There can be no denying the growing threat to the integrity of the United Kingdomby Alex Massie / August 1, 2019 / Leave a comment
Politics is a triage process these days in which foes are ranked according to the urgency of the threat they pose to your preferences and sensibilities. When push comes to shove, as it always does, the first law of politics is a simple one: identify the enemy. In much of England that means some voters with little love for Boris Johnson will still endorse Conservative candidates, for fear that failing to do so will hand Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Downing Street.
Matters are more complicated in Scotland. Here Tory insiders have no desire for an early election. Indeed they would much prefer the government to last, however improbable this may seem, until its term expires in 2022. They fear, with reason, that the gains made by the Tories in 2017 when the party went from holding one seat in Scotland to taking 13, will be jeopardised by a dash to the polls.
Some insiders fret, indeed, that the party might be reduced to just a handful of MPs if there’s an election this autumn or even next spring. Two years ago—and just as they had in the 2016 Holyrood elections, in which the party came second—the Tories won votes from many people who were not, as Ruth Davidson admitted herself, natural Tory voters. They were Unionist votes cast against the SNP just as much as they were a positive endorsement of Conservative candidates. The nationalists were the enemy and voters acted accordingly.
That will not be the case in any forthcoming election. This general election, if and when it happens—and it seems likely it must happen sooner rather than later—will be a Brexit poll. It is not difficult to find voters in Scotland who like Davidson but recoil from Johnson. Some will doubtless stick with the Tories on the grounds that the SNP remains the true foe. But many others, especially those who voted Remain in the Brexit referendum, are unlikely to endorse a party that, at a UK level, is intensely relaxed about the prospects of, at best, a harder Brexit than anything that was promised by the Leave campaign in 2016. Sixty-two per cent of Scots voted Remain and little that has happened since has persuaded them they were mistaken.
For all that Davidson has revived Scottish Toryism the plain fact of the matter is that the Tories remain a minority enthusiasm north…