Monday 18 January 2010


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!


  1. I strongly stand by Goldie and her leadership.

    Cameron will back off eventually, but sometimes I wonder if the only solution is if the merger between the Scots Unionists and the English 'Conservative' Party be ended...but that is far too radical...isn't it?

  2. No.... It's not at all.

    Press for it Dean

  3. And it is from London that the tactics of the Scottish party are being dictated...

    Ok, this is my personal bugbear, there is no Scottish Party as far as the Conservatives are concerned. The Conservatives in Scotland are a regional organisation of the British Conservative party and everything else falls out from this. They're not a party and Annabel Goldie is not a party leader.

    In company terms she's a regional manager and head office has taken over the strategy for the main make or break marketing campaign. Head office want to increase their market share in Scotland and the regional manager has shown no signs of reversing their lamentable sales figures so she's out of the loop in this campaign.

    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.

    I don't have a great deal of respect for Annabel Goldie. I remember her questions on Al-Megrahi in the Scottish Parliament which linked Alex Salmond's visit to Qatar to try and drum up funds for the Scottish Futures Trust with Al-Megrahi's release. An implication of judicial and political corruption which was just plain nasty.

    However being part of the British Conservative Party and being a, "Scottish Party, run in Scotland, by Scots and FOR Scots", is mutally contradictory. They would have break off from the Conservatives and be unionists in Scotland fighting to keep Scotland in Britain at all costs. Nope, that's not going to work as a party, "for Scots", either.

    With any luck they're heading for the obscurity as fast as possible.

  4. The tories in Scotland are a strange breed.
    They campaigned vigorously against devolution and then fought like ferrets in a sack to get elected when they realised that there would be devolution. Mary Scanlon was a ferocious campaigner against devolution ( and the minimum wage aswell by the way ) but then toured Scotland trying to get her snout in the trough.
    If Scots ever voted for Independence the tories would be in there fighting for seats aswell.
    A truly horrible vindictive party governed by cast iron dave who can't even keep his promises before the election never mind after the election. God help Scotland if we vote for ' anyone but Dave' and get another 18 years of Tory rule.

  5. Doug. I don't for a minute think that Annabel is perfect, but I do think that frequently she has used time at FMQ to ask sensible and worthwhile questions. She has been rewarded by sensible and worthwhile answers. This is unlike either of the other two party leaders, who with very few exceptions have used their time to ask stupid questions and have been rewarded with a tongue lashing and a wipe over the parliamentary floor.

    No of course she's not perfect (neither of course is Eck). The instance you refer to might well have been on instructions from London.

    I accept what you say in your penultimate paragraph. That's why I am an SNP member. I can only support a party which is based in Scotland, and run by Scots for Scotland. Unless or until we get independence this won't happen with the other parties, so, in the meantime, if they want to succeed they are going to have to allow the Edinburgh "branch" to become “independent” of instructions from London. London will not deliver.

    I think that London is unaware of what a legacy Thatcher left here, or how much she is hated and as a result the party is hated. Perhaps, if Edinburgh was to the fore, that fact, widely known in Scotland, would be more to the fore.

    Random thoughts.....

  6. Anon:

    That's why we must vote SNP in huge numbers. Can you imagine another 5 years of Brown? Can you imagine trying to find enough talent to get through the next 5 years from the bunch of no hopers that is Labour?

    Actually, I still think that the Tories are probably not as bad as we think they are. We think of the poisonous Thatcher woman... although maybe that's just me. You may remember farther back than I do :-)

  7. Remember back further than bloody maggie! Gods look at the latest internal polling:

    According to a ComRes poll of Conservative MPs about their philosophical affiliation [excluding those stepping down]:

    One Nation Toryism: 38%
    Thatcherism: 26%
    Cameronism 12% [ironically this is pretty much One Nationism, revamped for the digital age]
    Cornerstone: [moral traditionalists etc] 6%
    Libertarian: 6%

    Of the candidates in the most winnable seats the results are rather different:

    Cameronism: 43%
    One Nation Toryism: 22%
    Thatcherism: 19%
    Libertarian: 7%
    Cornerstone: 0%

  8. Dean:

    That's all very well, but if you can't remember it, then you can't remember it. Most Scots remember this ghastly bossy English woman who spoke with such condescension to us. "We in Scotland"...

    And then she closed our factories and told us that the financial sector was the way forward... and she put most of it in London and gave us a few call centres. She was the pits (no pun intended). I personally HATE her. It’s very difficult to separate her from the party Dean. Most of us have no clue about Heath or Mac or Home ....

    And, your figures show 26%/19% still like Thatcherism.... arghhhhhhhhhhhhh that’s far too many.

    The Tories in Scotland must stick with Goldie, get rid of the London influence, become a Scottish Party, fight for and care about Scottish things and the things that we care about.... and most of all burn the witch.

  9. What was it Frankie Boyle said about her? "Keep the state funderal idea...just give every Scotsman a spade and we will dig a hole so deep we can hand her over to satan personally"

    Does that summ up your feelings towards her? LOL

    I personally dont 'hate' her. But I certainly do not like what she did to my Party. Ah, maybe its my youth but I was born a year before hse was kicked out of powe by super ken and magical Hessletine!

  10. Tris
    Sadly the Tories are much worse than we think.
    Their infighting and sleaze outdid anything we've seen from Labour. At least labour PM's don't sleep with their ministers.
    The Tories started the decimation of the health service, pulic utilities and defence. Our armed forces were cut rapidly ( options for change )and our essential utitlities were sold off to the highest bidder ( now all foreign owned )
    Maggie failed in The Falklands ( run down the garrison and allowed an easy invasion for the Argies ).
    She loved Pinochet ( who murdered thousands in the santiago stadium ). She allowed the Libyan killers of Yvonne Fletcher to walk free. And she blocked any inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing.
    We're pretty helpless in Scotland as to who runs the parliament at Westminster as we have too few votes.

  11. Anon I think we all agree that 'that woman' was '18 wasted years'.

    All I ask is that you dont blame all of us for maggies errors. Some of us are actually human beings with a few ounces of humanity!

  12. Dean: Yep... I have to admit. I'm not a hating person really, and I certainly feel sorry for the old bag now that she's is half senile and ill and old. I'm maybe a tad too human ;¬)

    I certainly get very very angry when I remember just how sure she was that she was always right, and just how wrong she so often was.

    She was sickening. She makes my skin crawl.... and that of many other Scots too. You have this mountain to climb in Scotland, that the English Tories don't seem to have... or maybe they do. After all with the repulsive Brown at the helm Cameron should be 20 points in the lead, and yet he's not.

    It's not that Labour is good... it is that the Tories are not good enough.

  13. Anon.... EEEEEK. Just before I go to bed you need to remind me of John Major and Edwina Curry.... argh

    Mind you, who, in their right mind, would ever want to sleep with Brown....? Actually looking at him you have to wonder if he ever sleeps at all....

    Right, now I've had every revolting thought on earth. If I don't sleep all night it's YOUR fault!!!

    PS... arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  14. Dean: In fairness, she wasn't just wasted years. She was much worse than that for some people. They never recovered.

  15. All true Tris. Cameron is playing it safe. Until he gets 'Cameronites' into the Parliamentary party he is stuck with regressive 50+ers who love maggie.

    He has to keep the ship steady, and besides, even to have ANY kind of majority he needs to gain 100+ seats...i think he is aiming for solid growth, and the most likely is a hung parliament frankly.

  16. Annabel is past her sell-by date but who will replace her? My list MSP is a 'nice' bloke but no good. Now wee Derek Brownlee wouldn't be too bad, I think there's a lot of potential in him. It seems he's a fan of John Swinney too so double points there. :)

  17. As I've said before, when Thatch dies I'll be along with a wooden stake and a sledgehammer.

    Just to make sure...

  18. I reckon that Aunty Annabel is getting "told" which party-approved lines to follow at FMQT and despite what she herself thinks is forced to spout the drivel that she has recently done.

    Makes sense to me as she was erstwhile the most incisive of questioners of wee Eck.

  19. Subrosa: Yeah, it's true you've been saying that for a long time. In front of the pack, huh? I still haven't seen yer man Brownlee in action. I really must try to.

    I still like Annabel though SR... Maybe it's something about me and the older woman.... LOL

  20. Conan, I'll carry your hammer...

  21. Bugger: You just distilled perfectly what I've been waffling on about.

    If they are to stand any chance at all they have to tell people in London, some of whom have never set foot in the country, to butt out and let Scotland decide what is important.

    More and more they will, by insisting that ‘London knows best’ show that they are totally out of touch with an entirely different political situation.

    Mrs Thatcher once gave a talk in Scotland on education referring almost without exception to qualifications and organisations that were exclusively English. You would have thought that with all the Eton and Winchester, Oxford and Cambridge education that exists at the top of the party, they might have seen that this kind of folly goes down like a lead balloon.... but no; more of the same is what they serve us.

  22. The writing has been on the wall for Annabel for some time now, remember when David Cameron did not invite her to a meeting of the parties main Scottish funders, he did not invite David Mundell either. That does not indicate to my mind a party that is not run from England, after all if you pay the piper you call the tune. You would have thought that if the Scottish Tories were really independent then they would be inviting Cameron rather that the other way round.

    As for Mundell, oh dear! All that waiting to get a cabinet job and it seems that the big English cheese does not think you cut the Scottish mustard.

    Whatever the situation really is, it is clearly not in any way shape or form one nation Torism.

  23. Good point Munguin.

    Annabel should be doing the inviting here.

    It's just another example of how right the SNP is to say that they are the only party where the only consideration is Scotland. No orders for London; no big business interests reminding us that what really matters is the South East of London, and with people at the top who are Scots (not North Britishmen), who live here all year round and actually know what is going on here.

    It may be true that Annabel is on her way out. If she can't get that through to Cameron and his Londoncentric people then maybe she just isn't doing her job. Maybe she’s not strong enough to stand up to Cameron and tell him how things really are.

    I think it will be a pity because, in these days of personality politics, she is a winner. OK. Many won’t like her because she’s posh, but she’s a character. With respect to Subrosa’s Mr Brownlee, I don’t even know who he is, what he looks like or anything about him. OK Maybe that’s me being a wee bit ignorant, but he’s not high profile (although I’m sure if SR rates him he must have something).

  24. Dean...

    Could you give us your opinion of Mr Derek Brownlee, please?

  25. Derek Brownlee was the man who won us the really good budget terms last time.

    He is largely responsible for getting such generous conditions out of the SNP last year, with the town centre regeneration fund and all.

    He is a rising star, a decent man, and totally committed to being an MSP [as opposed to some, naming no names, who become MSPs but then stand for MP...lamont..].

    But he is on the right of the party internal. He isn't a Thatcherite, but it is clear that he is absolutely no One Nationist. In effect however he might be more of a personality than Goldie in the sense of being 'autonomous' from London. He can be a rebel when he wants. In one word: maverick. Through and through.

    But then, if I had to select Goldies most likely successor here are the two names in contention:

    Brownlee, Murdo Fraser.

    I personally prefr Murdo, being from Perth politics he is closer to my own hunting ground in Stirling. He is also more moderate than Brownlee and far far more experienced.

  26. Tris

    Dean would like to delete Maggie from Scotlands memory. That just is not going to happen. Too many Scots remember every day of her destruction of Scotland and the nasty party will never be forgiven.

    Who replaces Auntie Bella as the token leader in the wee northern outpost of North Briton is irrelevant. The real leader in Scotland of the nasty party after the general election will be our old friend Michael Forsyth. Once he is the unelected Secretary of State for Scotland he will make all the decisions. All Camerons diktats will be carried out to the letter by metal Micky.

    Thatcherism is on its way back to Scotland through the back door, and that is why it is imperative to ensure as few Tories, or preferably none, are elected as MPs. Then we can point out the democratic deficit of the nasty party colonel rule.

    P.S. Conan we will need to have a ballot for carrying the hammer, so many people will want the honor.

  27. Dean. Thanks for that. I wonder if that's the bloke that Subrosa was talking about as her local list man....SR?

  28. Hello Dubbieside... how's it going?

    I'm thinking that maybe we all wish we could delete the memory of that woman. Dean has admitted that he too has no time for her, as I would imagine a large number of their party must feel.

    Certainly Tory women must hate her with a passion. She advanced the cause of women in the party by minus 40 years (a bit like Harry the Harridan is doing for the Labour Party, LOL)

    I wonder: It's a scary thought that Mr Forsyth could be the Secretary of State. He must be very old now. I have only a vague memory of him as a rather Uriah Heap kind of bloke in a green twed suit who was the very last choice for Sec of State after they had echausted everyone else.

    I don't know much about him, but I've no great time for anyone who was associated in any way with her, (except Ken Clarke). Was he a Yes Man, and was he appointed under Thatcher or Major?

  29. Tris I am great. Even better after the Scottish political survey showed the 58% of Scots want Full Fiscal Autonomy as a minimum. Step by step it is getting closer.

    Even though he is a political dinosaur Forsyth is not that old in political terms. He is very much a Thatcher appointment and very much a yes man.

    He was the Secretary of State who thought that giving us back the Stone of Destiny would kill off nationalism. My abiding memory of him is he was waiting at Coldstream to welcome the stone back to Scotland with all the media in attendance. Unfortunately for his TV appearance the stone was delayed by a bomb scare and was too late for the news. Nothing funny about a bomb scare I know, but his coupon was a picture.

    He managed to lose the safe tory seat of Stirling probably for it never to go tory again, but I will always have a high regard for him as the man who finished Thatchers work to make the torys completely unelectable in Scotland.

  30. I rather prefer a fiscal federal approach to the constitutional question. Indeed an increasing number of Tories north and south of the wall are also starting to come out of the woodwork in favour of it. Did anyone read the former Tory MP who wrote in the Times at the weekend? Rather good article, he promoted fiscal autonomy, but at the end admitted it was the slippery slide towards independence [was dubbie says].

    As for Forsyth, the irony is he currently enjoys a rather popular image in Stirling constit, espacially in the farming districts of the seat. They loved him. Indeed dubbie I would point out that in 1997 Forsyth actually prevented the Labour MP from getting a larger majority [of the scale of say, Murphy in East Renfrew, formerly eastwood]. So we regard his 1997 performace as good on the failure scale.

  31. Dubbieside:

    Thanks for that info, and the good news. I can't imagine how anything other than complete financial autonomy would ever be any use to a country. The ability to fiddle a little with a few taxes is pointless, and would almost never be used. In order to balance books and help the economy along, you need a complete set of possibilities to juggle with....

    Yes, I agree with you. A bomb scare is never funny. What a fool if he thought giving us the Stone of Destiny on loan was enough to make up for all the crap we have had to put up with. It is amazing how far removed some people are from the reality of the ordinary man.....

    I've just read his Wikipedia page and it seems that he was actually in parliament for a very short period and got a knighthood and a seat in the Lords after having held some very junior positions.

    This may have been what was being planned....

    I have a feeling Dean will have something to say on the subject....

  32. Dean: I'm inclinded to agree with the Tory guy whose article you quote. Fiscal autonomy is a step on the road. I didn't read it. What's the fella's name? (or send me a link?)

    The unionists are on a slippery slope. Little bits of power here and there is a good way of staving off calls for independence, they think. It's always people from London that make the decisions, and they never understand us. But everytime that they give us a little more freedom and we use it wisely, we want some more. In the end it will go all the way. I suppose we are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

    The alternative is to allow us no freedom whatsoever and rule direct from London. I'm pretty sure that that could never happen again.

  33. I dug out my Sunday Times [yes, I keep old papers..bad habbit]. The guys name is Michael Fry, "writer historian and former Conservative candidate" [sorry, it seems he was just a candidate, not neccessarily an MP..]

    I can't find it on the times online page [it was last Sunday, so its all next Sundays stuff]

    But he writes "The system known as full fiscal freedom seems the most likely candidate. Under it each country could set and collect its own taxes: Scotland would have sn exchequer in Edinburgh and would contribute to policies run in common, chiefly defence, foreign policy, and social security"

    I have to agree that that picture does look rosey from Mr Fry's view. However there is one small matter he fails to discuss, and a potential deal breaker if ever we get fiscal freedom [or autonomy] negotiations under way: the oil and gass. In short, will the tax revenues from these special industries also be devolved to a new such Scottish exchequer?

    But its his finish that I really love:

    "This offers the cleanest and neatest way out of the present dilemmas- but not for the reason alone that it would be fiercely resisted by the treasury in London. The manderins would point out that once we have taken the long first step to full fiscal freedom it is but a single further step towards full political independence- and of course they would be right"

    It seems the Mr Michael Fry doesn't care much that the proposal might lead to a slippery slope to political independence. But then, neither am I frankly, it will happen if the case is ever proven and the public convinced. It is a democratic view if anything.

  34. Tris

    There was a rather good analysis from Old Nat on Blether With Brian re the 28% for full independence against 57% for full fiscal autonomy.

    He raised the point that if the people who want full fiscal independence are denied that, ether through being denied a vote on it or just being told that it will not happen (which is the likely Cameron option, particularly with Forsyth whispering in his ear) they would more than likely move from wanting FFA to full independence. Either way it is win, win for the SNP. 28% plus 57% adds up to a huge majority of Scots who will not accept the status quo, nor the Calman fig leaf. It may just take longer but it will still happen.

    Dean you may find this hard to believe but I thought that Forsyths performance in 1997 was good as well. I look forward to congratulating all the Scottish tory candidates in the general election on similar historic failure, even the majority who will lose their deposit.

    If he is so popular he should stand at the GE and prove that popularity.

  35. Dean...

    Thanks very much for looking that out... and for going to the bother of typing the relevant passages.

    Yep, he is right. I can’t for the life of me see why the oil and gas, designated by international law to be largely in Scotland’s water would accrue to any other country in the British Isles, not more than if they found diamonds in Bedfordshire, I would expect The Isle of Man or Scotland to get their share.

    As I said, I agree that federal fiscal autonomy would lead to independence, but then, I believe that no matter what happens the road leads to independence..... ;¬)

  36. Dean

    Why would Scotland be unique in the world by being the only country in the world that would not control the revenues from its own, and I stress, its own natural resource.

    This is not scientific of course, but I would bet the vast majority of the 57% who want FFA would also demand that oil and gas was included.

    Refusal to include would still drive the vast majority of the 57% from the FFA camp to the full independence camp.

    Still whatever way you look at it , win, win, for the SNP.

  37. Dubbieside:

    I agree completely. If you grant a bit more, then people (including the politicans) want even more and always more.

    If you start denying then any more, then people start pushing for EVEN more...

    Actually, that was really badly expressed... I'd be better to say that I agree completely with what you, much more eloquently, said!

  38. "Why would Scotland be unique in the world by being the only country in the world that would not control the revenues from its own, and I stress, its own natural resource"

    I agree that will be the block to the introduction of fiscal autonomy, federalism or even fiscal freedom. The London exchequer will seek to maintan the oil and gas revenues for hi mself, probably citing 'national interest' or something. That is the problem.

    I do believe fiscal federalism or just fiscal autonomy. It seems that devolution is now a clearly established process, not a one stop journey as Labour believed.

    "Refusal to include would still drive the vast majority of the 57% from the FFA camp to the full independence camp."

    Perhaps. Perhaps. But I do not think Cameron will deny Scotland a say, I have heard it said by candidates [and an MSP] up here that GHQ in London is considering holding a plebicite on independence once in power in Westminster, I personally would love it if they did.

    And I strongly believe the Scottish MSPs would support a Westminster held vote in the future, as that one would carry legal authority with it as well as democratic authority.

    They may not, just saying don't be surprised if Scots like Michael Gove and Liam Fox in the shadow cabinet push for a rather radical solution to the problems of Labours lopsided devolutionary status-quo.

  39. Well Dean, you'd go a long way to get a more cack handed settlement than we have now.

    Mr Cameron has said that he won't have time in the first 5 years to worry about constitutional matters..... so I wouldn't expect anything too fast. If as you suggested elsewhere we end up with a minority government or hung parliament with some sort of coalition, the Liberals may force their Federal Plans on whoever is Prime Minister.....

  40. A federal plan? It might be an opportunity for more freedom for Scottish Tories. I wouldnt dismiss it outright. But I do think the FPTP principal should be maintained, like in Holyrood- it is important that a voter can point to an individual [as opposed to a Party] and say "hes MY mp.

  41. It's a whole different discussion about ways of voting Dean, but I think that a mixture in some ways so that minority parties are represented fairly, is important whatever we do.

    In Scotland Labour would win outright every time where it not for PR.