The tories have been accused of acting as though they don’t care about public opinion. That is not true. They are not acting.

First published in June 2020.

There’s little that’s attractive about the Conservatives at the best of times. They’ve always been the party of privilege and the interests of the wealthy. Once upon a time, they covered their patrician entitlement under a thin veneer of appeals to British patriotism, and a proclaimed belief in gentlemanly behaviour and honour. But now they don’t even bother to hide their contempt. The days when a Conservative minister resigned because of a scandal are long gone. Nowadays, even when they’re sacked, they just pop up back in government a few months later.

The Tories have been accused of acting as though they don’t give a toss about public opinion. That’s not true. They’re not acting.

We are governed by smirks. It’s the smile that says, well well, look at the consequences of my own actions, and there’s nothing you can do about it. To be a part of the British state means to be trapped with the smirks of sociopaths who lie and who know that we know they’re lying, and who know that there’s nothing we can do about it.

We saw it in the smirk of Dominic Cummings as he concluded his liefest in the Rose Garden. It was the smirk of a sociopath who knew he’d got away with a lie.

We saw it when Michael Gove attempted to claim that driving when your vision is impaired is a perfectly reasonable way to test your eyesight. It was the smirk of a habitual liar who knew that it was a lie too far.


We see it every time Priti Patel appears in public, her smug self-satisfaction at having power over the lesser people.

We saw it when Matt Hancock laughed and guffawed as though being asked about the failures of the government he represents was the most hilarious joke he’d ever heard. It was the smirk of a spineless careerist who realised he was trapped, that his whole life had become the defence of a lie.


We see it every time the Part Time Prime Minister stumbles, mumbles, fnaughs and ums his way through a public appearance as unprepared as an actor who doesn’t even know what play he’s appearing in, never mind not learning his lines. And who doesn’t care anyway as he smirks about becoming World King. The smirk is all he is, the smirk is there is. A smirk is a smile that bullies. A smirk is a smile that says the Tories are a joke, and we’re the punchline.

The Conservatives are the party of smirkers who wear their scorn for the little people on the sleeves of the unironed and stained shirts that Dominic Cummings wears as a power statement. He’s telling us all that he’s so influential, so indispensible, so knowledgeable, that the normal rules of business appearance don’t apply to him. And as he does so, he smiles that sly passive aggressive smile in order to tell us that he’s above the rules that we must abide by, that norms of decency are only for those who lack his consideration of his own immensity.

He’s not alone. The behaviour of Dominic Cummings is only what we have come to expect from every member of this British government, whether they’re elected politicians, or appointees like the members of the Lords or advisors. When it comes to dealing with the biggest crisis facing us all, they are the worst performing government anywhere in the world. And there they are, smirking as the coffins line up, their sole concern is thinking about their own careers, reputations, and how to deflect the blame.

England, where the British Government has the sole responsibility for measures to tackle the pandemic, has the highest per capita death rate anywhere on the globe. England has suffered 622 deaths per million due to Covid-19, ahead of Spain which has seen 578 deaths per million due to the virus. The UK figure is slightly ahead of Spain’s, at 588 per million, but that includes the fact that Scotland has suffered 434 per million, Wales 429, and Northern Ireland 279. That’s a damning indictment of the British Government. And still they smirk.

Country comparisons. / Table by Travelling Tabby - Source: Worldometers | As of 2 June 2020

The British Government is the worst in the world in undeniable terms, yet apologists for the British state in Scotland still insist that we must surrender ourselves to the smirkers. They have such little confidence in themselves, in Scotland, in our own abilities that they demand that we share their terrorised belief that that left to its own devices Scotland would perform even worse than the very worst.

In 2014 we were told that Scotland needs the protection of the UK in order to keep the people of this country safe. We now know that what safety we do enjoy is despite the British Government, not because of it. Yet British nationalists like Ian Murray, the last Labour MP standing, continue to bemoan the fact that people are criticising Boris Johnson instead of focussing their anger on Thatessempee.

Certainly the Scottish Government has made mistakes in its handling of this crisis. Nicola Sturgeon has put her hands up and said as much herself. However for Ian to demand that the real subject of our ire ought to be the Scottish Government and complaining that we’re too angry with Boris Johnson is like demanding to know why you’re more upset about a smirking sociopathic serial killer than you are about someone who ran a red light while trying to prevent the serial killer from taking another victim.

As the UK comes out of lockdown, there is still a high level of infection in the wider community, especially in England. In the UK there are currently around 2,000 new infections daily, which is a far higher level of new infection than in other states which have started to loosen lockdown restrictions. Epidemiologists have warned that coming out of lockdown without the track and trace system fully operational, and with such a high level of infections means that we are at a very high risk of a new spike in deaths. The Conservatives are desperate to prioritise the economy, and if that means risking a new wave of infections they’ll only smirk their way out of that too.

Scotland has the ability to wipe the smirk off their faces. Once this crisis is over, we’ll vote for independence and do just that.🔷


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ Michael Gove

🗳️ Priti Patel

🗳️ Matt Hancock

🗳️ Boris Johnson

🗳️ Ian Murray

🗳️ Nicola Sturgeon

[This piece was originally published in The Conversation and re-published in PMP Magazine on 1 June 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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