Images: heraldscotland.com and http://chatterbusy.blogspot.co.uk/
‘The Conservative Party’s conference has unleashed ugly and downright scary rhetoric that I was brought up to believe was to be left in the past. I am not exaggerating when I say that the policies being brought forward are reminiscent of early 1930s Nazi Germany.’
These are the words of SNP MP Mhairi Black, reported in the Scotsman on the 8th October 2016. They were triggered by the speech of Home Secretary Amber Rudd at the Conservative Party Conference which followed PM Theresa May’s speech calling for ‘British jobs for British workers.’ That is of course a line used often before by the BNP and more recently by Gordon Braun. Rudd announced that companies would be compelled to keep and to publish lists of foreign workers they employed. Also they would be obliged to give preference to British job applicants. After a storm of criticism the proposals seem to have been withdrawn.
Black and LBC radio presenter, James O’Brien, noted the similarities in these statements with Nazi policies. O’Brien even read out part of Chapter 2 of Hitler’s Mein Kampf pretending at first that they were Rudd’s words:
‘For the state should draw the sharp line of distinction between those who, as members of the nation, are the foundation and support of its existence and greatness, and those who are domiciled simply as earners of their livelihoods of there.’
Needless to say, these associations drew much self-righteous indignation from Conservatives but this did not stem the flow of Nazi association. Controversially, disabled actress Liz Carr who appears in Silent Witness, suggested that current welfare cuts and assessments were driven by similar thinking to that which produced the death and work camps where German disabled people were amongst the first confined – ‘Arbeit macht frei’ – ‘work sets you free.’
Blogger Kitty Jones added to Carr’s disquiet by pointing out:
‘We have a government that frequently uses words like workshy to describe vulnerable social groups. This is a government that is intentionally scapegoating poor, unemployed, disabled people and migrants. A few years ago, a Tory councillor said that “the best thing for disabled children is the guillotine.” More recently, another Tory councillor called for the extermination of gypsies, more than one Tory MP has called for illegal and discriminatory levels of pay for disabled people. These weren’t “slips”…..these comments reflect how Conservatives think.’
Where this is all leading us, I think, is to the notion that Tories, by definition, hold values (nasty ones?) opposed to those many of us would foreground in a civilised, tolerant, caring and democratic society. You can see this deeper malaise, I’d argue, in the slips made by individual party members. For example, Conservative MP Aidan Burley was obliged to step down in 2011 from his post as a ministerial aide, in 2011, after being exposed for having bought a Nazi uniform to be worn by the groom at a wedding he was arranging in Switzerland. One can only wonder at the kind of families involved – Brauns, Windsors?
Another ‘slip’ emerged in 2011, when ‘Nazi –themed songs’ were sung at a night-out for the Oxford University Conservative Association. This group whose patron was Baroness Thatcher was reported to be in crisis after some of its own members accused other members of anti-Semitism.
Earlier, in 2009, allegedly fully-grown up Conservatives, MEPs and the then PM, David Cameron, were accused of allying themselves with a holocaust-denying and SS-commemorating Latvian political group called ‘Latvians For Fatherland and Freedom Party’. This party annually commemorates the Latvian SS militia responsible for the murder of virtually all of Latvia’s 70 000 Jews during World War 2. This goes some way beyond the hiring of a Nazi uniform.
Astonishingly, when a former leader of the UK Tory group in Strasbourg, Edward McMillan-Scott, tried to block the leadership bid of another holocaust-denier, Polish Conservative, Michael Kaminski, he was sacked by David Cameron.
Returning to the Scottish Conservatives, I must point out that they have no track record of Nazi sympathies. Their recent run of faux pas is of a comparatively milder form:
‘Tory MSP blows off key parliament vote to take part in World Cup referee training’
‘Tory toff MSP claimed eye-watering £113 for taxi to airport when catching train would have cost just £8.50’
‘Moneybags Tory MSP accused of exploiting parliamentary position to further his business interests’
Notably, however, BBC Scotland has chosen to ignore these misdemeanours by the Scottish Conservatives. Similarly, they have not linked the current horrors of the May regime’s ideas to their Scottish branch. This has led a few of us to think they are grooming ‘The Little Signaller’, Ruth Davidson for a role as saviour of the Union. Nevertheless, the Scottish Tories will need to watch their step. One goose step by one drunken private schoolboy on a night out after work experience in Ruth’s office and BBC Scotland will not be able to protect them this time.