Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When the going gets tough, N.Irish and Scottish Conservatives go hiding

I wrote just after the General Election:
Conservatives and Unionists presently dozing in Northern Ireland and Scotland, in particular, need to wake up and give themselves a serious shake because there is one a hell of a battle ahead.
They've pulled the quilt over the head and kept on snoozing with the inevitable results:
Support for the Tories has fallen significantly in Scotland as the party suffers a backlash in the wake of David Cameron’s cuts agenda, a new poll reveals today.

The results are bad news for the Conservatives, already struggling after a disastrous showing in Scotland at the General Election, in which they failed to add to their one Scottish seat despite a large swing to the party across most of the rest of Britain.

The news will further increase pressure on Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Conservative leader, who has faced criticism over her leadership amid claims that the brand is "toxic" north of the border.

Polling organisation TNS-BMRB questioned more than 1000 people about who they would vote for in May’s election and found support for the Tories had fallen in the first-past-the-post constituency vote, from 13% to 10%, since a corresponding survey weeks after the General Election. There was a smaller drop in the regional list vote, from 12% to 11%.
Completely predictable. But rather than whinging about "toxic" brands and Ms Goldie, why aren't the Conservatives in Scotland using every possible opportunity in the media to explain the rationale behind the "Cameron cuts agenda"? Why aren't they taking the battle to Labour (the party with the ultimate responsibility for the UK's perilous economic position) and the SNP, who've been misleading the electorate with their promises of jam today and jam forever more? Instead, embarrassed silence interspersed with none too edifying bouts of navel-gazing.

"Senior sources" representing their comrades across the North Channel have occasionally awakened from their slumber, but generally only to fire away the same old boring "off-the-record but please make sure it's reported" missives to the same old bored hacks about:

a)The UUP b)Their own leadership c) Each other

If they ever get round to employing the same effort and media-savvyness into actually defending and promoting their own party, then the whinge merchants at the Telegraph, in particular, won't know what's hit them. Ironically, they are becoming almost Ulster nationalist in outlook with their obsession about what's going on in our wee corner of the nation, whilst simultaneously avoiding the bigger and infinitely more important UK picture which is now developing. Why wasn't there a Northern Irish Conservative response to this pathetic piece of whimpering for example? Too busy still checking for those Oranges under the Bed?

In both cases it's got to be said that the short-term future doesn't look at all rosy. But if they're going down, then they both should stop acting so detached and at least put up some kind of a fight. The way both parties are going at the minute, they're going to introspect themselves into non-existance.


Coincidence or not, Ian Parsley has a letter tonight (accompanied by the obligatory Little Ulster zombies in the comments zone) in the Tele attacking the article in question.

Update 2

Dilettante takes a much more optimistic view of the Scottish Conservatives future in a well-written piece here.


tony said...

To be fair the tories in Scotland are hamstrung by their reluctance to orient themselves from Scotland instead of an appendage of a party that has a bad reputation in Scotland. You know how i often go on about the Scottish unionist media, well just media because there isn't a nationalist media.

Imagine if you will how they have managed to con the Scots so successfully for so long. Well as a born again fully fledged unionist party, the labour mob in Scotland have been doing the exact same as the tories. That is representing the interests of a foreign country, namely England. Yet labour is punted as some kind of bulwark by the press against the overly aggressive English tories.

I've stated many many times that there is a place for a distinctly Scottish right of centre party in Scotland. Just not one with the baggage associated with the tories. They know what they must do but won't. At least they are ideologically correct in the face of power politics, not something we could ever associate with labour.

The Aberdonian said...

Tony is spot on. The Scottish Tories have to take a leaf out of the book of the Quebec right. Association with the Orange Anglo-phone Tories in Canada damaged the so-called "Bleaus" so much (particularly after the execution of Louis Riel) that the party detached itself from the Anglophone party and recreated itself as the "Union Nationale" playing the small "n" nationalist card within a federal Canada with an emphasis on conservative values.

The UN last till the 60's when it split between the sepratistes and the federalistes wings. The seperatistes went onto found the Parti Quebeqois/Bloc Quebeqois whilst the federalistes set up the Action Democratique de Quebec which preaches today small "n" nationalism, right wing values within a federal Canada etc.

The Federal Tory brand is so toxic in Quebec that since the late 19th century it has not held a majority of federal seats in the province except under two Tory PMs - Difenbaker and Mulroney.

Difenbaker's policies recieved the backing of the UN in the post war years which boosted him whilst Mulroney played the small "n" nationalist card, playing to "I am a bi-lingual Irish Catholic Canadian from Quebec who understands you and f"£$ the Orangemen in my party" routine. Having a Canadian Bosnian-Serb Orthodox wife (and a former model) probably helped boost his image in his native province.

The ADQ are still aware the Federal Tories are toxic in Quebec and do not officially support or endorse them.

"Persecute those Froggy Papist Quebeqois. It is the sensible way for a more united, sensible British Empire. Good Save the Queen!" - Canadian Orange Bob

tony said...

Orange this orange that Aberdonian...........now I wonder who has the hegemonic influence in Oneills political party of choice, indeed underwrites virtually everything they do *coughs* ahem Unionist/loyalist unity talks.

Anybody would think the orangies were some kind of toxic brand.

O'Neill said...

I did a piece on Open Unionism on what I think is the negative influence of Orangeism on NI Unionism here:http://tinyurl.com/3xkno9b
You might be interested in some of the responses.

But I can say almost 100% categorily that the NI Conservatives lose no votes because of any perceived Orange Order connection. I'm guessing the same is now the case with the Scottish Tories.

So, what you're both arguing is that it's the "London" connection which loses them votes... but that's a connection which doesn't seem to do Labour North of the Border any harm. In fact, they have quite cleverly positioned themselves as simultaneously the only feasible Unionist alternative to the SNP and the only feasible Scottish alternative to Cameron.

Setting up a soft nationalist alternative to the SNP, which Aberdonian's Quebec comparison seems to suggest, also doesn't make sense to me. On a fair few social issues, the SNP are as conservative as the Conservatives, why then would anyone vote for a SNP-Lite?

The truth, I guess, is that they are never going to be again the second, never mind first, party in Scotland. The first thing will be for their grandees, who still seem to have delusions of grandeur left over from the 50s and 60s, to accept that fact. After that, work out how best they can influence, as a third party, both the decisions of their opponents in Scotland and their own party in London. They don't need to ditch their Unionism to achieve success in either task there and I'd suggest that if they did give up on such a core principle, the voters would wonderwhat else they'd be prepared to sacrifice for the slightest whiff of power.

tony said...


>>But I can say almost 100% categorily that the NI Conservatives lose no votes because of any perceived Orange Order connection.I'm guessing the same is now the case with the Scottish Tories.<<

That says more about the particular unhealthy mindset that exist amongst unionists in NI. And any connection that Scots OO members percieve with the tories are I'd suggest mostly in their minds now.

The Tories seemingly have done well here, and their new star man McBride is a Catholic I believe (that is an educated guess btw) although the candidate for Eastwood who failed against the Murph has (or had since people can mature from such things-I cite speaker Bercow as a case in point) orange/loyalist leanings. Funnily enough I once encountered him when picking up my season book at the paradise - aka Celtic park ticket office in the late nineties where he worked in some capacity or other. Considering I had seen him mouthing off several times about SF/IRA on telly several times it was a moment that considering his place of work left me lost for words.

>>So, what you're both arguing is that it's the "London" connection which loses them votes... but that's a connection which doesn't seem to do Labour North of the Border any harm.<<

I have already pointed out that the media insulates labour to a great extent plus the extremely high level of spin doctory going on is unbelievable.

Case in point in todays Sun that I glanced at. A 3/4 page spread on a labour councilors motion to sack the provost of W. Dumbartonshire (I think)from some committee. Anyhow several bits of unimportant nonsense that wouldn't pass mustard in a weans argument was cited. Now on a tiny 20 line column in the top right contained a story about a sex pest labour councillor from glasgow who has been harrassing an ex-provost. The police have investigated and charged him plus he has been suspended.

This example of balance is the norm. What the paper failed to report that the person who grassed him in was one councillor ruth black. Hung oot tae dry by her labour colleagues as part of the corrupt gay mafia that surrounded Steven Purcell. All was well until they begun to unravel what with media business and those holding the levers of power embroiled. It seems that she knows where the bodies are buried. I just checked the website and the labour story isn't even covred on it.

Oh and there is as far as I am aware still an ongoing investigation by police about gcc but audit Scotland are still strangely refusing calls from the SNP to investigate.

Dilettante said...

I cover this (mainly in response to a post on New Right) [url=http://dilettante11.blogspot.com/2010/08/scottish-conservative-party-should-not.html]here[/url].

tony said...


Your site won't let jakes like myself post without an account of some sort, so here is my response to you here if Oneill doesn't mind too much;

Hello big D

I see that you are carrying on with your cultural soft touch that you displayed so eloquently over on Unionist lite;

>>a story of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party calling for an expensive memorial centre to be built on the site of some rebel victory will filter through.<<

I take it you refer to Murdo Fraser and Bannockburn...........I will be polite......honest!
Could you explain to me what you mean by rebels and why have you thrown on the tabloidesque 'expensive' tag to the memorial to the battle?

>>There are signs that the Conservatives north of the border are trying to ape some SNP stances, or at least appeal to their electorate.<<

Are you aware that large swathes, indeed clear majorities especially in the north east are recent former Tory voters?

>>The right in Scotland during the mid-century heydey was a coalition of the soft-protestant Unionist Party...<<

Near spat my tea oot at that one, if we are talking about the groups in the 20's to 40's. Eh they were far from soft, they were rabid, reactionary anti-Catholics who if they had their way would have at the very least ethnicly cleansed Scotland.

For the rest you have somehow extrapolated a scenario using conditions that exist in the six counties and transported them to Scotland. A deeply flawed scenarion Mo chara, deeply flawed.

There no longer exists in Scottish society a place for establishment anti-Catholic bigots, unlike unionist NI. Indeed it has become the norm lately for establishment figures to routinely speak out against sectarianism when as short a time ago there would be neutral silence. Scottish society differs quite a lot from England, our version of centre-right would not be the same as an English one and miles less conservative than NI, we have more of a community theme. Whilst labour control the media in Scotland which is not a whine but a declaration of fact. The Tories will always be painted as the bad guys for being representatives of an upper class elite imposing it's will on Scotland. Despite the fact that they themselves do exactly the same, or a variation thereof.