Many years ago there existed an organisation called Class War, a bunch of anarcho-jokers who pioneered the art of lefty trolling back before anyone even knew what trolling was. They even went to all the effort of publishing a newspaper mostly for the purposes of bamming up rich people and making jokes about injured cops. I digress, but anyway one of their slogans – alongside classics like ‘Bash the Rich’ – was that they wanted MORE TORY FUNERALS.
As much as everyone at A Thousand Flowers revelled in the joyous scenes surrounding Maggie’s death the other week, in this instance I’m going to appeal to a more moderate sensibility and propose a demand that I’m sure everyone can get on board with – your local Conservative Association, aspiring SNP statesmen and women, bored journalists, bemused onlookers and rabble-rousing lefties alike. All we want is… MORE TORY VISITS!
Cast your mind back to May 2010, as two months of pre-election Cleggmania descended into the realisation that the Tories were about to form a government for the first time in 13 years. No one was quite sure what to do, so naturally responded in a flurry of front groups and angry facebook pages and PROTESTS! And it would be a whole 18 months before Tian Tian and Yang Guan arrived in Edinburgh so we couldn’t even console ourselves with jokes about Scotland having more Pandas than Tory MPs… yet. But as for protesting, we got in on the act pretty quickly… so quick, in fact, that protests against David Cameron were making national news two days before the election had even happened! #hipsterleft. But then, this “wasn’t really surprising in a country where Tory-bashing has become a national sport”, as The Herald put it three years ago, “natural law demands that if a Tory is in No 10, Scotland is on the streets”.
A year later, and the unexpected occurred when an SNP majority arrived in the Scottish Parly. It was game on for independence, and an altogether terrifying prospect for the incumbent Westminster cabinet as they face the prospect of going down in history as the government that presides over the break-up of the UK. With the referendum details now ironed out, scaremongering visits by UK ministers have been stepped up over recent months, and we can surely expect many more as we creep closer to September 2014.
To date, though, there’s already an illustrious history of visits by Tory ministers (and the occasional Lib Dem) to contend with – events that are just crying out to be comprehensively listed, detailed and marked on a scale of one to ten against a range of criteria. Yes, it’s time to rate the Tory-baitings! Keep reading…
1) MAY 4 2010: NICK CLEGG IN GLASGOW
Two days before the fateful General Election of 2010, and The Guardian reports that Glasgow appears to be in the grip of an “80s flashback… with angry young socialists besieging Tory and Lib Dem rallies”. It’s strange to think that Nick Clegg was once anything other than a national hate figure/laughing stock, but back in the heady days of spring 2010 he was riding high in the polls and the most popular party leader Britain had had since Churchill, mostly by the spectacular virtue of being a) not Gordon Brown & b) not David Cameron. Fortunately Maryhill was taking NONE OF HIS SHIT and some local youth were on hand to piss on the local Lib Dem parade when it rolled into Woodside Halls. Cue the sudden appearance of VERY LARGE signs which the bussed in Lib Dem activists used in a desperate bid to shield their dear leader from the assembled mob.
RADGE FACTOR: Arguing with Lib Dem councillors and getting into a sign war with the local Liberal Yoof was about as heated as it got. 6/10
MEDIA IMPACT: 3/10.
TORY-BAITING RATING: extra points for astonishing foresight that Lib Dems may not actually be radical alternative to mainstream. 6/10
2) MAY 4 2010: DAVID CAMERON IN EAST RENFREWSHIRE
“Now this hasn’t really happened to Mr Cameron too often on his campaign”, said the BBC’s Ben Brown as he attempted to comprehend the sight of a carload of “pretty vociferous protestors” clashing with Special Branch outside the factory at which the not-quite-yet PM was speaking. Quite a fracas indeed.
RADGE FACTOR: The people in that video are not fucking about. Bonus point for fighting with men in suits with guns. 11/10
MEDIA IMPACT: 6.5/10
TORY-BAITING RATING: it’s unclear whether Dave actually saw or heard the protest, so we’ll err on the side of caution and go for a 7/10
He’s back! He’s the PM! And he’s on a trip around ‘the nations’ to visit their wee leaders in their quaint wee parliaments! , On a grey Friday afternoon at Holyrood, literally hundreds of people lined the streets to welcome Dave on his first official visit to Scotchland.
A “pastiche” of anti-Toryism scorned The Herald’s Tom Gordon, with “a synthetic rage borrowed from archive footage on YouTube” from people who could “barely remember a Conservative government”. Can you see a theme developing here? Anti-Tory protests… IT MUST BE THE 1980s!
Unfortunately Dav Cam wasn’t so keen on a meet n’ greet, sneaking in and out with just a couple of anarchists lurking round the back carpark getting the chance to jeer at him as he sped past. However, he then headed up to St Andrews House where a few brave protesters stuck it out. “I’m making friends everywhere”, Dave joked to the press as he left to shouts of “Tory Scum”.
RADGE FACTOR: Shout out to whoever it was that chucked an egg at Cameron’s car as it sped away from St Andrews House. 6/10
MEDIA IMPACT: If you want to get in the news hanging around outside the Parliament is a pretty good strategy. 7/10
TORY BAITING RATING: Good to get started as we mean to continue: chasing Tories the fuck out of Scotland. 8/10
4) AUGUST 25 2011: NICK CLEGG IN GLASGOW
Nick has such a fun time in Woodside Hall back in May the previous year that he couldn’t resist returning, for a Lib Dem ‘Town Hall Meeting’, ie. a press stunt. He didn’t count on the actions of one determined protester though, who ambushed him outside the venue and gave him a symbolic splattering of blue paint. Sky News rushed live to er, Central London to get the latest on the blue paint incident, although details were, unbelievably, a bit thin on the ground there.
While Clegg himself held back from saying much on the matter, as you’d expect from a politician of his standing, another senior Lib Dem was on hand to give the full run-down to the waiting press corps, pose for photos in paint stained clothes and give lengthy television interviews. Step forward hapless Scottish Liberal leader Willie Rennie, eager to point out that yes, he too had been hit by the paint, like actually for real!! Notice that wee speck on his collar? You have to hand it to him though – it’s the most media coverage he’s ever had.
RADGE RATING: A lone wolf action, but a pretty audacious one by all accounts. 8/10
MEDIA IMPACT: It’s just a shame noone caught the actual paint-filled-egg throwing. Oh how glorious it must have been. 9/10
TORY BAITING RATING: 8/10
5) FEBRUARY 10 2012: ANDREW LANSLEY IN EDINBURGH
Fast forward to the beginning of 2012 and the Tories were making fast progress on tearing apart the English NHS and selling it off to their mates, overseen by then Health Minister Andrew Lansley. When he visited Edinburgh, plenty of local residents were on hand to greet him, as recorded in beautiful lo-res technicolour by our friends at The Telegraph, who note that the legislation in contention – the Health & Social Care Bill (now Act) – does not apply to Scotland. A fine example of international solidarity.
RADGE FACTOR: A spirited protest saw multiple attempts to find ways of getting in the building. Definitely a 7/10
MEDIA IMPACT: 6.5/10
TORY BAITING RATING: This is how to do it – no sneaking out the back exit this time. Watching that footage of Lansley walking out never gets old. 8/10
6) FEBRUARY 16 2012: DAVID CAMERON IN EDINBURGH
A few days after Lansley was chased out, David Cameron was back up in Edinburgh offering some scraps from the table – as long as we reject independence! As always, there was a desperate scramble to find out where he was speaking – soon traced to the Apex hotel on the Grassmarket. Shit started going down, with the police keen to keep the protest well away from the hotel building. In the end there was a few arrests – fortunately all charges since dropped. Cameron had then planned a nice photo-op with Salmond up at St Andrews House, rudely interrupted when the front steps of the building were occupied by 60 anti-cuts protesters… right in front of the assembled news cameras.
RADGE FACTOR: Jostling with cops, occupying a press call and running after his car as it sped away heralds a respectable 9.5/10
MEDIA IMPACT: Live on News 24. Mostly by occupying their photo call. #YOLO 8/10
TORY BAITING RATING: This was a good one. 9/10
7) MARCH 23 2012: DAVID CAMERON IN TROON
Everyone loves a wee day out by the seaside, even the Scottish Tories. March 2012 saw unprecedented scenes of anarchy (for Troon) as hundreds of people marched on the Scottish Tories, in town for a couple of days for their party conference. Troon Concert Hall is not the most high security venue in the world – a fact the polis got around by surrounding a vast perimeter with metal fencing. By the time the trade union organised march arrived at the hall, though, the conference delegates were ready for their lunch. And they were standing, 100 or so of them, just behind the fencing waiting to be escorted to go and eat their smoked salmon pieces or mini lobsters or whatever the fuck Tories eat for lunch. Which led to spectacular scenes as dozens of protesters ignored the STUC stewards and stood about yelling at the Tories/letting off flares for a while. Sun, seaside and shouting at Tories: the perfect family day out.
RADGE FACTOR: The rally along the seafront was rubbish so some people decided to head back to the conference and KICKED OVER A FENCE. The police didn’t like this very much, set about kettling the unruly mob, marched them back to the coaches and then wouldn’t let anyone go until they’d searched them. Rumours that folk in the kettle had to start downing tenner eccies to avoid getting busted by the police remain difficult to verify. 10/10 for effort.
MEDIA IMPACT: Union News made a nice video which you can see above. Otherwise minimal. 2/10
TORY BAITING RATING: Lots of rattled Tory delegates surrounded by a metal fence. A nice warm up for the gulags. 7/10
8) JULY 31 2012: DAVID CAMERON IN GLASGOW
The thing about Young Tories, what with them all being arrogant careerist show-offs, is that when they’re going to something like… a private Tory fundraiser with the Prime Minister, of course they’re going to boast about it to anyone who’ll listen. True story: this is how the word about Cameron’s top secret fundraiser with Scots Tory grandees was leaked out, allowing dozens of protesters to gather outside Glasgow’s Central Hotel within hours of hearing about it, much to the chagrin of our by now familiar friends at Special Branch. It goes without saying that Cameron was sneaked in and out of some mad tunnel/underground car park, speeding by in a blur of tinted SUVs, but there was still loads of other Tories to shout out as they walked in. Like David Mundell! And er, David Mundell! Some of the more adventurous young upstarts among the fundraiser attendees even started chucking water out of a window at the demonstration below. Very original. One cunning protester did make it within sight of Cameron though, hiding in the toilets before storming into the room shouting anti-cuts slogans – as later featured on Have I Got News For You!
RADGE RATING: It was mostly the cops who kicked off at this one, reading the Public Order Act 1986 and declaring that anyone who remained in the vicinity of the hotel after a certain time would be arrested. 6/10
MEDIA IMPACT: A members-only Tory event, the press were mostly absent. The following day’s Sun carried an ‘exclusive’ on how Cameron faced down the terrifying threat of shouting-man – and his hilarious riposte. But then there was obviously HIGNFY. 8/10
TORY-BAITING RATING: Another day, another anti-Cameron demo. 7/10
9) 6 SEPTEMBER 2012: GEORGE OSBORNE IN GLASGOW
Osborne was in town for the evening, addressing the Confederation of British Industry (Scotland) in Glasgow with something about how we’re better together with the economic stability provided by the UK (lol) and how “our economy is healing” (lol). He was in there for fucking ages, which meant that by the time he finally emerged there was only a hardcore of protesters still hanging about the back of the Hilton. And he didn’t even have the gratitude to come and say hello, speeding by in a blacked out SUV. Still, we got to see people like Murdo Fraser (nice pair of tartan trousers) and er, David Mundell, much closer up, so it wasn’t all in vain.
RADGE RATING: a pretty tame affair which involved standing out the back of a hotel all night. The hotel staff on their fag breaks were enjoying it at least. 4/10
MEDIA IMPACT: minimal. 1/10
TORY BAITING RATING: The closest anyone got to annoying any Tories was asking Murdo Fraser if he is, in fact, Murdo Fraser. Turns out he is! Star struck doesn’t quite cut it. Then people shouted at Osborne’s car as it sped by. 3/10
10) SEPTEMBER 9 2012: DAVID WILLETTS IN ABERDEEN
Universities Minister David Willetts was in Aberdeen last September for a science festival at the university. Students at the uni were well prepared – plastering the campus in posters making it very clear that neither he nor his agenda of marketisation and privatisation are welcome, and then grabbing a word with him too.
RADGE FACTOR: Doing a banner drop inside the building he’s speaking at is pretty good by our estimations. 6.5/10
MEDIA IMPACT: David who? 3/10
TORY-BAITING RATING: A well organised effort, and a successful one too, with Willetts directly confronted on “9k fees and his odd attitudes towards feminism”. 8/10
11) MARCH 27 2013: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH IN EDINBURGH
Not much more needs to be said on this one other than RATBAG. While protesters gathered outside the venue, where a conference on welfare ‘reform’ was being hosted, it was those who’d managed to sneak inside (in one instance by paying for a hotel room) that grabbed the headlines.
RADGE FACTOR: A brilliant effort by the three people (and one guide dog) that made it in to confront DWP minister IDS, the man behind the horrific welfare cuts that’re hitting tens of millions across the country. 9/10
MEDIA IMPACT: Momentous. 10/10
TORY-BAITING RATING: See above. 10/10
Guess who’s back??? After a wee ride about on a Submarine over at Faslane, Cameron headed to Glasgow to speak to some arms industry workers in Govan. His message: BETTER TOGETHER WITH WEAPONS. His location was garnered at the last minute and 50 or so protesters headed to reinforce the message – just in case he didn’t get it the first three times – that he isn’t very popular and nor are his Trident nuclear missiles. The drafting in of 50 cops and plenty of manoeuvring about of riot vans later, Cameron once again sped away, this time on the wrong side of the road. Later that day, the SNP would boast that they recruited 100 new members as a result of the visit.
RADGE FACTOR: A challenging location: military-industrial complex surrounded by a big fence. 3/10
MEDIA IMPACT: Lots of Cameron coverage, not much protesty coverage. 4/10
TORY-BAITING RATING: I’m sure Dave got a glimpse out his car window. 5/10
TO BE CONTINUED…
The above is an attempt to document an interesting segment of Scotland’s radical and social history during what will hopefully be our last years as part of the UK – and hopefully our last ever Tory government too – with the reception meted out to visiting Cabinet ministers reflective of wider attitudes towards the UK Government.
On that note, long may their visits continue – at least until September 2014. For constant propaganda trips – whether it’s riding around on hated nuclear subs (Cameron), dining with bankers (Osborne) or coming up to proclaim that the Government “isn’t cutting welfare, but managing growth at a lower level” (IDS) – can only act as reminders that this is an alien government imposing unpopular policies on Scotland with no mandate. Before too long we’ll have the chance to start building a better future, when we can take our own affairs into our own hands and make Tory governments history: let’s make the right choice.
And can we suggest they get Tony Blair up for a couple of visits as well?