Tuesday 4 October 2011


From the minute that Murdo Fraser proposed a radical change in the Scottish Conservative party I supported his candidacy for leader. 

There is no doubt in my mind that, over the last 4 years, the serious opposition in parliament has been provided by the Tories, and by Annabel Goldie in particular. But despite Annabel's personal popularity, probably based on the fact that she did provide (largely) sensible opposition, the Tories lost more ground in May's general election.

In my opinion, and I mentioned this to Annabel when I met her, that loss was due to the fact that the UK government was now Tory led and unpopular. David Cameron and his cabinet of millionaire Englishmen has talked much, but not shown much, respect for Scotland. 

So when Murdo promised a re-branding and a distancing from London, I thought this was an excellent idea, based on the fact that we NEED a good opposition; we certainly won't get that from Labour and the Liberals have all but ceased to exisit. I'd have wished him to go further, and not allow his London MPs to take the Tory whip, but it seemed to me to be at least a step in the right direction (if you'll pardon the pun). 

From what I could make out he had the bulk of younger Tories as well as 6 MSPs,  MPs as high profile as Malcolm Rifkind, the party's only MEP and a raft of councillors. 

But it now appears that Cameron may want Ruth Davidson, a 33 year old, who has only just become an MSP at the last election, despite there only being 3 MSPs who have come out in favour of her candidacy. A party spin doctor is alleged to have helped her with her campaign, which may or may not be against the rules, and Ruth now appears to be the bookies favourite to win.

Ruth is a Cameroonian, through and through. She has suggested that his policies regarding schools and the NHS should be rolled out in Scotland, and now she has said that if she wins she will encourage Mr Cameron to make more appearances in Scotland and to send his ministers here more often. I think that suggests that Ruth hasn't really got her finger on the pulse of the public mood.

Oh well. All I can say to that is that Mr Salmond is almost certainly backing her now. He often used to say that every time Mrs Thatcher appeared in Scotland, SNP support soared. I don't know if the same thing can be said of Cameron and his ministers, but what I can say is that I have never met a Scot that didn't dislike him intensely, so I wouldn't be surprised. Michael Moore's recent suggestion that he will get the prime Minister and the Cabinet to come to Scotland to promote the union was met by a gale of laughter from us north of the border.

I suspect that Ms Davidson, should she win, will not hold the post for long and that eventually even the arch conservative Conservative, Michael Forsyth, who managed to reduce the Tory representation in London to 0, will come round to the idea that Scotland really doesn't want the London Tories and if there is to be any centre right party, it will have to be one that has as little to do with them as possible.

Pic: Ruth Davidson and David Ruthson Cameron


  1. I always thought that Murdo should have done the sensible thing and waited until he actually was the leader and then announced his change of party idea. Lets face up till he blurted this out he was a shoo in for it and now he seems to have chucked it all away and allowed Davidson to steal his prize. Not that I’m sorry, she is clearly a creature of David Cameron and if she thinks that by having him and his half witted ministers up here is going to help their prospects. That will be the very best thing for the SNP and its independence campaign.

  2. Yes, Munguin, I imagine that the likes of Wee Govey, the House Elf, and Doctor Death the War Secretary not to mention the Pickled Egg the Round Secretary, should be most welcome here in Scotland. I can see the First Minister laying on a nice curry for them, which at least Pickles should enjoy.

  3. I have to agree with Munguin that Murdo's been too honest for his own good.

    My spies within the tory camp say Davidson has always been London's choice. Even Guido thinks that. :)

  4. Good luck to Murdo in his attempts to shake some life into the party in order to, belatedly, actually think about the future of Scotland and I hope he can get Michael Hirst, the only Tory apart from Rhodes Boyson I ever liked, to come back into the fold.

  5. Yes probably SR. And that honesty makes me like him even more. He could have obfuscated as Munguin suggested; god knows the London Tories have done that in spadefuls: their policies bear little resemblance to their manifesto, and as we know in some cases they simply lied through their teeth. But Murdo told the truth. For that I salute him.

    I hope that he and his supporters will consider another party.

    I can only imagine what a mess Ruth will make of it. She and Willie Rennie will spend the whole time on their Blackberries to London.

  6. Well John, there are few enough of them that are likeable.

    That joke of a finance minister's fantasy speech was incredible. I'll have to blog on it tomorrow sometime. It was beyond belief full of crap. Either he's a liar or he's bloody thick.

    I don't know Michael Hirst or Rhodes Boyson, although both names seem to ring bells. But your judgement in these matters is usually pretty sound, given your experience of working with them. So, I''ll bow to your experience, and say, bring them back!!

    There are good right wingers out there. There just seem to be few enough of them in the government.

  7. as Jackson Carlaw warned, surely the ideal option is that the Tories split into two parties and wipe each other out?

  8. Rhodes Boyson was the loonie with the mutton-chops and the attitude to go with it and Michael Hirst always struck me as Michael Forsyth without the charm

  9. You can see Rhodes Boyson in all his glory here.

  10. Hello mango....

    I'm not sure that they would wipe each other out. But they would probably become minority non-front bench parties, like the Liberals and the Greens.

    That would leave the only real opposition as Labour. God help us.

  11. Michael Forsyth without the charm, Anon...Doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

    I see you and Mr Brownlie have considerable differences in opinion over the two of them. Feel free to expand your arguments here, if you want.

  12. Hi Loon. Long time no see on these boards... but most welcome back. :)

    I thought he did not badly and credit to him (in fact, Respec) for taking on an interview with Ali.

    Thanks for posting that video.

  13. If Murdo doesn't win, I'll be done with the Tories permanently.

    Seriously, and utterly.

    That only leaves me (and thousands like me) as small 'c' conservatives, with no political home.

    ... well ... there is always the maximum devo, social rightists in the SNP ... :D

  14. Boyson was indeed an arrogant loony but Michael was much more left-wing than the useless article who took over as the MP for East Dunbartonshire and I always found him very pleasant company who was stitched up by his Tory colleagues.

  15. Well Dean, you know there's always a home in the SNP for the hard working political activist type. And right now it's a broad church, although fundamentally left of centre.

    After independence, who knows.

    But I'm thinking that Murdo can hardly stay in a party he said he was ashamed of. If Ruth wins, it's English policies for Scotland. Cameron will be supporting her because she's nearest to his views and, of course, he can probably play her like a piano. He's not much experience himself, but she has none. I suspect she will be to the Tories what Willie is to the Liberals...ie Nick's mouthpiece in Scotland.

    And Murdo does have a lot of support. So maybe there will be somewhere for you to go with him...

    ...but as I said, if that doesn't work out there's an open door in the SNP for people who work for Scotland

  16. Fancy the Tories stitching anyone up, John. ..

  17. Tris,

    "Play her like a piano" - the mind boggles!

  18. Only your mind, John. The rest of us never thought anything rude!!!!


  19. Anon left this good comment which seems to have missed going on the blog:

    From Lord Belhaven's speech against the Union ( scottish parliament 1707)

    'The Names generally used to denote the Factions, are Whig, and Tory, as obscure as that of Guelfs and Gibelins: Yea, my Lord, they have different Significations, as they are applied to Factions in each Kingdom; a Whig in England is a heterogeneous Creature, in Scotland he is all of a piece; a Tory in England is all of a piece, and a Statesman; in Scotland, he is quite otherwise, an Anti-courtier and Antistatesman.

    'A Whig in England appears to be somewhat like Nebuchadnezzar's Image, of different Metals, different Classes, different Principles, and different Designs; yet take them altogether, they are like a piece of fine mixed Drugget of different threads, some finer, some coarser, which after all make a comely Appearance, and an agreeable Suit. Tory is like a Piece of loyal, Home-made English Cloth, the true Staple of the Nation, all of a Thread; yet if we look narrowly into it, we shall perceive diversity of Colours, which, according to the various Situations and Positions, make various Appearances: sometimes Tory is like the Moon in its full, as appeared in the Affair of the Bill of Occasional Conformity; upon other occasions it appears to be under a Cloud, and as if it were eclipsed by a greater Body, as it did in the Design of calling over the illustrious Princess Sophia. However, by this we may see their Designs are to outshoot Whig in his own Bow.

    'Whig in Scotland is a true-blue Presbyterian, who, without considering Time or Power, will venture their All for the Kirk: but something less for the State. The greatest difficulty is, how to describe a Scots Tory: Of old, when I knew them first, Tory was an honest hearted comradish Fellow, who provided he was maintained and protected in his Benefices, Titles and Dignities by the State, he was the less anxious who had the Government and Management of the Church: But now what he is since jure Divino came in fashion; and that Christianity, and, by consequence, Salvation comes to depend upon Episcopal Ordination, I profess I know not what to make of him; only this I must say for him, that he endeavours to do by Opposition, that which his Brother in England endeavours by a more prudent and less scrupulous Method.