Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Scottish Tories make a historic mistake - but you weren't expecting them to break the habit of a lifetime, were you?

A 'steady-as-she-goes' choice of captain can sometimes be wise, but not when the ship sunk without trace fifteen years ago. The Tories had a golden opportunity to reconnect with the heartbeat of modern Scotland yesterday, and even to steal a pass on Labour in the process, but they've fluffed their lines yet again. So they're now stuck with Ruth Davidson for what could well be a very, very long time, and they'll just have to cling to the positives, such as they are. And those positives can only really be her personal qualities, because her wizard strategic plan seems to be (as Murdo Fraser pointed out) to carry on doing exactly what the party has been doing for many years and expect different results. Yes, it would normally be a matter of some note that the Tories have elected a young, articulate woman as leader, but they've had an articulate female leader for the last few years, so clearly that in itself isn't sufficient. And as for Davidson's youth and "freshness", that could well be a double-edged sword - I'd suggest that 32 is at the absolute extreme lower end of the age range within which someone can look plausible as a party leader. Even Alex Salmond was three years older than that when he first became SNP leader in 1990, and it was a good three or four years later before he stepped out of the shadow of Jim Sillars and really looked like a man in command.

So what happened yesterday is undoubtedly a retrograde step for the Scottish Tories, but is it bad for Scotland as well? My gut feeling is yes, because a Fraser victory would have finally forced the UK government to reluctantly accept the realities of the new Scotland. As it is, Davidson joins Willie Rennie as yet another loyal Scottish cheerleader for the London delusion that nothing really changed in May, and therefore nothing needs to be done. But as Kenny Farquharson has pointed out, that stubbornness could easily backfire on the unionist parties and make full independence a more attractive proposition to the electorate than would have been the case had devo max been embraced. And it has to be said the SNP's own long-term electoral prospects in large swathes of Scotland are looking considerably brighter today.


  1. Completely agree with you and I also like what Craig Murray says.

    The Scottish Conservatives have elected an openly gay leader. Good on them. It is also a shrewd political move. There are certainly more gays in Scotland than Conservatives.

  2. At last one of them is alive and kicking. The Leader at least.

  3. CH - that line from Craig Murray is an absolute cracker!

    32 is a ridiculous age for a leader. If she was one amongst many, then perhaps fair enough, especially if this was at least her second term. But why on earth should those in their 50s and 60s take any notice of a young upstart that has only been an MSP for 6 months when they've been there for 12 years? Her inexperience has already been exposed during her leadership campaign, so who knows what we're in for over the coming months.

    I wonder if this is perhaps the main reason Murdo had the most support amongst the MSPs? Also, I wonder if it will help fuel a proper split, which must surely come if Murdo and his backers are to retain any shred of credibility? They're going to look ridiculous asking people to vote for a party they themselves no longer believe is fit for purpose.

    As you say, it was entirely expected - after all, they are the Conservative party, the clue is in the name. Still, they've shot themselves in the foot.

  4. It's quite baffling.

    1/3rd of Scottish Tories decided to disband the party;
    1/3rd of Scottish Tories decided not to disband the party.

    The other 1/3rd couldn't be arsed either way.

    The SNP leadership must be elated.

    If (or rather, when) Lamont and Davidson are elected Scottish Leader/Deputy Leader of the Labour Party respectively, the SNP will have no credible opposition - or a narrative (to borrow from Gerry Hassan )- to argue against the case for further autonomy or indeed independence in 2015 apart from their own party self-interest.

  5. .....and now Paul McBride QC has resigned from the Tory Party.

  6. MacBride Carpetbagger cum QC has indeed legged it rapid style upon the advent of this confirmation of the Tory death wish in Scotland in electing Ms Davidson as the re-hash "leader" "spinned" by the antediluvian elements loyal to the status quo in the face of their dinosaur-style, imminent oblivion: Sensible chap on the face of it.

    However, The Bearded One of the "Oor Wullie" section of the Telegraph is positively rhapsodic about her elevation to her dizzy comprador-Scoto-Brit-kailyard heights in his most recent posting from Pluto; surely, something is systemically amiss with the SCUPs in the face of such internal divisions and the fact, as noted by a poster above, that a third of their minuscule membership in Scotland could not be arsed to cast a vote?

    I think we should be told. But not by her or "Him" of the Torygraph or any of them unionist affiliated (unless, perhaps, by Murdo who seemed to have an approximate Saul mutating into Paul epiphany on his Anglo-Jock version of his road to Damascus via Alba).

    Cochrane, Davidson, Mundell, Forsyth and Weir et al from the serried ranks of Unionist opportunists - "Labour" and LDP associates included and affiliated - are increasingly gangsterish in their deeds and words for all to see: A simple mafia cartel where they play the loyal consiglieres pseudo-subtle and increasingly blustering and threatening like hired muscle.

    Arrividerci, chaps and chapettes...

  7. Ezio Auditore da Firenze - Florence ForwardNovember 6, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    I saw a comment from Indy on the Better Nation blog saying that it just feels like this is 'our time'. That everything is just coming together at the right time. The election of Ruth Davidson is just another piece of the jigsaw clicking into place.

    For anyone who doubts the 'our time' theory, a Scottish couple win 161 million quid on the Euromillions and he just happens to have been a former SNP candidate and is donating a "substantial seven figure sum" to the Yes campaign...quite incredible!

    From Florence I can see that the planets truly are aligning for us!

  8. I hadn't heard about that, Ezio. I never should have doubted John Major's claim that he set up the lottery to benefit good causes!

  9. James here is the link to the story. Don't read the comments, they could make milk go sour in an instant

    When I read who had won the Euromillions, I had thought he might give something to the cause.

  10. Thanks, Marcia. Alas, I couldn't resist reading the comments, and my favourite one comes from someone calling themselves "Moses" who claims to come from Nigeria (forgive my scepticism) -

    "Can't understand why you English put up with the Scots. Weren't you a great nation before you united with them and haven't they always been a bunch of pointless aggressive whingers? Time to get rid. Moses"

    Yes, it really is uncanny how the union with Scotland coincided with England's descent into the calamity of being an imperial power that spanned a quarter of the world's landmass. If only we hadn't whinged quite so aggressively, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad for them...

  11. Could be bullshit about the donation. The Mail and the Hootsmon both are attributing it to "a party source".