Following on from what I wrote yesterday, the Sanderson Report has actually been refreshingly blunt and even brutally honest in places.
The main problem identified is "the weak leadership and governance framework".
Methods suggested to address it:
- A Scottish leader with overall responsibility for the party’s performance in Scotland
- A "clear and distinctive" Conservative vision for Scotland.
- More internal party democracy; eg balloted motions and debate at party conference.
- Increase support for local associations.
- Regional campaign centres and a chief policy adviser.
- A news system for candidate selection, reform of the MSP ranking system and the pledge to contest every local government seat.
- Creation of a process to identify and develop future party leaders.
The group however rejected the suggestion that the Scottish Conservatives should separate from the UK Conservatives, stating this is not the source of its problems and such a split would run counter to its inherent Unionism.
All of the suggestions (with the possible exception of fighting every local government seat) are definitely sensible. As I pointed out here, the comparative performance of the Conservatives to the Lib Dems and SNP, in terms of actual votes captured, last May was not quite as disasterous as the return of one MP might suggest. In other words, whilst there is an obvious problem with re-engaging with the Scottish electorate, the internal weaknesses of the party is what needs addressing asap if the Conservatives in Scotland are to have any future.