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Scottish Conservatives calling for independence, whatever next?

Just a few weeks ago the Conservative Government told its friends in the press they shouldn’t worry, they have this Scotland thing covered. They were going to take a more softly, softly approach to Scotland, be less antagonistic to the Scottish Government.

Barely a few weeks later, Boris Kerfuffle-Johnson put his foot in it, let the pretence slip and declared Scottish devolution was a disaster and that no more powers would be forthcoming from his government. We knew that already; in fact, his government is progressing a Bill that will strip powers from the Scottish Parliament so it can implement the Brexit plans that the people of Scotland so substantially rejected.

Scots overwhelmingly support devolution and more than half are telling pollsters they will vote the SNP back into power in May 2021. Facing an electoral smashing, the Scottish Conservatives know that to be on the wrong side of the devolution argument will cost half or more of their seats in Holyrood. Their new Scottish area leader is trying to reinvent himself as a reasonable populist and to present the Scottish Tories as being on the right side of many of the arguments that left them with no MPs in the late 90s and only one in the first four General Elections of the twentieth century. Douglas Ross has even promised locally sourced milk for schools in a transparent attempt to find an answer to the old “Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher” trope. His attempts at populism would be laughable if they weren’t so insulting to the intelligence of Scottish voters.

The Scottish Tories manufactured a temporary rally by triangulating the No vote and getting Lib Dem and Labour voters to lend them their votes in SNP marginal seats. Aware that tactical voting will no longer work post-Brexit and with Johnson in charge, they are now faced with the reality that being a Conservative is once again toxic to the majority of Scottish voters.

So what can they do to save themselves? The answer they have started to discuss – yet again – is that they need to declare themselves independent from the UK Conservative Party. An idea so ridiculously stupid, politically suicidal and naive you begin to wonder if the Westminster Government is the actual brains of the Conservative Party.

In 2011 whilst running for Scottish Conservative Leader, Murdo Fraser came up with this idea of creating a new centre-right party in Scotland – and was soundly defeated by Ruth Davidson.

It was discussed again last year when Johnson became PM and now Peter Duncan, former Conservative Chairman in Scotland, has predicted they will split from the UK party.

The Scottish Conservatives declaring independence would say to Scottish voters that:

  • A one size fits all governance for the UK doesn’t work
  • Political decisions should be made in Scotland not London
  • Boris Johnson is a disaster as PM and no replacement for him will be any better for Scotland
  • Political parties run from London don’t work in Scotland’s best interests
  • The union is dysfunctional and Westminster too distant to have anything to offer Scotland
  • They will have different policies to the Westminster Government whilst still wanting the same political compass – in other words, it’s a lie
  • Their MPs can’t influence the UK Government or stand up for Scotland so you may as well vote SNP
  • However, they will support the union even though they disagree with London rule for their party and have proven by their actions that Scotland would be better running its own affairs.

As they would still support power over the constitution remaining at Westminster, they would be in an impossible situation if the UK Government was to ignore the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and keep saying no to a Section 30. Would they also oppose the power grab? Because that would put them on the wrong side of the devolution argument again, which is precisely why they are discussing the Scottish party becoming independent.

If ever you wanted proof that the Conservative party in Scotland is ideologically bankrupt and does not understand the people of Scotland, then this is it. A fresh face does not offer a boost in the polls when the only reason they had any sort of a comeback was through corralling a unionist voting cohort that has now disintegrated. A separate party would not make voters look at them afresh; it would be a transparent charade and they would be bankrupt as they couldn’t raise enough money in Scotland to sustain a pro-Brexit, pro-UK right-wing party with no MPs, only a handful of MSPs and no influence, which is where they would end up.

If the party of the union declares independence and signals that London rule doesn’t work, even the most hardcore unionists will see that the game’s a bogey and independence is inevitable – so maybe they should just go for it.

 

About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.

3 Comments

  • PS: I would add that in an independent Scotland regardless of political allegience any new Scottish democratically elected government would eventually need to look at Adam Smith’s notions of economic management of the economy while doing things better than Margaret Thatcher while enabling Scotland to pay its way. The EU would insist on any deficit left after independence be drastically reduced as a price for membership.
    Also it would be worth the SNP not seeing independence as only their exclusive property. Independence is an aspiration of many people living u Scotland who may have voted Tory, Labour or Lib-Dem. That plethora would be well worth the SNP tapping to.

  • I think that Scotland will become independent in the end & it will happen from democratic mandates, pleblicites & General Elections.
    The SNP remind me of the Polish Solidarity Movement that challenged the Communist order to the point where they won in free elections all the seats in the Polish Parliament. This resulted in the Communists handing power to those genuinely elected in 1989 & 90.
    The SNP have risen in the last decade remarkably & it is not surprising.
    The Labour vote has vanished & with the predicted landslide the SNP are on course for I believe firstly PM Johnson will be unable to resist the inevitable pressure for another Scottish Independence Referendum.
    In fact he would be unwise to say no.
    The SNP is a political movement with Left & Right even a centre wing thaf will split to form a new & fresh political structure that will either absorb the old 3 political parties eg: Tories, Labour & the Lib-Dems or simply absorb what remains of them.
    62% of the electorate in Scotland voted to stay in the EU. The UK voted on English votes to leave the EU. Opinion polls show consistently that the Scottish people would vote for independence if able.
    Another massive indicator for a second referendum on Scottish Independence is the outcome of the 2019 UK General Election that yes gave Boris Johnson’s Tories a landslide majority but won only in England & that victory gained at the expense of the UK Labour Party. This election gave Boris Johnson the means to negotiate with the EU a deal to leave yet has entirely disregarded Scotland’s position & voting record in recent elections 2016, 17 & 19.
    If Boris Johnson ignores this overwhelming evidence it will be at his peril. He quotes constantly that the result of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum ” was a once in a lifetime ” decision, yet, the Tory line then was vote for the Union & staying in the EU was guaranteed!! ??.
    It is hubris on Boris Johnson’s part & a nemesis to continue disregarding the will of anybody particularly given events from Trump’s inciting insurrection in the US.
    It would be wise for there to be some Modus-vivendi between the three main parties in Scotland & the SNP to enable democratic debate & reflection respecting the aspirations of the Scottish majority.
    I moved to Scotland from England over 3 years ago & absolutely get the tact firstly the UK Tories pursue policies from Westminster that nobody voted for in Scotland & that democratically Scotland is prevented by an anachronistic Union from 1707 that favours the UK/England politically socially & economically. Only independence will resolve this. I feel if all the nations of the current UK are placed in juxtaposition it is clear with evidence that the UK’s Union damages all of those nations as
    one example being the UK is simply too centralised & directive from one place eg: London where policy is made.

  • They’re going to have to do it when we’re independent which they know is inevitable. 17th poll with a Yes majority today 58%.

    Post indy of course they will have to present a different set of policies or will if they want any relevance. Old fashioned One Nation (Scotland) conservatism will still find a constituency post independence.

    If they aren’t careful the SNP will split along Left/Right lines post Indy and the Right one will park their tanks on the Tories’ lawn like they have on Labour’s (so long now the area has been landscaped).

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