WE are supposed to think that there’s clear blue water between Ruth Davidson and Boris Johnson. One is supposed to be the socially progressive Remainer and the other the regressive Brexiteer. Articles about Davidson are required by law to mention that she is a lesbian kickboxer, while articles about Johnson have to mention that he is a clubbable Etonian rogue.

Yet they have much in common. Whilst Johnson represses democracy by denying a referendum for Scotland (under any circumstances) Ruth Davidson on her appointment to the House of Lords will be able to vote on UK legislation without ever facing the electorate again for the rest of her life.

The Colonel joined Evgeny Lebedev, Sir Ian Botham, Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond, Patrick McLoughlin, Edward Lister, Charles Moore, Former Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox, Dame Louise Casey, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds – plus of course Theresa May’s hubby and Boris Johson’s brother in the upper chamber, where she’ll become a Baroness.

Colonel Baroness? Baroness Colonel? Lady Colonel? I don’t know how it works.

Interviewed by the BBC wearing a tartan jacket she claimed that she had accepted her life peerage in the House of Lords in order to make it more democratic. She was effectively going deep undercover we were told.

This is a farce.

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Let’s be quite clear, this is reward for failure – with the House of Lords being used (as it always has been) as a repository for cronies and an ermine cloak to shield a government of high sleaze.

It’s not just full of the most venal appointments, such as Lebedev, or the most useless ones such as Botham, but it is also jammed with high Brexiteers just fresh off your telly campaigning about the “anti-democratic” nature of the EU.

Davidson led her party from one electoral defeat to another, and her much-touted “success” was avoiding total annihilation and being slightly less repugnant than Annabel Goldie and slightly more charismatic than David


Lesley Riddoch in her weekly podcast commented that Davidson taking a place in the House of Lords ridiculed “everything she stood for”. But this is confused and confusing. What exactly did Davidson stand for? Apart from NOT being a tweedy land-owning Tory archetype she didn’t stand for anything else other than her own craven and continued self-serving opportunism. In her entire eight-year term as leader it’s challenging to think of a single policy initiative she can be associated with.

But what we do know is that the Conservatives are seriously rattled.

They are experts at fratricide, and even if they bungled this they got it over with quickly. Jackson Carlaw’s unlikely and unremarkable period as leader will be quickly forgotten. His exit had the whiff of Kevin Keegan about it, with him claiming he wasn’t really up for the job.

We know now the real reason for Johnson’s trip to Scotland and we know the – frankly bizarre – system they have concocted to manage the next eight months or so. The Magical Davidson will return to the front line at Holyrood whilst her junior leader will lead at Westminster. If this isn’t a recipe for disaster I don’t know what is.

The Tories have appointed the ruthless Isaac Levido – who ran Boris Johnson’s General Election campaign last year – and their strategy is to shift emphasis from the one-dimensional “just say no”, “we said no and we meant it” mantra and to start attacking the SNP on their record in office.

Ross has intimated that he wants to “devolve” powers down to local authorities and represent rural Scotland. At one level this makes sense. The SNP are vulnerable on education – after last week’s SQA fiasco that’s an understatement – and playing to rural Scotland might pick up wavering LibDems and the soft-right.

But nothing about a relentlessly centralising Conservative ethos makes this in any way comprehensible, and while the SNP are vulnerable on a raft of domestic policies the Tories have no credible alternatives. They will be the forever hectoring naysayers attached umbilically to the Government we didn’t elect. The constitution –and their refusal to countenance any scenario whereby they would accede to a referendum is a fatal flaw. Even some of their supposed brightest sparks like Adam Tomkins have jumped ship.

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Douglas Ross will be the forever absent leader, whilst his stand-in will be an automatic lame-duck, biding her time waiting for her departure to the Lords. There’s some desperation in all of this, offset only by Scottish Labour’s uniquely grinding incompetence.

But Davidson’s elevation and resurrection wasn’t the only controversy about the Lords.

The Fire Brigades Union tweeted: “Theresa May knighted Gavin Barwell who, as housing secretary, ignored numerous fire safety warnings before Grenfell.

“Now, Boris Johnson has appointed the deputy leader of the council that held Grenfell residents in contempt to a cushy job in the House of Lords.”

Grenfell survivors and firefighters also criticised the “disgraceful” nomination of a former prominent official at Kensington and Chelsea Council to a peerage.

THE Grenfell United group claimed Daniel Moylan (who was a Conservative councillor between 1990 and 2018, including 11 years as deputy leader of the local authority between 2000 and 2011) “was at the heart of a culture that held residents in contempt” and shared an image appearing to show him nodding off at a scrutiny meeting several months after the devastating fire which killed 72 people in 2017.

But it gets worse.

There’s now serious Tory backlash against the appointment of Claire Fox, the “revolutionary” member of the House of Lords being rewarded for her weird and wonderful pursuit of Brexit – and god knows what else.

As John Rogan wrote in The Critic (Who told Boris to make Claire Fox a peer and why?): “ ... when someone – in this case Claire Fox – who is utterly unapologetic about their past controversial beliefs and, indeed, confirms that they still hold to them, is ennobled by a Prime

Minister who shares neither her past fondness for the IRA’s “struggle” nor her current lockdown scepticism, well, then something very curious has happened. And almost certainly is going to go on happening until it explodes.”

David Aaronovitch was less complimentary in The Times (Boris Johnson’s peers disgrace the House of Lords). He points out the hypocrisy of castigating Jeremy Corbyn’s tacit support for Irish liberation whilst appointing Fox, who he reminds us was part of a group who were apologists for the IRA murder of Conservative Ian Gow, and who stood for the Brexit Party in a constituency that included Warrington.

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As Aaronovitch explains: “Last year Ms Fox won a seat as an MEP. The problem was that her constituency, North West England, included the town of Warrington. In 1993 the liberation warriors of the IRA had exploded a bomb in the town centre killing two young boys, Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball. In the wake of that bombing the Parry family helped to start a peace movement. The Revolutionary Communist Party’s ‘response to Warrington’ was to support the attack — ‘we defend the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures are necessary in their struggle for freedom’ — and to decry the peace movement. They even attempted to disrupt a commemoration held that month in Hyde Park.”

Johnson and Davidson are as ruthless and opportunistic as each other. The Lords may act as a crucial repository for the chumocracy but it’s a malignant stain on democracy and membership of it is a poisoned chalice. Anyone who enters there gives up credibility in doing so and forfeits the right to be taken seriously in politics.

Britain as a hereditary ruin is in its endgame, with the monarchy staggering along beside its discredited semi-feudal institutions. The youth and vigour of Ross and the bluff confidence of Davidson – with her media free pass – can’t offset the stench of decay as we veer towards the calamity of No-Deal Brexit and the charnel house of Johnson’s Covid nation. The Union is in terminal decline and the arrival of the fresh-faced Ross will do nothing to avert it. Davidson’s USP used to be that she was different: blue-collar, ordinary, likeable. Now she’s exposed as just another Tory grifter, on the make and on the payroll.