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Reminds me of the Bavarian CSU which is more socially conservative than the CDU.

It makes sense for the Conservatives to adapt their message to different parts of the country. In America the Republicans and Democrats usually run on a very broad platform and tailor their message making it relevant to different regions. We need to be flexible and while Cameron’s realignment of the Conservative Party might win over some English middle class LibDem voters it’s not going to work in the north and Scotland. Providing the Conservatives can be flexible enough to allow for different approaches in different parts of the country avoiding the perception that we are a divided party this isn’t a problem.

I'm still amazed that so many Conservatives in Scotland still don't get it.

Scotland needs a different brand and form of Conservatism than the rest of the UK - I think pretty much everyone accepts that now.

But to argue that Scotland needs a more "right-wing" Tory Party is just plain daft. Scotland has been rejecting "old-time Conservatism" since the 1960s.

By all the Party should advocate lower taxes etc. but it needs to be done through a new way - why not use the 'and theory' advocated so much on this website?

>>>But to argue that Scotland needs a more "right-wing" Tory Party is just plain daft. Scotland has been rejecting "old-time Conservatism" since the 1960s.<<<

What does that mean exactly, Zhukov? What is "old-time" Conservatism? How has it manifested itself since the 1960s in Scotland? How has it specifically been rejected?

I can see how and why the myth that savage right-wing Tory rule was inflicted on brave, bonny Scotland - it being mainly agitprop assisted by the unfortunate trialling of the poll tax there. However, the reality is that most of the proconsuls were pretty wet (Malcolm Rifkind) or patrician (George Younger/Ian Lang) and the only rightwinger, Michael Forsyth, spent most of his time appeasing the natives by moving the Stone of Scone and suchlike. A good dose of "right-wing" Conservatism would almost certainly do Scotland a world of good so let's not prop up the left wing agenda and pretend it has already been tried.

Perhaps Annabel Goldie could be persuaded to challenge Call Me Dave for the leadership of the UK party. As for Zhukov's comments, Scotland is actually a far more conservative country than England and Wales. People still believe, mostly, in the importance of marriage, families, punishment for criminals, drug dealers and pushers, etc. The very things Cameron (Mr White Lines) seeks to undermine. Although Scottish people voted Labour in the past, they're under the mistaken impression that they are voting for the old school of Labour, ie. against drugs, hard on criminals, for the working man and woman (note emphasis on 'working'), protection of exploitation of workers by unscupulous bosses, etc. Many people in Scotland, who once voted Labour, are sick and tired of failed NuLabour Liberal-Left experiment, and long to have someone who will not only talk tough, but will deliver tough policies to deal with the problems that Scotland suffers from. The policy being pursued by Annabel Goldie is more likely to be successful, not only because the Scottish public want it, but also because it offers choice and because the local associations are going to be inspired to work harder to support something they actually believe in. Unlike is the case in England.

The Scottish Tories have a genuinely difficult dilemma. Voters in Scotland have shown little appetite for Conservative policies over the last 10-15 years – the relatively good showing in 1992, when Major fought on a strongly pro-Union platform, proved to be the last stand for Conservatism in Scotland. The poll ratings are parlous – flatlining at around 15-17% of the vote for the last 6 or 7 years and going nowhere.

The dilemma is that you can fit any analysis you like round these few bare facts. If you’re a right-winger, you believe that many Scots are socially conservative and crying out for firm moral and political leadership, and that Goldie’s Conservatives should strike out in that direction. If you’re more to the left, you point out that Scots are traditionally more left-wing than the rest of the UK and that it was the Scottish perception of the Thatcher government as being hard, English, and right-wing that has turned the Scots Tories into a fringe party.

What is undeniable is this: there are 6 parties in the Scottish Parliament (not including independents etc) and 5 of them are left-wing. Scotland is crying out for someone to break the stifling, socialist, statist consensus that is holding us back. I don’t pretend that it is easy to be a Tory MSP in Scotland, and trying to break the mould must seem like pushing water up a hill. Nor do I think there’s anything to be gained from one-dimensional “hang ’em and flog ‘em” politics as embodied by the Phil Gallies of this world – though there is something to be said for a tough line on drugs (in the Scottish context, the debate is largely about heroin use in our cities, not ‘designer drugs’ and cannabis).

What is needed is fresh thinking, willingness to embrace new ideas, but above all a stated intention to try and roll back the frontiers of the state and bring Scotland into the 21st Century. If that means that they are pigeonholed by the media as to the right of Cameron’s Conservatives, then so be it. So far I see little movement left or right under the current Scottish leadership; certainly none forwards.

aristeides - a good dose of right wing Toryism maybe exactly what the scots need but there is the minor problem of the scottish people not wanting it! "Old-time Conservatism" is quoted from the article above.

Echoing what has been said above, Scotland desperatly needs a political party with a fresh voice and ideas - and that can only come from the centre-right.

What is unhelpful is seeing the solution in such an old fashioned way. Scotland doesn't need or want Thatcherism or an out-dated, mindless right wing ideology. A pragmatic Scottish Conservatism based on the economic lessons of Ireland and the collectivist spirit of social justice inherent in Scotland would be ideal.

To make a start Annable Goldie should do a speech on 'rejecting Thatcherism'.

I've got a dark sense of forboding about the Tory Party in Scotland. They are showing all the symptoms of being rudderless under Annabel, and the tactical views of many senior party members north of the border is unsophisticated, uninspired and (consistently) out of touch. Many years before we see improvement up there I think...


As it stands, the Tory party couldn't really get much smaller in Scotland. There are relatively few party members, very few activists, and little or no coherent infrastructural support (the main Scottish party office being particularly useless and unhelpful to the regional associations). It's the nationalistic sentiment that many Scots are particularly keen on, trying to get away from the political failure of the Union, as they see it. They see the Conservatives as an English party, whom they subsequently distrust.

The problem is not so much the Tory message, rather it's the messenger. Annabel Goldie has the right ideas and policy agenda - ideas which would be popular (particularly the need to reclaim Scottish territorial fishing waters from Europe - a vote winner on the East Coast), but she's up against an enormous obstacle in terms of the way in which the Conservatives are seen as 'of another country, and of Thatcher'. To distance herself from Cameron and the English party could turn out to be a shrewd move.

As for Oberon Houston's comment 'tactical views of many senior party members north of the border is unsophisticated', perhaps in the past that has been true, but Annabel is doing something different this time, not fighting against the existence of the Scottish Parliamentary system, and she should be encouraged in her endeavours.

To what extent could the Scottish Tories gain support for opposing devolution or emphasising Unionism? I know it certainly wouldn't get them a majority of Scottish votes but could it possibly turn from from a relatively small to a relatively large minority party? My knowledge of Scotland is limited, having been there only once on a school trip.

Richard I don't think there is very much to be gained through resurecting the devolution argument. Whether people like it or not the parliament is here to stay.

FWIW tactically a traditional Tory message may well be the sensible choice up here. With the best will in the world we're unlikely to win back some of the small 'l' liberal voters in Edinburgh South, Aberdeen South, Strathkelvin etc. OTOH this message may work in the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway and Perthshire where a tough line on drugs and law and order may well go down well.

The other plus point for this kind of 'core vote' strategy is that I suspect that turnout will be at least as bad as last time. Consequently any party that energises it's core vote to actually come out will probably do quite well.

A case in point would be East Renfrewshire/Eastwood. Even if we didn't convince a single new voter to vote Conservatove but got the 14,000+ who voted for us in 2005 we would probably win the seat.

Scottish Tories need to work out their own salvation. The gap in Scottish politics is for a right wing nationalist Party. (Lab RW unionist, Libs LW unionist, SNP LW nationalist) I suspect that that has to be right wing in a social sense not an economic one given how dependent the economy is on public spending.

That said if Dave wakes up to the possibilities in England and abolishes the Barnett formula then our support in Scotland s going to hit a new low. Recovery will only come when the Scots see how much their vaunted public spending is costing them when they have to pay for it by themselves and look for a way out.

Thank heavens some people want to remain conservative. Being to the right of the Cameron Party is not difficult: even Blair appears to be to DC's right...

If the Scottish Conservatives choose to listen to the views of their supporters, instead of trendy Cameroons, then good luck to them - it is good news indeed. Maybe I should move to Scotland.

Glad to get a discussion on Scotland.
We are working hard on our forthcoming Holyrood election. The grassroots are certainly important.

By the way, nobody is happy about our expensive Scottish Parliament building. Even Annabel cannot save us from the excesses of El Collapso.

Is the answer perhaps to fully spin off the Scottish (and Welsh) parties as independent parties entireley? They could come up with their own name and their own policies, without being seen as the offshoot of what will always be an 'English' party.

The Welsh party would also be free to advocate full parliament status for Wales under the new rules set up in the Govt of Wales Act, which would perhaps be a distinctive enough agenda to get people to sit up and take notice of 'us' as having changed without the whole sackcloth and ashes routine the ultra modernisers favour. It might also enable us to eat into the PC vote in the more socially conservative rural areas during next year's Assembly elections.

Doing this would also allow the English Tories to argue for an English Parliament without worrying about damaging our support elsewhere.

The boldest step, would then be to merge the Ulster Conservatives with whatever is salvageable of the UUP. Provided that party did not advocate the kind of unilateral concessions that drove the unionist vote to Paisley, it could have a good future.

Thus we would have four parties for the four countries, with their own distinct policies and agendas but enough common ground to form a Westminster government either through a formal coalition or an informal one (e.g. think how the DUP always sat on the govt benches under John Major).

And to those who see this as an assault on Unionism, I would argue to the contrary. Support for remaining a United Kingdom (albeit a federal one) would be one of those common themes between all four parties. We will save the Union, not by hoping for a return to the structures of the past but by making the case for the Union today and proposing structures that bolster it.

Of course all this might be anathema to our members in Scotland and Wales. Anyone know of any non-English Tory blogs to read?

Zhukov, I hate to say this, but are you sure it's not you who's stuck in the past? You seem to assume that simply because Scots have have been in the habit of rejecting something that they will, world without end, continue to do so. Whereas some of us think, things change. And in Scotland one of the things that has changed is that, to do a half Menken, the Scots asked for more (devolved) Government, and they're now getting all the government they deserve. In other words, since things aren't in fact static, the dynamic of vastly increased statism in Scotland is inevitably producing a counter reaction. One, moreover, which the smarter Scots Tories like Murdo can ensure we benefit from.

As for the DUP sitting on the Tory benches under Major - they only did this for procedural reasons. The Speaker calls MPs time about (ie one from one side of the House, the next time from the other). During sparsely attended NI debates, if you had the UUP on one side and the DUP on the other, it meant you could have a Unionist MP being followed by another, different sort of Unionist MP. Of course it hardly matters now that the UUP only have one usless, Labour-infatuated MP.

"To what extent could the Scottish Tories gain support for opposing devolution or emphasising Unionism? I know it certainly wouldn't get them a majority of Scottish votes but could it possibly turn from from a relatively small to a relatively large minority party? My knowledge of Scotland is limited, having been there only once on a school trip."

The problem is that, whilst only 1.8 million Scots voted for devolution, Scots who oppose devolution tend not to vote in Holyrood elections. It would be a disastrous strategy to oppose devolution - even if the senior citizen members of the party would like this to be the case - for that very reason.

At a younger level there's been an enthusiastic response to the new settlement and whilst I think 2007 will be a bit soon, in 2011 a number of Tory MSPs will be in their early to mid 60s and I think a new generation coming through. Maybe...

The Tories' problem in Scotland is quite simple - they are a Unionist Party in a country where Unionism is out of fashion.

No amount of left/right manoeuvring will make much difference to their polling figures, until they resolve this conumdrum.

Reminds me of the Bavarian CSU which is more socially conservative than the CDU.

Posted by: Richard | July 26, 2006 at 14:15

Yes and the CSU dominates Amigoland completely

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