‘Tea and Two Sugars Dave’

I caught part of the STV programme last night assessing the success of the SNP and the two years since the referendum. It had relaxed and self-effacing contributions from Alex Salmond – who seemed to be seated in front of his rooftop pool in Aberdeen – Elaine C Smith and Tom Harris. On a box on the wall looking like a demented owl, was David Mundell in Westminster.

The others gave perspective to recent history and analysed more or less fairly. Most of Mundell’s effort was straight from media training – forget the question and keep giving out the message in each answer. With growing low-level hysteria he ranted about the dangers of a second referendum – ‘divisive and dangerous’ etc. Watching him it set my gas at a peep to think this one man embodies the British state in our country. Westminster still retains all of the power encompassed by Crown in Parliament. He outranks everybody else except the Queen (no, I don’t mean Elaine C).

He is a man whom nobody would promote in a normal legislature except as a bag carrier. His sole status guarantees him a job. That job always required balance, integrity and a measure of genuine statecraft to do properly – one reason George Younger and Malcom Rifkind did it so well while Helen Liddell and John Reid didn’t. Balancing the interests of London and Scotland requires clout in Cabinet. That means ministers listen and never automatically discount what is said. It means they recognise that real concessions, not just gestures, are required. It also means that, out of respect for the incumbent, ministers will do their best to accommodate his demands. It doesn’t mean you always win, far from it. Younger fought against the closure of Ravenscraig, made sure the Press knew about it, and threatened to resign. It was reported that he had a secret deal with Thatcher to contest industrial closures. Now I know this looks devious – and he did misjudge the poll tax – but it shows he had clout with Thatcher, was trusted and went on to stay in Cabinet as Defence Secretary. Gentleman George gave the impression of fighting Scotland’s corner which is at least one of the tools of politics.

What of Mundell? What corner does he contest? Who gives the merest hint of respect for him? He is told he will only attend Cabinet Brexit meetings when required. (Thank you, Dave. Tea and two sugars.) That alone should be the cause of a resignation threat appearing in the media. Isn’t that what even Tories would want?

He is a token presence speaking to the desperate lack of talent in parties in decline. Twenty years ago the SNP was blessed with an upper layer of good performers and a base element of street-pounders. But a middle management echelon of busy creatives with ambition was absent – they were all joining Labour. Now, when you look at who is standing against the SNP, you can see why they do so poorly. It isn’t just the party brands that are in retreat. A shrinking party gets smaller talent.

So here we have a man scraping through on an 800 majority, bought by diverting party funds away from other seats. He spent three times his SNP rival and more than all the other candidates put together. He spent 90 per cent of the legal maximum and was bankrolled by party HQ in their desperation to keep a single seat in Scotland.

Since 1997 the Tories have had either no MP at all or a solitary representative in Scotland and yet the democratic deficit delivers them all the control over the Scots that the British state bestows.

That the government’s man cuts such an unimpressive figure is a constant reminder of how slender the British mandate is. Asked by Smith if the Tories hadn’t fought against a parliament in the first place, he replied that it was a sign of their willingness to accept the election result that they played their part now. But that hides the central point – that the Tories made a monumental mistake in opposing devolution, a mistake endorsed by history. If they can misread the country so badly once, what stops them doing so again? The reality is that if the Tories had their way, there would be no Holyrood at all. In fact, there would be no Tory Party as such either since the PR system gave them oxygen and resources to save their skin.

And so we were treated to another mealy-mouthed performance insisting there should be no referendum. What I wanted to ask was: If we forget about that option and if Scotland as whole really doesn’t fancy the May Brexit deal, what does he propose we do? It is entirely possible that business, public sector, third sector, civil and collective Scotland combine with four out of five political parties in opposing the British Brexit deal. What does the man with all the power in Scotland suggest we do?

The Scottish input is clearly going to be marginal and the acceptance of our ideas limited. Brexit will not reflect our views – does not reflect our views. It is already a measure the nation has decisively voted against.

I repeat. How does the British government’s man advise us to proceed?

The answer is as it has always been. We must do as we are told. There is no escape route for, of course the Scots voted to stay in the UK and that must be respected (even if the Remain in the EU vote isn’t). The limit of Mundell’s vision is a suicide pact with England. At any cost, we remain united – until death us do part. That’s his recommendation. Take what you’re given and shut up. That’s what he’s here for – to convey the Brit message. The bag carrier delivers.

Remember David will be fine. There’s always a gilded life for retired politicians via the burgeoning Lords, directorships and grace-and-favour. No income cuts for him. No job loss. No problems with higher interest rates. That’ll be for the rest of us to bear.

How this represents protecting Scotland’s interest, I’m at a loss to say. In truth, no sane Scot claims it is in our national interest. Mundell is doing as he’s told. He has no separate vision for Scotland, no sense of responsibility beyond saving his job. This is not a good look for British interests in Scotland which doesn’t even have a normal shadow secretary of state either. It’s as if reality was mimicking the satire we have made of our UK government. Where once we had comparative giants in the shape of Younger and Dewar speaking for Scotland as leadership figures, now we have a makeweight jobsworth and a Northern MP nobody’s heard of. This is all heading in one direction…

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52 thoughts on “‘Tea and Two Sugars Dave’

  1. David Mundell – Theresa May’s tea-boy in Scotland .

  2. Don’t exaggerate Derek. He got in by 798 !

  3. Yup – its ‘eat yer cereal’ time. You have spotted the one issue with modern UK parties in Scotland. The SNP stole all their intellect and verve.

    Why? Well, its obvious. Arguing for the UK is about as impossible to win (without outright lies) as Scotland vs (insert any team ever).

    If you try to think, its hard to convince yourself never mind others how terrible the so called Union is. The old BetterTogether campaign is riven with inversions now, Scotland in EU will attract business as they leave the rUK. Scotland in the EU will attract investment, Scotland in the EU will attract research funding …

    Speak to some academics in Glasgows nice West End, actually anywhere in Scotland, and they only had ‘EU’ for bettertogether – they knew the funding was important, but the EU more so. Stupidly they expected the UK to look after them … ‘raging’ is how a few of my old chums are now.

    Business? More or less the same. To give an example, one business I know well has just been hit by a 22% rise in one of their main costs. Pound tanking means redundancy. They are starting at Westminster aghast. They are gazing at Scotland in hope.

    Get us out of this union. Keep us in the EU one.

    • An indy Scotland could even become rUK if the EU recognises us as the continuator state… think of all the opportunities that opens for business, finance, universities.

      Inversion indeed. Huge prizes to be grasped if we have the bottle to go for it.

      • In my opinion, joint sucessor state would be; in the eyes of the EU, enough. The rest of the world may regard rUK as the continuing state to fit in with the rUK retaining the UN permanent seat on the Security Council. No contradiction there. There is no international law which defines how a new state is to be recognised. This is and always has been political. In fact the reality is both rUK and Scotland would be new states. The political solutions sought by the EU club and the UN club wouold be complementary. It’s how it works.

  4. Alasdair Macdonald.

    There has been a single message coming from the Conservatives and even prior to the EU result: “Stop talking about independence and get on with the day job”. It is they, assisted by Scottish Labour, the Lib Dems and a propagandist media, who have kept the issue of independence ‘live’ as a political issue, while those of us who voted YES, absorbed the 2014 result and pondered on the reasons for failure. We accepted the result and got on with our lives, without abandoning our aspirations for an independent Scotland.
    We got ‘the strongest devolved legislature in the world’! Please excuse my cynical laughter, but the propagandist media never really pointed out the lie that this is. The limited tax powers are just that, ‘limited’ and an exercise in bookkeeping. When John Swinney adjusted one of the taxes to shift the burden slightly to the wealthier, Mr Osborne, cynically, made a similar, but slightly greater adjustment to the UK version, to cynical applause from the unionists. It also showed how negatory the tax powers are, when a U.K. supposedly in the grubber could shuffle around its loose change to top the SGs tax powers.
    Mr Mundell is a pretty mediocre politician compared to Messrs Younger, Rifkind and, indeed, people like Mr Forsyth, and Mr Teddy Taylor. He lacks the compassion of people like Alick Buchanan Smith or Lord James Douglas Hamilton. Sadly, under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour, too, lacks any intellectual strength and cannot even put forward the most basic of ‘visions’. By being upstaged by copulating pigs, Mr Rennie’s ‘presence’ is shown for the tom tabard it is.
    There is no impression given that these people have any feeling for Scotland and what it means to be Scottish and for the idea of the people who live and work here having the powers to shape things as we think they ought to be.
    While I dislike ad hominem attacks as a substitute for substantive debate, I have to agree that the SoS and the other parties, except the Greens, are ‘tea boys and girls’.

    • I am stunned. Have you people taken leave of your senses?

      Mundell is an asinine fool indeed. However, no-one in their right mind would think fondly of George Younger (Thatcher’s man in Scotland); Rifkind (He worked as an Assistant Lecturer at the University College of Rhodesia) and another Thatcher man in Scotland; Teddy “Capital Punishment” Taylor.

      Have you grown senile? Please do not attempt to re-write history because we are currently burdened with a fool as SoS for Scotland.

      None of the individuals you, apparently, remember with affection could have been described as a decent human being. These were the Unionists of yesterday, Mundell is the Unionist of today. What had they all in common? Unionism, for crying out loud!!

      • And Michael Forsyth? Are you joking??

        • Aye,they were wicked and evil…..but they were ably so.Mundel is a blethering figure of ridicule.They only let him in the cabinet sometimes because they really can’t be bothered with him.How does Ruth feel when she sees Mundel on tv representing the British government in Scotland? Embarrassed? Ashamed? Very angry at his complete ineptitude certainly.

  5. Alasdair Macdonald.

    Autocorrect – the bane of my commenting life! ‘Negatory’ ought to be ‘nugatory’ and ‘tom’ ought to be ‘toom’. Apologies!

  6. Steve Asaneilean

    I am confused – if, as the press reports, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been told not to undermine the UK’s Brexit position whose position are they actually being told not to undermine?

  7. West minster stooge. A pillar of salt. Nae brain nae personality, nae morals, just a bawbag waiting his turn for their lordships ermine and crock of gold.

  8. Mundell’S etire political approach to Scotland seems to revolve around us doing what our betters tell us and shutting the hell up!

  9. I guess we should just start referring to him as the Governor-General, because given the undemocratic nature of Westminster, the power he has actually comes from the Queen. And remember that Australia thought it was independent until the GG dismissed its elected government. Don’t underestimate how far the British state will go to hold on to its possessions….

  10. Can anybody recall a single instance of Mundell in his capacity as Secretary Of State FOR Scotland (stop laughing at the back) actually taking Scotland’s side or arguing Scotland’s case against anything proposed by our colonial masters?

  11. A Disgusting individual comes to mind when I set eyes on him, totally lacking in any sort of moral behaviour or integrity a dismal representative of Scottish people at Westminster, is this and Davidson the best we can offer ? .

  12. OOFT!

    Don’t beat about the bush. What do you really think of the man? 😀

    He’s not just the most impressive article is he? No redeeming qualities whatsoever, not even courage and certainly not honesty. Whenever I look at the fella, the first word that pops into mind is… obsequious.

    • Reminds me of Alexander Popes poem “Whose dog are you” Fits Mundells personality like a glove!

      • Secretary of State for Scotland. Scotland’s voice in Westminster….

        The reality, historically, has always been a wee bit different. In his case its simply right out there in twenty foot high neon letters. 🙂

  13. Even Younger & Dewar had the Unionist at heart but….

  14. So according to you Derek, David Mundell embodies the British state and rules all of Scotland from on high. I must be mistaken but I thought the SNP run Scottish government and Scottish parliament had responsibility for health, education, justice, transport environment etc etc? Am I wrong on that? I wasn’t aware Mundell personally ruled on education policy in Scotland. He is not the most impressive or charismatic politician I would agree, but at least present a factually accurate critique.

    • Ah but they only allow us to do those things. All the absolute power is vested in Westminster. they can overrule Holyrood on any issue at any time. they just choose not to. If you disagree watch what happens they want to proceed on Brexit. the rules say they can’t legislate on any area under the competence of Holyrood. If they need to, they will ignore that and nobody in England will raise a murmur.Crown in Parliament gives May the authority to do as she pleases.It requires the threat of a rebellion and a vote of no confidence to rein her in.

    • veMundell and Westminster britnats has the power of veto over all matters pertaining to Scotland.

  15. Demented owl! That’s a howler!

  16. According to David Mundell, Scotland ceased to exist as a country and was absorbed into England in 1707. That is really all you need to know about this man.

  17. ronald alexander mcdonald

    I agree with your sentiments regarding Mundell. However, crediting George Younger with integrity? If he had any integrity over the Ravenscraig disaster he would have resigned.

    The only Scottish unionist politician I can think of who acted with integrity, was the late Robin Cook, who resigned his cabinet post over Iraq.

  18. “What of Mundell? What corner does he contest?”

    I do not believe that Mundell has the influence you are granting him.

    If you look at a pic of the Brexit meeting of the devolution ministers with May et al, you will see Fluffy poking his head into the pic at the far end of the table but without a seat AT the table. Meanwhile Nicola and the Welsh and N Ireland people are well ensconced in the middle of the table.

    He’s the tea boy.

  19. I have already declared, ‘no more Mr and Mrs Nice Guy’, Derek.
    The normal etiquette no longer applies. I refuse toi be polite when discussing these Unionist mouthpieces any more.

    We must call it as we see it now. It is too important.
    This man is as useful as, and is demonstrating all the intellectual capacity, of a traffic bollard.
    I have observed before that any ProudScotBut Unionist politician with any ambition headed for London.
    Holyrood is stuffed with councillor level third division Yoons, who have reached their pinnacle: £60, 000 a year plus exes, and most weren’t even the peoples’ choice.
    They are bench fillers, who have died and gone to political heaven.
    Line to Take? SNP BAD, ‘get on with the day job’, the people voted NO in 2014 , and that was for ever.

    Dugdale Davidson and Rennie haven’t a clue what to be about.
    They are now mouthing racist xenophobic UKIP messages, sadly.
    I don’t share your regard for previous SoSs, but let’s leave it at that.

    We have no alternative but to remain in the EU as an independent country.
    There will be massive migration from England to Scotland when this is resolved.
    Of that there can be no doubt. Some firms, finance houses are on the move now.
    Scotland Independent will boom.

  20. Excellent stuff Derek, but don’t you know we Aberdonians all have rooftop swimming pools 😀

  21. Don’t forget that he’s got his dynasty and fiefdom to protect with his son in Holyrood.

  22. Keeping Scotland in their precious union cost them dear. Their attempts at reconciliation, was simply to use Britishness like a cosh. Sickening and unwarranted triumphalism and joyous celebration of Scotland as “Greece without the Sunshine” – they revel in being worthless, its what makes being “British” so agreeable.

    The real result of 2014 was to gift the SNP the means to ensure no *British* party would ever dominate Scotland for now until the foreseeable future. It ensured no Yes voter wanted anything to do with Britain afterwards. It led to the almost complete destruction of labour in Scotland. The loss of credibility for the majority of the Scottish media and its commentators. It sees Scotland and the SNP constantly attacked and ridiculed from the UK media and parliament.

    You could argue that George Osborne dealt a serious blow to the union with his hateful “sermon on the pound. It almost cost them the referendum were it not for the vow. Ah…the vow. The one and only opportunity they had to repair the damage and perhaps win back some of those yes voters. But no…the chance to use it to rip the pish out of Scotland was too great, and so they pissed it up a wall instead.

    What is left for the Better together crowd to do under the banner of Scotland in Union, is to drown us all in a towering mountain of Bullshit. To browbeat us by using their Britishness as means of insulting and smearing us. They’re not trying to make us want to be British. They’re not trying to sell a vision of a united kingdom. They’re trying like mad to keep a hold of that 55% of voters they scared shitless into voting no. All the while hoping like mad that they can distract us from the fact that their wretched Britishness has left Scotland a hostage to the fortune of a party in Westminster who thinks it can mitigate Brexit by selling tea, biscuits and jam to the Japanese.

    As far as I am concerned the union is already dead. Britishness, if it ever existed and as far as Scotland is concerned is a toxic brew that needs to poured down the sink and flushed away.

  23. Enjoyed your article immensely Derek (and most of the comments, bar one).

    I have to agree with some though about Dewar, Rifkind, and Younger. I suspect you remember them from an altogether different perspective…. as you were then and knowing what you knew then.

    If they were operating today I suspect you might consider them to be creatures of the midden, sharing lodgings with Mundell.

  24. Mundell couldnt appear more of a “yesterdays man” if he was wearing a Viceroy’s uniform

  25. All SoS fS have been unionists, cabinet men who made noises, guided and puffed, but never really altered anything fundamental until “threatened” by the SNP.
    Indeed, Labour only moved towards devolution if a sort because Wilson saw Labour at Westminster needed Slabbers for majorities Uk-wide. Ross had to be pushed to make the broadcasts announcing the move to devolution and he did so through gritted teeth.
    All Tory SoSfS since Macmillan came from Tory governments with no majority mandate in Scotland!! Even Rifkind referred to the role as a Governer General, when he dropped his guard.
    Brown, as PM, referred to himself as a North Briton and Robertson called Scotland a “minor entity of North Britain”.
    Mundell is the lowest form of MP ever to be in the post, an embarrassment, politically, when he opens his mouth.
    The last LbDem SoSfS in the coalition, was a man who lied to the press and the Parliamentary authorities and was taken to court.
    The Britpack of recent and distant SoSfS are no noble heroes. Dewar rose to the occasion in his speech on the opening of Holyrood, yet he too was, to use the modern coinage, a “Yoon”.

  26. Zac Golsmith just quit over the Heathrow expansion plans but Mundell when told that he will only be called when Theresa sees fit to summon him on Brexit and that will not be to ask his opinion or the Scottish people’s opinion on it. He will simply be summed to deliver the message to the Scots that Brexit means Brexit.

    Instead of being a man elected to represent Sxotland in Westminster he thinks the people elected him to be Westminster’s representative in Scotland. If Zac Goldsmith’s principles stop him supporting Heathrow so much so that he quit it just shows what kind of little weasel Mumdell really is that he has no principles when it comes to his own country.

  27. Mundell is a despicable little creature. A useful idiot for Westminster britnats. They probably snigger behind the wee nyaff’s back.

  28. O/T a little ,apologies in advance , Maybe its time to try a different route for the independence journey , with all the love and affection that has been shown towards foreigners since the brexit vote , why cant we harness all this goodwill to our advantage namely give the english a vote in our referendum let them have a say , well their newspapers and broadcast media have been showering us with love for the last few months and proclaiming we are a useless basket case , a constant drain on their resources , it’s a win win situation where everyone ends up happy ha ha , just a thought .

  29. Useless politicians club has just had another “star” attraction to it’s name, someone furth of Scotland: Jeremy Corbyn.
    At PM questions he forgot, in his pillow fight with May of MayHem over lack of Brexit strategy, to refer to her secret talk to Goldman Sachs where she emphasised that the single market was paramount.
    Does he exist in the real political world? Is he being “keziised”? That is becoming more clueless and detached?
    Of course, he was, is a closet Brexitter. He has no counter strategy either! Does Labour in Westminster have any ideas on Brexit? The PLP is largely agin Corbyn. There are no Scot Lab MPs , sorry there is only the possibility of one, on the Cabinet in the Shadows!
    What can ScotLab do even to influence the Corbynites? Not that they are really interested in promoting the best devolved legislature in the world.
    So,the Labour yoon decline has hit the party dahn sath as well.
    Toothless, indecisive, pointless (apologies to the BBC) and rudderless.
    If Corbyn cannot, as the official opposition, go for the jugular, then all is lost.

  30. More to add to, quoting the Guardian’s, “hopeless and hapless” .
    Nicola Sturgeon spoke about a flexible Brexit exit to a gathering of business and university executives. She called for a coalition in Scotland to present a united front in the face of westminster drift on the issue. Upping the anti highlights the meaningless of May’s Brexit means Brexit to get “the best deal” for the UK! The best deal was to remain!! As May said to Goldmann Sachs.
    The BBC Scotland quoted the opposition parties who said the SNP had to drop its Indyref2!
    Now that is a non sequitur, but we do not know which opposition representatives said it. Any quesses?
    What is does show is that the Holyrood opposition, I presume those yoons against independence, is clueless and witless. Where do they stand on Brexit when they were for remain and the majority in Scotland voted for remain.
    The roll of dishonour, of the hapless and hopeless on Brexit grows daily. Taking their cue from the yoons dahn sath?

  31. Anent Theresa May’s faux pas, or May-Hem caused after her leaked talk to the bankers, what can we expect Brexit means Brexit”to get the best deal for the UK to mean? Details on the back of an envelope please to No10.
    Nicola Sturgeon has already outlined that access to the single market is top priority before immigration for Scotland. That is Nicol doing the day job par excellence – outlining exactly and being accountable, giving an account of what the priorities are for discussion and debate in the Scottish context of remain.
    Plan A is flexible. May-Hem has no preplan, foreplan or fall back plan planned yet.
    The semiotics now being sent to the EU make May and her three stooges out to be eejits.
    They must be having a good laugh on the Continent! No doubt, grins are appearing among the Scots as well. I suppose Mundell, as a remainer, will be raising his concerns for Scotland in the Cabinet at the special Brexit pow wows, when he is invited. Or are these to be classed under EVEL?
    I suppose the leak by the Guardian of May’s private, secret speech is to be applauded. It puts the crew at No 10 on the back foot and draws them out into the open.
    Will May be shouting m’aidez! – for English speaking monoglots -Mayday!!?
    Unelected, unprincipled, elusive, no mandate – how long before the three brexiteers effect a coup! Are May’s days numbered? MayBe Brexit will come first to mean MayExit?!

  32. Fluffy just won an award from the Herald for ‘best Scot at Westminster’.

    I never even knew he was at Westminster… the invisible man

  33. Captain Snackbeard McFluffbrain of Mundellia is telling Scottish farmers what a wonderful future they will have after Brexit. This could turn out to be the only time he’s ever told the truth, because by then Scotland may well have made the only decision that really makes any sense: to rise and be a Nation again.

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