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the camaraderie was so strong today in the chamber, I'm even thinking about voting SNP!! Unless you live in Scotland you can't understand the change that has taken place since the they were elected..

minority parties matter well only one does, us... Labour are really ripping themselves to shreds and the LibDems are just shouting but no one can hear them.

Hate to rain on what is being spun as a good day for the Scots Tories, but the three concessions were all SNP election manifesto commitments. It has to be said that Salmond and Swinney are both extremely impressive operators, and make Labour and LibDems look like the bungling amateurs that they are.

Still, nice to see Annabel get some due credit, though special mention must also be given to Derek Brownlee, who is developing into a very strong asset, not only to the Tories, but to Scottish politics as a whole.

Well done Annabel and the Tory team. Not only delivering on manifesto commitments (despite not being in power) but also laying to rest for good the 'pariah' status of Scottish Tories. After 11 years in the wilderness we may not be in office but we do have some power.

Now we can campaign on successful delivery - of business rates cuts, a new drugs policy, and 500 extra police officers.

This is very important. If the Conservatives are successful in delivering things like more police on the beat and lower taxes over the next four years they'll become relevant again to Scottish politics.

Congratulations to Annabel.

I'd personally like to give two fingers to the Scots Telegraph team and some of the Tory constituency fossils for their criticisms of our Annabel.

Well done Annabel.

Another win for the SNP Celia and I predict Scotland will have independance whether it wants it or not.
Whilst I'm glad that a couple of good measures will now get passed anything that makes like easier for Salmond and his cronies really sticks in my craw.

Am I the only tory that has major concerns that the UNIONIST party is in any way helping the treasonous separatists?

The SNP will destroy this union.

Malcolm, just why are you so nasty and negative? Assuming that you’re the same Malcolm Dunn on a certain Essex council, one can only hope your contributions on it are more constructive than they are on here.

This is good news for Scottish businesses and Scotland’s vulnerable. Good an Annabel!

Am I the only tory that has major concerns that the UNIONIST party is in any way helping the treasonous separatists?

Treasonous separatists they may be, but they are in power in Scotland. Huffing and puffing about it won't bring about a resurrection of unionism. Acting in the best interests of Scotland gives the Scots Tories credibility and in doing so people will listen when they stick up for the union. The perception up here is that Labour and the LibDems are only unionists for snouts-in-troughs purposes. The Conservatives have a chance to put forward a positive case for the Union. But aligning themselves with the SNP is the best way to distinguish themselves from the tired Lib/Lab lot.

The only reservation I do have is that the third party shouldn't have this power. FPTP I say. (Hopefully Annabel will find herself a constituency to represent.)

Did Salmond not offer to resign the SNP administration and force an election if the budget didn't go through? So why the Hell did we not let this happen-we were bound to increase our seats with the recent 3% swing to us in scotland, and we could have potentialy won a seat or two from labour (especially eastwood... and west ren) and yet we gave this chance to make real progress and offer some real chance up for some stupid consessions in an otherwise bad budget. Have we lost the plot in Scotland?

Is our policy on drugs and crime still the same as at the last election; namely that offenders with a drugs problem will be presented with the option of residential rehab or prison?

I think it was one of our better policies that should have been publicised more. Any info gratefully recieved for the election war on crime.

You have to work with what you have got, that is life and reality. It seems to me that the Scottish Conservatives have just proved they are grown up and care about helping the community. They have helped to dispel myths and make themselves credible. From that point they can build. Has to be a good move.

Oh Justin don't give me that!You speak ill of fellow Conservatives far more than anyone else on this blog. Whilst I'm glad that the Scottish Conservatives have had a few successes with this budget if the price of that is an entrenched SNP administration which leads to the break up of the Union then it is far too high. I hope that there are far brighter people within the party who will realise that.

The Conservatives put the interests of the Scottish people first. No budget would have meant a month by month re-negotiation and Parliament would have ground to a halt. It was an admirable thing for the Conservatives to do.

I agree with Josh; 'huffing and puffing' about the SNP in power won't benefit anyone bar the SNP. If the diverse polticians of Northern Ireland can come together and form a government, then it should be a walk in the park for Scotland to do so.

I know some Conservatives want the parliament to fail because they have failed to come to terms with devolution. That is not what the Scottish people want and it's not what the vast majority of hardworking Conservative activists north of the border want. We are a position of coalition or close co-operation on an issue by issue basis not only in Holyrood but also in councils across Scotland.

It is the strongest political position the Conservatives have been in Scotland for close to a generation.

Josh 22:15 - have you lost your marbles. If Alex Salmond called an election tomorrow the SNP would sweep the board they are that popular. The Tories may win 1 or 2 more seats but they would be completely ineffectual on the inevitable referendum - rendering Scotland free at last

As a Scot I was extremely pleased to see the Tories actually making a difference for a change. Bella's Issue-by-Issue strategy is working well, gradually building a better Scotland, constructively and consensusly (if that's a word)

Have we lost the plot in Scotland?

Bringing down a government for the hell of it won't endear the Conservatives to voters. That's where the security comes from in a hung parliament. The opposition could push the button at any time, but they won't, because most of the time, it would damage them more than the government. Only after something like a Winter of Discontent can you get away with it like Maggie did.

The Tories may win 1 or 2 more seats but they would be completely ineffectual on the inevitable referendum - rendering Scotland free at last

And this would be helped by opposing the budget how?

Regarding independence, Ive always felt that if Scotland wishes to have independence then thats what it should have. I have no affiliation to Unionism and Ive never understood the arguments. Let the Scots choose.

Well done to the Scottish Tories on the budget. The SNP got their budget, the Tories got some strong concessions out of it and look like they dont mind working with the administration. Both the SNP and the Tories got what they wanted.

The one's that are looking the worst after the budget are the Labour party - proposing an amendment to the budget that was voted through by the Nats, Greens, Tories and Margo McDonald then abstaining in the final vote. We managed to be constructive and get what we want from the budget and are once again relevant in Scottish politics

Scottish Tory Boy is correct – it’s all about relevance.

What we need to come to terms with is that we are playing a very long game indeed in Scotland, and that clinging to the prescriptions of the past rather than coming to terms with the new realities of devolution – both electoral and cultural – will take us precisely nowhere.

I tried to make this point several weeks ago and in so doing provoked a response from the Telegraph’s Iain Martin in which he (quite wilfully, I am sure) miscontrued my contention that progress is being made in Scotland by the Conservatives as being a suggestion of some kind of breakthrough. The point I was really making was that after a decade and more of being on life support we have, over the last twleve months started at least to breathe unaided again, and that our – albeit undeniably limited – recovery has been as a result of our willingness to suck down the oxgyen of relevance, having choked on it for years.

Have a look at Brian Taylor’s BBC blog today. Here are a selection of quotes left on it, following the passing of the budget:

“To the Tories I say this. In the 80s as a youngster growing up in Scotland I was full of contempt and resentment for everything conservative. Today I must say I am so impressed by the actions of the Tories in Scotland, they did not fold they fought for what they felt was neccessary and won these concessions. I saw no interest in Partisan politics from you instead a genuine interest and concern, So Miss Goldie et all even though I totally disagree with your fundemental policies you are a worthy opposition and a credit to the parliament.”


“The Tories, the Greens and Margo were relevant and constructive today....Labour and the Libs I'm afraid were caught up in their own wee petulant Corrievrechans.”


“I never thought I'd say this, but the Tories are the only ones making a fist of it. The LabLibdem Alliance is showing how hopeless they are.”


“The Tories are doing a fantastic job in the Scottish parliament and have really gained my respect, they were unelectable only a couple of years ago but now they are really showing how to be in opposition.”


In drawing attention to these comments I am absolutely not suggesting that we should throw principles and values aside in a desire to please and simply to be liked (or to ‘join the cosy consensus’ as the remainaing rump of hardline devo-abolitionists would have it).

They are however welcome evidence that the visceral contempt in which we have for years been held in Scotland is at last really abating, and that having abandoned, once and for all, our ‘no one likes us, we don’t care’ approach of the past, we are beginning to lay the foundations necessary for the electoral progress we all want to achieve.

Good on her. A choice that is best for the people of Scotland and not holding the electorate below party point scoring.

Can England have independence now please?

why if the Tories did such a good deal with the SNP, did the Finance Secretary say last night on Newsnight Scotland that the concessions amounted to little more than the amount of money the government spends in a single morning?

Thank you Bill (12:41). A really helpful comment.

The other thing I should have mentioned of course, which further underlines changing attitudes towards us north of the border, was the generally positive reaction in the Scottish media to Iain Duncan Smith’s launch at Celtic Park this week of the CSJ’s ‘Breakthrough Glasgow’ report.

Although IDS previously won plaudits for his visit to Easterhouse in 2001, the seriousness with which the CSJ report has been treated by Scottish commentators has been quite striking, extending to favourable articles, editorials, op-eds and positive television coverage, including a round table discussion on Tuesday evening on Newsnight Scotland. The only sour note was struck by the Daily Record, but that was hardly a surprise.

It was a particular pleasure to see those commentators favourably contrast IDS’s report with the bizarre proposal by Caroline Flint that Council tenants who won’t look for work should lose their homes.

In drawing attention to these comments I am absolutely not suggesting that we should throw principles and values aside in a desire to please and simply to be liked (or to ‘join the cosy consensus’ as the remainaing rump of hardline devo-abolitionists would have it).

In fact, Bill, that's the point. Those comments are not praising the Scots Tories for being poodles of Snip-Snip, but rather they are praising them for being an effective opposition. To continue on this trend will require Annabel to continue keep Salmond on his toes, being adversarial and cooperative in the right measure. So I expect her to get into plenty of clashes.

Once she's done performing the greatest miracle since Easter Sunday, I'd send her down to England to deliver the Westminster landslide. Even when the Scots Tories were a shambles, Annabel was the one shining beacon.

why if the Tories did such a good deal with the SNP, did the Finance Secretary say last night on Newsnight Scotland that the concessions amounted to little more than the amount of money the government spends in a single morning?

Do you even have to ask?! Swinney wants all the credit for the budget and doesn't want to give us any, makes sense.

At the risk of making far more than is really justified of a few quotes on Brian Taylor’s blog, I think the point is that people like to see us operating as an effective opposition, but also as a constructive one.

Of course that means sticking to your guns and arguing for what you believe, but I think it’s fair to say that the real contrast that has emerged amongst the opposition parties in Holyrood is between on the one hand the Labour and Liberal bloc, whose outlook and attitude is simply negative and gratuitously confrontational, and the more measured and realistic approach of the Conservative Group.

It’s all anecdotal of course but I am in little doubt, based on simply talking to people, which approach wins the most favour.

For what it’s worth, here’s a snapshot. I walked into my local at about 6.00pm on Wednesday evening. Good mix of people, wide range of backgrounds – and the main subject of conversation was the budget going through. That this was a matter of interest at all was of itself striking, but more striking still was the glee being expressed at Labour’s humiliation. Anyone who had a view on our position agreed that the Tories were right to have played it the way they did.

The pleasure the public is taking in watching the Labour Party north of the border being shredded is quite palpable, and I think that, without in any way overstating things, the growing respect that our approach is giving rise to is equally evident. The trick of course is to convert that growing respect into hard votes, which remains no easy task.

A very good week for the Conservative party in Scotland. I am delighted to see that Annabel Goldie and her colleagues were able to achieve three important manifesto promises with their cooperation with the SNP administration's budget.
Really enjoyable thread with some excellent posts.

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