Confessions Of A Shy Tory

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I furtively slink into the confession booth to offload my sins, nervously looking around me in the hope that I’m not spotted by one of my peers. The purifying light beaming through the stain glass window, illuminating the chapel and giving me nowhere to hide anymore as I scuttle in.

As I wait in the booth, squinting through the thick latticework the Priest arrives. ‘What troubles you?’, he says to me. ‘Well, I have sinned, at least in the eyes of the Scottish nationalists, left wingers, environmentalists and my demographic cohort; since the 2015 Scottish Parliamentary election I have voted for the Conservative Party.’ ‘I see’, says the Priest, perhaps pondering how I can be absolved of such a heinous sin.

The Priest replies: ‘I have been on Facebook. How could you do such a thing? They’re killing babies. Foxes. Service men are on the Street. The NHS is in crisis. Privatisation. How could you vote for the “Nasty Party.”’

‘But, but’, I stammer, unable to defend myself and getting increasingly flustered.

You see, I ‘am one of the ‘Shy Tories’ that the media likes to talk about and that provided the Conservatives with a very slim parliamentary majority in 2015 and may well do so again this year as well, although I’m a fairly recent convert. I don’t agree with the party on all issues, and this is normal. I find the idea of fox hunting abhorrent, although, I have it on good authority that the idea of it being the preserve of upper class ‘toffs’ is a massive misconception. Do I like the rise of Foodbanks? Of course not. But I believe most issues are more complicated than they initially appear. Do I think that the state should provide essential services? Absolutely, yes, but I think what is considered as ‘essential’ now isn’t really essential.

I, like the majority of us, are far more ideologically and culturally complicated than putting a label over our head with ‘Conservative’, ‘Labour’, ‘SNP’, or ‘UKIP’ belies. I’m a Conservative voter who hasn’t eaten meat in ten years. I have been on the minimum wage. I voted ‘remain’ in the EU referendum. The first time I could vote for the Scottish parliament, I voted for the Scottish Socialists (They had an image of a pizza, divided into segments, with how much everyone would get. I was young at the time). What I’m saying is, that perhaps we choose a political party that is the best, imperfect fit for our multifaceted views.

However, in Scotland in particular, there is a unique brand of hatred for the Conservatives. Many people who lived through the 1980’s and the collapse of heavy industry would find the idea of voting Conservative anathema. Areas such Dundee or communities that were reliant on coal mines never really recovered from the events of the 1980s.

And you know what, I don’t blame them for hating the Conservatives. Indeed, I had first-hand experience of this in 2014, when I went out canvassing with the ‘No’ campaign and was told by a rather irate gentleman, ‘you lot can fuck off, I remember Thatcher.’ And herein lies the issue; I don’t remember.

I have no memory of the Thatcher years. She was into her second term before I was born, having just won another election in 1983. My first political memory was the election of New Labour under Tony Blair accompanied by D Ream singing, ‘things only get better.’ The next decade was an excitingly fresh and stable time. Cool Britannia, the Sony PlayStation, ‘Brit-pop’ all helped along by the untold promises of a new millennium.

The Queens’ reaction to the party in the Millennium Dome on New Years Eve 1999, where she ungainly and gloomily held Tony Blair’s hand, while looking into the middle-distance, can now be viewed as a harbinger of ill omen for events still seven years in the future. All good times come to an end, and the events of 2007/8 were a spectacular end. After non-stop, although variable, economic growth from late 1992 through to early 2008 the economy came crashing down into the worst crisis since 1929. There was the first run on a British bank in 150 years in 2007, in which its customers discovered that Northern Rock was neither Northern, being affected by the crisis in the sub-prime mortgages in the US and certainly no rock either.

This event was my miners’ strike, dole  queue and 1980s experience all bundled into one fabulous and generational experience. This was the economic and social event of my life and it struck me and my generation at the worst possible time. The same month I submitted my dissertation the unemployment rate in the UK had went up to 2.1 million.

But the difference was that it happened under a Labour government at Westminster and an SNP one at Holyrood. The Conservatives were in opposition at the former and were the third party in the latter. You could perhaps go back and blame them somehow, but from where I was sitting in 2008/09, it seemed like a tall order to do this. The now infamous ‘There’s no money left’ note, left by a former Labour Treasury Minster encapsulated this sense of profligate spending for me and I was left with the impression at the time that the sitting government must bear some responsibility for this.

Like the people who would not vote Tory in Scotland because of their experiences in the 1980s, I was being influenced and still am, by historical events that I have lived through. I have no seething hatred of Labour or another political party, but the events of the ‘Great Recession’ have probably caused more cultural and economic damage than the spate of deregulation and de-industrialisation in the 1980s and early 1990s, at least to my generation anyway. It will certainly impact the rest of my life until I shuffle off the top of the population pyramid.

Like I said earlier, I don’t believe in everything the Conservative party does. However, there is a realism to conservatism that appeals to me. I suppose it’s the general sense of direction that I like. Brexit notwithstanding, in Scotland they seem to be offering the only genuine opposition to a second Scottish independence referendum with #teamruth leading the charge. Labour seem to be confused on the issue and are unfortunately haemorrhaging support to the centre-left SNP on one side and from anyone who considers them self a British unionist on the other.

They are also the only party who actually feature the British flag anymore as if in these post-modern, post-imperial times, wanting to have a sense of place and culture in the world is a bad thing, but only if you’re British. They seem to believe in the unitary state of the United Kingdom existing as an entity. Again, I’m okay with this. In the ideological debate between those that feel they want to live somewhere and those that believe they can live anywhere, I’m with the former.

Not all government cuts can be defended. But I don’t think that higher taxation is going to solve anything anymore either. Throwing money at issues is getting diminishing societal returns and I’m no longer sure if the state should be providing everyone with paracetamol for their sore head or talcum powder for their new-born baby as they currently do in Scotland.

Funding for the NHS went from 2.9% of GDP in 1953/4 to 8.2% of GDP in 2010/11. Will it be around 20% by 2040? At what point does it become unsustainable to current and future generations? Perhaps it won’t. Twenty years ago the NHS was in ‘crisis’ and in twenty years’ time it will still be in ‘crisis’. It appears to be in perpetual crisis but it always seems to function, albeit slower than we would like. Frankly, I don’t know, but in general, things can’t keep on growing indefinitely.

I can assure you it takes more than money as well. You need to deeply change a culture and foster an atmosphere of individual responsibility and initiative in people. The only party that seems to mention responsibility is the Conservatives now, who have the word 11 times in their 2017 manifesto compared with 7 for Labour. A very crude measure, but like I say, much of this is just general feeling from the different parties.

Budgets never decrease. Every government scheme grows exponentially and requires additional funding from the taxpayer. Nothing is ever actually ‘free’ it’s either pushed up to higher earners and corporations or horizontally to people on the same socio-economic ladder as yourself. Or the government can borrow more. Again, the only party that acknowledges this is the Conservatives, but it’s important to remember this whoever you want to vote for. As the old adage goes, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’.

Also, on a cultural level constantly seeing messages on social media about ‘Toxic Tories’ or ‘nasty Tories’ starts to rankle and get a bit tedious after a while. Watching conservative activists get followed about by someone in a car is also a surreal thing to witness, but welcome to Sturgeons Scotland. It almost makes me want to vote for the Conservative party just to annoy people who can’t accept that other people have different viewpoints and experiences that might lead them to different conclusions. I’m convinced that many people harbour center-right views, but wouldn’t dream of mentioning them on the Univerity campus, or at particularly liberal workplaces, such as social work or education. I know I don’t.   

Theresa May’s oft-repeated mantra of ‘strong and stable’ has now been run into the ground. However, I would like to add that it should be: ‘Strong, stable and most likely to leave you alone to live your life.” It’s not quite as catchy as a campaign slogan though.

This is just the general feeling that I get. A party that believes that spending can’t keep increasing, that you should at least take some responsibility for your own actions and that believes in the UK. I’m certainly no ‘don’t tread on me’ libertarian nor am I a statist, but something in between, where I believe the Conservatives are.

You do you. Vote for who you want. A plurality of opinion is a good thing. One more thing, thanks for listening to me Father…

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For more of my work, please click the links:

The Scotsman
http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/david-bone-economic-and-political-stability-a-thing-of-the-past-1-4363569 

http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/david-bone-creeping-nationalism-is-a-worrying-sign-of-the-times-1-4396115 

My Blog
https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/politics-and-social-media/ 

https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/update-game-of-the-year-all-year-every-year/ 

https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/the-problem-with-the-8th-generation/ 

Darrow
http://darrow.org.uk/2016/10/19/never-ending-referendums/ 

http://darrow.org.uk/2016/08/19/naked-attraction-end-near/ 

http://darrow.org.uk/2016/06/01/not-scotland-i-want-see/ 

http://darrow.org.uk/2017/01/10/update-game-year-year-every-year/ 
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Children Of The SNP

Childhood should be a time of innocence. Nothing more. A time free from politics, economics and debate over social issues. Older teenagers ought to be more engaged but should have other things on their mind.

Unfortunately, childhood is no longer the age of innocence that it used to be, particularly for the nationalist movement in Scotland, where it is being turned into yet another front in an ideological conflict that only they are interested in fighting anymore.

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In an insidious phenomenon, nationalists are politicising childhood and children in increasingly subtle (possibly unintentional?) and pervasive ways.

In what other country do political parties put a stall in the street and start to hand out balloons to children. Surely, as a political activist, your job is to bring your ideology and policies to the man and woman in the street. Then argue and debate politely in an attempt to get the opposite person to vote for your political party or reconsider their position. It’s difficult and disheartening work, but that’s the nature of the game. Why are balloons even part of your political repertoire?

I will readily admit that not all of this has been caused by the SNP nor are they entirely to blame. The culture of using children in politics is no new phenomenon. Holding babies is part of the theatre of politics (along with the obligatory purchase of food from a ‘working class’ establishment, which is then relentlessly mocked by the media). I get the idea behind it. Children are the future of the nation that you are hoping to lead. However, in most circumstances, they are the inactive participant in a photoshoot, really. As it should be.

However, like me, when you see a woman with an old-fashioned pram with a yellow SNP rosette attached to the hood, essentially using a newborn child as an unwitting vehicle for a political party, you can’t tell me that this is a positive development for Scottish society.

SNP politicians are certainly not above this either. Joan McAlpine, the SNP member for South Scotland was pictured with three young ‘Yeslings’ each with ‘Y’ ‘E’ ‘S’ on their respective sweaters on Glasgow Green in September 2016. Her opinion on young ‘Quislings’ who voted ‘No’ in 2014, is unknown.

She isn’t the only example either. Another SNP MP, this time Corri Wilson tweeted a picture with ‘Our youngest Activist’ in 2016 as well. I’m not sure how much of a political activist you can be when you’re still in primary one and can’t read, but the SNP like to start them young.

The official SNP twitter account has the same level of slightly sinister output and mild indoctrination. Click the link. Some of those children aren’t just holding the saltire, some of them are holding the party political symbol of the SNP.

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Now imagine this image with the children holding the British, U.S. or German flag. You’d think it was a rally. But in Scotland, this is just another aspect of joyous ‘civic nationalism’ now.

All of these children look to be between five to eight years old. Now, please don’t tell me that they have an intellectual grasp of the myriad complexities concerning Scottish Independence. They don’t. They lack the cognitive ability at that age and should be utterly disinterested. Most five-year-olds know about 2000 words. Impressive, but not quite broad enough to discuss fiscal policy with.

Anyway, when I was their age I was more concerned with getting a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (still one of the finest 2d platform games of all time) and basking in the afterglow from seeing Jurassic Park, rather than being concerned over the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the signature of the Maastricht Treaty or ‘Black Wednesday’.

Bear in mind the language that is used in all these cases is loaded: ‘Activist’, ‘Yeslings’, some of the tweets even has #bothvotesSNP in them.

Also in 2016, the SNP produced a ‘SCHOOL ELECTION campaign pack’. I assume it is to be used in mock elections that most schools take part in as part of their modern studies curriculum. This might seem fairly innocuous but when it states that the child participating in the mock campaign will:

‘Find out more about our record in government and our vision for the future with lots of hints and tips to help you along the way on your campaign journey.’

The opening introduction then goes onto to say that:

‘This pack was created to ensure you have all the information you need to represent the SNP and run a successful campaign. A short history of the SNP will give you a grasp of our remarkable journey to becoming the majority government of Scotland today. Our record in government will further demonstrate that the SNP is the best choice for Scotland’s future.

Our fundamental belief that Scotland should be an independent country where the people of Scotland have the power to decide their own future has never altered.

Our vision for the future and people of Scotland is based on this principle. When creating your manifesto for the campaign, you should make sure your policies meet the aims of the SNP’s vision for Scotland; a better, smarter, healthier, fairer, greener, wealthier Scotland.’

The pack ends with the contact details for the dystopic and fairly alarming job title of ‘SNPs School Engagement Officer’ which sounds like a more bland and mundane political commissar.

No doubt the usual familiar platitudes of ‘It’s just an educational resource’ will be thrown at what I have written. However, this is the government of Scotland and has been for over a decade. Try googling ‘School election pack’ for any other party. You won’t find anything.

Even in the traditional media, The National, ‘The Newspaper that supports an independent Scotland’ had an image of a small child handing out copies of the newspaper in Fort William on their Facebook page, who apparently ‘wouldn’t take no for an answer’. The child’s desire to assist would be earnest enough, but I’m not aware of any of the ‘yoon’ media using children to hand out newspapers either and I’m pretty sure that she could have taken ‘No’ for an answer if her parents weren’t using her as an ideological pawn in their own game.

But please bear in mind that this is the same newspaper that printed a letter from the most articulate, nationalistic ten-year-old boy in existence, or alternatively, one of his parents wrote it for him and submitted it under his name. Either conclusion is just as disturbing.

When you see eight-year-old children wearing the SNP badge on their coats (obviously put there by the parents), you start to see the genesis of an extraordinarily unhealthy future and a deeply troubled culture. Children should be left to form their own opinions, in their own time. Although we all absorb influences from parents, peer groups and the media, such mild indoctrination and politicisation as increasingly practised by the SNP, will not result in a well-engaged electorate in about ten years time.

It’s just another assault on the private sphere that should be totally removed from politics.

Picture if you will, an image of Labour or the Conservatives using the same tactics. Can you imagine the backlash? It would be monumental.

I expect many SNP supporters will probably say it’s harmless and that the ‘weans’ want to join in. I would retort that they should be left to being ‘weans’ and shouldn’t be involved in politics. In essence, they should be told that they are not allowed to join in. That politics is an ‘adult’ pursuit. I see no issue with this.

Nor should you be trying to enforce your own views upon your offspring as blatantly as many Scottish nationalists now are. They would then tell me that ‘It’s their future as well’. They would be quite correct, it’s their future. That’s why it’s important not to politicise them. Unless you want an uninformed electorate who only votes for one party over their lifetime…


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For more of my work, please click the links:

The Scotsman
http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/david-bone-economic-and-political-stability-a-thing-of-the-past-1-4363569

http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/david-bone-creeping-nationalism-is-a-worrying-sign-of-the-times-1-4396115

My Blog
https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/politics-and-social-media/

https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/update-game-of-the-year-all-year-every-year/

https://theoutoftouchunionist.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/the-problem-with-the-8th-generation/

Darrow
http://darrow.org.uk/2016/10/19/never-ending-referendums/

http://darrow.org.uk/2016/08/19/naked-attraction-end-near/

http://darrow.org.uk/2016/06/01/not-scotland-i-want-see/

http://darrow.org.uk/2017/01/10/update-game-year-year-every-year/

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