The Scottish Conservatives have been doing some soul searching!
20 years so far and counting.
The party has effectively been a spent force; however they appear to want to be a force in Scottish politics again.
You would think that given they have had two decades, someone would have come up with solutions to their problems.
In Glasgow, there is a single Tory Councillor in Pollokshields, and a single MSP on the Glasgow list, that is their leader Ruth Davidson.
If it wasn’t for the list, Ruth Davidson wouldn’t be in Holyrood.
Now, senior Conservative Murdo Fraser has questioned whether the direction of Ruth Davidson’s leadership will “be enough” to secure a revival of the party in Scotland.
Probably not, when you look at things like the bedroom tax which the Scottish Conservatives never opposed and actively supported, you wonder why there should be such a thing as a Conservative leader in Scotland.
A Conservative leader should be sticking up for Scots, not blindly rubber stamping anything and everything out of CCHQ.
And before I forget, the hated poll tax came out of Scottish Conservative thinking, and we all know how that ended.
Like Moses, the Conservatives started a trek into the political wilderness, and never came back, still out there arguing about the route, should they do left, should they go right, should they go centre!
Annabel Goldie’s claim to fame was to chart a steady approach, not making any waves; it was steady performance, rather like not moving in quicksand in case you sink further. It was never a strategy to get her party out of the fix they put themselves in.
Murdo Fraser asks whether the Scottish Conservative Party “in its current manifestation” is “the best vehicle” for its supporters.
I would say no, the brand is so toxic, that a miracle needs to happen with them and the Scottish public; so far Ruth Davidson hasn’t created any miracles.
And miracles are the order of the day if the present setup is to make them viable.
Murdo suggests the Tories in Scotland may have to revisit his controversial plan for a new centre- right breakaway party, separate from the UK Conservatives.
Let’s say they go with it, a new shell is every nice, but at the end of the day, it comes to people and what they stand for, so far, rejection and not even getting the opportunity to present a case is the situation.
Murdo Fraser does have a good idea for a new party, and you could say he is the lone voice in the wilderness; his ideas on other things have been taken up. He now sits up on the backbenches having refused a shadow cabinet post.
He says Ms Davidson’s leadership has brought “glimmers of hope for the Scottish centre-right” due to the policy shift on devolution.
In the public domain that is meaningless, if people weren’t voting for them before, a slight shift would generate new voters or get their old ones back.
In Holyrood, it may mean something, in the outside world; this looks like internal housekeeping and as such is chip paper wrapper.
Fraser supports extra powers for Holyrood, however, Westminster is their real problem, Scotland turned their back because of Westminster policies and unless they fix their problem there, anything done at Holyrood is just political window dressing.
Is there unease in the Conservative ranks about Ms Davidson’s performance at Holy-rood during her 18 months as leader?
It hasn’t been great, it hasn’t been poor, but she should remember that FMQs are also a meaningless piece of theatre, and she speaks too long, short and sharp would be better.
Ms Davidson said during the leadership election that the Scotland Act, which beefs up Scotland’s control of taxation, should be a “line in the sand” on devolution.
She has now stepped over the line, events dear boy events.
Murdo is right, the Scottish Conservatives had “been slow to learn the truth” about the reasons for the party’s electoral failure in Scotland over the past two decades.
In 2015, the chance, ‘one chance to tell our enemies that they make take our lives but they will’ …. hold on that is a movie quote. Probably best to start that thought again, in 2015, one chance to reset the Conservative brand in Scotland.
That requires a platform of new policies and social justice, the reason for the party being “trapped in a vicious cycle of declining electoral support” by repeatedly campaigning on platforms rejected by the Scottish electorate is that they come across as a ‘fuck you party give us your vote and we will piss on your back’.
Any wonder the support collapsed, whether Ruth Davidson can bring it all back is doubtful, she has to change, and it is ‘road to Damascus’ stuff.
That road isn’t natural Tory ground, and for some it be an uncomfortable road to travel down, who wants another 20 years of decline?
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University