Friday, November 26, 2010

The Sanderson Report: Bye Bye Ms Goldie

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.


Anonymous said...

In politics, you sometimes have to see a mood out like the years of Blairism.

For a decade or fifteen years, the British people were in tune with his expansionist, optimistic, open view of the world. With money no object, he and New Labour prospered.

It has been the same in Scotland for longer (and here). The SNP went with the grain of anti-Englishness and against the apparent narrowness of Thatcher. They took all the Tory seats (particularly in majority Protestant areas). The DUP did the same eventually with the UUP.

Now that the money hasn't just run out but has to be repaid, the Conservative outlook can, indeed has to, re-emerge, but in Scotland slowly, as devolution favours anti-English sentiment.

With Salmond in power, the master of exploiting envy, the wait will be longer as he twists the devolution knife into the Tories. His days and ideas are however numbered as his role models, Ireland and Iceland, have gone into administration or liquidation, like the Scottish banks.

Hopefully, the referendum in Wales to give their Assembly more powers will be defeated by the people (no thanks to this government), marking the first receding tide for devolution.

The Liberals too will be cut back in both countries' elections next year leaving the way open for the Conservatives to gradually up their percentage vote which is nothing like as bad as the set numbers suggest. AV would probably assist.

Reform of the Scottish party may well help but it is greater forces that will ultimately do the needful. Pessimism is their enemy.

kensei said...

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.

These are FTP elections: it really was.

thedissenter said...

Was going to comment on the basis of your points, and then decided to read the report through. Shouldn't have wasted the time. Although it talks about needing specific vision and policies for Scotland the focus is on party structure. Not that structure does not need to be reformed, but this is a Part 1 report. The core issue will ultimately be where from does the leadership come to 'lead' and manage the substantial change required?

O'Neill said...


There is a similarity with the UCUNF performance last May; if a higher number of seats had been achieved with the same total number of votes then I don't think that would have equaled a stronger performance by either party.


The report implies (although Sanderson is rowing gently back) that Goldie is not capable of providing the required leadership for change. Who does is then the next obvious question. I think this is the "shake out of comfort-zone" report, once that's been achieved then the actual mechanics for change will be employed and I'm sure it will be centrally managed (ie from London)

thedissenter said...

O'Neill, we're agreed. Your point on London management surely undermines the point of Sanderson about distinctive Scottish approaches? And if it is to be chosen ones from London placed in Scotland, heaven help the Scottish Conservative Party.