Long live the Queen!

ruth_davidsonThe British media in Scotland aren’t always negative. We are accustomed to a daily diet of unremitting gloom, doom and despair served up by journalists who have made a career of portraying Scotland as a country made entirely from dreich held together by dour. All is crisis and chaos. Unless it’s catastrophe and collapse. If the nominally Scottish media are analogous to a window through which Scotland both observes itself and puts itself on display to the world, then the typical  hack spends their days smearing the glass with excrement and bile.

Apparently, there is only one good thing about Scotland. One palely gleaming pearl of hope in the mire of misery. One reason for journalists to exercise the muscles of positiveness which would otherwise surely atrophy. One thing in all of Scotland about which they can wax enthusiastic. Ruth Davidson!

And why not? Why shouldn’t they lionise her? She is, after all, a creature of the media’s creation. A Frankenstein’s monster made from photo-opportunities and vacuous pronouncements stitched together with spin. It is the media who have elevated Davidson to the status of Queen of the BritNats. It is only the constant and vigilant protection of the media which allows her to continue pretending to a status that she could never hope to earn on her own.

The British state needed a ‘personality’ to be the face of the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project in Scotland. The British political elite required a leader for hard-line Unionists to rally around. The narrative of British propaganda demanded someone who could be portrayed as a heroic blend of Boudicca, Churchill and Thatcher  – with a dash of Molly Weir. Someone to play the role of bold defender of the Union standing with her finger in the dyke holding back the tide of democratic dissent threatening the settled order.

Ruth Davidson got the part by default; British Labour in Scotland being unable to field a candidate who might survive internal party strife long enough to serve the British state’s purposes. That potential for a certain longevity was pretty much the only thing Davidson had going for her. The rest had to be constructed. She had to be given a make-over. She was shoved in one end of the British media sausage-making machine a third-rate party place-filler with no discernible talent. She emerged the same bag of fatuous hypocrisy and unabashed dishonesty, but now bulked with the breadcrumbs of interchangeable stock positions; artificially coloured with off-the-shelf charisma; seasoned with carefully controlled controversy; and enclosed in a protective skin that lends her the deceptive sheen of a serious politician whilst concealing the unappetising insipidness of the content.

But the Queen of the BritNats sits on a rickety throne. Her crown is on a shoogly peg. The pedestal upon which she has been raised must be constantly steadied and shore up. The British political establishment has invested too much in Ruth Davidson to let her fall. No matter how often or how badly she succumbs to arrogant stupidity, she must be protected. Her every clumsy stumble has to be presented as deft politicking. Each ill-thought utterance has to be imbued with gravitas. The contradictions and inconsistencies must be spun as intellectual complexity.

So it is that we get headlines such as ‘Ruth Davidson throws down gauntlet to May on immigration, NHS and tax‘ above cloyingly sycophantic articles written by journalists more accustomed to churning out dire pieces in the ‘Scotland is a hellhole’ genre. The purpose here is to present Davidson as a significant actor in Scottish and British politics. Someone who matters. Someone who has influence. Someone who can get things done. Someone who can be effective. Someone capable of bringing about change.

And it is all completely, utterly, ludicrously false!

Ruth Davidson is not a significant actor. She has no power. She has no authority, She can do nothing of any import whatsoever.

It’s all a sham. It would require a massive injection of substance to qualify as smoke and mirrors. It is a deception. Yet another confidence trick being played on the people of Scotland by the British establishment. The lectures and speeches and stage-managed public events and strictly controlled TV appearances, are all just theatre. None of what you see and hear is real. None of it matters.

The idiom of throwing down a gauntlet suggests a serious challenge. We are supposed to believe that Davidson is standing up to her generally reviled boss. We are supposed to be duped into thinking of Davidson as an effective shield against the worst excesses and ineptitude of the British government. Essentially, we are supposed to see Davidson as either – or both – an alternative to Theresa May and to Nicola Sturgeon. She is either Prime Minister-in-waiting or First Minister-in-waiting depending on the demands and expediences of the moment.

She is neither! But that won’t deter the British media. So long as Ruth Davidson remains a useful tool of the British establishment, they will continue to treat this commonest of commoners like political royalty.


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10 thoughts on “Long live the Queen!

  1. She really does nip my knitting Peter and the way she is pandered to by the MSM in comparison to those who are in the Scottish government at present is significant. Grrrrr. Last night’s joke of an interview by Bernie on STV has reduced what ever credibility I had for him to zero.

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  2. It is worth reading Bell’s analysis of Davidson above with this article in the LRB: What are they after?

    The latter is an analysis of male Tory Brexiters such as Bojo, Gove and Rees-Mogg but Davidson isn’t out-of-place in some key respects. And therein lies her attraction. She’s not an antidote to Bojo and company; she’s more of the same, just repackaged to appear fresh.

    If professional politicians have an unearned advantage over others when it comes to attracting public attention, there is a danger that politics comes to attract people who only want public attention – such as Johnson – and others who only know how to exploit it, such as Rees-Mogg. While Rees-Mogg may be a firm believer in the Victorian moral vision of Brexit, there can be no denying that his currently elevated status is largely down to the fact that he is recognisable and provides good media ‘content’. When the media report his latest comments, it’s because he is someone whom everyone recognises from the media. Everything he says or does must be calculated to ensure that this remains the case. As any troll understands, wit and disruption are the best tactics for succeeding in the ‘attention economy’. But for the generation who entered public life in the 1990s, after the ‘end of ideology’, there were only two choices: to devote oneself with immense earnestness to the nitty-gritty of policy and economics, or to revel in the freedom of symbolism and storytelling, as journalists, PR professionals and pranksters. Political careers came later. Britain’s misfortune is that matters of the greatest seriousness are now in the hands of basically unserious people.

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    1. Quote tags don’t appear to have worked. In post above note that text from “If professional politicians have an unearned advantage…” to the end of the comment is a quote from the linked LRB article.

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      1. Sorted that for you.

        Interesting analysis. I particularly like this,

        “If professional politicians have an unearned advantage over others when it comes to attracting public attention, there is a danger that politics comes to attract people who only want public attention…”

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  3. — “May I draw your attention to the curious incident of the doggies on the sidewalk …”
    — “But the doggies did nothing on the sidewalk …”
    — “Indeed, but Ruthie still managed to step right in it!”
    With apologies 😉

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  4. My mother, aged 90 and myself ((64) luckily have the sense to see through her act. BUT I know several folk my age who’s elderly mothers are saying ” I like that Ruth Davidson, she is keeping NIcola Sturgeon in her place”. That mindset will cause the independence movement trouble for a while!

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  5. Perhaps we need to look at Ruth Davidson from a different perspective, one which has not, to the best of my knowledge happened in the UK before, but is common in the US, in France, in Italy – the politician who is outwith party. Yes, I know she is the Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party in Scotland, but, I think she is moving beyond that.

    In the US, presidential candidates are often charismatic figures who use one or other of the two major parties, as a vehicle for the aims of their backers. Dwight Eisenhower could have been adopted by either party. Ronald Reagan, having been a Democrat switched to the Republicans and became president mainly because he could act the part. Donald Trump is an outsider, tunning as Donald J Trump. In France, Charles de Gaulle simply created his own party. Chirac, Pompidou, Macron all stood as themselves, rather than as leaders of parties. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi created his own party by promoting himself on his own TV station and the success of AC Milan.

    With Brexit we saw the success of Nigel Farage, who was ostensibly the leader of UKIP, but really he was the blokey and media-savvy front for people like Arron Banks.

    With Tories and Labour clearly fractured over Brexit, and other matters, I suspect the old two party hegemony is nearing fracture and Ms Davidson is being groomed as a ‘blue-screen personality’ on which a slew of ‘policies’ – but essentially insubstantial soundbites – can be ‘projected’. These ‘policies’ will have been derived by the kind of Cambridge Analytica strategy that identified key Trump supporters and issues which would influence them.

    We saw the popularity of Ms Davidson with Labour voters in 2014. We have seen increasing evidence of tactical voting with Ian Murray being a clear LabCon. With her clearly stated ‘gayness’ she can be presented as attractive to a ‘gay’ constituency which is socially liberal, as Ms Davidson is demonstrating with her immigration speech at Glasgow University yesterday.

    I think she is being prepared not for the leadership of the Conservative Party but for the leadership of the Ruth Davidson Party. To all intents and purposes that was the party people in Scotland voted for in 2016 and 2017. The only mention on the literature was the small line mentioning ‘published by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.’

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    1. You credit Ruth Davidson with far more political wile than she possesses. I know the kind of political operator you’re referring to. But nothing I’ve seen of Ruth Davidson persuades me that she falls into that category.

      She is personable enough. At least when she’s getting the favourable attention she craves and has come to regard as her due. This should not be mistaking for charisma, however. I see no sign of that indefinable spark which sets an individual apart. Did she possess it, she would engage even political opponents. That’s the nature of charisma. It attracts at a sub-intellectual level. And it is effortless. If Ruth Davidson had charisma, she wouldn’t have to try so hard to be liked. Nor would she fail so often.

      She is not “popular” with Labour voters on account of any personal qualities or perceived abilities. Such appeal as she has is for hard-line Unionists in the depleted ranks of British Labour in Scotland. It is entirely accounted for by the fact that the media have elevated her to the status of Queen of the BritNats – the figurehead for the British Nationalist cause.

      Davidson is not using the Tory party for her own ends. Although she is certainly an opportunist who will seize on anything that seems to be personally advantageous, she lacks the political nous to contrive such opportunities for herself. In fact, She is being used by the British political elite. She is allowed to speak as she did about immigration because it suits the British establishment to have her look as if she is standing up for Scotland’s interests. The insincerity is evident enough from the way her position on important issues flip-flops. And from the hypocritical way she talks about being angry if Westminster were to overrule Holyrood on devolved matters, having only recently voted for precisely that in the Scottish Parliament.

      She thinks she is surrounded by a team who are grooming her for greater things. But it’s all puppetry. She’s permitted a degree of latitude because it suits the purposes of the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist project. And because it makes not a scintilla of difference what she says about immigration or anything else. She has no effective power. She has had no impact on Tory policies and actions to date. And she never will. If she looked as if she might, she’d be crushed like a bothersome bug.

      Davidson say anything she’s told to say. Then she’ll vote exactly as she’s told to vote.

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  6. Peter stop being so wishy washy and tell us what you really think , sorry couldn’t contain myself ,

    To me this is the PERFECT dissection of the dishonourable davidson

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