Boris has taken the bull by the horns. Can he stay on?

Boris has taken the bull by the horns. Can he stay on?

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Saturday 27, July, 2019

CONGRATULATIONS to the new Prime Minister and commiserations to his opponent, whmo I reluctantly voted for instead. It was a hard fought leadership contest, the closest we have had for 14 years to a real membership vote. I say closest because yet again MPs have resorted to preselecting the lead candidates. A closed primary to some, a managed democracy to others. 

My vote for Hunt was driven by one thing. Both candidates were excellent but Hunt clinched it for me by having a record in government of tough hard fighting. Not by fighting his own side, not by sniping from the sidelines at his leader, but by taking on the BMA's doctor strike and before that the inertia against patient safety improvements that the NHS sadly is all too notorious for. 

On his first day Boris has brought the rodeo to town and this leaves me in little doubt he will be an effective PM. In sacking the dreadful and dripping-wet Mundell he has chosen to charge out fighting against the baby blue blob of Scottish wets, who amongst other things have spent years undermining Brexit with countless negative briefings on it. Worse, they have done something unforgiveable for me which has left me seething. 

Once too often there has been hinted that somehow we must choose between the union and a real Brexit. That the SNP would use Brexit as the chance to break up the UK. From unionists, in truth opportunionists, this really is insufferable. There is of course only one way for the SNP to hold another divisive referendum is for a Tory PM to agree to one. I despise blackmail. Even the faintest reek of it turns my stomach because it is at its root authoritarian and coercive. 

The number of tweets against Boris Johnson from the top team of Scottish Toryism is too large to count. Even now the message to those trusted with manoeuvres is that Boris has something to prove, that he is being watched and, as one councillor said, is a Marmite character.

I have news for his detractors. Their wish for him to prove himself will be granted. For the Marmite there will be a fair few Tories north of the border that will be toast. The Scottish party leader has repeatedly undermined the PM in public and yet the press report there is conflict between the two. It is a strange conflict where every shell fired has come from one side. It has been an unwelcome and ungraceful drama.

Teams do not find tasks to perform, instead teams are formed for a task and the question is clear? What on Earth do many of the Remoaner, politically correct fanclub up here have to offer? What value do they bring? If it is to hint that their votes cannot be relied upon they should know that strategy never lasts too long. Once the bluff is called they will find themselves very out of place and out of favour in the newest version of the world's oldest party. 

Many of the blob's fawning Scottish press friends are making the predictable soundings of Ruth breaking away from the Tories and that she and Boris could not be more different. Two issues jump out at me here. The first is that given we have spent FIVE LONG YEARS talking about little other than respecting the 2014 referendum there is the problem of respecting the 2011 referendum too. The one where one candidate wanted a breakaway party and the other didn't. If the leadership is thinking of this then they should prepare to face the charge of hypocrisy–  and repeatedly face it.

One cannot overturn one internal party referendum casually after basing half a decade condemning others for trying to overturn a national one. 

The second issue is that being so different from the party leader is that as an office holder one rapidly becomes irrelevant or will be made so. The conference pulpit speeches. The photo ops. The political cabinet. It is hard to see how these continue.

There has been serious overreach on Ruth Davidson's part. "Operation Arse" was not simply a disaster, it was a disgrace.

Organised negative campaigning in a party leadership contest shows contempt for tradition and for discipline: this is simply not the culture of the party. It never has been. The contrast with the opposition leader in Wales is remarkable. Effectively opposing Labour, the Welsh Tory leader Paul Davies is the model of discretion. No riding a bull, no talking bull for that matter. Labour holds power by a thread in Cardiff and yet almost no one in Scotland will have heard of Mr. Davies: I admit I had to Google him!

Scottish Tories have fought to build a separate power base from the main party and this alone goes against the spirit of the 2011 leadership result. We are left with a chimera, a party within a party that seeks to have its cake and eat it. To ensure this it has carefully promoted key allies in powerful positions and unelected unaccountable officials in 2017 chose our candidates and therefore our nation's MPs. Leadership and membership are thus permanently uncoupled. 

One way or another Boris will have to grab another bull by the horns very soon. Saddle up, this rodeo is going to get bumpy!

 

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