I cede to no man in backing blue with either oval or round ball.

“But apparently, I have to choose between being Scottish or Conservative. Because, according to Mr Brown, I can’t be both. And for me – so goes it for half a million more.”

The result, according to Ms Davidson, is that many Scots have been “bullied and hectored” into voting SNP over the past we decade.

But the claims were rejected by SNP candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith Deidre Brock who accused Ms Davidson of employing the “doublethink” techniques used by the totalitarian regime in Orwell’s famous tome 1984, as a result of the Tories’ “tribal” approach to politics.

Ms Brock said: “It is Orwellian to lecture others on nationalism when she’s the one who drapes herself in a flag and drives around in a tank.

“Her claim to the moral high ground is totally undermined given that the SNP’s vision of an independent Scotland is inclusive, outward-looking and internationalist, while Ms Davidson supports a Brexit Britain turning its back on its nearest neighbours and trying to make enemies of our European allies.

“Meanwhile, she has allowed her party to become Scotland’s UKIP – up and down the country the Tories have chosen a ragtag band of extreme right-wingers, many with offensive views, to run local services, and she has had to suspend three for disgraceful anti-Muslim outbursts.

“Ruth Davidson should get her own house in order before seeking to deliver grandiose lectures to others.”​

Scottish Labour General Election campaign manager James Kelly branded Ms Davidson an “embarrassment” over the comments.

“This is the leader who turned our political debate into a shouting match about flags rather than the issues people care about. At every turn Ruth Davidson has put the narrow British nationalism of the Tories ahead of what’s best for the people of this country.

“Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon are both blinded by flags and it is working families who lose out. There is an alternative to the extreme nationalism of the Tories and the independence obsession of the SNP.

“It’s a Labour government fighting for better wages jobs and public services, not fighting for a economically catastrophic hard Brexit or a second independence referendum Scotland doesn’t want.”