Jamie Gardiner is a former Barrister who now works for Accenture advising businesses on their strategy. He is based in Edinburgh, and is fourth on the Scottish Conservative List for next year’s European Election.The unofficial mascot of the Scottish Conservative conference was a man in a rat costume outside the entrance. “Go home English Tories”, he bellowed to general bemusement. If the revolution comes, I predict that it will not be led by men in rat costumes.
But what is shocking is that, in more temperate language and minus the costume, many Scots would sympathize with the rat. I still remember talking to a friend’s family a few years ago. Everything about them suggested that they would lean Conservative. They ran a small business, had a rural background and opposed separation. But they voted Nationalist, and the explanation over a pint was interesting (and I paraphrase): “We don’t agree with them on a lot of things, but when they go to Europe or Westminster at least we know they’ll push for the best deal for Scotland.”
They aren’t alone. In 2011, almost all Scots believed that the SNP put Scottish issues first. But an extraordinary 50 per cent believed that the Scottish Conservatives put English issues first. That perception is an absolute barrier to our electoral success. It would be like Senate candidate in New York standing on a pledge to fix schools in California. And that is how it plays out. Only 11 per cent of the growing number who consider themselves more Scottish than British voted Conservative in 2010.
The centre-right is more under-represented in Scotland than in any other European state. And it is no coincidence that ours is the only European state where the centre-right has no association with national (Scottish) patriotism.