Conservative Diary

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The Conservative performance in Wales and Scotland

The Scottish Tories scored 13.9% of the vote. Despite personal warmth towards Annabel Goldie and a disciplined campaign (supported by the London operation) the party lost five MSPs in total. The defeat of Derek Brownlee is seen as a particularly big setback. Known as the "brainbox" by colleagues he'll leave a big hole in the Tory team. With the SNP winning a majority the Scottish Tories will be less influential than in the last parliament. Goldie secured more police officers, a freeze in council tax and new approaches to drug treatments as part of her support for the budgets of Alex Salmond's previous minority government. Mrs Goldie, sources say, is expected to stay as leader for a few months but will then step down. The Scottish Tories will then have a leadership contest that should be an opportunity for a wider debate about the party's position in Scotland. At repeated General Elections the Scottish Party has won none or just one MP, making it very hard for the party to win a majority at Westminster. ConservativeHome has long recommended a separate Scottish identity for the party with its own manifesto and leadership structure.

It goes almost without saying that Wales is a very different electoral proposition from Scotland.  Much of it is less culturally different from England than much of Scotland, there is no Welsh media to comparable with that north of the border, and the Conservatives started the Welsh elections in a stronger position.  The Party performed well, playing a significant part in denying Labour an Assembly majority: their controversial strategy of campaigning to protect Wales's NHS budget appears to have paid off. Welsh Conservatives increased their share of the vote to win in Labour’s key target seats of Aberconwy, Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire.  They made gains from all parties, including a 10% swing from Lib Dem to Conservative in Montgomeryshire, 2.5% from Labour in Carmarthen West and 8% from Plaid Cymru in Aberconwy.  The Party in Wales now hold more Assembly constituencies than ever before, and has more elected national representatives than at any time since 1983.  However, Nick Bourne, the leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly, lost his regional seat.  Bourne had done a long stint in the position and might, had he been re-elected, have considered taking the same action that Goldie is said to be considering in Scotland: he has no cut-and-dried successor.


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