IT’S been a tough week for Ruth. It should have been an easy gig for her this holiday week.
Visit a posh wee toon in one of the doucer parts of the country where she could tell people that the best way to avoid an independence referendum is to vote for a cooncillor who doesn’t get a say in the matter anyway. Which at least gives her something to talk about in the utter absence of anything approaching a policy about anything that’s within the remit of a local authority.
Then she could put her name to a couple of press releases claiming that everyone else is obsessed with that referendum that Ruth never shuts up about, possibly followed by a spot of snark on Twitter, and then maybe she could squeeze in a profile-raising appearance on the telly on a topical panel show while sitting on the back of a dumb bovine creature.
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Although she had to cancel that last one since Murdo Fraser was away on his holidays.
Instead of cruising along, waving to her pals in the press pack while posing with a gutted fish who’s standing for election to the cooncil in Morayshire, Ruth’s been having to fend off accusations that she’s not the cuddly and fluffy modernist that her press office takes great pains to portray her as. She is, in fact, a fully paid-up member of the Nasty Party and will defend the nastiest of the Nasty Party’s nasty policies. Because if there’s one thing that Ruth puts above all other considerations, it’s sooking up to her Westminster bosses. And that includes defending their obscene decision that they would make a woman who has survived rape, and borne a child as a result, fill in an eight-page form in front of some faceless official, reliving all the circumstances of the traumatic and intensely personal event with some individual who at worst may be unsympathetic and who at best is unprepared for dealing with the survivors of sexual abuse. The process includes naming the child, thus making it a matter of official record that the child is a product of rape.
This, according to Ruth and her pals, is far far better than the alternative, because being a Tory is defined as being a person who understands the price of everything but the value of nothing, and that especially includes the value of simple humanity and compassion. Most people find it boaksome that the Conservative government wants to interrogate rape survivors and make them prove that they’re the victims of sexual assault or be left unable to afford to feed their weans. The alternative which makes the Tories boak is to let a woman who’s been sexually assaulted, and who by definition is in addition struggling to makes ends meet and to feed her family, get away with the princely sum of 13 quid a week in child support. Thirteen quid is a sum which is a fraction of the amount that Ruth can claim in travel expenses to get to her photo shoots with the buffalo and the gutted fish.
The Tory leader in Scotland claims that the Government’s interrogation of rape survivors is the “most compassionate” way of implementing the restrictions on child support. This hasn’t convinced anyone else, as those of us with functioning hearts and an understanding of empathy know that the most compassionate way of dealing with the issue would be not to put the restrictions in place to begin with. And that’s Ruth’s carefully constructed public façade crumbling like a Greek Thompson listed building in Glasgow. She’s not a new, modern, caring, compassionate Conservative after all, she’s just an unreconstructed dinosaur who believes in kicking the vulnerable when they’re down. Although to be honest, many of us already knew that. It just puts Ruth in a bit of a mess to have that view of her all over the papers.
Undeterred, she’s got a plan to get herself out of this mess. And for once it’s a plan that doesn’t actually involve having to shout that there shouldn’t be another independence referendum, although some of her supporters on social media have still managed to find a way to squeeze that bit in.
After all, you can’t be a Tory in Scotland without somehow finding a way to relate absolutely everything to independence referendums, even including the cruel and heartless actions of a Tory Government in Westminster.
The plan involves blaming Nicola Sturgeon and demanding that the Scottish Government makes up the difference. On second thoughts it’s maybe not such a great plan, as it entails calling on Nicola Sturgeon to use powers that Holyrood doesn’t have in order to prevent Ruth’s party from being evil. But then we’re talking about Tories here, who are basing their entire local election campaign on fighting against a referendum that has nothing to do with local authorities, so logical consistency isn’t their strong point.
It still won’t wash though, Ruth, and the reason it won’t wash is because it’s your Conservative colleagues who introduced a cruel and heartless measure in the first place. You don’t get to deflect the blame by demanding Nicola Sturgeon do something about it, that’s like cheering on your pals when they beat up a small kid, and then blaming the woman next door for not being quick enough to the scene with the bandages.
Even if the Scottish Government does ameliorate the abuse that Westminster is responsible for, it’s still abuse, and Ruth Davidson still approves of it. Her cheery mask has slipped, and underneath we see the cruel and selfish face that’s been there all along. It’s bad enough for her that the episode proves that when Ruth Davidson isn’t obsessively banging her no referendum drum, that there’s no substance to her as a politician, but even worse, it proves that there’s no compassion or humanity there either, only a naked careerism and a refusal to stand up to her bosses at Westminster.