Two more conservative peers used the Scottish Conservatives conference last week to offer further ‘help’ of their own. Lord Trimble first tried to somehow link the SNP and violence and Lord Strathclyde referred to the ‘vanity-driven egotistical policies’ of the SNP.
Now it’s possible, of course, that Strathclyde merely got carried away with the rhythm of his own rhetoric, and doesn’t really believe that the SNP’s policies are based on vanity and egotism. I tend to the view, however, that he really does believe what he said.
There are, of course, politicians in many parties who are driven by vanity and egotism, and success breeds success, so not even nationalist parties are likely to be immune to the disease. But the idea that such thinking is the driving force for a party whose members have worked and sacrificed for generations – largely with little apparent prospect of success – in pursuit of a shared goal of independence for their nation is laughable. There are far easier ways of sating vanity and egotism than that.
What his lordship demonstrates, however, is that many of the more traditional politicians have more than a little difficulty in understanding those who are interested in a goal rather than a rôle, and simply fall back on the facile assumption that everybody else must be motivated in the same way that they themselves are motivated.
It may be easier to portray the increasing numbers of Scots supporting independence as being somehow the dupes of the SNP's ambition and vanity, but the result is that he also demonstrates is why the defenders of the union are losing the argument. Those who cannot understand the motivations of others cannot engage with them or respond effectively to their arguments.