I’m looking forward to the new movie Split, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Ever since Shyamalan made his name in 1999 with the spooky classic The Sixth Sense, he seems to have frittered away his talent with a string of increasingly disappointing films like Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), but early reviews of Split have been largely positive and suggest Shyamalan has retrieved his mojo. What has particularly impressed the critics is the film’s central performance by Scottish actor James McAvoy, who plays a man with multiple-personality disorder. In fact, McAvoy’s condition is so extreme that he’s inhabited by no fewer than 23 different, competing and sometimes conflicting personalities.
But James McAvoy isn’t the only Scot who’s displayed symptoms of multiple-personality disorder recently. If you examine the pronouncements of Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, it’s clear that poor Ruth isn’t a single psychological entity either. Rather, she’s a walking battleground where various, often diametrically-opposed personalities fight for supremacy.
For example, there’s one personality within Ruth that’s staunchly pro-European Union. This personality was in control, temporarily, when she took part in a debate before last June’s vote on whether or not Britain should leave the EU. Railing against the Brexiting likes of Boris Johnson, Gisela Stuart and Andrea Leadsom, she declared, “The other side have said throughout this debate that they don’t like experts but when it comes to keeping this country safe and secure I want to listen to the experts. So when the head of GCHQ says we are safer in the EU I listen. When five former NATO chiefs say we are safer in the EU I listen. When the head of Interpol, who is a Brit, says we are safer in the EU I listen. When the head of MI5 and MI6 says we are safer in the EU I listen.” Even the left-wing, anti-Tory New Statesman magazine was sufficiently impressed to call her a ‘stand-out performer’ afterwards.
Presumably it was the same pro-EU version of Ruth who, before the referendum, posed with other Scottish political party leaders of in support a ‘remain’ vote. And the same version again who, two years earlier, had urged the Scots to vote ‘no’ to independence (and ‘yes’ to remaining part of the UK) for the reason that this would guarantee Scotland’s place in the European Union: “No means we stay in, we are members of the European Union.”
Oops, that didn’t work out well, did it?
But fast-forward to today. The British public narrowly voted to leave the EU and suddenly a new personality has wrested control of Ruth Davidson, one that’s in favour of Britain quitting the EU too; one that sees juicy economic opportunities for post-EU Britain; and one that opposes everything the Scottish National Party, which runs the devolved Scottish government in Edinburgh, is trying to do to preserve Scotland’s place in the EU. Britain – though admittedly not Scotland, which voted by 62% to 38% to stay – chose to leave the EU, barks this new Ruth. So get over the result and get on with Brexiting!
Admittedly, Ruth’s new pro-Brexit personality has at least expressed support for the UK, and by extension Scotland, remaining in the EU’s single market. It’s something she believes Scotland should have “the largest amount of access to.” Though Theresa May, British Prime Minister, Tory supremo and Ruth’s big boss in London, ruled this out in a speech a week ago when she declared that Britain “cannot possibly” remain in the single market because it would mean “not leaving the EU at all.”
Oops again. That didn’t work out well, did it?
I suspect a third personality might surface in Ruth Davidson soon. One that’s totally hard-line in its support of Brexit and rejects the single market as much as it rejects every other aspect of the EU – you know, sort of like what Theresa May’s been saying. I don’t know why I think this. Call it a hunch.
There’s yet another personality lurking inside Ruth that manifests itself occasionally – one that loathes the USA’s new president, Donald Trump. This personality was clearly in control of Ruth last year when she borrowed a quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 and trolled the ginger-skinned tycoon on Twitter: “Trump’s a clay-brained guts, knotty-pated fool, whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch, right?”
Yet two days ago, her boss Theresa May arrived in the USA to meet President Trump and suddenly another personality took hold of poor Ruth – one that seemed a lot more sanguine about the clay-brained, knotty-pated, whoreson, obscene, greasy, etc. businessman-cum-world-leader. This new version of Ruth believed May – who described Trump’s presidency as dawn breaking “on a new era of American renewal” – just had to open her mouth and talk a wee bit of sense into him and everything would be okay. May’s first speech in the USA, tweeted this new Ruth, “promotes liberal internationalism, warns on Putin, defends Muslims and makes case for democratic leadership in the world. Bravo.”
Actually, Ruth’s words about May defending Muslims were perhaps a bit premature seeing as soon afterwards Trump slapped a ban on refugees entering the USA from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. On Holocaust Memorial Day of all days, too.
Oops, that didn’t work out well, did it?
Some people would argue that Ruth Davidson doesn’t have a multiple-personality disorder at all – that her situation as a Conservative with reasonably liberal instincts and something of a social conscience who runs the Scottish branch of her party but who has to take orders from a considerably more right-wing regime in London means that during her pronouncements she needs to do more twisting and turning than a whirling dervish. But I don’t believe Ruth could be as supine and pathetic as that. I think there’s something genuinely, seriously wrong with her. She ought to see a psychiatrist immediately.
But who’s going to have a word with her? Who’s going to take her aside and give her this well-meaning but unpleasant advice? Probably not her many sycophantic fans in the mainstream Scottish press, who kiss her arse as enthusiastically as Theresa May’s been kissing Trump’s arse recently.
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