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Hiding in plain sight

Posted on June 11, 2013 by

We know we’ve gone on about this subject quite a bit. But in all fairness to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, she’s hardly trying to conceal the constitutional reality of a post-No-vote Scotland if the Tories have anything to do with it.


What continues to mystify us, though, is why every single mainstream-media journalist keeps inaccurately reporting that the “line in the sand” leader has become a miraculous convert to the idea of devolving more power to Holyrood, when Davidson herself keeps making it absolutely clear what she’s really talking about.

Take, for example, these lines from her keynote speech to the Scottish Conservatives conference at the weekend:

“Scotland has moved on, and we have to move on too. So a ‘No’ vote next year won’t be a vote for ‘no change’.

Scotland wants change; needs change; and we are committed to helping deliver it. A Scottish Parliament that is more accountable to the people of Scotland. A Scottish government which can’t hide from its responsibilities.

We will advance a set of clear, Conservative proposals for a stronger, more accountable, more responsible Scottish Parliament serving a dynamic and self-confident Scotland.”

Over and over again the same words crop up. More accountability. More responsibility. Not more powers. (And remember, from the welfare reforms, what the Tories mean by “helping”.) But if you’re still not totally convinced, how about these extracts from her pre-conference online Q&A with the BBC’s Brian Taylor? (From 15m 30s.)

“I think in the last two years we’ve seen a huge movement in the constitutional debate. We’ve also seen for the first time what majority governmnt does in a devolved settlement – we’d never really seen that before and I think there have been huge problems that have been thrown up.

I’ve set up an independent commission to look at this, it’s under the auspices of Lord Strathclyde, it’s got some very heavyweight people on it, to look not just at the powers the Scottish Parliament has but the responsibilities it has too, and how it works.

If you look across Scotland, the Scottish Parliament is in charge of about 10% of the money it raises [sic], but it’s in charge of about 70% of all of the monies, public monies, that are spent in Scotland. And that disparity, the gap between 10 and 70, is much bigger than other devolved administrations or federal administrations around the world… and that’s something I’ve asked [Lord Strathclyde’s commission] to look at.”

Majority government is a “problem”. More about “responsibilities”. And then a long bit on how the Scottish Parliament controls a lot of Scotland’s spending but not a lot of its revenue-raising, and how that gap is too big and needs to be closed. Does that sound like someone who wants to make the 70% part bigger or smaller?

Ruth Davidson’s ONLY comments about a post-No devolution settlement have been about taxation, and collecting tax is meaningless if you have no more control over where it’s spent – if you still don’t control welfare, say, all the revenue in the world won’t let you repeal the bedroom tax.

It needs saying over and over, until such times as clueless journalists stop repeating the myth: Ruth Davidson has NOT advocated “more powers” for Holyrood (except in the most pedantic sense). She has tasked a commission with devising ways of imposing more responsibilities onto the Scottish Parliament, while simultaneously talking about ways of reducing its power to reflect the democratically-expressed wishes of the electorate.

(Because in a more-or-less proportional electoral system, if voters elect a majority government a majority government is what they want, and if Ruth Davidson doesn’t like their decision she needs to suck it up and win more votes.)

She is, at least, being perfectly honest and open about it. Quite why the Scottish media is uniformly choosing to present her apparent new policy position as the polar opposite of what it actually is is another issue entirely.

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48 to “Hiding in plain sight”

  1. Jiggsbro says:

    Majority government is a “problem”.
    It is when it’s those poisonous nationalists.

  2. Macart says:

    There’s a problem with a majority government that has only Scotland’s interests at its heart? There’s a problem with a government prioritising its spend on people and services, not foreign adventures or city gambling?
    Would be a change if the other parties provided a similar ‘problem’ for the Scottish electorate.

  3. a supporter says:

    And with Strathclyde as chairman it cannot be denied that it IS a ‘heavyweight committee.

  4. MajorBloodnok says:

    Judging from the fringe meeting on iPlayer you linked to earlier – more powers is precisely what most of the people there, including the MSP and the MEP on the top table were after.  Alan Cochrane had to differ of course.  No wonder Ruthie didn’t want it debated.

  5. benarmine says:

    She is an anti-democratic liar who wants to close down debate, just like anyone else that has a problem with the process the Scottish people have chosen to engage in.

  6. Mike Hutchison says:

    With great responsibility comes….umm nothing, sorry about that, carry on.

  7. John Lyons says:

    Interesting that the majority government is a problem. Perhaps if Labour and the tories had treated Scotland better people here would have been in less of a hurry to vote SNP, cause lets face it ruthie, you wouldn’t have a problem with a Tory majority!

  8. Sapheneia says:

    Ruth Davidson should be alarmed at the “huge problems being thrown up” by majority government in Scotland.  I guess she is worried at losing her job as her party struggle to hold onto their 13% of the popular vote.
    Why should her “independent commission” carry any credibility whatsoever?  Why is it even being reported?
    If you really want to control the powers of a parliament for the good of citizens then surely the answer is a written constitution?

  9. pa_broon74 says:

    Ruth Davidson is a nonentity of a politician, at best she’s a stalking a horse for English Tories at worse, a rank amateur promoted way beyond her already limited ability.
    So much so, she’s even managed to put off Scottish Tories, who were already a pretty hard-bitten bunch of people.
    I’m not sure who’s daft moronic stupidity offends me more, her or Lamont’s. 

  10. Luigi says:

    The Tory-Lab unionists seem to think that the Scottish people are too dumb to differentiate between power and responsibility. They are willing to hand over power without responsibility to the bankers, and yet wish to hand over to Scotland only responsibility. Amazing! They are fooling nobody but themselves. The people of Scotland want power and responsibility. It’s ok, we are not irresponsible bankers,but we do need something a bit more substantial than airgun laws.

  11. Not quite O/T: Alex Salmond gets a unique portrayal in a pop video.

  12. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu
    She is, at least, being perfectly honest and open about it. Quite why the Scottish media is uniformly choosing to present her apparent new policy position as the polar opposite of what it actually is is another issue entirely.
    I think we all have a fair idea about why the MSM in Scotland what to give the impression that a No vote means more powers for the Scottish Parliament.  They are attempting to con the people of Scotland into voting No.  This is because they are wanting to do everything in their power to prevent full self-government for Scotland.  BBC Scotland are probably the most prominent in this category.  This is blatantly obvious and as been for years.  The problem for the MSM in Scotland is that if we vote No (dear god), then the deception that they have fully participated in, along with the Unionist parties, will surely destroy their credibility among a significant swathe of the electorate in Scotland.  So desperate are they to prevent independence that they appear not to have considered the implications for themselves, and Unionism in general.  If we vote No then we can expect a return to post 1979 politics.  That is among the reasons why we have to achieve a Yes vote next year.

  13. Dinnatouch says:

    I’m not sure who’s daft moronic stupidity offends me more, her or Lamont’s.
    Lamont’s. Definitely Lamont’s

  14. Davy says:

    Aye its a bugger when a majority & democratically elected political party is the scottish government and its not her’s.
    Now if we just stayed with Westminster instead, where a minority elected party in Scotland is in power, everything would be fine and the tories could just continue to ignore us after recieving our taxes and revenues first ofcourse.
    Vote No – get nothing.
    Vote YES – gain your country.
    Hail Alba. 

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Lamont’s. Definitely Lamont’s.”

    Aye. Johann doesn’t have the excuse of youth, plus it actually vaguely matters who leads Scottish Labour.

  16. john king says:

    just watched stv Scottish news when Alistair Darling  announced Scottish oil paid for Scottish welfare which meant when Scotland is all alone we couldn’t afford our welfare bill, 
    needless to say he wasn’t picked up on that absolute lie.

  17. David Smith says:

    Far too many people believe that things will just go on as they are if Scotland makes the wrong choice.
    Wish I could go to sleep until 19th September next year. And only wake up if it’s a Yes. I’m struggling to cope with the gloom doom and moral spinelessness I’m exposed to almost daily these days. I have to walk out the room now when people here start talking about it. It’s always the same Unquestioning acceptance of the lies and propaganda. It’s depressing and exasperating and it makes me feel like bloody exploding. People in Britain are so servile and compliant that even if  Stalin himself appeared tomorrow in No10, they would just grumble and wonder if it would affect the price of their house. That’s the kind of intellectual dwarf I speak to son a daily basis and I’m not sure how much more of it I can stick!
    Anyway, I try to cheer myself up by imagining their faces if it’s a yes and knowing how I will feel if that’s the case.

  18. sneddon says:

    @David Smoith- What cheers me up when I feel down about the  nay sayers I occasionally come across is the thought of the look on their faces when we vote YES.   as my gran would say GIRUY 🙂

  19. Dcanmore says:

    O/T … Clydebank Post has reported on a ‘packed out’ and ‘standing room only’ Clydebank Town Hall meeting, for the inaugural launch and debate for YES Clydebank.

  20. muttley79 says:

    @David Smith
    I think a big problem is that a lot of people take what they are told by the MSM at face value, they do not question it at all.  They cannot see the conditioning that has been taken place on the electorate in Scotland.  They assume the media tell them the truth.  The middle classes are most susceptible to this in my opinion.  Independence for Scotland has traditionally been portrayed in the MSM as a cause for ‘romantics and eccentrics’, whereas in reality self-government for small countries in Europe is the norm.   

  21. velofello says:

    A few weeks back Sarwar of SLAB referred to the dictatorship at Holyrood,  His definition of dictatorship seems to be the existence of a majority government democratically elected by a proportional representation system. 
    Now we have Ruthie babe, with solemnity, concerned that a majority government at Holyrood,from a devolved settlement is throwing up huge problems. 
    Such is the mediocrity of what claims to be a free press in the UK that neither Sarwar nor Ruthie babe have been asked to detail just what they mean, in principle terms.
    Leads me to ponder if Sarwar’s concern is that the first past the post Westminster government cannot DICTATE to the Scottish government. And Ruthie babe’s “huge problems” being thrown up by this Scottish government is indeed that same concern.

  22. HandandShrimp says:

    I wonder if Ruth worries about the huge problems that would thrown up if the Conservatives won a majority in Westminster in 2015?
    The weasel words that these people come out would make a stone weep. We cannot trust the Conservatives on devolution one solitary inch.

  23. wullie says:

    Aye there is one born every minute a lie from the unionists

  24. CameronB says:

    Ruth Davidson is the leader of a minority party on the fringes of Scotland’s political life. Perhaps surprisingly for the leader of a party with little or no chance of achieving the theoretically impossible majority standing of the SNP, she has a problem with the democratic process and majority government. Rather than looking at ways of strengthening the democratic mandate delivered by the people of Scotland, Lord Strathclyde has been appoint to look at ways how Scotland’s democracy might best be hamstrung. And how is the MSM reporting this in Scotland?
    As I said before, I tend to stick with the Sun. Its the softest and most absorbent.

  25. Bill C says:

    Sorry for going o/t but this is important. Apparently there has been 12,000 postal vote applications in the Donside  by election.  Is that not rather high and am I right to be concerned?

  26. Weedeochandorris says:

    For the first time in years I walked around parts of Edinburgh today, Princes Street, Rose street all the way down Stockbridge.  I was shocked at the state of the place in some areas especially around Princes/Rose street/St Andrews square, the decay is in your face.  It’s very obviously in decline even with the new lifeline of the trams coming soon.  It was also filthy with cigarette butts piled up everywhere. Pot holes everywhere – I’ve seen better pavements in places classed as third world.  I couldn’t help thinking this is our capital city and its a bl****y disgrace. It made me so angry to think that any Scots would not do everything in their power to give our country a chance to use its own resources rather than be happy to see our wealth drained off down south to parasitic London.  I felt really sick, it was hard to stomach.  If we vote No we deserve everything we get.  And, I would so dearly love a Scottish passport, would make me proud, I cant understand why any Scot wouldn’t feel the same.  Just felt like a rant, so fed up with the short sightedness of some people in this country that has so much going for it and they want to throw it away.  Whats wrong with folk?  Damned if I can fathom it.

  27. Frazer Allan Whyte says:

    Weedochandorris: One thing wrong is that a party leader in a democracy appoints a “Lord” to tell the plebs how they can be more democratic. In Canada the Tories! abolished peerages in the ’20s – Canadians lose their citizenship on acceptance of one  – which is why you get to keep Conrad Black. How about someone visiting ALL Scots politicians with a pledge to sign saying “I will never accept a peerage.” It might serve to separate the weasels (and lib dems) from the real democrats.

  28. Weedeochandorris says:

    I really dont know anything about Conrad Black. I just feel that so many people in Scotland mustn’t believe they deserve better and this is their lot.  Sort of like the wife who’s had the husband tell her for so long she’s worthless that she started to believe it.  Either that or they’re too lazy to get off their bahookies to fight for it.

  29. KOF says:

    @velofello 7:59pm
    Didn’t Lord David Steel also make an inference to the “un-democratic ” nature of the Scottish Parliament in a speech recently? Earlier this year sometime. It was some regular speech given by some notable every year about Scotland’n’stuff at Westminster, or some such in London? Sorry, can’t remember. It happened to be on BBC Parliament channel one evening.
    Anyhoo, he was expressing a similar idea about the “un-democratic nature” of it, because it has proportional representation. Interestingly, he also mentioned a thought about having the House of Lords as a second chamber for a Scottish Parliament. K’know, just to make it more “accountable” and “democratic”.
    Kinda sounds like it’s all part of some greater plan, or something.
    Just thought I’d pass this bit of info on, just in case people hadn’t caught that speech. 
    The more bits of the jigsaw you have, the more you can predict the picture.

  30. Training Day says:


    Bill, that seems very high indeed. Do we have that confirmed? Do we know what were the number of applications in 2011?

  31. Bill C says:

    @Training Day – I’ve had an email from SNP HQ in Aberdeen saying that there has been 12,000 postal applications, so I think that figure must be official.  The figure for 2011 was 7,488. I hope we are not about to witness a Glenrothes!

  32. Lurker in the Wings says:

    Bill, that seems very high; at the last Holyrood election there were 26707 votes cast, a turnout of 47.3%. !2k postal apps makes me v. suspicious. 

  33. Training Day says:


    Then that is indeed very concerning.

  34. HandandShrimp says:

    Is there no way of checking postal votes? It is time that this was laid to rest and postal votes verified independently. If there are any shenanigans then the party responsible needs to be brought to account.
    It is heading towards the school holidays and people will be away so there may be good reasons for an increase but postal votes need to be seen to be above board and verifiable.

  35. Marcia says:

    Bill C

    I don’t think this will be a repeat of Glenrothes. Not all applications will have been lodged for the by-election as many get an automatic postal vote these days if you had applied for one previously and ticking the box for a permanent postal vote. Also not everyone issued with a postal vote actually votes.
    The SNP have known that this by-election was sadly coming (some of us knew Brian was terminally ill) and made plans for the by-election with Brian’s approval.

  36. The Rough Bounds says:

    We ARE about to witness another Glenrothes. We witness one in every election in Scotland whether it’s local or parliamentary.
    Labour Party shites just can’t help themselves. I saw it happening in a different way back in 1969 at the Gorbals by election.
    The Labour Party had activists going around wearing SNP badges and canvassing on doorsteps pretending to be SNP workers. They had managed to get hold of SNP canvassing cards and whenever they came to a household that was intending to vote SNP they marked the card as a No for SNP and a Yes for Labour.
    They then handed those cards back into the SNP local office. On the day of the election these cards were handed out to those SNP workers with cars with instructions to visit those houses marked as intending to vote SNP and give them a lift to the polls.
    The result was that when the SNP drove up to take people to the polling stations in their cars they found that the people who were marked down as intending to vote SNP were in fact intending to vote Labour or had already voted.
    When my pal and I discovered what was happening we started to visit only those houses that had Labour Yes marked on them and found that they were in fact SNP supporters. It was by then too late and the damage had been done.
    I have hated those bastards ever since, and wouldn’t trust a Labour Party activist to post a birthday card for me.

  37. Bill C says:

    @Marcia – I hope you are right, but an increase of 4,512 seems strange. 
    @HandandShrimp – Interestingly the school holidays don’t begin up here until Friday July 5th,a good 3 weeks after the by election.
    @ The Rough Bounds – As a teenager I also helped out at the Gorbals by election and witnessed what went on, you are right, unforgiveable!

  38. Yesitis says:

    Wow. Reading Bill C and The Rough Bounds` comments has left me worried about the postal vote situation in Aberdeen Donside. I can see Labour trying every trick in the book to steal this by-election and I hope any postal vote shenanegans are being monitored closely.
    Once bitten…

  39. Bill C says:

    @Yesitis – I forgot to mention the sectarian element in the Gorbals by election. The Gorbals had a large Catholic/Irish population at that time. Labour went to great lengths to ‘explain’ to the electorate that the SNP were anti Catholic and that an independent Scotland would be a “Protestant Scotland”. The Catholic Church fell for the lie, hook, line and sinker and put the word out among the flock to vote Labour.  I know this first hand. My mother was a Catholic and I got pelters for being a member of the SNP. No fault of my mum, she just believed the tripe from the pulpit based on Labour lies.

  40. Yesitis says:

    Bill C
    That is pretty vile Labour behaviour. I grew up having no time for Labour and still didn`t know some of the shit they got up to, and still get up to.
    Vile manipulative politics.

  41. The Man in the Jar says:

    I have had visitors so am just catching up. I expected to read a bit of a stushie going on regarding “The Road to Referendum” on STV earlier. The otherwise very good program failed to mention the McCrone report, which was current for the time that this episode covered. Nothing not one mention. Perhaps it is being held back till the program reaches the time when it was uncovered, hopefully for maximum effect. Not to mention it at all would be unforgivable in the context of the otherwise excellent program.

  42. Chic McGregor says:

    If there was a one hundred percent proportional representation electoral system at the last Holyrood election, Scotland would still have had a majority of pro Indy MSPs.  A combination of SNP, Greens, SSP, Solidarity and Margo took comfortably more than 50% of the vote.
    I always laughed when I heard Unionists whine about the lack of a mandate for a referendum by pointing to only the SNP share of the vote.  It simply isn’t true.
    Indeed, if we had taken to heart their mantra prior to the formation of an SNP government, that we did not need a referendum since “every election is effectively a referendum, because the electorate could choose a pro independence party if they wanted”, then we would have been quite entitled to declare UDI.

  43. Craig P says:

    The Tories got shot of Annabel because they were flatlining in the polls. Ruth is now demonstrating that flatlining was in fact a good result for them. 
    Bill C – 12k postal votes is a lot, but then a lot of people vote by post these days. Not sure if it is a sign of the times or something more dodgy, but makes sense to be vigilant. 

  44. David Martin says:

    Wow on Gorbals by-election. I always wondered how Labour got in in Glenrothes too. Am now also concerned about Donside.

  45. Training Day says:

    An increase of more than 50% in the number of postal voting applications from two years ago; a likely situation where postal votes will comprise 50% or more of the total ballot for this by-election; a context where the vote must be seen to send – and I quote Alex Ferguson – a ‘strong anti-independence message’.
    Alarm bells should be going crazy..

  46. The Rough Bounds says:

    Alarm bells should indeed be going crazy but the SNP has always suffered from a bad dose of naivete; same with the Yes campaign at present.
    You can’t be nice to this enemy. He is out to get you and if you blink he will.
    Labour cannot be trusted. They never could and they never should.

  47. The Rough Bounds says:

    Wake up and smell the coffee.

  48. Marcia says:

    I don’t like coffee. 🙂

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