Ruth Davidson: Defending the indefensible while shifting the blame
We wrote recently about how the shine was about to come off Ruth Davidson and we were not wrong. A few days ago we found out that her popularity in Scotland is wildly exaggerated by the press.
Ruth Davidson was doing ok for a while by pretending she wasn’t actually a Tory but that tactic can only last for so long. Recently, her camouflage has been peeled off as she has been forced to defend Tory policies like Brexit and benefit cuts.
This week she has really demonstrated her true Colours. Not only has she openly defended a policy that will force more children into poverty and result in rape victims having to relive traumatic experiences; she also had the audacity to try to shift the blame for this onto the Scottish government.
Her argument gets to the heart of the independence debate.
She thinks it is OK for a UK government that we don’t vote for in Scotland, to enact a policy that the majority of the Scottish parliament are against, because Scotland has limited powers to mitigate the consequences.
That is the unionist vision of the Scottish parliament. A place that if we are lucky, and at great expense and sacrifice, can just about stop us from going backwards.
Sure, no doubt the Scottish Parliament will at some point spend money to alleviate the pain that this policy will unleash.
However, this is not as easy as Ruth Davidson makes it sound. It is complicated to make Scotland’s new benefit powers work and we are still a few years off from having the systems and intergovernmental understanding to be able to do so.
There are currently unanswered questions that need to be resolved not least in relation to the UK government clawing back top-ups arranged by the Scottish Government.
Also, there is a question of how these things should be paid for.
The Scottish government already spends a lot of money mitigating the pain of Tory welfare reforms. They are working on a tight budget and money will either need to be moved from other areas or raised via new income tax powers.
— Pat Kane (@thoughtland) April 13, 2017
Ruth Davidson thinks that the role of the Scottish parliament is enacting tough, expensive measures just to stand still in the face of brutal policies she supports.
Yet, even if the new welfare powers were fully operational the Scottish government have limited economic levers compared to the many that the UK government have at their disposal.
With only limited powers over our economy it is unfair to expect the Scottish government to mitigate every Tory cut. In that respect it is perfectly acceptable for the Scottish government to protest cuts while still finding it difficult to do anything about them.
Unlike Ruth, many of us think that the Scottish parliament can be more than just a mechanism for reversing harmful Tory policy.
Wouldn’t it be better if we lived in a country that had full control over all of our economic levers so that we don’t have to use a narrow set of powers to stop a measure we wouldn’t have come up with in the first place?
That is a key question. It gets to the heart of the independence debate.
We need to choose whether or not we want to be below deck on a sinking ship desperately trying to plug holes in the hull. Or should we be on the bridge, taking control of the vessel, attempting to pilot her away from the rocks.
You can also help by sharing the blogs and joining our newsletter.