Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Are Welsh Tories More Successful Than Scottish Ones?

A new opinion poll puts the Conservatives on 32% on Wales, only 3% behind Labour, and a massive 11% up on the last general election. However, in Scotland, the Conservative ratings are only marginally up on 2005, Why is this? Why are Welsh Conservatives so much more successful than their counterparts north of Hadrian's Wall?

I genuinely don't know. Do you?


S.B.S said...

Speaking as someone born north of the border, and still living there.
IGNORANCE is the reason, the masses are thick, some of the best people in the world are of Scottish blood, however the masses,you would not let in your garden, never mind your house.

The inability to listen to reason, the me, me, me, me, culture, something for nothing culture, the sooner England stops paying money to Scotland the better.

Socialism is protecting these people and when they have to earn for themself, and stand up on their own two feet the better.

Unknown said...

Answer: Immigration and emigration.

There has been a massive emigration from Scotland of typically the best and the brightest. The expatriate Scots (and their descendants) in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA are invariably of a right wing disposition - as are most of the expatriate Scots (and their descendants) in England.

Scotland has attracted a lot of Irish immigrants who typically have a strong left wing bias.

Wales has become "more" English again through inward immigration. Again most ex-patriate Welsh (and their descendants) have tended towards left-wing parties in the countries they have gone to.

Monty said...

I am Scottish and I'm also a Tory (so I suppose I should be pickled and placed in a jar). The answer is simple: the Tories in Scotland are crap. They have nothing positive to say about Scotland, as they focus too heavily on the "Unionist" part of the name. I genuinely don't see why being "Scottish" and "Unionist" should be so mutually exclusive to Goldie and her weaklings but that seems to be the case. To me at least. Perhaps if they sounded and acted a little more Scottish, we might not be in such a sorry state You have no idea how bizarre it is to be on the verge of seeing Cameron moving into No.10 whilst Scotland remains a Tory wasteland. Not good :o(

Osama the Nazarene said...

Could it be that in Scotland the SNP is performing the political function that the Tory party would? I suggest that in Wales Plaid Cymru is much more "left wing" than its Scottish equivalent, so leaving a space for the Tories to return to from the "naughty step" having shaken off their "nasty party" image. This also allows Plaid to be easy bedfellows with Nuliebor.

Benny said...

I'm a very persuasive person.

Anonymous said...

Thats because we don't have such a developed alternative.Plaid Cymru are building but are nowhere near as far forward as the SNP.
The Lib Dems are not strong here either. So its more of a two party system if you are loooking at a general election.
Labour has lost so much ground in Wales its scary. Just look at the rise in the BNPand UKIP vote here.

Kcila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

becausethe scots are delighted that almost all of their failed lunatic politicians are down here ruining england, and don't want to rock the boat.....I mean...would you want gordon and alastair back?

Gareth said...

Partly because Plaid are genuinely more left-wing than the SNP (Tartan Tories) so Conservatives provide more of an alternative in Wales.

But mostly because the Tories are reviled in Scotland.

They are seen as an English Party, and if you take a look at Cameron's Draft Manifesto on the English NHS you will notice that it mentions 'UK' once, 'Britain' once, 'this country' three times and 'our country' twice.

Bizarrely it never mentions England, even though it concerns the English health service.

Basically, the Tories don't understand the difference between 'England' and 'Britain' which is something that the Scots find extremely annoying, and increasingly so too do the English.

Kcila said...

Its one of life's great mysteries Iain. In 1979 the Tories won 18 seats in Scotland. So their demise is quite staggering. Possibly its because the Liberal tradition in Scotland is stronger? Possibly because the SNP are seen as stronger opposition to Labour in Scotland than Plaid are in Wales? But whatever the reason if Cameron wins 5 seats north of the wall that will be seen as a pretty amazing result.

Unknown said...

Iain, the fact that somebody like you even has to ask, and genuinely don't know, is part of the problem.

Modern Conservatism just makes no sense and has no resonance in Scotland. Cameron and his team are percieved as the sort of hoorays you find at Edinburgh and St Andrews University, who dabble with Scotland for a few years before going back down south again, only to return occasionally to stay at big houses in the Highlands and shoot stuff.

I'm not saying this is fair, it's just how it is. Much as some of us may regret it, the Scottish identity is simply no longer bound up with Britishness in the same way that the Welsh identity is. For right or for wrong (and probably thanks to Thatcher) the Tories are often still seen as emblematic of everything about England that Scots dislike.

A bigger problem for Cameron and etc, though, is that these days Scots are increasingly less inclined to dislike them, and more inclined to just not care about them at all. Nobody in Scotland could look at Cameron and think "he speaks for me". He might as well be a Frenchman.

And, to be fair to the Scots, there undeniably is a new emerging modern Scottish identity (probably based on devolution), and trite as much of it may appear down here, it is something that most vocal mainstream British Conservatives (such as the shadow cabinet and also your good self) show absolutely no sign of understanding, or even being aware of.

Furthermore, it doesn't help that Scottish Tories are largely quite weird. There is the odd promising sign among the new generation, but for the most part, north of the border the party remains dominated by the type of activist who lost influence in the UK national Conservative party twenty years ago.

In conclusion, it's a total mess and will remain one until a whole new sort of Scottish Conservativism emerges. Personally, I think it might be a while.

Anonymous said...

Because the Welsh are more reasonable and open, whereas the Scottish, are reactionary and filled with derision for anything that hasn't been ingrained in them from being young. One of the reasons being the more volatile religious divisions in Scotland than Wales leading to a more them and us mind-set.

Then again that might all be cobblers.

And before anyone suggests I don't like either the Welsh or the Scottish, I have grandparents from England, Scotland and Wales.

Tuechter said...

Read Cochrane's article in the Telegraph yesterday, it neatly sums it up.

Unknown said...

I dont know what is happening in Scotland, but I can comment on Wales:

It was only a few years ago that the Welsh Tories were anhilated - no MPs in two successive general elections - and only a toehold of regional seats in the Assembly. They were widely viewed as toxic and anti-Welsh.

They have made their turnaround by ditching Thatcherite unionist views and rebranding themsleves as WELSH Conservatives - they have moved from a position of vehemently opposing the Assembly to one where they are likley to block vote for further powers in the Assembly (in contrast to the position taken by Welsh Conservative MPS or for that matter Labour MPs).

They have listened to the public as to where they were going wrong and have reacted aaccordingly. I dont know what the situation is in Scotland

Unknown said...

Plain and simple, because we're the irrelevant 3rd/4th Party; Scottish elections are not between Labour and the Conservatives.

Components of Independence said...

Speaking as someone who actually lives north of the border.....

I think Monty has it spot on. It is nothing to do with the innate characteristics of Scots or Scotland.

The simple fact is that the Tories in Scotland are just barely above the waterline. The Tories in general do not make themselves relevant to Scotland, therefore they are not going to win votes.

Contrary to the belief of some there *is* a very strong sense of conservatism in Scotland that the Tories have abjectly failed to tap into.

That is their failure and not that of the Scottish people. The sooner the Tories accept that instead of blaming the Scots (how ironic) then they will advance. And not before.

The quaint notion of "defenders of Union" doesn't have much resonance in Scotland these days. It isn't a selling point, so drop it.

Unknown said...

I'd guess the local government/assembly would affect things? The SNP are in power up in Scotland, so Labour can get away with pinning bad stuff up there on them to an extent. Down here in Wales though, Labour are in coalition with Plaid, and can't pull off the same trick.

Efrogwr said...

There are various suggestions that should be thrown into the explanatory pot:
1)The traditional conservative base in Wales is stronger than the "image" of Wales as radical and left suggests. In many ways rural Wales is very socially conservative although in the past religious non-conformity boosted the Liberals or the still strong "independents" (closet Tories?).
2) While the true picture is more complex, I think it's still fair to say that there is an "ethnic" Engish vote for the Tories among the large numbers of middle England-type retirees along the "Costa Geriatrica" in the north and "white flight" migrants from central England on the mid-Wales coast.
Throughout Wales (apart from the valleys) there is a much higher proportion of non-Welsh born voters than Scotland (40%+ in some parts). North East Wales is increasingly being developed as an overspill commuter belt for Merseyside and Manchester (see the recent controversies about the Erddig development on Nat. Trust land and the wider West Cheshire/North East Wales strategy: thousands of new houses partly to meet the needs of Cheshire-based commuters. A 15,000-strong petition opposing the strategy will be debated in the Assembly in Feb).
3) Welsh-based civil society is developing fast in the wake of devolution but is historicaly much weaker than in Scotland. The Welsh media is much weaker than the Scottish media and the situation is getting worse. Only 13% of daily newspapers bought in Wales are edited here. This obviously affects wider identity and means it is harder for Plaid Cymru to get attention than it is for the SNP and that the Cameron bounce is transmitted directly to Wales.
5) Plaid Cymru places itself on the centre-left and has a strong pacifist tradition. Plaid is not always seen as the natural home of people who favour a smaller state/small business etc. Also Plaid does not push its USP - independence - in the way the SNP does. You'll find nothing of substance on it on the Plaid website, for example. As the historian and Welsh commentator Hywel Williams says, what we have in Wales is "nationalism lite". For all its recent strides, Plaid is not managing to set an alternative agenda on the radical left. Unlike in Catalonia, our electoral system means there is no space for a second, centre-right national "People's Party".
6) The Tory Assembly Group is making real efforts to embrace devolution which will be winning some support among Welsh-identifying voters. Meanwhile the three Tory MPs are very much in the British Devo-sceptic mould which has it appeal to another bloc of voters. The split on devolution/identity in the Tory party may be helping them be all things to all men.

Unknown said...

If we could move on from the predictable Victorian vintage pronouncements on the inferiority of the lesser races and their phrenological disposition towards Labour, we could perhaps face the fact: the Scottish Conservatives are a joke.

Scottish Conservatives have no leadership and precious little talent. They're a timid and insipid bunch who seem to be incapable to taking the fight to the other parties. The Scottish Tories believe they will lose and, accordingly, their belief makes loss a certainty.

If you actually look at the historical map of Scottish voting tendencies, you will see that Labour was concentrated in the West of Scotland (and if you dig deeper, you will see that they did best in predominantly Catholic areas through appeals to unashamed sectarianism). You will see that, until quite recently, the Tories were strong in the Highlands, strong in Grampian, strong in Lothian, dominant in the Borders. You will see that historically Edinburgh and much of that part of Scotland was solid blue Tory territory.

Why not now? Because the voters there have picked up on the weak-kneed moral cowardice of the Scottish Conservatives. The Tories believe they will lose so they barely even try; the voters perceive this and give their votes to other people. People who would have voted Tory 20 years ago now vote strategically to stop Labour. The once proud Scottish Conservative vote has become a Stop-Labour vote.

Most of the Lib Dem vote in Scotland would gladly go to the Tories if the Tories could show some spine and actually fight as if they thought they could win. A great deal of the SNP vote (including mine) would go to the Tories if they would only show us that they deserve it, if they could only stand up and demand it.

The Welsh Conservatives have fought hard for their share of the vote. They have challenged Labour at every turn. They have sought out talent, they have promoted skill, they have fought, fought and fought again and they have created an alternative vision for Wales. The Scottish Conservatives, by comparison, have sat on their bums, feeling sorry for themselves, singing the occasional sad song and focusing all their efforts on keeping they little they already have instead of trying to fight to gain more.

This is my reading of the situation and you can take it or leave it, but if you actually dig through the psephological history of Scotland over the last thirty years, you will see that I am correct: Scotland has a great many people willing to vote Tory. But if you look at the Scottish Tories, you will see that the party has done nothing to acquire that vote.

voiceofourown said...

I think that if the Scottish Tories were perceived as having greater independence from the Westminster group, they would do better.
At the moment, they are merely a slavish nonentity.
Also, their knee-jerk unionism puts off more than rabid nationalists.

Unknown said...

I live in an SNP held seat and I feel it’s mainly because the vast vast majority of Scottish people are nationalists (in the non-political sense, but a great many are in a political sense) and as such their political (and cultural and social) sphere very much focuses in on almost exclusively Scotland, even in the Westminster context – and, being realistic, in the Scottish parliament and most Westminster seats it is not unfair to say the Tories are irrelevant. Most people over 30, rightly or wrongly, are tainted by the Thatcher years and most people under 30 can barely remember at time when Scotland had anymore than zero or one Tory MP. When you actually live in Scotland it is not hard to see why the Tories aren’t really going anywhere. Anyway only my thoughts.

Village Bookworm said...

There are a mix of reasons, Iain. Some of it is historical - for instance while Scotland was getting the Poll Tax, Wales got the Welsh Language Act, so there is less of a legacy of antagonism.
Geographically - Wales is far more integrated with England and there are large numbers of Enlish retirees, especially on the coast, sothe ground is more fertile for us.
Politically - we have been better at adapting to the devolved settlement,once the schism between Nick Bourne and Rod Richards had passed. There is a simple truth in politics - to win, sometimes you have to sell your soul; and get on with life as it is, not how you wish it to be.

John MacLeod said...

This is a complex issue - in Alex Salmond's own lifetime, the Tories (at the 1955 election) won an absolute majority of the Scottish vote: 50.7%, and thirty-six of the seventy one seats, an achievement never matched by Labour or any political party in the last hundred years. Thereafter, there was steady decline, with a notable slump at the 1987 election - from twenty-one to ten seats - and the wipe-out a decade later.

In fact there was never a historically strong Conservative tradition in Scotland, the party being identified with the Church of England and the English gentry. The Scottish Tories today are really the remnants of the Liberal Unionists, who broke with Gladstone over Irish Home Rule and for decades thereafter had a substantial centre-right vote in Scotland. Secularism, and the fading of old religious loyalties - in the Seventies the Scottish Tories could still accurately have been described as the political wing of the Church of Scotland - has certainly furthered its decline.

The fact is that there isn't a sufficiently large socio-economic base in Scotland to maintain a strong Conservative vote, and the real division isn't between Scotland and England but between SE England and the rest of the country: the Tories are just as irrelevant in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle as they are in Glasgow.

There was certainly a presentational problem by the 1980s, with the party readily presented as anti-Scottish and certainly not able to mine the normal patriotic emotion associated with centre-right parties. Few Scottish Tory MPs even sounded Scottish and virtually all used private schools and hospitals. The winter of 1985-1986 also saw sustained political incompetence from George Younger (then Secretary of State) who handled a succession of issues - a teachers' dispute, Scottish steel problems, rates re-evaluation, cold-weather payments, the collapse of the Scottish TSB - so badly that tens of thousands of voters, especially lower middle-class, were permanently alienated.

Oddly enough, the evidence doesn't support the fashionable view that Thatcher fatally blighted Scottish Tory fortunes. Their vote takes in October 1974 and April 1992 - the two elections either side of her leadership - practically matched: c 25%.

Today the Scottish party lacks any depth of talent or insightful leadership, has written off vast swathes of the country - at the 2007 Holyrood election, Annabel Goldie didn't once bother to campaign north of Crieff - has no meaningful press support and (with the SNP now occupying 'neo-liberal' economic ground and theb reigning Cameroons against any expression of social conservatism,) nowhere really to go. Five seats at the imminent Westminster election would be a staggeringly good result: they would probably be relieved to emerge with two.)

Conand said...

@Iain Dale

There is quite a large and very beautiful bit of England beyond Hadrian's Wall.


What does acting Scottish entail?

wv: muntains (& colossal crags nay doubt)

Therese Coffey said...

One of the key reasons is the Campaign Director - Matt Lane. I think you know more than anyone, Iain, how good Matt is.

Also a decent team that is working with the situation as it is, not perhaps not trying to change the constitution. Devolution is here to stay in the medium term.

As a candidate in Wales 2005, I would say though that the most popular thing Michael Howard offered was another referendum on devolution - as in, reverse it or give it proper powers akin to Scotland. 80% of people I spoke to would have voted to dismatle WAG.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Scotland in a safe Labour seat despite the bankers who lived there, I can say that it proved better to vote SNP rather than accept the status quo.

Labour demolished the Tories with their scare stories, and you can see the less than effective efforts of their reign.

In such circumstances the SNP offered realistic opportunity for a not Labour vote, and our SNP councillor was then able to build the bridges necessary for general support. He was approachable too, sitting in the street on a Saturday

The tories don't realise they need to work and invest political capital to grow again, and just "expect" the support

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I think Dougal has given you the most comprehensive and cogent explanation.

There is no context for Conservatism in Scotland. As Dougal says, Cameron may as well be French for all the relevance he has here.

The kind of conspicuous consumption born out of huge swathes of wealth, and flog 'em and hang 'em mentality that attracts young voters to the Tories is not really apparent here. This is a largely rural country with one or two exceptions like Glasgow, where people are tribally and viscerally Labour and will never be anything else. The landed classes are not considered a threat because they are wealth providers, who demonstrably provide wealth locally, and, this is a tiny point but a very symbolic one, they do not drive around in brand new Range Rovers, something which seems to upset a lot of people down south, thus tipping voters into the arms of the socialists.

Importantly, again as Dougal Points out, the Tories do not understand the momentum behind Nationalism. They just don't get it. Full independence is inevitable, which kind of leaves them out of the loop, being most certainly a party of the English.

People still remember and hate Margaret Thatcher.

Other issues, so beloved of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, such as immigration or gays, does not light the blue touch paper. For example, quite quietly, Lothian and Borders Police score very highly as a gay-friendly police force, but the point is, nobody gets excited about it. Fairness is entrenched and endemic.

Finally, Labour has had such a strangle hold on Scottish Politics, and has so fully and so wonderfully buggered everything up, that the SNP have had to do very little in real terms to wipe the floor with them.

What policies they have offered are radical, such as being anti-war and anti-PFI.

If the Tories could in some way distinguish their policies from Labour-lite, it would be a step in the right direction, but only a step, and frankly all the other considerations make a breakthrough as unlikely as pursuading neds to eat muesli.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

This has little to do with the Scots. It is the product of a Conservative conspiracy to facilitate dissolution of the Union so that Scotland can be cast out without pain, thereby ridding the rest of us of the nucleus of voters who could enable New Labour to re-group, the need to subsidize Scottish largesse to themselves in health, care, and education as well as ending the discredited and discreditable Barnet formula.

No seats = no pain on casting loose. Simples :-)

English Pensioner said...

The Scots still believe that they can be independent and thus any party that will pander to their wishes will receive support, particularly if they will continue to provide support from England in the meanwhile; Tories are likely to look at ways to reduce this support.
The Welsh, on the other hand, dream of independence, but probably the majority realise that this will not happen in the foreseeable future simply because the country would not be economically viable by itself. Labour hasn't done anything to help itself in the Welsh Assembly. The Welsh clearly accept that at present, their economic future is tied to that of England, and thus they are moving towards the Tories just as people are in England.

neil craig said...

I don't know the Welsh Conservatives but the Scottish ones seem so intent on not being disliked that they "me too" every socialist idea. They went into the last election promising only more money for council housing & for fighting drugs. This may be necessary under an FPTP system but in a proportional one it is wiser to establish your own identity.

Also in Scotland the SNP made quite a big thing of wanting to cut corporation tax. This was from the Irish example where they achieved 7% annual growth by doing this. Though the SNP have made no serious moves to fulfill this it certainly struck a chord with Scots & probably guaranteed them a large part of what could have been the Conservative vote.

I don't think Plaid made this an issue.

Incidentally if we somewhat bolshy Scots can be persuaded to vote for cutting business tax on the grounds that it will help growth I don't think David Cameron would be being over resolute in making this a selling point across the UK.

Paddy Briggs said...

The Conservative party is English. The Welsh seem not to mind that too much - the Scots do. It’s not (just) that the "masses are thick". The establishment is anti-English too. I go to Murrayfield quite often and the well bred and well-educated Edinburgh middle and professional classes hiss and boo the English, stay seated when the National Anthem is played and generally hold all things English in contempt. Cameron (despite the name) has no chance at all with that lot !

Unknown said...

Therese - I suspect that the 80% of the people you spoke to are the ones who voted for you - and which is one of the reasons you did not get elected. Every recent opinion poll shows strong and increasing support for MORE devolution, not less. Nick Bourne, Jonathan Morgan know this which is why they will support the referendum. If you want to turn the clock back and try and abolish the Assembly - just watch while your votes and elected members freefall again.

tory boys never grow up said...

Government for sale?

Private office of the Opposition Health spokesman fund by director of a Private Health care company deriving 96% of its income?

Private office of the former Opposition Energy spokesman funded by an Oil Trading comany?

Private office of the Shadow Chancellor funded by two hedge fund managers?

Another story missed by the leading Tory blogger?

Daily Referendum said...

Tory = English.

The Welsh hate the English slightly less than the Scots.

Anonymous said...

Normal levels of support for the Tories in Wales are about 21 or 22%, so 32% may look impressive especially with Labour nose-diving, but however good a 10% increase in support is at a General Election it needs to be a uniform swing to really dent Labour’s stranglehold in Wales and to genuinely count as a step change in Welsh politics which many people inside and outside Wales seem to want to believe those levels of support need to be repeated in the National Assembly elections for the Tories in 2011 – something I doubt will happen.

I also take issue with people saying that the increase in support its down to Tory AM’s in the National Assembly for Wales changing their minds on devolution, AM’s and their leader Nick Bourne are out of step with the majority of the Tory Party in Wales (as one of your commentators said) who are still anti devolution for the most part, after all Wales elected its first UKIP MEP last June, if the pro devolution Welsh Tories have the wide appeal many claim they do, then they would have won 2 seats not 1 and increased their vote by more than the 2%.

I would put the Tories rise down to a mixture of the Tories reinvigorating their core vote, the
poor performance from Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats in capturing voters attention, an awful lot of people being disillusioned and fed up with the Labour Party and not voting and those independent Welsh voters (many closet Tories) telling pollsters they will vote Conservative as they always have.

Colin said...

Because Scotland has become a nation of parasites.

BTW, I'm Scottish, before anyone starts.

Conand said...

Idiotic slogans from Labour?

Write a slogan and then put a question mark after it?

No rich people give money to Labour?

When you use the word 'former' it looks pretty tenuous?

People who work in the private and voluntary sectors are evil. Unless they are Labour supporters?

Anonymous said...

There are more breeding Osprey pairs in Scotland than Tories and the Osprey is a protected bird.

Apart fro that the Tories in Scotland are just intellectually challenged, perhaps a bit less so than ZaNuLab (North Britainshire Sub branch)

The Tories in Scotland, if they are going to survive, this goes for the LibDums too must take on the mantle of being Scottish and not a sub branch of a Londoncentric party.

All three Unionist parties in Scotland are run from London.

When challenged about Scottish issues their response inevitably is to spend one of their "lives" and make a call to London to get the answer. The SNP takes the pee pee out of the day in, day out.

Scotland is polarising into SNP and Labour with the other two being in the same league as the real minority parties in England. All it would take is some of the intelligent Labour Party members in the west of Scotland to for an independence minded true Scottish Labour Party and the game is up for the UK.

I wonder what Jim Sillars is thinking right now?

wv = Malsies close enough to describe the three Unionist parties in Scotland.

Penfold said...

The Welsh are clearly more attuned and educated and able to take on-board a varied menu of views and make choices.

Sungei Patani said...

A lot of the postings here say the the Scottish and to a lesser extent the Welsh hate the English. What a sad state of affairs that the three countries that inhabit this island and have been united in a union for many years dislike each other.

As an Englishman I don't hate either the Scots or the Welsh with two exceptions: Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Hey, you cannot have it both ways; you cannot slag off Scotland for sponging off the English and then pose as a unionist, which the Tories are, officially anyway.

Either, accept the way it is, or let them go their own way.

Of course, the price of the Union is the disproportionate subsidy, but I don't think Mr Cameron is going to face that head on anytime soon. Do you?

As an English "asylum seeker", here in Scotland because Poliitical Correctness and the absurd levels of Command and Control you get down South just don't work in Plockton, or Fife, or Dundee or Scrabster, or for that matter, East Lothian, I would be quite happy to become a Scottish National when they start handing out passports.

Strathturret said...

The SNP rise in 70s in rural and northern Scotland was about winning the working class Tory Vote. The rural working class had been traditional Liberals and had switched to Tory over Irish home rule. Unions and Labour did not greatly figure in rural Scotland.

SNP is now a strong party with lots of good people and an impressive team of ministers.

The Tory's cannot find good genuine local candidates. If you have to field a 'landed gentry' or London 'city boy' in Scotland you have little chance.

In certain seats I think Lib-Dems have captured middle class Tory votes quite well (NE Fife, Edin west, Borders, etc).

bnzss said...

Alistair has hit the nail on the head, I think. Those Scots not lefty inclined are unlikely to be living in Scotland by now...

commentor said...

Perhaps Wales has more people like some of your 'scottish' commenters (those that loathe their country and fellow citizens with a passion).

Observer said...

Scotland is not instinctively anti-Tory. I can remember when Teddy Taylor was the MP for Castlemilk. In the 1950's the Conservatives were the biggest party at one point.

There are two words, well three, which summon up why we don't and won't vote Tory.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher.

When Scotland is independent there will be s Scottish Tory Party who will do well. People, even lefties like myself, like Annabel Goldie. We call her Auntie Bella.

But we will not vote for the Tories in any large numbers in a UK context whilst the spectre of Thatcher still looms.

Observer said...

Oh, and Michael Forsyth as well, can't forget him, he did a lot to make the Tories un-electable in Scotland.

neil craig said...

Strathturret has a point - much of the historical working class Conservative vote in Scotland was Unionist (when Unionism meant with Ireland) & anti-Catholic when Labour were conceived of as a Catholic influenced party. Religiouis divisions are far less now so that part of Conservative support has declined.

However Scotland has always been a strongly classic liberal country & I think, the LibDems having given up traditional liberalism, there would be a place for a free market, individualist, liberal party here. Unfortunately as I said before the local Conservatives refuse to be that party which lets the SNP squeze into that niche.

Observer is also right that Thatcher's "English nanny" persona grated on us in the same way that Brown's "dour presbyterian" persona grates on so many though not all English. This is unfair but who said politics is fair.

Calum said...

Maggie, Maggie, and Maggie. I can reel off the names of acquaintances by the dozen who will never vote Tory again in their lifetime after the Tatcher years. And the party up here expects it. I live in Darling's constituency, and I've yet to see the conservative candidate in action.

Salmondnet said...

Because more Scots than Welsh believe their own propaganda about gaining nothing from the Union.

At the next election the Tories look set to achieve something close to an absolute majority of the popular vote in England, so they have a simple remedy. Accept that the Union has run its course and tell the Scots they are going to be independent whether they want to be or not, ignoring the "devolution max" proposal, which is just an attempt by the Scots to have their cake and eat it.

Sadly, Cameron will no doubt try to cling to the Union at England's expense.

Strathturret said...

As others have mentioned, in West-Central Scotland until 60s-70s there was a substantial Orange - Tory vote.

I don't think people vote on religous lines in Scotland to any great degree today.

Strathturret said...


sounds like a good topic for a PhD thesis.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why the Tories do so badly in Scotland you need to look first as to why Labour is the main beneficiary for votes in Scotland.

Fact is that under Labour there is no incentive for many people to work because their welfare system makes it so attractive not to.

Very sadly for Scotland the 30-odd per cent who polls show still support Labour in Scotland are the hard-core clientele.

They will vote for it irrespective of plots, coups, divisions and embarrassments because they feel their place on the state payroll – either as claimants or employees is safe, only under a Labour government.

Gordon Brown has had no achievements for his country, but buying all these votes with our money has been his achievement for his party.

If David Cameron has the courage to incentivise Scotland's government to reduce Scotland's dependency on benefits and state employment, he would do Scotland and his party an immeasurable favour.

The most obvious way to do this would be for David Cameron to grant Scotland full fiscal autonomy by which act he would force Scotland to rein in its state spending in order to live within its means.

If he is right that Scots have no stomach for independence the latter course of action should hold no fears for him and the future of the Union.

Hiraeth said...

My two cents worth, having been involved in Welsh Conservatism, on and off for the past decade. Firstly, the Welsh Conservatives started off from a higher base. Historically, the party has manaded between 20 and 25% through most of the twentieth century, the difference in seat numbers is because the party's support in thinly spread, especially compared to Labour.

Plaid has historically possessed a limited appeal in the South of Wales. However, at the election of 1999, Plaid appeared to have broken through, winning Islwyn and Rhondda, coming second in both Pembrokeshire seats. At the last assembly elections, however, Plaid failed to win back these seats, lost in 2003, and the Conservatives won both Pembrokeshire seats.

Nick Bourne has, however, performed a wonderful job in reaching out to non-traditional Conservative voters. The party has sought to shed its image as an 'English' party, with some success. The party has listened, and responded, as well as setting out its stall.

Hiraeth said...

Totally agree with Penddu, by the way. The party has embraced devolution gladly. The best thing the party did was remove Rod Richards and bring in Nick Bourne. David Melding is right in saying that the party should embrace law-making powers for the Assembly, without a referendum. The anti-Assembly crowd will find that they have no-where else to go, and are so small as to be statistically insignificant.

The party has put to bed a number of poor candidates, and replaced them with excellent candidates, most of them Welsh, and not a toff among them. Same in local government, for the most part.

Number 7 said...

In my own experience it comes down to racism.

The Scots seem to have a visceral hatred for the English (as is shown by our current government).

To say that there is no racism between the Welsh and English would be untrue. However, in most cases (IMHO) this does not run very deep. The current government has made such a mess that even safe Labour seats in the pricipality are under threat.

From personal experience, the attitude in Wales has undergone a transformation due to Tony Bliar.

Just as an example, wearing a "Bo**ocks to Blair" shirt in the area I frequent results in FAR more agreement than negativity (and I haven't been arrested!).

Components of Independence said...

It's always exceedingly interesting to read the thoughts and opinions of others on Scotland, particularly the English right-wing. It is rather like reading a novel with a plot so far fetched it becomes a tragicomedy. Indeed, if I were a vote-seeking Tory in Scotland, going by some of the fantasies paraded here, I'd be embarrassed and mortified.

It is interesting to read, for example, that we Scots have a visceral hatred of the English. This is despite the enormous proponderence of English people in all spheres of Scottish public life - from the arts, down through the legal system and across our education system and into politics.

Or the rather amusing myth that the Scots are disproportionately dependent on the public sector compared to their English cousins. (Illustrated quite neatly in the fact that public spending, as a proportion of GDP is lower in Scotland than in England). IIRC public sector employment in Scotland is something like 24% of the workforce - only 3 or so per cent than the corresponding figure for England.

Funnily enough, state dependence (employment, benefit recipients etc) is much higher in Wales, than it is in Scotland - which rather destroys some of the myths floating about on this thread, unfortunately.

Indeed state dependence is far more entrenched in most of England, outside of the SE - areas where the Tories hope to pick up gains. Places such as Birmingham, West Yorkshire, Manchester etc. That is where the real divide is.

And one wonders why the Tory party is doing so badly in Scotland?

The solution: Tories shouldn't project the failures and shortcomings of their own party by caricaturing Scottish opinion to fit their own prejudices.

Hiraeth said...

The fault, as so often, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. It is certainly not in the electorate.

colins said...

The takeover of the Unionist Party by the Conservative Party is at the root of the weakness. It happened a long time ago and is forgotten now.

colins said...
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