Douglas Ross : The definition of a charlatan

There are very few things in Scottish politics which can unite people from across the political spectrum, but in recent day we have witnessed one of those rare beasts which is harder to find than Priti Patel’s compassion or Boris Johnson’s sense of shame. Just about everyone in Scotland, even quite a few Tories, although most of them are too reticent to say so in public, thinks that Boris Johnson needs to resign now that he has added law-breaker to his long and growing list of personal failings. Equally just about everyone, again including quite a few Tories although most of them are reluctant to say so in public, thinks that Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative jellyfish in chief, is a spineless hypocrite. He is so bereft of political credibility that his own party won’t put his face on their election leaflets.

The Tory excuses for Johnson’s law breaking are gob smacking in their ludicrous brass neckery. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is to culture as Kanye West is to self-effacing modesty, said that Johnson’s law breaking should be forgiven because he only attended the lockdown busting party for which he has received a fine (at least in this round of Met Police fixed penalty notices) for only nine minutes, as though it were fine to break the law as long as you only do so for a short period of time. “Yes Your Honour, I did rob the bank, but I was in and out again before You gotta fight for your right to party had finished playing on the radio, and therefore I don’t think that the court should punish me.”

Meanwhile the Daily Mail splashed on its front page that the cake with which Johnson was allegedly ambushed never left its tupperware box, which is a defence that the Mail will no doubt stand by next time a drug user is prosecuted for possession of cocaine, especially if it’s Michael Gove.

Here in Scotland Douglas Ross has trashed what little credibility he had left, which wasn’t a great deal because he never had much to begin with. Ross has previously demanded the resignation of the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, even before the independent enquiry into whether she had breached the ministerial code had reported its findings and had said that she had not. He told the BBC, “Evidence against Nicola Sturgeon has been mounting, it has been growing… you cannot continue as First Minister of Scotland if you have mislead parliament and breached the ministerial code.”

When Nicola Sturgeon briefly stood up at a funeral gathering and forgot to put her mask on for a considerably shorter time than nine minutes, the Scottish Tories fulminated on their official Twitter account that “There cannot be one rule for Nicola Sturgeon and another for everyone else.”

But now that Boris Johnson has been found to have misled Parliament on numerous occasions and has been found to have broken the actual law, never mind breached the ministerial code, all of a sudden the Tories are terribly keen that there should be one rule for Boris Johnson and another for everyone else.

These would be the same Scottish Tories who claim to be the party of law and order and attack the SNP for being “soft” on crime, but all of a sudden they are terribly keen to excuse the law breaking of a Conservative Prime Minister and Chancellor.

Being someone who has written about the hypocrisy and rank corruption of the Conservatives for a long time, I had thought I was hardened to their lies, shamelessness and deceit, but few of us can ever have heard such dissembling bullshit as Douglas Ross was spouting on Reporting Scotland this evening. Using the tragic situation in Ukraine as a shield behind which to hide from the consequences of Johnson’s law breaking was beneath contempt. Ross refused to say what we all know, and what we all know that he knows too – that Johnson is dishonest. It was frankly pathetic to watch.

France hasn’t allowed the war in Ukraine to prevent it from holding its presidential election. The Tories didn’t allow the threat of an imminent Nazi invasion when the UK was actually in the midst of a world war to get in the way of them ditching Nevile Chamberlain in order to replace him with Churchill. But the same Tories who fetishise the role of Britain in WW2 and who are insisting that Ukrainians fleeing the agonising plight of their country must jump through bureaucratic hoops in order to find refuge in the UK are brazenly hiding Johnson’s selfish law breaking behind the rubble of Mariupol.

The lock down busting parties were bad enough, but when they came to light, Johnson lied repeatedly about them in an attempt to weasel his way out of his self-inflicted troubles. He lied to the press, he lied to the public, he lied to his own party and his cabinet colleagues, and he lied to Parliament. He trashed the trust placed in those in high office, he breached the ministerial code, he broke the law, and all this is just fine with the Conservative party.

What makes Ross’s spineless hypocrisy even worse than that of the rest of the shameless careerists of the Conservative party is that just a few short months ago he loudly protested that Johnson had to go and asserted that he would not back down. Jacob Rees Mogg dismissed him with a patrician wave as a lightweight. But now that the Conservative MPs who wrote letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee to say that they had lost confidence in Johnson have meekly fallen into line, Ross has joined them, which means that he knows that what Johnson has done and how he has behaved is beyond the pale, but he values his own job and his own position more than he values those principles which he so loudly proclaimed not so long ago. That is the very definition of a charlatan.

I had my NHS driving assessment yesterday. Sadly it did not go well. To cut a long story short, I have been told that I will never be able to drive again. I still have some issues with a lack of attentiveness in the left side of my visual field, it’s minor, but enough to make driving unsafe. My eyes are fine, but the part of my brain that processes visual information was damaged during the stroke. My reaction time is too slow. On top of this the only hand I can use is my right. I was very dominantly left handed before the stroke and really struggled to use the adaptation which allows driving with just one hand. I found it very difficult to position the car correctly on the road, it’s not just steering but I would also have to use my right hand to manage the lights, windscreen wipers and horn, all of which are controlled from a button pad mounted on the steering wheel. I just don’t have the dexterity to do it.

It has now been eighteen months since the stroke, and the occupational therapist carrying out the assessment said that realistically any future improvements to my condition are going to be marginal, and not enough to allow me to drive again. So I need to accept that I will never get behind the wheel of a car ever again. It would not be safe for me or more importantly for other road users. I am very disappointed, but not entirely surprised. On a more positive note she did say that she thinks I may be eligible for the higher rate of the mobility component of PIP as walking and using public transport are both challenging for me. The application for PIP has been made but it will be many months before I get a decision.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit down about this development. Even though it did not come as a great shock I had hoped that I might be able to regain some personal independence, and it’s saddening to be confronted in such stark terms with the fact that driving is one of the many things that the stroke has taken from me.

But there is nothing to be gained by moping or by dwelling on it. This is the reality I have to deal with, and deal with it I shall.

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