The multiple personalities of Ruth Davidson

 

From caltonjock.com

From zimbio.com

(c) BBC

 

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.

 

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/06/eu-referendum-debate-sadiq-khan-and-ruth-davidson-give-remain-punch-it-needs

 

From politicshome.com

 

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?

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-38555683

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38641208

 

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.

 

© Blinding Edge Pictures / Blumhouse Productions

 

Nothing but the Ruth

 

(c) Channel 4

 

Imagine what would have happened if during my schooldays I’d arrived home one afternoon and told my mum in a jubilant voice: “Mum!  I had a big test today and I got 22% of the answers right!  And thanks to my superb result everyone now thinks I’m amazingly clever!  Even the principal’s so impressed by my brilliance that in future she’s going to defer to my judgement in all decisions affecting the school!”

 

Actually, this is what would have happened.  My mother would have promptly whacked me around the lug for being a lazy waste-of-space who hadn’t done any studying for an important test and had got 78% of the answers wrong.  After that she would have taken me to a psychiatrist to have my disturbing narcissism and delusions of grandeur treated.

 

Yet the mainstream media has adopted a similar attitude in its reporting of the Scottish Conservative Party’s performance in the Scottish parliamentary election on May 5th.  Leading the Scottish Conservatives is 37-year-old Ruth Davidson, a politician who’ll do anything for a scrap of publicity.  The gregarious Davidson will ride a tank, sit on top of a bull, dress up in Highland dress and pretend to play the bagpipes.  She’ll do anything, in fact, except stick the word ‘Conservative’ on her party’s promotional literature.  Scottish Tories like Ruth, you see, are a wee shy about identifying themselves as Conservatives.  That’s because since the reign of Margaret Thatcher Conservativism in Scotland has been, to borrow a simile from Billy Connolly, “as popular as a fart in a spacesuit”.

 

(c) Daily Telegraph

 

What happened in last week’s election was this.  The Scottish National Party got 46.5% of the votes, up 1.1% on their previous performance, though they finished with 63 seats, six less than last time, and narrowly missed getting an overall majority in the parliament.  Labour got 22.6% and 24 seats, 9.2% and 13 seats down on last time.  The Greens and Liberal Democrats won six seats and five seats respectively.  And the Tories, traditionally loathed in Scotland?  They actually showed some improvement.  They increased their share of the vote by 8.1% to 22% and their number of seats by 16 to 31, making them the second-biggest party in the parliament.  Though thanks to the vagaries of the Scottish electoral system, they finished seven seats ahead of Labour, who got 0.6% more of the vote than they did.

 

So the Tories did reasonably well – but only in terms of expectations and compared with their dismal performances in Scotland in the recent past.  And let’s put things in perspective.  In the UK general election of 1987, the Tories polled 24% of the votes in Scotland – and that was with another female figurehead, the aforementioned Margaret Thatcher.  In fact, by 1987, it’d become common knowledge that most Scots hated old Maggie’s guts and the feeling was no doubt mutual.  This was when the satirical TV show Spitting Image was doing gags about Thatcher slashing a map of Scotland with a razor-fingered Freddy Krueger glove and Number 10 Downing Street having a secret laboratory where men in white coats administered Tory policies to struggling, squealing rats that wore kilts.

 

So last week Ruth and her gang still fell two percent short of what their party achieved in Scotland in the last election that they were led by Margaret Thatcher, the great bête noir of late-20th-century Scottish politics.

 

Mind you, as soon as I heard about Ruth Davidson’s result, I grimaced.  I knew what was coming next.  No matter what the reality, the Scottish mainstream press – which consists largely of right-wing rags like the Scottish Daily Mail, Scottish Daily Express, Scotsman and Scottish editions of the Times and Daily Telegraph – was going to have a gigantic right-wing orgasm.  It was going to give us Ruth, the whole Ruth, and nothing but the Ruth.  And it did.  The Daily Mail proclaimed her better-than-expected showing with the headline THE ROAR OF MIDDLE SCOTLAND.  (Because its volume was turned down to 22%, I assume it was a very quiet roar.)  The Express’s front page shrieked SNP INDYREF 2 PLAN IN SHREDS, in the belief that because Ruth has less than a quarter of the seats in the Scottish parliament and less than half the seats of the SNP, she can now boss First Minister Nicola Sturgeon around.  Starting by ordering her not to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.  Aye, that’s you told, Nicky.

 

Meanwhile, Scotland’s legion of right-wing journalists, columnists and commentators seemed to come in their venerable tweed breeks.  The Spectator’s Alex Massie, for instance, penned a piece about the Scottish Tories’ supposed revival entitled THE UNION STRIKES BACK, which was accompanied by a picture of Ruth Davidson’s head photo-shopped onto Princess Leia’s body.  Someone should remind Massie that the folk who did the striking back in the celebrated 1980 sci-fi fantasy movie were the Empire, who were space-Nazis led by Darth Vader – probably not the analogy he was looking for.

 

Time for a reality check, guys.  The SNP may not have enough seats to be a majority in the Scottish parliament but there is a pro-Scottish-independence majority – the Greens support the cause too and if you add them to the SNP you get a total of 69 seats, nine more than the combined number of pro-unionist Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat ones.  And even if this wasn’t the case, the Daily Express’s claims about a second independence referendum being thwarted would be disingenuous.  It’s well-known that Nicola Sturgeon has no intention of holding a second referendum anytime soon.  She intends to wait a few years until she feels confident that independence has enough support to win the next referendum.

 

And somehow I don’t think the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats will be in any hurry to line up behind ‘Team Ruth’ and launch a great unionist uprising against the SNP government.  Both parties now have bitter experience of getting humped at the polls after becoming too closely associated with the Tories.  Labour suffered badly after they shared the same platform as them during the referendum campaign, as did the Liberal Democrats after they formed a coalition with them at Westminster in 2011.

 

In fact, if I was a moderate voter in Scotland who wanted to maintain the link with the United Kingdom, I’d feel very uneasy about Ruth Davidson and co. now being the main voices of unionism in the Scottish parliament.  Unionism will now be associated more than ever with the Toryism that prevails in Westminster and all that that entails: a posh Eton-educated Tory Prime Minister who’s worth millions and who benefited financially from a Panama offshore trust; a ruling Tory cabal who in their youth would strut arrogantly around Oxford dressed in tailcoats, waistcoats and bowties and smash up restaurants; a Tory health minister whose policies have sparked the first full walkout in the history of England’s NHS;  a Tory London mayoral candidate whose campaign against the eventual winner Sadiq Khan was a revolting exercise in anti-Muslim racism; a Tory government whose intention to cut £4 billion from disabled people’s benefits was deemed so ‘morally indefensible’ by its Work and Pensions Minister that he quit in protest; a Tory government that scrapped child poverty targets and wanted to turn away 3000 abandoned Syrian children; a Tory government that’s outsourced the country’s nuclear industry to China and bowed and scraped to Saudi Arabia, the world’s most notorious financer of terrorism.

 

Ruth Davidson might try to play down the fact, but at the end of the day she’s still Scottish branch manager for the unpleasant outfit calling the shots at Westminster.  And underneath her grin and her big bubbly laugh and her general veneer of bonhomie, I can’t help suspecting there’s lurks a nasty little right-wing homunculus that looks a bit like this:

 

From order-order.com

 

Or perhaps like this:

 

(c) The Guardian 

 

Or perhaps even like this:

 

(c) The Guardian