It's a sure sign of just how completely I managed to switch off from Scottish politics while I was in Italy that I've only just caught up with the news (from fifteen days ago!) that Murdo Fraser wants (seemingly, possibly, ambiguously) to replace the Scottish Tory party with a new, autonomous, unashamedly pro-devolution centre-right force. This, it should go without saying, is the first semblance of strategic sense we've heard from a leading Scottish Tory since...oooh, about 1982, and is also a very rare instance of the interests of the Tories and of Scotland coinciding. The fact that the idea has brought Alan Cochrane out in a rash is testament enough to that.
But initially I couldn't help wondering if Fraser was making the same fatal mistake that Michael Portillo made ten years ago, ie. expounding his radical plans for change during the leadership campaign, rather than following the more cynical Blair path of saying nothing very much during the campaign, and then bouncing the party into an internal revolution immediately afterwards. However, that comparison doesn't quite work - the leader of the Scottish Tories isn't the master of all he or she surveys in the way that a UK party leader is, and therefore Fraser needs his clear-cut mandate for a new party from the word go. So he's doing the right thing, and for all our sakes we can only hope that Kate Higgins' confident forecast from a few weeks ago that Ruth Davidson was near-enough certain to win was wrong. Personally, I think Ms Davidson is a touch on the insufferable side anyway, but when has that ever been a barrier to rising to the top of the Scottish Tory ranks?