Monday 18 January 2010
WHY CAN'T THE TORIES SEE THAT THE SCOTTISH PARTY MUST NOT BE RUN FROM ENGLAND
I was interested in the analysis that Alan Cochrane made of the Tory Party in Scotland in his column in last Friday’s Daily Telegraph.
Cochrane analyses the chances of the party in Scotland and concludes that the signs are not good. He is critical of Ms Goldie and, in particular, of her very poor performance at FMQ on Thursday. He suggests that it is time for a major rethink on where the party is going, how it is led in Scotland and the tactics it is adopting.
Of Goldie, he correctly points out that she had her worst day ever at FMQs. She chose the wrong subject, was rebuked twice by the presiding officer and got a history lesson from Alex Salmond. All true, but perhaps unfair, as she has been the only opposition leader worthy of the title in the last 2 years. He points out that it is no secret that Miss Goldie does not have the support of her entire parliamentary team. But then, Margo is probably the only party leader that does!
He sais: “There are also signs that the pressures of leadership, which includes increasingly insistent instructions from a London head office that appears to know nothing and care less about a different set of circumstances north of the border, are having a detrimental effect on her performances”.
Ms Goldie tackles Salmond on how his government will cope with Labour’s recession, because that is what matters in England. She asks repeatedly what Salmond plans to do with the reduction in taxpayers’ cash that will be the inevitable result of the Treasury’s squeeze. However well this may work in England, it simply gives Salmond a stick to whack Labour’s planned spending cuts. Why is she trying to hold the English government to account?
Cochrane's answer to that is that she is being directed by Central Office in London. Michael Crow, political editor of STV, the Scottish Tories’ Press Officer reports not to Miss Goldie but to London. And it is from London that the tactics of the Scottish party are being dictated because Cameron is deparate for more than one Scottish MP in June. Given the Tories’ history in Scotland you couldn’t make that level of stupidity up.
So Ms Goldie is asking all the wrong questions, attacking the wrong government, because she is being directed by people who may never have actually been to Scotland! Instead of tackling the FM on the “right to buy” that was being abolished as she spoke on Thursday, Ms Goldie asked Mr Salmond what measures he would take to tackle the cost of Parliament, which is nothing to do with him. She made it worse by messing up her history and receiving a lesson on the English King Canute from Alex Salmond. Cringe!
Mr Cochrane concluded correctly that it was a “dreadful performance which caused a great deal of head shaking and angry muttering among Tory MSPs”.
I have a huge amount of respect for Annabel Goldie. Her solid common sense mixed with sometimes coquettish wit has livened many a FMQ for me. But if the Tories want to run their campaign from England and exclude her from the process, then they will fail. They must be a Scottish Party, run in Scotland, by Scots and FOR Scots. Otherwise Mr Mundell may not be the lone Tory from Scotland... there may be none!