Thursday, October 6, 2011

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous

As much as I think Murdo Fraser is on the right track in trying to dispense with the Scottish Tories' toxic brand and to gain autonomy from the London party, it's clear that a lot more thought is going to be required on what the new name should actually be. The suggestions leaked at the weekend were for the most part pretty awful. Let's go through them in turn -

Scotland First

A campaign slogan, not a party name. Also utterly vacuous.

The Caledonians

A folk-band that seems unlikely to rival the popularity of The Corries. And can you imagine the fun Alex Salmond would have?

Scottish Unionists or Progressive Conservatives

These have the huge disadvantanges of not actually being name changes - the words 'Conservative' and 'Unionist' both feature in the current name. So either one would be a monumental waste of time if the object of the exercise is to banish the toxic brand. In particular, 'Progressive Conservatives' (a name presumably borrowed from the ill-fated Canadian party) would be extremely easily shortened to 'Conservatives', and before you know it you'd be back to 'the Tories' in popular usage. And the possibility that a reborn Scottish Unionist Party would be seen as an 'Orange' party is hardly the 'slight' concern that some Tory sources seem to think it is.

The Scottish Progressives

The Tories may not like it, but as an unqualified term "progressive" is associated with the left, so this choice would attract confusion and derision in equal measure. Unless, of course, they actually become 'progressive' as a party, but I'm not holding my breath.

Scottish Reform Party

Probably the least worst of the six in the sense that it's at least a meaningful declaration of intent, but it still sets my teeth on edge because it's almost certainly the wrong sort of intent for a centre-right party in Scotland - I think we can all imagine the kind of 'reform' that is implied. Still, I suppose we should be grateful that no-one has (as yet) suggested going down the uber-Thatcherite/Bushite route of calling it the 'Scottish Freedom Party'.

So if not any of the current suggestions, then what? Whisper it gently, but a good way for the party to demonstrate that it has genuinely changed is not to be afraid to borrow ideas from continental Europe. The ubiquitous 'Christian Democrat' name for centre-right parties can be safely ruled out in an increasingly secular country like ours, but why not 'Scottish People's Party'? (A touch of irony there, given Labour's outdated self-image, but that's no bad thing.) Or they could look to the example of the party that leads the centre-right coalition in Sweden, and call themselves the 'Scottish Moderates'. Although, again, it would help enormously if their policies were as moderate as the name.


  1. Murdo's options are a bit limited.

    The "Scottish Unionist Party" already exists and is registered with the Electoral Commission.

    There are already three parties with "Progressive" in their name registered with the Electoral Commission, "The Progressive Party", "The Progressive Democrat Party" and the "Progressive Action Party".

    As far as the word "Reform" goes there already are six parties registered with the Electoral Commision that use that word in their names, the "Central Party for Reform", the "Democratic Reform Party", the "Money Reform Party", the "Nationwide Reform Party", the "Reform 2000 Party", and the "The Individual Reform Party"

    If any of these parties fight elections in Scotland then Murdo might have a job choosing a name which doesn't cause confusion on the ballot paper.

    However as I at one time worked for a company in a job which required contact with the military I do remember the military slang of, "Cake and Arse Party".

    The current definitions being, "An activity in which none of the participants recognise a purpose.", and, "A polite term used to describe a job/mission that no longer resembles normality, i.e. a Cluster Fuck, something that has gone pear-shaped.".

    Since the term, "Cake and Arse Party", in its current definitions matches the Scottish Conservative outlook quite well I propose it for Murdo's new party name.

    Murdo Fraser, leader of the Cake and Arse Party. Got a bit of a ring to it.

  2. Yeah, they're all a bit laughable really. Progressive Conservatives is particularly bad - isn't that a bit of a contradiction in terms? How can you want progress when you also want to conserve the status quo?

    Out of them all, I would say Scottish Unionists is the best, as it at least describes them (they're Scottish, and they're unionists). Then again, it doesn't tell you about the direction Murdo is taking here. Scottish Devolutionists, how about that?

    Or in the vein of I'm Alan Partridge series 1 episode 1: "Devolution, Not Revolution: because we devolve, but we don't... revolve...".

  3. If he succeeds in beating our ex BBC Radio Scotland newsreader he could capture the essence of Conservatism whist saying a cheery farewell to his rival and call it the Ruthless Party. See what I did there.....

  4. 'Scottish Centre Right Asymmetric Party'

  5. The "Scottish Right" would appeal to their masonic members :-)

  6. Another thought I had was "It's Brutal But You Love It".

    Doug, I'd forgotten there was already a Scottish Unionist Party registered with the Electoral Commission. Could they get away with it by calling themselves "the Scottish Unionists", or is that too similar?