Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Rebranding the Conservatives

Some in the party think this is necessary - in Scotland, that is:
"Conservativehome.com, which has strong links to the upper echelons of the UK party, suggested new names to change the Tories' image such as the Scottish Unionist Party, the name until 1965; the Scottish Freedom Party and the Scottish Reform Party."
I wish them luck with that. Actually, I don't. The Conservatives do seem to have a particular problem in Scotland, over and above what you might expect from the make-up of Scotland's electorate in terms of the proportion of our population that work in manufacturing industry and the public sector and live in 'social housing' and so on.

The solution isn't a return to the previous name of Scottish Unionist because it is in this peculiar history lies one of their big problems. The 'Unionist' part of the Conservatives full name has nothing to do with the union between Scotland and England. It originated from - Liberals take note - the absorption of the Liberal Unionist faction that split and joined the Tories over Gladstone's Home Rule policy.

In Scotland, the Conservatives traditionally got the Orange vote while Catholics voted overwhelmingly for Labour. One of the reasons for the long term secular decline of the Conservatives in Scotland is that this issue simply is no longer important to Scots, regardless of their confesional disposition - party because it is no longer partisan in the way it was when Labour favoured a 'united Ireland by consent' and partly because religion in general is a greatly diminished force in Scotland's social and political life.

The fate of the Conservatives has been as a result quite interesting: they are a more genuinely conservative party in Scotland than in the rest of the UK in that they are more firmly identified with the past. This is why they have been left behind. Any hope of their revival lies in recognising this fact. I for one hope they maintain their refusal to see this reality.

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