Elizabeth Smith is Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and the Scottish Party's education spokesman. A much shorter version of this article appeared in this morning's Scotsman.
Like all of my colleagues and every other Conservative voter in the recent Scottish Election, I was bitterly disappointed at the outcome. Make no mistake about the extent of that disappointment or about the deep-seated frustration which accompanies it, because, whether we like it or not, we have consistently failed to get our act fully together when it comes to making electoral progress. And, I know I speak for a large number of people, both inside and outside the party, when I say that enough is enough.
There is only one option open to us, and that is to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we are not doing better, act upon it, and change – for good.
The first stage in that process has been the Sanderson Review which has opened up new channels for some very plain speaking. And plenty of plain speaking there has been; about our party organisation, leadership structures, about policy-making and campaigning and about our inability to broaden our appeal. The findings of the review have been a salutary lesson, which tell us that all the previous attempts at revival have not worked. Put simply; if you don’t get the votes, you will not win elections.