Commentary by Carolyn McCole
For Teresa May, this must feel like the morning after a bad party. Going in with the expectation of making more friends, but losing them in the process.
Misplacing her purse and with it the economic strategy she was counting on to deliver her home and dry. Praying her dignity is still by the door with her shoes, unsure which is more likely. Hoping her hosts will let her stick around a little longer as she creeps furtively through the dwelling she’s helped to destroy. Nursing recently acquired bruises and knocks to her pride, waiting for the pain of last night’s indulgence to really set in.
And – worst of all – texting the ex that was previously distanced on the basis of their controversial views. Don’t you hate it when you look at your phone and there’s a whole string of messages to the DUP? Apart from anything else, it looks so desperate…
Hard not to sympathise a little in this context, as we can all relate with part of that I’m sure; but usually we recognise our wounds are self-inflicted and our behaviour downright abysmal. Plus most normal people don’t impose said faux pas shamelessly on a national scale. It’s frowned upon.
So what was it all for? Difficult to say whether this election was motivated by ego or insecurity. Did she believe she was indestructible? Or did she need the affirmation of electoral approval? In any case, neither are the incentives of a truly ‘strong and stable’ leader and both are the consequence of vanity. Pride comes before a fall.
Where does that leave us? With an unpopular Prime Minister, prone to control-freakery and kamikaze career moves, frantically treading water while reaching for the DUP lifeboat. Repeat after me, folks: ‘Strong and stable!’ You’ve got to admire the brass neck. Someone give that woman a flute.
I’m willing to bet your newsfeeds are fast clogging up with fresh outrage at the DUP. But as articles entitled ‘Who are the DUP?’ or ‘What do They Stand For?’ suggest, nobody outwith Northern Ireland thought much about them before this weekend. They didn’t seem like much of a threat to the liberal metropolitan elite when they were way over in a distant corner of the Emerald Isle. At least they were keeping those pesky Republicans in check after all. Now they may have influence over the corridors of Westminster. Rightly or wrongly everyone seemed much more comfortable when it was the other way around. But that’s the thing about a union isn’t it? You’ve got to be prepared for it to work both ways.
Indeed few have asked what impact this new partnership will have upon the Good Friday agreement. Did anyone in Mrs May’s teeny-weeny little circle pause to consider that? Or was this simply a desperate and gluttonous dash for self-preservation?
Without the support of the DUP however and with no UKIP MPs to turn to, the Conservatives are left with precious few options. We’re now looking at the residual face of British Nationalism. It’s down to the hardcore few who remain and it’s not the mundane little facade of Better Together. It’s extreme, right-wing and to many of us it’s ugly. Perhaps the pro-indy camp needs only to let this play out to expose the modern reality of British Nationalism. Would that still be the preference of 55%?
Funnily enough Ruth-Rape Clause No Surrender Line in the Sand–Davidson appears less than comfortable with this one. Her party and its unionist cause seem to have happily accepted the support of extreme unionist Presbyterians of the Orange Lodge in Scotland, but things have since landed a little too close to home with the Tories’ seduction of the extreme unionist, protestant, yet notoriously homophobic DUP. Ruth, understandably, wants assurances that LGBTI rights will not be taken away. It’s brutally unfair to have something you rely upon taken away, isn’t it Ruth? Unfortunately she didn’t share this sentiment when her own party looted the mobility cars, pensions, tax credits and winter fuel payments of our most vulnerable friends and neighbours. These are the things they rely upon and on those occasions, Ruth sought no assurances but defended the theft. Sure she’s good for a photo-op and perhaps a chat in the pub, but don’t be fooled, she’s still a Tory and she should stop pretending otherwise. Look where that has taken us.
So where does this leave the Scottish independence movement? Where do we go from here?
In a word – forward. Where else?
The positive we can take from an agreement with the DUP is that it would likely prevent a hard border in Ireland. If that assurance is secured, it is difficult to see how anyone could claim its inevitability for an independent Scotland.
The proposals Nicola Sturgeon made for Indy Ref 2 are still valid, if anything more pertinent than ever before. Once the fruits of the Brexit discussions and DUP alliance become clear, Scotland should still have the chance to decide which path it will follow and that will become a more attractive and valuable option for the nation as the next few months play out.
It is however time, for the wide umbrella of the Yes movement to form an alternative now so it can articulate a positive plan for the future as the downward spiral of the Brexit narrative unravels.
Amplifying the wide spectrum of pro-indy organisations would also make it difficult for the mainstream media to associate a loss of seats for the SNP, with a decline in support for independence. The two are not necessarily related.
Did the introduction of Indy Ref2 cost the SNP votes? Doubtful. There’s no tangible sign of a drop in support for the concept of independence. The SNP might have lost support, but there’s no evidence to suggest the Yes movement has. The SNP could have lost every one of their seats and the Yes movement would still exist. All the results really show are that the unionists effectively, if cynically, used the first past the post system to highlight our now polarised national opinion on the constitutional question. This polarisation of support is no bad thing either. It means we’re getting down to the last few nuts to crack. Let’s be honest, the 2017 election results are probably a more realistic reflection of Scottish political opinion than the 56 seats of 2015 actually were. Consequently, we now know where the pro-indy message should be targeted. My thank-you note is in the post to Ruth.
Sure the SNP’s number one goal is to secure independence, as a means of improving everything else. Pretending otherwise would be disingenuous and unnecessary. So even if proposals for Indy Ref 2 did cost the Yes movement’s flagship party some votes, at least the party can say it retained its integrity and that in the long term, can only be right. It’s not for a party to bend to the trends of the day, but to articulate a vision and invite the voters to grab it. That’s what the SNP has done over the decades and despite what the unionist media tries to portray, they’re still winning with this strategy by a country mile.
So maybe everybody felt a little rough the morning after the night before. It was a big night for all of us. Most of the party leaders will dust themselves off and adapt to the strange environment in which they woke up. But for Teresa May, Ruth Davidson and their increasingly precarious Conservative Government, the hangover continues……