Ruth Davidson Speech Good (and Bad) Points

AFFG Activists outside Parliament on 13-11-17

We don't support any political party but we were interested in Ruth Davidson's latest speech to the Policy Exchange on 21 May, because she moved onto potentially fertile new ground (albeit ground we've been tilling for years now).

Some Things She Said which we Really Liked


"Nicola Sturgeon went on the Peston on Sunday program to say she was going to restart the debate on independence. This came as news to much of Scotland as we'd never heard her stop it."

We liked this way of putting things:

"And – despite the best attempts of those attempting our break up – the Union is not something that is done TO us. It is something that we have ownership of; that we've built and fashioned and sculpted again and again."

And she warned against complacency:

"Anywhere between 40 and 45 percent of my fellow country men and women currently say they do not want to be part of the United Kingdom. That our parliament in Edinburgh currently has a majority of MSPs who support independence and want the 300 year old Union to end. And that the SNP, having just completed its 11th year in power, continues to use all the muscle and measures and influence government provides to prise apart the UK ever further, every hour of every day. So: for all that independence seems to have lost momentum and may feel like yesterday's battle, it is still real and present. The Union continues to be under threat."

She stated correctly that Scotland and other parts of the UK "need more Union too".

In that regard, she spoke about the importance of "City Deals" (money partially coming from the rest of the UK to help areas of Scotland).

That's all good, but unless the British Government find a way of emphasising the fact that it is money coming from the rest of the UK, then everyone looking-on just presumes it comes from Holyrood, or from whatever "Scottish Government Minister", or devolved quango, ends up announcing the Deal.

An important point she raised is about making Britain less London-centric. For example:

"For our civil service and major cultural bodies to claim to be UK institutions, they need to represent and be present across our whole United Kingdom...Why is it we must come to London to see the wonders of the British Museum? Why not create a second home for the Museum nearer to where most of the rest of us live?"

"On Brexit. We know huge new powers will be repatriated to these shores. Should our newly empowered fisheries industry be run from London? Shouldn't it instead be based in Peterhead?"

"Instead of EU Structural Funds, poorer parts of the UK are to be supported by a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Shouldn't it therefore be based in one of the poorer parts of the UK, instead of one of the richest city's on the planet?"

She suggested that the entire UK could apply to be a World Cup venue. We proposed this excellent idea, among others, in our extensive London Speech back on the 7 June 2016.

She summarised all this well:

"The point is this: a country that spreads its power and culture networks across the country will ensure that all of us, no matter where we live, feel we have a real stake in it. Too many people feel that the Union is something projected onto them. Spreading its benefits around more evenly will ensure it is something they own; something they want to belong to."

Things We Did Not Like so Much!

She thinks the devolution of income tax and welfare are good things. They're not and they'll do nothing whatsoever to appease the fundamentalist nationalists who have no understanding about what is and is not devolved; and who will continue to blame "Westminster" for everything that goes wrong anyway.

"Peoples" (plural)

Davidson also said that, "We are a Union of peoples, not of convenience." It's a good point, but we'd use the word "people" singular. That is a stronger frame than the idea that we are diverse "peoples"; which implies a difference which is not necessarily conducive to Union!

"Two Governments"

She refers to our "two governments" several times.

This is quite wrong (regardless of the fact that it's been written into law in the 2012 Scotland Act).

The word "government" is making an equivalence between the ruling group at Holyrood and the ruling group at Westminster; an equivalence which simply isn't there.

It is describing a reality which does not exist!

The dominant party at Holyrood does not have the power of an independent government.

When the SNP ruling group sits round a table and makes decisions – it is a subsidiary body of the British Parliament and Government (see explanation below).

It is better described as an Executive. "Executive" means a body with the power to put laws into effect; and so, yes, you can say that about the ruling SNP an extent.

However, an even more accurate term for them would simply be "Scottish Administration". The SNP at Holyrood is "administering" the power which has been devolved to it by the British State.

One thing it is not, is a "government".