The Scottish Politics Review reckons there’s only one real fault line dividing Scotland’s political parties: independence.
This aside, we choose to believe that they all share the same aim of making Scotland better for the people who live here. Of course, disagreements will arise over how to achieve this aim but we do not think the motives of any person or party involved in Scottish politics should be doubted.
However, time and again we are disappointed to see that this isn’t the case. And, time and again we are disappointed to see that this is because, for all we’ve had a devolved parliament for 17 years, we still view things through the lens of Westminster.
Earlier this week for example, Ruth Davidson, gave the annual poverty lecture to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. In this speech she called for more provision for one and two year olds in deprived areas, more funding for further education colleges, the linking of executive pay to company performance and for employee representation on company pay committees.
The progressives in Scotland should welcome this shouldn’t they? These are all policies that the SNP or Labour would be proud to put forward.
Take employees on remuneration committees as an example. Labour had this as a manifesto pledge in the 2015 General Election – are the Scottish party so scolded by that defeat that they do not believe this is a good thing? Or the SNPs commitment to improving childcare in Scotland. Isn’t Ruth Davidson’s commitment an olive branch to get full parliamentary support behind the idea?
The fact is the SNP and Labour should be celebrating the Tories move to the middle found of Scottish politics. They’ve won the debate on social policy. They should be doing all this but they don’t.
Instead we get comments such as this from South of Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine: “Ruth Davidson has a cheek talking about poverty. The Tories are hounding disabled welfare claimants and hammering low income families through their austerity policies.”
Or this from the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray: “Perhaps she should apologise for the policies of the Tories that have increased poverty.For all her photo ops and pleas that she’s different, Ruth Davidson is just another Tory like Cameron and Osborne.”
Nothing on the content of the speech. No critique of Ruth’s policies. Just a line of attack which pivots away from what is happening in Scotland to actions taken by a government Ruth Davidson isn’t a part of.
This level of partisanship feels like a lack of intellectual self confidence on the part of the SNP and Labour and indicates an entrenchment that favours ideology over outputs. The most successful, and popular, politicians care about what idea works. By extension, voters respond to politicians who want to make things better for them.
In this speech, Ruth Davidson continues to move the Tories towards Scotland’s centre ground. The SNP and Labour should have the courtesy to Scottish voters and meet her there to build consensus on issues where there is agreement about the action that should be taken.