You can wait decades for a nasty political party civil war and then like the proverbial bus two come along at once! Surveying the battles from our perch in this the ‘fractious’ Parliament, for the Scottish National Party it really is pop corn time. While the Labour Party civil war is settling down to its ‘attrition phase’ the Tories are delighting us with the howitzers being delivered up to the front line.
Where the Labour civil war showed early promise a strange uneasy stalemate has recently developed. The Blairites, ever cautious of the response from their Corbyn voting constituency parties, are pretty much leaving the Corbynistas to shoot their own feet. Secretly hoping for a disastrous series of May elections the Blairites still remain in place like the Princes across the water waiting for the call to ‘save’ their party. The ambitious like Dan Jarvis, Rachel Reeves and Chuka Umunna now tour the country refining the new message always careful of the old adage of ‘he who wields the dagger never wears the crown’. The need for a ‘stalking Blairite’ is often talked about but it would surely be career ending for whichever poor soul is persuaded to come forward to bear the saddle.
The Tories, of course, know how to do this properly and their civil war has all the hallmarks of a classic! Feeling they have very little to lose with an unelectable Labour Party sitting opposite them they are getting properly stuck in. No statement or question session is complete without the barbed EU loathing comment or the toadying to the Prime Minister’s renegotiation skills. Some Tories hate Europe more than the Labour Party and this is the war they have been waiting for. The resignation of Iain Duncan Smith (fantastically played out as his concern for the disabled) has dramatically upped the conflict and it looks increasingly likely that his Brexit buddies in the cabinet will soon follow suit.
The Tory civil war was supposed to put a line under their fractious divisive European history but it will actually only lead to a longer inconclusive conflict. It now looks like the Tory led rehashed project fear campaign will sufficiently annoy enough English voters that the EU referendum outcome will now be narrower than necessary. If anything it will be closer than the outcome of the Scottish referendum. This will only embolden the outers and UKIP can confidently be assured of an English renaissance. Meanwhile recriminations and revenge within a chastened Tory party will ensure that their civil war rumbles on for years.
This is all fantastic for the SNP. We have become the real opposition at Westminster and a divided Tory governing party can help us secure a few more victories. But this is the reality of the UK just now and Scotland is pretty much a spectator.
Where it might be fun our country deserves much better than this.
This is Pete’s article for April’s Scots Independent