Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Scottish Conservatives Have Questions To Answer

I received a very powerful email this afternoon, from a Scottish Conservative, who is clearly frustrated at the performance of the party north of the border.

While there is been a surfeit of comment, analysis and drivel, the one thing that is missing is any comment about what really lost the Tories a majority - Scotland.

You know that bit of land that if you forget to turn off the M6 onto the M55 for Blackpool, eventually becomes visible through the rain. The land where some parts of it largest town have worse statistics than Zimbabwe. Where snouts in the trough "socialist" crooks run councils with expertise that the Cosa Nostra is jealous of. That place where the Labour Party has its lair, where evil thugs train as the Tartan Taliban to destroy any prosperity in England. Where Macqueda spin against anyone (including their own side) who does not fit the mould. Even those nominally appearing to be English have names like Campbell and McBride.

Yet this was once Eden with 55% voting Tory, the land of the entrepreneur, the land of the fiscally smart who travelled the world setting up banks and finance houses, the land of the engineers who made Victorian Britain a world leader. A land where there were enough Tory MPs to assist John Major in defeating Neil Kinnock in 1992.

So what went wrong? Ah will tell ye this. The way the party behaved after 1992 lost them support. They let the gullible Scots be convinced that Mrs Thatcher was to blame for everything right down to changing Marathon bars into Snickers.

Then when we should have been rebuilding what happens? Six days after the 1997 Acting Chairman Goldie dismissed all the policy groups with a curt letter so hacking off many important Tories in the CBI, IOD etc. Then McLetchie and Goldie constructed a party dependent on Irvine Laidlaw's money and not on constituencies. Also it is on record that one constituency chairman (name known) was told not to bother with policy as it wasn't wanted.

A small clique took over (I was on the periphery of it) and the party in the country disappeared. There are very few constituency associations. Scotland should be a Tory country with a touch of Liberal. The heavy industry has gone, blamed on Thatcher but in reality dragged down by the workshy benefit scrounging West of Scotland. It is a country where well schooled, professionals vote Labour in Edinburgh. Where Labour politicians like Darling and Blair are from Tory families.

Of course there are the ghettos of Fife and Lanarkshire electing without thought expenses greedy MPs like Brown. There are the worse than deprived areas like Glasgow East where David Marshall made more money than all of his constituents and resigned early or next door where the Sleazy Speaker, the Easterhouse Egit (not Gorbals Mick which is not in his constituency) kept his constituents poor.

But this should be a country with 36% or more Tory. That would be 20 MPs.

Instead Labour has Ali Brown and the 40 thieves. The 11 Liberals are mainly from areas which have a Liberal tradition (except for Edinburgh West which has EH4, the richest postcode). The Nats have their following but they are seen as lefties (significantly they have brighter Tories than the Scottish Tories).

If Scotland had sent 20 Tories, 11 Liberals, 12 SNP and 16 Labour how different things would have been.

So why is no one talking about it? 16% instead of 40% and a swing to Labour.

Is it not time to get rid of Goldie and her ineffective mob and rebuild with Tories who are dynamic, understand policy and build up local bases?

Or do we rebuild Hadrian's Wall and give the SNP total independence (it might be easier)?

But why is there no comment or analysis?

I think this is a legitimate question to ask. Scottish Tories have consistently underperformed, unlike their Welsh counterparts. This issue needs to be dealt with, and dealt with fast.


Dilettante said...

People have been calling for Goldie's head for some time. The problem is if Cameron wades into the Scottish party it could be jumped on as more 'London interference' by nationalist types in an attempt to further alienate the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party from the electorate. It will have to be handled carefully, but it has to be done.

Salmondnet said...

In order to succeed in Scotland the Tories would need to change the electorate. Any policy labelled Tory, whatever its merit, would be rejected.

So Scottish independence would be the best option for England. Let them put their nationalist theories to the only definitive test with a clean break divorce and a firmly closed border.

DM Andy said...

Insulting the electorate that you wish to vote for you isn't a great idea. Every right-wing blogger/commentator that thought it great fun to call Gordon Brown Jock McBroon and calling all Scots workshy benefit scrongers harmed the Scottish Tories.

We can test that with the Labour candidate in Moray with his ill-advised comments about the constituents he wanted to serve. Result Moray saw a swing from Labour to Tory of 3.7% compared to a Scotland wide swing from Tory to Labour of 0.8%.

Scotland's a proud country and when the Tory grassroot rhetoric has been very anti-Scotland then you can't be surprised when Scotland defends it's own.

LiberalSeagull said...

As a resident of the "ghetto" of Lanarkshire myself, I think this letter very accurately portrays the real problem the Scottish Tories have - and it has nothing to do with Goldie.

As much as they love to complain about people pulling out the Thatcher card, the Scottish Tories are equally keen to pull out the workshy card or to come to the conclusion that the people of Scotland simply aren't worthy of voting for them.

Reformers like Goldie have tried to follow the Cameroon path to modernise the party, but the party remains obstinately stuck in the past, just as we saw with the Philip Lardner case.

If the Conservatives win seats in Scotland, they'll do it the same way as the rest of us - by putting the work in, campaigning and gradually building up support - not by sitting and waiting for the people to vote Tory. In the mean time, I'm stuck with a Conservative councillor in my area who seems happy to completely ignore her job save to turn up and scoff at Labour often enough to avoid being disqualified.

norman said...

I partly agree with the Scottish Conservative. In the early 1980s when I was working in a Scottish University, many of us the academics, went as a delegation to see George Younger the then Scottish Secretary. He knew that we were all Conservative voters, and helped to address the issues we raised. Stirlingshire., Perthshire, Ayrshire and parts of Aberdeenshire were Conservative territories then.

It is not correct to say that the rot for Conservatives started in 1992. I remember in 1987, the rising anger of my Scottish colleagues about the Thatcher govt ignoring Scotland and its manufacturing industry in favour of the service sector in England. Ofcourse the 1989/90 saw the imposition of Polltax in Scotland. It was not the imposition of Polltax per se which generated such anger but the fact that Thatcher introduced in Scotland and Scotland became the testing ground. By 1992, the support for Tories were at the lowest. We should also not ignore that Tories opposed the devolution and Scots somehow felt that the Tories again are not symapthetic to Scottish causes. Blair exploited this to the full supported by Dewer.

I agree that Goldie is a useless leader who needs to be replace and replaced quickly. She is uncharismatic headmistress-like person. But replacing her will not see Tories support rising dramatically in the 2011 Holyrood election. It depends on how PM Cameron reacts to the SNP funding demands and how he is perceived a s leader in Scotland. Scots see him as a part of a large Scottish diaspora and my Scottish friends who are hard SNP supporters appreciate PM Cameron's visit to Scotland. They know his Scottish ancestry.

It is left to the Conservative Party to move Goldie out and install some one better.

The Purpleline said...

Great E-mail and great post Iain.

I fear we must let Scotland go it alone and get subsumed into the EU along with Northern Ireland and Wales if the two later countries wish so to do.

Then England can leave the EU project and build up our defences to protect ourselves and prosper as a trading nation.
Tory Scots and good ones can come south as welsh can move east and Northern Irish can come across to the North West. But we must disband the union. Let them go their own way and let France, Germany fund the socialists.

Braveheart said...

Scots remember Thatcher.

eric said...

It's understandable that those remaining Scottish Tories should feel frustrated, but I doubt it'll help if you express contempt for so many aspects of Scotland. Glasgow's poor health stats, for example, have been so since figures began in the 19th Century - they remain a puzzle to doctors. More to the point, perhaps, you dismiss the SNP as a left wing party yet that analysis is weak. Every seat the SNP hold at Westminster (bar Dundee) was formerly a Tory seat. The SNP court an incipient Tory vote in those places. For example, they supported the Tory position on National Insurance lest they get on the wrong side of former Tory voters in marginals like Perth. While an overwhelming majority of Scots support the union, the Tory and Unionist Party seem unable to articulate a story which chimes with the unquestionably 'different' political ecology in Scotland. It's hard to see a way ahead for you, to be honest. That's a view shared by most Scottish Tories, in my experience.

Maximus Clark said...

Liberal Seagull, trust me, as someone who was volenteering minimum 12 hour days four days a week from september to May, when I say this, the Scottish Tories wern't sitting around waiting for people to vote tory.
The problem isn't Goldie , who is one of our greatest assets (well liked despite being a tory) or right wing bloggers or anything like that.
The problem is that we Scottish Tories have to embrace our identity. In this election we were merely tories in Scotland, not a distinct Scottish Tory party. We need to show that we are putting Scotland first, that we are advocating policy because it will be good for scotland, not just because it is best for the UK as a whole. We need to dissagree with the UK party when it's in Scotland's interest.

Marquess of Queensberry said...

As a candidate in the General Election for a Scottish seat I would have to say that the general thrust of this is spot on. It was bad enough that we only returned one MP but to compound the situation nobody seems to be doing anything about it or even remotely worried.

Hard questions need to be asked about our target seat tactics (which not only failed but saw the Conservative vote fall in more than one seat and the majorities going up in most).

We must also surely look at our overall strategy. The focus seemed to be on proving our pro unionist credentials (literature stuffed with references to the "British General Election" being a case in point) and yet most Scots are almost certainly confident that we are pro union. I would argue that what we should have been proving is our pro Scottish credentials. Scotland is generally nationalist (with a small n) and a party that aspires to do well ignores that at its peril. Rather than stressing our Scottishness we concentrated on our Britishness - BIG MISTAKE.

Lastly our MSP group in Scotland must take a good look at itself. With a handful of notable exceptions their efforts to restore Tory fortunes north of the border have not been nearly good enough.

Sadly none of the above seem to be happening and one has to wonder about the future of our party in Scotland.

Gillibrand said...

The disconnect between Scots Tories and Scotland is an old, old story. The last die-hard opponents of Union were...... the Tories.

With imagination and drive, it can all be corrected.

Has anyone yet done an analysis of the North-South Tory performance in England.

Nicholas said...

I think the reason there has been little comment on the Tories' poor performance in Scotland is that it is taken for granted. No one really expects the Tories to do well in Scotland anymore. I think Shirley Williams is the only person who I have heard comment on the matter. Interestingly that staunch Unionist Enoch Powell said in 1987 after the Tories' lost seats in Scotland that the logically result of this would be Scottish independence and that it should be granted. I think he is right.

forgelindin said...

Ok um...hilarious. I am not sure which elicits a greater degree of contempt from the writer, their party or their country.

I have lived in the 'ghetto' of Lanarkshire and the 'ghetto' of Glasgow which probably goes some way to explaining why I am so utterly brainwashed and unable to render a sensible political analysis.

I find the tone patronising, as though theres greater wisdom to be found outside the 'ghetto' than in.

There's no should have, no right to a seat, we choose the people we want to represent us.

Don't blame Goldie who I find fantastically charasmatic, mind you I'd never vote for her. Why? Because Scotland's ideology has always been more left, theres a stronger socialist tradition here from the cities on out, and that tradition is no more labour than the anti-thatcher feeling is anti-conservative.

The poster in his rant has gone no distance in convincing anyone in Scotland to vote conservative. He shall have to decide if that is possible - whether its his partys fault or the peasants fault. You were on to something far more when you linked to this:

Chris said...

Part 2

Neither am I impressed by the overall quality of our MSPs. Two or three having seemed to adopt Charles Kennedy as their political role model. Actually there are six or seven are very good and I particularly cite the three who have won their constituencies rather than having been elected through the list system and to his credit, our one MP increased his majority, his performance in the Scottish Leadership debates made me reach for the Talisker,

These are strategic failures by Auntie Bella and the Edinburgh mafia. Tactical errors occurred in North Ayrshire and Arran in the suspension of Philip Lardner. Too much emphasis was placed on East Renfrewshire The feeling where we were campaigning was "so what, its a personal conscience matter-no different from one's beliefs on capital punishment and abortion" and on a flying visit to England to help a friend standing in a Northern marginal found myself being questioned as to what the fuss was about. Another error was putting too hope in winning East Renfrewshire but in reality not enough work had been put into East Ren in the last five years. Canvassing as such consisted of speaking to known Tories and avoiding Labour areas such as the Council schemes. The money spent in East Renfrewshire would have been better invested in the North East seats such as Kincardine and Deeside

There were successes and I can only sing the praise of Jimmy Buchan in Banff and Buchan. His swing was one of the biggest in the UK and on a par with Glyn Davies' in Montgomery. Trouble was he stared on too low a base compared with Montgomery but he increased the actual vote by 50% A few months ago you commented on the fact that the Scottish Tories should learn from the Welsh Tories. If nothing else, they should embrace the Parliament as the Welsh Tories have embraced the Assembly. I still heard murmurings by Tory activists calling for the Parliament to be abolished. Get real!-its here to stay

Even after living in Scotland for some six months, I would have to say a purge of the Party is needed right from the very top down to Constituency and Ward level. We need a cull of our present batch of MSPs is needed. Too many of our Councillors are too old and out-of-touch.. Don’t count me but I feel an injection of a few ex-pat Scots experienced in the boiler-house of campaigning in successful English marginals is needed.

forgelindin said...

I'm glad some others brought up poll tax and support for industry by the way which you may say are old hat but many people remember why the heart of their towns was torn out and economic armageddom ensued. My own family moved just in time out of Motherwell.

You may think its all labours fault now because they were just in power but its a lot easier to let industry die than to bring it back to life.

Chris said...

Part 1
I recently returned to Scotland after some thirty years of being active (at YC and senior constituency level) in England including in safe Labour, in marginal and in safe Tory Seats and decided to help at the lowest level in my new constituency which had actually been Tory until 1987, I was appalled to discover that no canvassing had been done since the 1990s. In the part of England where I had been active there had been elections every year so it did allow the Associations to develop their campaigning skills: in Scotland with the local and Parliamentary elections being up till now concurrent, electioneering was something that was only done twice every five years. Newsletters were non-existent, literature was of a poor quality compared with some of the publications I had seen from even the North of England. In Lancashire, we sent out a 4/6 weekly newsletter with separate articles relevant to the PD- our Councillors in this Scottish Constituency hardly do anything apart from at election time

Now three years ago, with the introduction of PR in Scottish Local Government arose for our Councillor base to improve and although in Councils like Stirling and Edinburgh, the PR system was to our disadvantage in other places such as South Lanarkshire and D & G we gained while in South Ayrshire, no change.

In the 2001/2002 Scottish Parliamentary Boundary Commission the Labour Party completely out-manoeuvred the Scottish Tories so that seats such as South Ayrshire are now out-of-site with the current boundaries by the addition of little Soviets such as Cumnock and New Cumnock (and these actually are in East Ayrshire Council's area) yet Prestwick and Troon as part of South Ayrshire Council area were placed in Central Ayrshire Constituency. Had the Boundary changed that way, then South Ayrshire would have been Tory last Thursday week.

Gillibrand said...

The disconnect between Scots Tories and Scotland is an old, old story. The last die-hard opponents of Union were...... the Tories.

With imagination and drive, it can all be corrected.

Has anyone yet done an analysis of the North-South Tory performance in England.

Jess The Dog said...

The main problem is the ridiculous constituency boundaries. I was going to post on this myself, but...

The idea that Scotland is Tory-free is misleading. The Conservatives have a similar vote share (412,000) to that of the Lib Dems (465,000) and SNP (491,000), quite respectable. However, the Tories have ended up with 1 seat as opposed to the Lib Dem 11 seats! Same applies to the SNP to a lesser extent (6 seats).

Labour are grossly over-represented, due to the preponderance of urban constituencies. They have 41 seats, and should have 25 or so. However, they did poll far more than any of the individual other parties...but there is an anti-Labour movement in Scotland of some 1.3m votes, to turn recent arguments on their head.

Slightly different pattern for the 2007 Holyrood election...SNP slightly ahead of Labour (664,000 vs 648,000), Con actually slightly ahead of Lib Dems (334,000 vs 346,000).

But the idea that Scotland is Tory free is ridiculous. Plenty of Tory voters out there, although certainly not enough. It's a mountain to climb as well, in terms of tackling the Thatcher myths and the entrenched Labour loyalism amongst the workless classes. I heard of one person who was thinking of voting Tory, but physically could not, because of the level indoctrination.

I think that ConDem will sort much of this out, redefining boundaries, introducing voting reform and tackling the West Lothian Question. And maybe more MPs will add momentum.

Anas Hassan said...

I am a Scottish Conservative party activist in Aberdeen. I have worked hard for Alex Johnstone MSP in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine only to see the party in Scotland slump to one single seat victory north of the border. I called for Annabel Goldie to resign last Sunday and very soon will be publishing another blog entry explaining why our party failed in Scotland. As a Scottish Conservative party member I can only apologies to my fellow party members up and down the rest of the UK. We have let you down and made David Cameron's life even more difficult than it had to be.

John MacLeod said...

I've already had a couple of articles in the Scottish Daily Mail addressing this, but I'll reprise quickly.

First, the Conservative vote in Scotland has been in sustained decline since 1955 (when, as is often forgotten, there were hardly any Liberal candidates and the SNP was a lunatic-fringe outfit contesting just two seats.) Conservative fortunes have besides declined in the north of England - their vote actually fell, at this election, in Liverpool, for instance.

The decline in Scotland as elsewhere reflects demographic and social change as much as politics and process, and besides a new 4-party environment where natural Conservative voters find a congenial home in the Liberal Democrats or SNP (especially in areas where the Tories have ceased to be electorally credible.) It is besides no coincidence that the 'Scottish Unionist' peak of 1955 coincided with the all-time high of Church of Scotland membership; the Kirk and the Tories have receded more or less in parallel ever since.

Second, let's get rid of the myth that Mrs Thatcher destroyed the party in Scotland. The Conservative vote in 1992, the first election after her fall (25%) was pretty well the same as at the last one before she became leader, in October 1974 (24%.) Indeed, her first election in 1979 saw substantial Tory recovery, winning over 30% of the vote and regaining six seats from the SNP; and the Scottish Conservatives that year actually won the first direct European Parliament election, winning more votes than anyone else and five of the eight seats.

Third, it wasn't widely grasped that the 2005 election - when public anger at Iraq was high and Tony Blair had become extremely unpopular in Scotland - was an exceptionally bad one for Labour: they lost five seats and their vote dropped to 36%. Some recovery in the different circumstances was probable and I actually predicted it in a 15th April newspaper article.

Gordon Brown was, besides, widely respected in Scotland and there was undoubtedly some electoral reaction to the contemptuous and highly personalised attacks on him in the London press etc, often in explicit anti-Scottish terms.

Glasgow said...

Tim Montgomerie proposed independent status for the Scottish Conservatives, allowing them to take a distinctly Scottish line.

I was thinking along similar lines in the days after the election. It's hard to see how the Conservative brand can be rehabilitated. I think many will hark back to past grievances regardless of what the party says or does.

So perhaps we should aim not just for a split but a full reboot of the centre-right party in Scotland. Create a new Scottish People's Party from the ground up.

MPs from the party would probably take the Tory whip at Westminster and show the Scottish electorate what they've obtained for Scotland in return.

Braveheart said...

Scots remember Thatcher is only the short version.

For the long version let me tell you a tale...

Someone mentioned Philip Lardner: I live in the constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran, and if you cannot find a decent candidate, you're history. Weak candidates don't get elected for unpopular parties. And Lardner was more than weak, he was flaky.

I atended a climate change meeting with Lardner, where he indicated skepticism of man-made climate change. It wasn't in Genesis, he had seen a website that explained it all.... muddled nonsense based on religious nonsense.

His companion, a Tory councillor was even more "religious" in reasoning....

But Lardner is not the first example of a wonky candidate in this constituency. At the 2005 election count the Tory candidate turned up wearing a "Red Hand Of Ulster" motif on his tie. This in the west of Scotland, in Ayrshire, a refuge, at the time, (and even now for all I know) for convicted loyalist killers. Stupidly alienating half the voters and provocative.

When I protested to the candidate's agent, I was dismissed as irrelevant. "No different than a Bible class tie", was his opinion.

I know of a number of North Ayrshire and Arran Tories who have resigned from the party for its treatment of Mr Lardner, so blind are they to the idiocy of his position and his beliefs. In a sensible party he would never have been a candidate in the 21st century...

So there you have it: out of touch, backward looking, religiouly biased and based and prejudiced.

You cannot insult the voters and expect to be favoured...

And I haven't mentioned that very few of the members are under 65.

If you don't have the resources, organisation and depth of membership, you get poor candidates poorly presented.

I strongly suspect that many Tory associations are in just as dire straits as North Ayrshire and Arran.

And many active Tories are quite as stupid as Mr Lardner, the officers of North Ayrshire and arran Conservative Association and the writer of your email.

Nobody with any brains would vote for a party exhibiting these characteristics.

Houdini said...

16% instead of 40% and a swing to Labour.

But why is there no comment or analysis?

I was born and bred in the worst slums in Dundee. That is what made me a Tory, but mainly after I left.

He answers his own question by pointing out that Scotland is a work shy, welfare dependant fief of Labour, where they increased their vote share. Of course they did! Would they really vote Tory to get rid of their welfare? You answered your own question.

I'm a proud Scot, with an English wife and children, who lives just over the border of Wales and has in fact represented Wales in a prestigious competition, so I can say with some level of experience that the best thing for the rest of the Union would be to dump Scotland.

Either that or take serious steps to destroy the welfare culture and make the Scots once again proud.

John MacLeod said...

OK, Part Two. The Scottish Conservative campaign in 2010 may justly be criticised (though their vote did marginally rise, by 0,9%, reversing the decline through the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections.) It should be remembered that they have also recovered to an extent in Scottish Parliament elections, winning four constituencies in 2007 as well as seats by PR top-up - which is why attacking Annabel Goldie is more convenient than convincing.

There are legitimate questions to be asked about the 2010 performance, but they come down to two central problems: David Cameron (a posh, privileged and faintly imperious Home Counties figure) is simply not an appealing figure to Scots and polling consistently shows that; and there was sustained interference in the Scottish campaign by his London coterie and the central UK organisation, on several matters overruling advice from Scottish officials who genuinely knew better.

Mr Cameron's image and name dominated posters and literature, against many warnings with hard polling evidence that it was counterproductive, and there was also London interference with candidate approval and selection, most notably in case of Perth and North Perthshire - a seat the Party should have won, but where the very young and rather foppish 'Tatler Tory', Peter Lyburn, campaigned poorly and made some signal gaffes.

The hysterical overreaction in mid-campaign to an Ayrshire candidate who publicly regretted the demise of Section 28 legislation - he was disowned, repudiated and expelled, for echoing the views and votes of David Cameron and Theresa May as recently as 2003 - also cost the Scottish Tories thousands of core-voters.

It should though be added in fairness that the Scottish Tories are very short of serious talent (after all, they are scarcely these days a vehicle for ambition) and do struggle to find enough credible candidates for a national election.

My own belief is that the Conservative name - used in Scotland only since 1965 - is now an irredeemably toxic brand, and should be replaced, with some reorganisation and wider re-jigging of emphases.

There should be wider questioning in the UK party about the real benefit of the 'Ashcroft millions.' The eleven Scottish seats targetted by the Tories were deluged in literature - my parents live in one, Edinburgh South - and there is much anecdotal evidence, not least from the Scottish Parliament by-election at Moray in 2006, that it is actually counter-productive to cover doormats on a daily basis with so much cat-litter. In the event, the Tory vote fell by 3% in Edinburgh South - the SNP, who had distributed nothing, actually increased their vote.

The coalition may yet bring about a split in the Scottish Liberal Democrats and some realignment around the name 'National Liberal' - under which several Tory candidates were actually elected in Scotland as recently as 1959 - could well see a newly energised Party of the moderate centre-Right which could realistically aspire to 25%-30% of the Scots vote.

David Cameron himself only twice visited Scotland during the general election campaign and on both occasions was kept well away from the Scottish press; far less the ordinary Scottish public - both 'events' were hermetically sealed photo-opportunities. On his visit to the Scottish Parliament yesterday he also declined to appear in public, in a signal strategic error entering and leaving the premises by an underground car-park to dodge a demonstration. And, this first week, Mr Cameron is as popular as he is going to get.

Components of Independence said...

Quite agree with DMAndy.

The problem with the Tories in Scotland has nothing to do with these homogenous mythical creatures called the "Scots" and everything to do with the Tories themselves.

Unfortunately the English Conservative Party and its prejudices about Scotland is the millstone round the neck of the Scottish Conservatives. Until somebody is brave enough to break that link, support for the Scots Conservatives will flatline and/or regress.

Span Ows said...

Under PR the Conservatives would have 7 seats, to the LDs 8 seats, SNP 8 seats and Labour 17....


However, the fact the the Labour vote grew just shows how f#%ked up the place is, they seem to want to suffer.

Houdini said...

Scots remember Thatcher.

It's a pity they don't remember their own inadequacies and the fiddlers, union barons, and socialists on the take that see it as their God given right to rule.

They seem to forget that the decline if heavy industry in Scotland was in serious decline in the early to late seventies before Thatcher.

Rose tinted Labour glasses.

Houdini said...

Tory candidate turned up wearing a "Red Hand Of Ulster" motif on his tie. This in the west of Scotland, in Ayrshire, a refuge, at the time, (and even now for all I know) for convicted loyalist killers. Stupidly alienating half the voters and provocative.

Ummm, loyalist killers would love the red hand on a candidates tie.

The rest of your post is rantingly biased in one, specific, direction...

grahams said...

Three points occur to an Englishman:
1) The Conservatives stand as Unionists and traditional Unionists (as Daphne Trimble points out) are unpopular everywhere.
2)Scottish Conservative MPs tended to downplay rather than emphasize Scottishness, perhaps looking to London to save them from Scottish Labour dominance. This became near fatal when Scotland suffered an historic loss of confidence, especially in the 1980s, when Scottish Conservatives appeared more as evangelists from the South than fiery chiefs from the North. In the end, they came to be guyed as betraying that nation.
The gap was filled by the SNP, which had previously been largely a Gaelic fringe party. As your correspondent notes, the SNP has the best "Tory" brains, by which I assume he means free enterprise thinkers and doers. The SNP's stance is thus perverse. But for its heritage, and the errors of Unionists, the SNP would be the main centre right party North of the Wall.
3) If Scottish Conservatives were required to stand for Parliament in Scotland, rather than migrating to Conservative England, the policies of the Scottish Conservative Party would rapidly change, closely followed by the policies of the UK Conservative Party.

Belle said...

You just have to read the coverage in today's papers of David Cameron's visit to Scotland yesterday to see the intensity of the hatred levelled against Tories in Scotland. Cameron hasn't been in office for a week, and so no-one knows yet how the Coalition will benefit the Scottish electorate, however a crowd of angry protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament when he visited shouting "Tories out" and waving placards with the same message. From the photographs the protesters all appear to be too young to be able to remember M. Thatcher's government yet they utilise the anti-Tory rhetoric of the Thatcher years like a dog whistle to whip up support for socialism from their peer group. It is time that the Conservative party across the whole of the UK developed an effective defense, such as a rational counter-discourse, against these tactics.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

John MacLeod has nailed it.

_ said...

Note the role the BBC played in poisoning Scottish attitudes against the Tories. As ex-BBC journalist Robin Aitken's Can We Trust The BBC? records:

In Scotland... where I worked in the 1980s, BBC Scotland chose a narrative that was unrelievedly gloomy. Our broadcasts were a constant, ill-tempered threnody for the stricken giants of the Scottish industrial landscape. How we lamented the closure of a Highland pulp factory (one among many state-subsidized dinosaurs); how mournfully we expatiated, as another shipyard closed; how sincerely we fretted about the mighty Ravenscraig steelworks. The tone of BBC Scotland was deeply antagonistic towards the government. Our chosen narrative was of devastating industrial decline, social hardship and government heartlessness. We didn't quite accuse the English of deliberately doing us down, but that was a strong subliminal message. There was also disdain for policies which put 'profits before jobs' as the economically illiterate rhetoric had it; public service broadcasting has mistrust of capitalist economics imprinted in its DNA.

Opposition to Mrs Thatcher and her government in Scotland verged, at times, on actual hatred. When I returned from covering the Tory Party conference in Brighton in 1984, after the IRA had come close to assassinating the prime minister, a colleague back in Edinburgh said to me, 'pity they missed the bitch'. The motives of all Tories were suspect - they were credited with bad intentions as well as bad policies - no good whatsoever, it was confidently argued, could come from the new approach...

There are many reasons why Conservative fortunes have declined in Scotland, but the overwhelmingly negative portrayal of Mrs Thatcher's policies by the Scottish media certainly made their mark. In the six years I worked there the BBC Scotland view of the world was deeply misleading. Our despairing narrative portrayed a Scottish dystopia - a stricken land brought to its knees by an uncaring government of greedy southrons. In fact the country was undergoing a painful industrial revolution; new industries like electronics and oil services were burgeoning and the financial services sector in Edinburgh was strong, international and growing. Our chosen narrative could have argued that a country with oil, electronics and banking as economic mainstays had cause for optimism. But as BBC journalists our predominant focus was on declining industries and lost employment. There was little understanding of, and less sympathy for, the notion of 'creative destruction' which drives capitalism forward...

In BBC Scotland the bias among the journalists was heavily to the left; they supported the traditional agenda of the left - state spending, industrial support, an orthodox Keynesian approach to the economy, a heavy emphasis on class warfare. The Scottish Tories were identified as the party of a treacherous, unprincipled, anglophile upper class; Mrs Thatcher was seen as a shrill, English, middle-class housewife... the public sector was always superior (at least in intention) to the private, and the arguments of the unions had a special moral force. It was very difficult to achieve any sort of balance in the endless debates on industry and the economy we broadcast - because there was almost no disasgreement among ourselves on these matters. My colleagues did little to hide their political allegiances - or at least these could be discovered with only a minimum of probing over a pint of beer. Probably 70 per cent supported Labour, about 15 per cent the SNP, with maybe 15 per cent supporting the Liberals. There were very few, if any, Tories who cared to identify themselves. Of course, there is no hard data on such matters, but there was a dramatic underrepresentation of right-wing views at a time when about a third of Scots still voted Tory.

(pp. 18-21)

Man in a Shed said...

I think the commentator is right when he says the Scottish Tories need to emphasise their Scottish identity.

Its perhaps time for the CSU/CDU solution and reinvent the Scottish Conservatives as a Pro-Union Nationalist party. Names like The Scottish Unionist party spring to mind, though with sectarian implications perhaps Alba Forward.

Its also time Scotland was made to face up to the financial implications of its economy and state spending.

Its also time England was treated as a nation with her won parliament and government - and then the Union would be treated with respect as a stable entity.

NTrout said...

That's one of the most horrendously sleazy offensive articles I've ever read. The notion that Scots are all workshy scroungers and there's some kind of Scottish conspiracy within the Labour party is as stupid as it is crass. No wonder Scots don't vote Tory when you talk about them like that.

Allan said...

Ah the Nasty party at work...

Prehaps the attitude displayed in the e-mail might be the problem. That and we've never forgiven the Conservitives for destroying our heavy industry, for closing our coal mines and our ship yards, and for sowing the seeds of the Lazy Poor generation.

Braveheart said...

Houdini "The rest of your post is rantingly biased in one, specific, direction..."

It's full of facts, and any opinions expressed are drawn from these facts, so unless facts can be biased, you're quite wrong....

Of course, you might not want to face those facts..

BrianSJ said...

The media bias is total; the labour lies and scares have been unremittingly reported as fact. Perhaps the Coalition can start putting out good stuff about Scotland in a way that avoids the Scottish press, whose stranglehold needs to be broken.
The boundary point is sound and needs addressing.
If IDS can make compassionate Conservativism work North of the border, he will be thanked for a very long time.

Man in a Shed said...

@Braveheart - "Scots remember Thatcher." < no they don't. They remember the myth Labour the Liberals and SNP used in the 80's.

The industrial decline in Scotland during the 80's was down to insane failed industrial policy propping up heavy industry away from its markets, combined with the sabotage of clydeside socialism. It was bound to end some time.

The Conservative Govt. spent a fortune bribing firms to set up in Scotland and avoiding cutting the grants to Scotland and have only abuse in return.

norman said...

The public sector dependency, the private sector attriction, the grip of socialism, the prevalent welfare culture, the movement of the bright and the best out of Scotand etc.. The protest placards during PM Cameron's visit tells the pathetic story of the next generation demanding entitlement without any sense of contribution and responsibility, thanks to the Labour and SNP legacy.

David said...

I do agree. Every Jocko Tory thinks they are a Laird. Embarrassing. Rangers fans are natural Tories. Get the working class to run the blues up there. I find it similar in my area. The upper class people think only they count and they are effing useless. Thatcher taught us that is the common man with the common touch.

ianbeag said...

"if Scotland had sent 20 Tories, 11 Liberals, 12 SNP and 16 Labour how different things would have been."
Almost achievable with Single Transferable Vote so try campaigning for it!

Ian said...

It seems that the best way to improve in Scotland is for the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition to provide good government and to erase the false image held by many Scots in 1979-1997. To smite one urban legend, more was being produced by manufacturing in Scotland in 1997 than in 1979 (albeit by fewer people)- since then it has declined
As well as a swing to Labour in the 1980s, there was an important swing in the press in that Labour could always rely on the support of the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail with the Scottish Daily Express strongly supporting the Tories. Of the quality papers, the Glasgow Herald was supportive of the Tories while the Scotsman although inclined to the Liberals was not hostile to the Tories.
The closure of the Scottish Daily Express (and the Glasgow Evening Citizen) in the 1970s was badly received and many of its readers switched to the Record.Even the Sunday Post is now neutral.

The serious decline in Tory Scotland took place under Ted Heath. The proposed closure of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders was seen as initiated by an uncaring London Government while Heath's join the Common Market at all costs betrayed the fishing industry mainly in the North East.

It is no coincidence that the Stephen Purcell story received greater coverage in the Scotsman and UK wide papers since the previously Tory Glasgow Herald would be reluctant to expose corruption and malpractice in the conduct of its (and its evening paper, The Evening Times) biggest advertiser, Glasgow City Council.

Actually it was a bad election for the SNP as well. They failed to gain any seats in the Central belt being smashed in Glasgow East and failing to win seats which they won three years ago in the Holyrood election such as Stirling,Kilmarnock, Falkirk and North Ayrshire and Arran (in Stirling they were 3rd)

Our people in Scotland fought a dreadful campaign as many comments correctly post and heads must roll.

John MacLeod said...

Braveheart is correct in his broader strictures on Philip Lardner; he is a somewhat oafish character who does not always express himself wisely, and his astonishing attack on David Cameron after he was cast out certainly suggests poor judgement - and underlines my point about the great difficulty the Scottish Tories have in finding decent candidates.

This was painfully highlighted in my own Na h-Eileanan An Iar (Western Isles) constituency, where the young mainland-reared Conservative fell for one of the oldest jokes in the Hebrides and called publicly for repairs to the harbour at Achmore... the only inland village on the Isle of Lewis.

But Lardner's remarks on Section 28 - not in campaign literature but on a personal blog - were balanced and unexceptional, and not fairly reported in most newspaper coverage. (Which is not to say I agreed with them: I myself supported the repeal of Clause 2A/Section 28 in Scotland.)The Conservatives had every right to point out these views were not official party policy: to repudiate him as violently as they did, without hearing or appeal and on what should be a matter of conscience, was tactically woeful - and also stupid, as by that point ballot-papers were printed and he remained to all intents and purposes the Conservative candidate.

I'm not sure Alastair Campbell would agree with _said's accusation that the BBC is awash with Left-wing bias; or that the media generally have anything like the influence on the electorate they like to affect: if newspaper support determined elections, David Cameron would be Prime Minister with a Tory majority of 200. I also regret _said's somewhat cold and heartless description of events - such as the closure of the Corpach pulp-mill and the astonishingly rapid de-industrialisation of Scotland in the early 1980s - which had dreadful human consequence and from which many communities have never recovered.

It's not widely appreciated, of course, that most of that contraction was inevitable and would have happened whoever had been in power at the time; nor is it widely recalled that the Conservatives performed rather well in the 1983 election in Scotland, with a net loss of only one seat and c 3% of the vote, after the mass of these closures.

Mrs Thatcher did not become a hate-figure in Scotland until the subsequent miners' strike, when her wild language about the 'enemy within' caused widespread bewilderment and offence; and the real political damage was actually wrought by George Younger, her Secretary of State, in that second term. There were two corrosive dramas - the miners' strike and a protracted teachers' dispute - and a succession of blunders in the winter of 1986-86: the mishandled closure of the Gartcosh steelworks, cold-weather heating allowances for Scottish pensioners (to which they were only entitled at lower temperatures than in England); the loss of the independent Scottish Trustees Savings Bank; and of course local-government finance: Younger had failed to anticipate the political storm from mandatory domestic-rates re-evaluation and it was at his hysterical behest the Government rushed out the poll-tax legislation, in the extraordinary belief it would be popular.

In fact the poll-tax had not even begun operating by the 1987 election; but by the spring of 1986, after these woefully handled matters, Tory support in Scotland had sunk below the 'PR floor' and has never since recovered. They duly plunged from twenty-one to ten seats before a tide of quasi-nationalist inspired tactical voting; and as we learned on 6th May that remains a live and formidable force against their Scottish recovery.

Renaming, re-building and a new 'Unionist', 'Progressive' or (my preference) National Liberal identity is the only way up, as a genuinely autonomous and Scottish party.

Hawkeye said...

I live in England. I'd vote for Scottish independence.

S.B.S said...

Me Conservative and scottish, just over the border on the right hand side, we have the only tory MP, David Mundell.
I visit north of me in the labour snp slum lands, they (the scots) have a chip on their shoulder, first thing they say to me "Are you English? because of my accent?
No just well brought up, and not a lazy dole living troll like you.
Themoney England pays from central government should be with-drawn, then they would feel the need to work in order to get money.
I did a stint in the army in Scotland, I can promise you I have never come across such low life, ignorant, and if the F-Word was banned, silence would be the order of the day, I would rather live in the African bush with savages than repeat that.
let labour keep them, that is their measure.
Scotland with out a doubt has some of the greatest people in the world, but sadly the worst, in education, hygiene, manners, and general behaviour.

Pat said...

Firstly, regardless of who is helped or hindered by describing the traditional working class- whether Scottish or not- as work-shy and benefit scrounging is totally inaccurate, and entirely misses the point. In my time I've worked down pits, I meet the local working class day by day and work-shy is the most inappropriate description I can think of. These people are extremely conservative. They want to live and work the way their grandfathers did. Certainly, since that work has dried up many have given up and got used to living on the dole, but its not what they want.
We can't recreate heavy industry for them- technology has moved on, and there are now better ways of achieving what they used to achieve.
But if we can treat them as they are and address the real problems they have we might help both them and ourselves at the same time.
Along with the above it must be recognised that Nationally both old Labour and the BNP are both at base ultra conservative- what they want is to continue living and working in the way they always did time out of mind. Impossible as that desire is to meet, we need to recognise that it is not such an unreasonable request.

S.B.S said...

Sorry, just over the Border on the RIGHT hand side, Been a long day.

trevorsden said...

Its surely left to the 'scottish' conservative party to move Goldie --- who BTW made a very effective and funny put down of Salmond in a debate the other day.

The plain fact is scotland is not listening.

They had a gangster in charge of Glasgow until recently, until a young bloke turned up dead (so dead no one could ignore it) literally on the steps of the town hall.

Will Scottish voters register this. Nope. Bluntly the Scottish people do not like the truth being told to them. We must also add that if (and there is) wide spread political corruption in Scotland then why is it not being investigated by the Scottish parliament? Expenses in the UK parliament is minor by comparison and already 4 people are in the dock.

Lets not just blame the tories - they are the ones bringing the bad news.

Putting Scotland first? So its all right for the majority in England to put england first is it? No thought not. Another example of childish scottish behaviour. I'll thqueem and thqueem and thqueem.

I go to scotland a lot and like scotland (along with its haggis neeps and tatties) and the people I meet.

RJF said...

Iain, an interesting issue but also a complex one. Thus it is important to avoid swift generalisations (eg Thatcher's fault, work-shy Lanarkshire etc). These views - on both sides - are too simplistic and don't address some of the major impediments behind a Tory revival.

Some summary points (ie, swift generalisations that I wanted to avoid) - more simply to stimulate debate because this issue would take a 300-page book to cover adequately - as to why the Tories have failed in Scotland (and ignoring operational issues such as current leader, constituency make up, etc).

(1) History: the party in the 1950s got over 50% of the vote because it played the sectarian card ie, Protestant working class voters voting for the Tories and Catholic working class voters voting for Labour. Quite rightly the Conservative Party ditched that over time. See point (4) to see why Thatcher didn't benefit from this working class vote in the way that she did by attracting C2 voters in 1979, 1983 and 1987 in England.

(2) Deep seated tribalism and conservative with a small "c". All societies are tribal and somewhat conservative; Scotland can be extremely so. Know your place, I kent his faither, tall poppy syndrome are all negative cultural tendencies and traits that go alongside excellent traits. If you haven't lived outside of that environment, it can be difficult to rebel against it. Being a Tory is rebelling against it. It is changing slowly.

(3) Hierarchical society. Modern Conservatism is intensely - almost aggressively - non-hierarchical. Scots, despite their deep-rooted beliefs in equality are culturally attuned to hierarchies. If the Laird doesn't dominate your life, then you can be sure the priest, the Labour man, the council worker, the landlord, the foreman or your boss will. Although it is fading over time, there is a bullying side to the culture. You've seen it in Brown, some of the union idiots and some bosses too (eg, Fred Goodwin). it would surprise you how many people accept this as part of their lives. Brown used that to provoke fear at the general election in Scotland.

(4) The Thatcher issue. Easy to blame but the fact that a century's worth of declining industrial competitiveness reached its peak (or nadir, depending on how you see it) in the 1980s and had a profound effect on the society overall. If you consider that decline in Scotland probably started in the 1870s and 1880s, it means that blaming all your ills on a convenient bogeyman give some nice simple rounded "truths". It also means having to answer some really hard questions. Perhaps the manner in which UKIP points towards Brussels and blames the EU for all the UK's ills, the way in which the Left used to view Washington and the way in which the LibDems used to blame a voting system for their ills are all bogeymen created by groups to avoid some really harsh truths? In Scotland, Thatcher and Conservatism is the answer to a question that precious few wish to ask.

(5) Centralisation. 20th century centralisation towards London did Scotland few favours (in fact, it does no-one any favours ever). Try to see it as Westminster losing powers to Brussels while businesses like the media and finance (indeed..) migrate to Continental Europe and you might get an idea of how traumatic that can be to a society. Perhaps, the rise of Scottish Nationalism in the post-War era mirrors the rise of non-traditional parties in England over the past two decades? For example, the Tories got 13m votes under John Major yet now can't get a majority in parliament. Maybe those English Conservatives have a case to answer as well?

Your correspondent asked quite rightly how can a country like Scotland still vote Labour when the City of Glasgow is as corrupt as it is. The British version of that question is how could the Conservatives fail to have stormed this election when Labour Party's failure has been so complete?

west coast wanderer said...

as the original poster I find some of the comments interesting. I deliberately wanted to stir things up. I work in the media and followed this election closely.

1. The campaign for 2015 should have started last monday (friday was a day off) elections are won over the five years not in the last three weeks.
2. All parties need to have a national presence. Just doing a quick stint at FMQs on a thursday around 30 days per year is not enough. Listening to it is embarassing. Between elections it is easier to find out things from MI5 and 6 then from the Scottish Tories. Try to find them on any media is like looking for Shergar. The party has to be out there commenting, analysing and being seen.

3. You need policies, sensible policies well thought out by back room teams not on the hoof ideas. You need a matrix promoting ideas. The Scottish Parliament controls, Education, Health, Transport, Justice, Local Authorities and has a budget, all things that can be debated continuously not just for a few weeks. Without mentioning Westminster you can discuss policy for hours.

4. The English Tory. Personally I don't have a problem with David Cameron. You need intelligent well educated leaders whether it is Oxbridge and Eton or Paisley High and Napier University doesn't matter. But if it upsets the voters then have a Scottish leader. Looking at Gray, Scott and Salmond there is not much competition. Gray and Scott look like a couple of teachers who have just been given 4C on a "please take" and Salmond shouts a lot and blusters. (The Sturgeon support letter was a case in point where she redeemed the situation by apologising). The Tories need a leader, someone the public can see is an ordinary Scot.

5. In 1983 the Labour party was a joke, low in the polls against a party which was popular. Yet 14 years later it swept the board. It survived until 2007 when they stupidly gave the leadership to their own opposition. Blair survived and was popular despite Brown running the opposition and preventing him doing anything. There is no reason why Scottish Tories (or whatever they become) cannot redeem the situation.

6. workshy. Since much of my experiece is of Shettleston, Easterhouse, Niddrie, Wester Hailes (Edinburgh) I despair at the situation. These are Labour fiefdoms, riddled with drugs, dependent on benefits with often up to six generations of unemployment. IDS went up a million% when he investigated poverty. There is a benefits culture. Thatcher concentrated on service industries through bad advice but projects like Linwood failed because too many workers signed the visitors books instead of clocking in. The shipyards could not compete with Asia. The Clyde shipyards could not build 300,000 ton bulk carriers even if they wanted to. We should have had a better strategy. It is going to happen again with admin staff and call centres as automation takes over. The Gyle in Edinburgh is a set of offices looking for occupants. Labour has done nothing for the people in these areas. Many of them have been Labour for all time and nothing has been done to provide work and the benefit culture. Tories have to point that out. It suits Labour to keep them that way. There are many who are quite happy just to sign on and do nothing.

Braveheart said...

John McLeod is right in his enumeration of Conservative "sins", except the major sin of wasting the oil money.

Scots knew better than the English that the money was coming in and saw no improvement in social or industrial infrastructure. In fact it got disastrously worse.

The waste (£10 billion a year for at least 15 years (1984 prices)) is phenomenal and shows, as well,as that they don't care about society, that the Conservatives have no effective eonomic philosophy suitable for a modern economy.

west coast wanderer said...

part 2

There are two choices. Join up with the SNP and give Scotland independence, at least then England Wales and NI would have a representative government. It would also stop the "English Tory" label.

Or we could rebuild the party from the grass roots. Get back to promoting Tory ideals of self reliance, small state. Dominate the media.

We also need to address the situation where Scotland has 129 MSPs and 59 MPs, 188 legislators or roughly 1 for every 26,000 of the population where the ratio in England is over 1 in 80,000.

Whatever needs to be done it should start now. The present Scottish management should be asked if they are happy to work all the hours and if not then they can go. We need stronger leadership. In reality there is going to be lots of fluff and posts and then it is back to situation normal.

If I was David Cameron I would introduce a Scottish independence bill next week and get it through with English Labour votes. The reality of the economic situation would put Scotland on a level with Nigeria (plenty oil and a corrupt leadership) and when the IMF moved in they would sort it out. It would also get rid of "Labour with microphones" or to use its acronym the BBC.

Is anything going to be done or do we just continue bumbling along?

We also need people like Malcolm Tucker and Jamie, the second most angry mn in Scotland from the Thick of it dealing with the media. The Scottish Tory media service is not fit for the modern media. Why is there no Scottish Conservativehome, Dale or other intelligent blogger?

M said...

The main thing that urgently needs to be done is ending the dependency culture that sustains Labour in their tribal heartlands in West Central Scotland.

I hope and trust the new government is already working on plans to do this.

The other main thing that needs to be done is to destroy Labour's control over the Scots media. For far too long people of Scotland have been brainwashed by Labour into visceral hatred of anyone who opposes Labour. This is not healthy in a democracy.

Labour have succeeded in gaining total control over the media news output in Scotland - the BBC in Glasgow, Herald and Scotsman are infested with Labourites who spout forth relentlessly Labour's lies about the Tories, SNP and anyone else who threaten Labour's hegemony in Scotland.

These same acolytes routinely bury any Labour scandals that ever succeed in seeing the light of day but raise the roof with their reporting on even the slightest indiscretion of the opposition in Scotland.

David Cameron should start immediately to dismantle Labour's control at BBC Scotland rooting out the Labourites as well as cutting the Herald and Scotsman off from all governmental access until they mend their ways.

The above is by no means the whole answer but it would make a good start.

Ian said...

I have always time for John MacLeod's writings although not necessarily agreeing. Interesting that his preference for the term "National Liberal" while mine is for "Progressive" but that's may be a Highland/Lowland difference but both terms have a resonance in the history of the Scottish centre-right

As far as I understand John MacLeod's views he seems to be f a mind that an SNP/"Reformed Tory" coalition would do well in Holyrood. He seems to have made the transition from the SNP to "National Liberalism" (bit like like Guto Bebb in North Wales perhaps who moved from Plaid to the Tories)

As for the Harbour improvements at Achmore, I'll bet the Tory candidate in the Western Isles in 1945, one Iain Norman Macleod (Skipton born)would have never have fallen for that old one

Overall though, while many of us have criticisms of Scottish society, there are certain individuals whose postings are verging on the racist though to be fair, there is a small group of trolls on SNP blogs are visciously anti-English. Nice to know the SNP have their nasty tendency as well

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

This please - "Or do we rebuild Hadrian's Wall and give the SNP total independence (it might be easier)?"

Easier, cheaper, more definite and lasting, better for an England & Wales where New Labour would be the irrelevance it deserves to be.

Thanks! :-)

Hiraeth said...

What I find most interesting, having observed much of the Conservative recovery in Wales, is just how much of it was related to tone. Wales was, if anything, worse served by the Thatcher Government than Scotland. At least Mrs. Thatcher had a sympathy for some Scottish ideas, while the smashing of the miners did not endear her to anyone in the Valleys. However, by bringing forward leaders such as Nick Bourne and Glyn Davies, who utter a more moderate Conservatism, rather than the disaster that was Rod Richards, the Party has been able to build its reputation to the point where it can more than hold its own in most areas. My own run at a council seat for the Ely Council estate in Cardiff saw a second place result (in spite of the fact that illness prevented my campaigning).

The lesson: local work and be inj it for the long haul. Also make sure your leaders speak the political language of your nation, not England. And if that means being more statist than the English, or more centrist, so be it. Politics is the art of the possible. If you want doctrinal purity, join the Presbyterian church.

Braveheart said...

I was going to add "and Philippa Stroud", but I've just learned that IDS has appointed her as a "special adviser"....

"Morning Phillippa, I've got this gay civil servant in my department, and I need to exeorcise his demons. Any special advice?".

Oh dear. What arrogance and stupidity.

Ian said...

The Tories have only one MP thanks mainly to devolution.

The majority of Scottish decisions are taken in Holyrood, but the people who give them the money are in Westminster.

So if you're a Scot, who do you vote for in a UK Election? Well, whichever party is promising your country the most money. After all, the MP you send to Westminster is not going to represent you in any meaningful way. Most of the laws they vote on won't affect you - that's for Holyrood to decide.

The people who decide the laws, and the people who write the cheque are not the same person in Scotland. It's a shocking democratic disconnect, designed wholly to give Labour a strong Scottish presence in Westminster.

John MacLeod said...

I appreciate Ian and Braveheart's kind words. The revenue from Scotland's oil reserves is a book in itself and actually caused the Thatcher government some economic difficulty, as David Torrance has outlined in what remains the best study of modern Scottish Conservatism - We In Scotland: Thatcherism in a Cold Climate (Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh, 2009.)But the fact remains that she and successive governments have been able to misuse that money because Scots have stubbornly refused to vote for independence: indeed, throughout the Thatcher premiership the SNP was a remarkably weak and marginalised force.

It was the Thatcher government, though, which did more than anyone to establish the dependency culture in de-industrialised Scotland, most notably the notorious 'incapacity benefit' - a most cynical use of the oil revenue.

I'm afraid a lot of the comments here are explicitly racist and Trevorden's reference to the Stephen Purcell debacle in Glasgow is not only inaccurate but defamatory; the ex-council leader is not a 'gangster' and the youth in question died of natural causes.

I would also point out that the BBC is not, happily, a Government-controlled organisation and, whatever our political preference, no one sensible wants politicians to go abour 'rooting out' Labourites or anyone else from the BBC, newspapers etc.

The Scottish media might justly be accused of anti-Nationalist spite and prejudice but the charge of general anti-Tory bias holds very little weight: The Scotsman has been an explicitly centre-right newspaper since Andrew Neil was the Barclay Twins' representative on earth, and two of Scotland's most widely read papers (The Sun, the Scottish Daily Mail) explicitly root for the Conservatives, as does the Scottish Daily Express and others. Comments like M's are from the far shores of paranoia and show alarming ignorance of the fundamentals of a civilised society and a liberal democracy.

Certainly, both The Scotsman and The Herald refuse overtly to endorse the Conservatives; the Sunday Post has given up trying and the Daily Record (and Sunday Mail) are openly Labour: but that is not because they are cells of Marxist subversion - it is because they are in the business of selling newspapers.

I like 'National Liberal' for a putative centre-Right party drawing on both Lib Dem and SNP elements because it has historic resonance here - John Maclay, who served as SoS for Scotland in the Macmillan government, was a National Liberal MP - and because, though 'Progressive' was a popular lable for Unionists in Scottish municipal government until the mid1960s, the label has now been pretty debauched: how many losers this week, from Peter Mandelson through the Guardian downwards, lamented the demise of 'progressive' Government for the new ConDemNation?

David said...

Here in Moray a hard working and fesity young Councillor called Douglas Ross actually increased the Tory vote by 5%. The area tends to vote SNP (based partilaly on racists attitudes to the local RAF bases and the 17% of local populatrion who are English. How does an area like this depednant on the UK taxpayer and with a huge English population vote SNP? well most of the English vote in English towns etc and the SNP really do play the English Tory/Thatcher card here. This is an area that returned Tory MPs for decades!

Belle said...

I'd like to reassure West Coast Wanderer that there is at least one intelligent Scottish Conservative blogger (not me I hasten to add!), but he seems to be the lone voice in the wilderness. Type Fitaloon into your search engine. He is also on Twitter: @fitaloon

bewick said...

Rebuild Hadrian's wall?
I live 2 miles south of the wall. Making that the border would give most of Northumberland and Newcastle to the Scots!!!

Clive said...

Look at the vote/seat ratio:

Scottish Labour: with 1,035,528 votes they gained 41 seats at a rate of 25,257 votes per seat

Scottish Conservatives: with 412,855 votes they gained 1 seat.

The 'political productivity' (the rate of conversion of votes to seats) of Scottish Labour is thus 16 times greater than the Scottish Conservatives.

Welsh Labour was even more 'productive' - gaining 26 seats from only 513,601 votes... 20,446 per seat and 20 times the productivity of the Scottish Conservatives.

Of course these numbers are not about real productivity - but artefacts of the electoral system.

Anyone for AV? Anyone for PR? Anyone for reducing the number of seats in Wales and Scotland to make equal sized constituencies? Anyone for reducing them a bit more to reflect devolution and give a nod to the West Lothian question?

west coast wanderer said...

The practical considerations 1. The West Lothian Question. The new government should make a bill sorting this a priority. Since Scottish MPs (and Welsh and NI) have areas which are devolved to their own assemblies they should not vote on these at Westminster. This means that taking Scotland alone in areas such as Transport, Health, Education and Justice the voting is completely different. Instead of 650 MPs there are 591 MPs with Tories having 306 (adding Thirsk and deducting the Speaker) minus one Scot 305, Labour with 258-41= 217, Liberal Democrats 57-11= 46 and no SNP. It gives Dave a majority of 28 without Nick and with them 120. That means that the important decisions in these areas are safe. Gove, Hammond, Lansley could go ahead with no problems. It also removes the Scottish Secretary.

Already some of the Liberal Democrats like Charlie (my MP) are questioning things so that ensures any problems don’t interfere with government in these important areas.

Then give Scotland fiscal independence, if this is as good as the SNP claim then it is fair that Scotland gets the benefit, if it is a subsidy culture dependent on England then it would fall over. Either way it is win win. This removes another area from the Scottish MPs. Leaves foreign affairs, defence etc. The Scots need the financial support of building the carriers and the Trident boats. In foreign affairs the Scots are more pro-EU (because they are further from it except in fishing).

So then you would have 59 “passengers” at Westminster needed about 3 hours per month. Next stage would political reform of the second chamber with an elected second chamber. Perhaps at that point we could abolish Scottish MPs and instead replace them with representatives in the second chamber. The Westminster and Edinburgh parliaments would be in parallel.

Alternatively we could abolish the Scottish Parliament and wait for the explosion. For those not familiar with the Scottish Parliament (or numptorium as it is named) read Rab McNeil in the Caledonian Mercury or the Holyrood Magazine both online.

The whole point is Labour government is bad for Britain and the present system allows Scotland to impose it. The Atlee set all the problems of the 1970s and 1980s by nationalising industries that became inefficient, they designed a central controlled welfare system which is now a problem. The Wilson government supported inefficient industries with subsidy. It all came apart in the 1980s when realism on coal, steel, heavy industry was introduced. Mandelson and others turned the Labour party into Torylite and it would have worked but for the personal ambition of Brown who stopped Blair achieving anything mainly out of jealousy. With the Labour government now back with only union support it must never be allowed near government again.

We need to address the Scottish issues now.

Braveheart said...

John McLeod "The revenue from Scotland's oil reserves ..caused the Thatcher government some economic difficulty.."

John, the main difficulty was that, as a result of the oil money, the pound became a strong petro-currency, causing incipient inflation and problems for our manufacturing exporters.

This was not unforseeable or even unforseen. And even if it had been, it was not insoluble. All it required was government action, but governments don't interfere in the Thatcherite universe.

So we had the paradox of being, temporarily, the richest nation in Europe (or at least with the bigest current account) with the highest unemployment and poverty, declining industries, riots in the streets of our major cities and rising crime and other social fractures.

The 1980s is a case study in governmental stupidity, and the waste of the oil money is the visible conduit of that stupidity.

BTW, George Osborne seems to be just as devoted a disciple of the gospel of "tiny government" as any Thatcherite treasury minister. Dread the prospect.

Houdini said...

It's full of facts, and any opinions expressed are drawn from these facts, so unless facts can be biased, you're quite wrong....

Of course, you might not want to face those facts..

What you claim are facts, perhaps, which shows how rantingly biased you really are.

Of course you might not want to face that, specific, fact.

Houdini said...

Rather roughly put, but SBS nailed it, and all the other guff seeks to avoid addressing the main problem.

Houdini said...

Iain, an interesting issue but also a complex one. Thus it is important to avoid swift generalisations (eg Thatcher's fault, work-shy Lanarkshire etc).

It isn't such a complex issue and in not prone to swift generalisations either, generally speaking...:-)

Just look at Councillor Terry Kelly and his blog to see the true face of Labour, and more importantly, the people of Scotland for a true taste of what the problem is.

This is not a complex issue in Scotland, the same as it is not a complex issue in Liverpool or any Welsh or English ex subsidy scrounging mining community.

Braveheart said...

Houdini "What you claim are facts, perhaps, which shows how rantingly biased you really are"

Fact, I do live in the constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran, and I did attend a climate change meeting with Lardner, where he indicated skepticism of man-made climate change, and his objections were Bible-based as were the objection of his councillor companion.

At the 2005 election count the Tory candidate did turned up wearing a "Red Hand Of Ulster" motif on his tie. I did protest to the candidate's agent, I was dismissed as irrelevant.

I do know of a number of North Ayrshire and Arran Tories (one serving councillor and one ex-cahir of the Association) who have resigned from the party for its treatment of Mr Lardner.

I do judge that these facts show that the North Ayrshire Conservative and Unionists are: out of touch, backward looking, religiouly biased and based and prejudiced.

Taking my local party as an example, I also strongly suspect that many Tory associations are in just as dire straits as North Ayrshire and Arran. If you don't, please say so and explain why.

And based on Tories I know, that many active Tories are quite as stupid as Mr Lardner, the officers of North Ayrshire and Arran Conservative Association and the writer of your email.

As I said, just because you don't lik the facts, doesn't mean the are not facts.

The Conservatives would be better taking the position that they want an enquiry into the North Ayrshire Association and why it behaves in quite such an eccentric manner. It might give them some clues as to why they fail so badly in Scotland...

Colin said...

Maybe Goldie and her massive should take a long hard look at what the Tories have done in Wales?

I was born and raised in South Ayrshire, and, true, like Wales there was a time when all Scottish Labour had to do was put up a talking horses a*se, with a red rosette, as a candidate; George Foulkes comes to mind...

Nowadays, there seems to be a lack of talent right across the political spectrum in Scotland. Even after the 1992 election the Scottish Tories had a number of impressive front line politicians in their ranks. Now they all seem like local golf club bores. The big names I associate with my younger (to coin a phrase) years all appear to have disappeared.

Gloucester J. Shrubhill said...

If this is the Scottish Conservatives' opinion of Scotland and its people, then they simply don't deserve to win. Cameron won in England with a positive campaign. This letter is all negativity. The nasty party writ large.

Jess The Dog said...

The BBC has been mentioned...the Scots media is very different from London based papers and the national Beeb. There is a clique dating back to Stirling and Glasgow universities in the 70s and 80s, epitomised by the Wark and McConnell Villagate scandal. Labour is sustained by a West Coast and Central Belt dominated media narrative, eclipsing the rest of the country. This is beginning to change with the Holyrood parliament but too slowly....

Steve H said...

***he heavy industry has gone, blamed on Thatcher but in reality dragged down by the workshy benefit scrounging West of Scotland.***

Yes, it's hard to imagine why the Scots see the Tories as arrogant scum. Be interesting to hear what line of work your correspondent is in which is so demanding. Accountacy? Solicitor? Consultancy?

Noelinho said...

"You know that bit of land that if you forget to turn off the M6 onto the M55 for Blackpool, eventually becomes visible through the rain. The land where some parts of it largest town have worse statistics than Zimbabwe. Where snouts in the trough "socialist" crooks run councils with expertise that the Cosa Nostra is jealous of. That place where the Labour Party has its lair, where evil thugs train as the Tartan Taliban to destroy any prosperity in England. Where Macqueda spin against anyone (including their own side) who does not fit the mould. Even those nominally appearing to be English have names like Campbell and McBride."

You know what, that paragraph sums up why people don't vote Tory in Scotland.

The reaction many of my Scottish friends would give to that paragraph is one you would never allow through these comments. The Tories need to take a long hard look at the message they send out to Scottish people.

Kiera Hardie said...

I can assure Noelinho that I will be sharing that paragraph with all my chums.

west coast wanderer said...

looking at the comments it might be best to let Scotland go. In areas like East Renfrewshire 20% are economically inactive, over 40% are public sector and that is a prosperous constituency. It is clear that the Scots don't want Tory policies. Perhaps it would be best to let them run their own affairs. With their spending being around £5,600 per person compared to around £4,400 in England they could then have a socialist country which it is obvious that most want. A centrally controlled administration with a large public sector and with high taxation. It would mean that private industry could concentrate on restoring areas like the North East and the Midlands. The Scottish Labour Party following the economic principles they have used over the last few years nationally could prove how successful these policies are. This election showed the two countries are incompatible politically and it would be a shame to hold Scotland back since it is obvious that they don't want Tory policies. The best move the Tories could make is to give Scotland independence.

Ryland said...

Just catching up on posts in a post election lull.

I think the reader answers the question in his own piece. I doubt if many Scottish people would agree with his analysis - an article dripping in contempt for scottish voters is hardly going to make people rush to vote for The Tories.

FF said...

Most Scots have never had it so good. We're not all workshy drug addicts. Yes, there are big problems in parts, but areas like Fife, West Lothian and even Dundee have generally seen a transformation since the unremittingly grim eighties. Then, of course, the Conservatives were strutting their stuff. After devolution and Labour came to power things got noticeably better.

Voters, rightly or wrongly, draw the obvious conclusions ...

markmclay18 said...

Improve the 'Scottish' conservative party?YE CANNAE POLISH A SHITE.