Phah, you leave a comment on Better Nation, and it’s disproved within 12 hours with the appearance on Radio Scotland of, shock horror!!! a blogger (OK it was the Dalemeister, but still it is still a rarity for a member of the blogosphere to appear in the mainstream Scottish media). Dale was appearing on GMS as they were discussing why the Cameron effect stopped in Dumfriesshire.
There are several reasons touted for the Tories electoral failures here in Scotland. Little fresh talent breaking through, with the same old faces holding key positions at the top of the party. These are exacerbated by the fact that, in the Central belt, and in particular in the West of Scotland, the Conservative party is still seen as the nasty party. For many people, the years when Thatcher's Conservatives destroyed Scottish heavy industry and cut a swathe through the manufacturing sector were years that will stay in the memory. Some people though that memories would recede with New Labour in power. Far from it, the Thatcher years have become something of a folklore, like the dragon that resides in the wood’s. Ready to awake at any time. Many people did not forget, and were unwilling to forgive.
Not that there was a lack of people queuing up to remind the Scottish voters. Labour’s campaign seemed to consist solely of reminding people about the Tories, how ghastly they were and what happened the last time they were in power. Which i suppose was as potent as the Tories reminding businesses up and down the land about 1979 and all that. Except the Tories probably don’t need candidates opening their mouths and putting their foot in it. Gordon MacCaskill put his foot in it several times during the General Election (and will probably do so again, as he has been picked to fight the Paisley seat for the Holyrood elections). Today has also seen another Holyrood hopeful open his mouth and let his belly rumble. With friend’s like these…
The interesting thing which no one seems to have mentioned is that while the Tories seem to be failing in attracting votes, this does not, as some commentators suggest, mean that there is a vacuum on the right. The Tories place as the natural party of the centre right has been usurped, in the Scottish political landscape at least, by Scottish Labour. It is they who are pursuing the Howardesque line on crime with their policy on Knife possession, as well as their former rising star pursuing a policy of part privatisation of council services. It is also they who have the current monopoly on “Back to basic’s” style sleaze thanks to said former rising star.
If the key to winning elections is to find that populous middle ground, the Tories have failed to do this with a Scottish electorate which has not forgotten and will not forget the 1980’s. Jeez they even failed to take the hint when Tory became a stick to beat the SNP with for nigh on 20 years after the collapse of the Callaghan government. What is it they say about addicts being the last to become aware they have a problem? With Holyrood elections next year,and Annabel Goldie offering the olive branch in an attempt to carve out some influence after the elections, the Tories need to learn the lessons of the past 30 years.