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Peter Blair: We must always be the Conservative and Unionist Party

Picture 1 Peter Blair was brought up in Glasgow and has served on the committees of the St Andrews and Cambridge Universities' Conservative Associations. He currently lives and works in Hertfordshire.

David Cameron has told us that he came into politics because he loves this country. Like him, I love this country, like him I believe that this country is, and always must be an equal Union, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I will not give up or give in by dismissing Scottish Conservatives; I cannot back the Conservative Home's General Election Review's idea of abandoning the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

It took me until my twentieth year to be honest with myself and my values and join the Conservative and Unionist Party. The word 'Tory' was anathema; the concept of voting Tory was beyond the pale. Yet Conservative policies are not only necessary, but popular all over the country until they are mentioned to be Conservative.

The pre-1965 party name may have made sense for that time, but any idea that a name change could alter Scotland's perceptions is, at best, an assertion; at worst it is a piece of woolly thinking which would make Conservatism completely irrelevant in Scotland for the foreseeable future. Even the names ('Freedom Party… Reform Party') which Conservative Home suggests sound like the kind of party which loses to even the Monster Raving Looney Party or, more ridiculously, the Scottish Socialists.

In Scotland, the 'nasty party' fallacy has its claws dug in, perhaps more deeply than in the rest of the Union. Yet both David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have made Scotland a priority; the wonderful work of IDS was inspired by some of the poorest parts of Glasgow. This focus is both practical and right: we are not the party of sectional or regional faction; we should and, hopefully, will govern for the whole Union: Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Yet this could fail if we let the legitimate concerns of many English MPs and Englishmen push away, rather than support, the Scottish section of our Party.

I was, as a student, sickened to hear Conservative MPs, many of whom are now in the government, and power-hungry MSPs casually suggesting that the Scottish party should branch out on its own to, in Conservative Home's words, 'develop distinctive policies for Scotland'. In this, we are giving in to the Nationalists' race demagoguery and allowing the idea that political issues are different because they are Scottish.

This smacks of surrender, saying that Scotland is difficult to win and upsets Simon Heffer so let's not take the responsibility for our failure to win it in the election. This surrender would give succour to the left-wing cabals running the Scottish Parliament and many councils in Scotland's poorest areas. This would lead inexorably to further tightening of the grip of the state and, which is even worse, the break up of the Union.

Yet we must do something. David Cameron has made a commendable start in prioritising a visit to Scotland and I confident that he will keep doing this. As the coalition moves forward, we must make every effort to show Scotland what it is missing in education, work and pensions and a balanced budget.

What better way to do this than to allow the Scottish Parliament to raise its own revenue and take responsibility for its own actions? When people vote considering their wallets, they vote for common sense: history shows us that they vote Conservative. Yet the socialist model of both Labour and the SNP could cause further damage to Scotland before anything gets better; it is depressing to think that this could be the only way to a Scotland where the state is no longer master and the people make their own decisions about the own lives.

If we believe in the Union and if we believe that this Union's best days lie ahead, we must spare no effort in showing every single member of the Union how our policies and beliefs will make their lives better. If not, then we are no longer the Conservative and Unionist Party which I joined.


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