The UK Prime Minister took herself off to the Scottish Tory conference at the end of last week to deliver her profoundest thoughts on the future of Scotland to the assembled handful, in an event held in a hall with inverse Tardis-like properties. (Those booking it must surely have assumed that it would be smaller on the inside than it appeared on the outside.) The main point in her speech seems to have been an accusation that the SNP have tunnel vision because they are continuing to argue for independence rather than concentrating on managing the decline in Scottish services which her government has mandated through its approach to setting the Scottish budget.
In fairness to her (and to many other UK politicians), I can understand why the idea that a party sets out a goal and then tries to achieve it must appear a very strange one. Having an aim and trying to realise it is not a concept which much troubles the UK parties, for whom the only objective is to get elected, and for whom policy is what you say to achieve that aim, not what you actually intend to do after the election. For the SNP to try and do what they have always said they wanted to do is clearly not playing by the accepted rules, and thus inherently unfair.
She repeated the usual guff about the UK being the bestest and strongest union ever known to mankind, which has created a land of milk and honey across the whole of Scotland, whose people would be begging from each other in the streets were it not for the munificence of the UK Government. Or something like that. (There is just the teensiest possibility that she may have over-egged it a bit by telling the Scots that one of the great ‘benefits’ of the union is that they get to host the UK’s nuclear weapons systems.)
What she understands, but those SNP types seem completely unable to comprehend, is that the UK is a part of the natural order of things. It was created by divine intervention; a beneficent intervention which also gave us the Windsors to rule over us, as well as the right to tell the rest of the world what to do. That simple fact is what explains not only why the UK is so much stronger by being a single united whole but also why the UK is so much weaker as part of a greater whole. Anyone who thinks that there is the slightest possibility of contradiction in that is obviously mistaken. It isn’t about being bigger or smaller, it’s about being the UK; no further argument is required.To cap it all, just for good measure, she added that the Scots might be labouring under the delusion that matters such as education are devolved, but she’s still Prime Minister of the UK, and education in Scotland is as much a matter for her as is education in England.
During the EU referendum, she managed to give the impression that she was a supporter of the Remain camp, albeit a very quiet one. The enthusiasm with which she’s embraced doing that which she predicted would be a disaster suggests to me that she was actually a closet Brexiteer. I wonder if she’s trying the same trick in relation to Scotland – her speech certainly makes a great deal more sense if we assume that she secretly wants to see Scotland independent.