Thursday, September 9, 2010

Possibly Scottish Conservatives might have a future? Perhaps.

According to the BBC:
Boundary changes for the next Scottish Parliament elections suggest a possible electoral boost to the Conservatives, according to expert analysis.

Professor David Denver's study said that if the new constituencies had been in place at the 2007 poll, the Tories might have won three extra seats.

However, the Scottish National Party would have remained the largest party.

Next year's Holyrood elections will be fought on re-drawn boundaries designed to even out seat sizes.
I think "possible" and "might" are the key words there.

Firstly, as Professor Denver himself points out:"a forecast for next year's elections which would be influenced by political developments since Holyrood last went to the polls and issues like the incumbency of sitting members"- which is a rather large caveat. Also: "constituencies were now built from much larger, more diverse council wards, making it very difficult to offer projections."

And lest we forget, after a period of sustained cuts, the Coalition parties by springtime next year will be inevitably fighting a backlash everywhere in the UK, but most probably especially in Scotland. The biggest factor of all preventing the realisation of that extra seat bonus will, however, be the Scottish Conservatives themselves- if they don't sort themselves out sharpish.

Firm leadership, unambiguous and coherent policies and most importantly of all, a clearly defined (for themselves, as much as the electorate) raison d'etre. Without those targets being achieved, all the constituency changes in the world aren't going to save the Scottish Conservatives.


Dean said...

I blogged on this too. I welcome it, though emphasise that it is all retrospective. None of this is a prediction for Holyrood 2011.

Caution, though the Scotland on Sunday poll for Holyrood last week did predict us having 20 MSPs ... though naturally I don't believe it.

We'll be doing well to hold onto 13MSPs.

The fact is we need policy reform - as you call for - clarity over our policy platform. What does a vote for Scottish Conservative & Unionist mean?

Maybe even reorganisation of how we run things up here in Scotland. Though, I know we have crossed swords on this before ;)

Intelligence Insider said...

Congrats on getting into the Top 20 Conservative Blogs from Iain Dales Total Politics site!

Dilettante said...

I'm not too up-to-date on the personalities of the Scottish party, does anyone know of a younger, more dynamic candidate who could take the leadership if Goldie stepped down?

fromtheperipheries said...

Firstly, it seems people always talk about the extreme options for the party: reorganisation by divorcing the party from the UK, reform by sacking Goldie.

Now, whilst there likely will be some level of party reorganisation, it will not be dramatic. Equally, Goldie will not go before the next election - and may well not go after that. She is an excellent asset. Policy, I think, is the most important thing.

As for the question of who is younger and more dynamic: few fit this bill. There are excellent Tory MSPs who are not young; and the young ones appear to have made little of their time on the benches. Derek Brownlee is a bit of a nobody, Gavin Brown may rise in time and Murdo Fraser simply wouldn't attract much interest as leader.

O'Neill said...


I was agreeing with you right up to that last reminder of previous differences:)

I think both definition and policy are essential, much more important than personalities at this stage. I also think that there is a tendency for too much short-termism (obviously not a problem limited to the Scottish Conservatives) and exaggerated expectations rather than looking to build up a solid foundation for two, three, four elections ahead and not just worrying about the next opinion poll.

O'Neill said...

Intelligence Insider,

Thanks, it was a v pleasant surprise...although technically, I'm a UK non/aligned conservative (small "c"!)

O'Neill said...

from the peripheries,

As for the question of who is younger and more dynamic: few fit this bill.

That doesn't bode well for the future and it kind of ties in with what I said to Dean about a longer-term approach vision/strategy being necessary rather than the quick and easy fit.

thedissenter said...

Until the Edinburgh central office is cleaned out the Scottish Conservatives will never break out.

fromtheperipheries said...

The Edinburgh Central Office was cleaned out - indeed, kicked out! It was given free office space by a supporter, who sold the building. It has now taken over the Edinburgh North office which, by all accounts, is rather on the small side.

I think you're correct in some ways. Whilst I support the party's policy review, the structural review seems to be little more than an exercise in self-flagellation and griping. The public won't notice or care about the changes proposed.

I think the main priority should be to improve the caliber - particularly in terms of public presentation - of the crop of Conservative MSPs. Many of them are lovely, but really do nothing for the party's image nationally. Others, like Jackson Carlaw and Alex Johnstone, are very able but under-utilised, with the media generally focusing on Goldie alone.

So, some fresh (and likable!) blood, combined with actually showing off some of our talent. Do that, highlight a few central policies and principles, and the party will likely be fine.

Will they do this? Probably not.