Thursday, April 05, 2007

Right for Scotland?

The right wing of Scottish politics seems agog at the prospects of the Scottish Tories withdrawing themselves from the UK Conservative party and going it alone. Fraser Nelson, he of the irritable vowel syndrome, appears to be acting as a conduit for the idea through the pages of the Spectator. Perhaps tellingly, no-one in the Scottish Tory hierarchy is running a mile from the notion.

I’ve blogged previously about my feelings on an independent Scottish Tory Party. While any such venture would play an important part in making Scottish independence a success, it’s something which I would have expected to happen after any vote for independence, rather than in advance. Nevertheless, I sense that this is all kite-flying at the moment and nothing more. If it's going to happen at all, it won't be until after May and until after Annabel Goldie has decided to spend more time with her petunias.

However, the perennial question of ‘independence for what?’ remains. The Strathclyde Commission, held after the 1997 wipeout, gave the Scottish Tories a set-up which allowed them considerably more autonomy from London than Labour, but they've conspicuously failed to use any of it. For that reason, even if they did cut adrift from the English Tories, it would still be the same people with the same tired old ideas trying to run the show, insisting that 'virtual' apron strings remain in place.

Although the Tories would still nominally be unionist under any such arrangement, administrative and policy independence would shoot right through that argument – after all, if you need independence from Westminster to run your party properly, why shouldn't Scotland have independence so the country can do the same? Nonetheless, if there’s anything in this story, it looks like the Scottish Tories might finally be being dragged kicking and screaming into the mainstream of modern Scottish political life.

However, you don't change the culture of a party overnight, so they’ll need to do much more than simply copy the Bavarian model to prove their independence from London. Otherwise, people will rightly conclude that the whole thing is just a cosmetic con trick, a bit like when Windscale was repackaged as Sellafield. Another hiding at the polls is just what the Tories need if any mood for change is to be suitably galvanised.


Tacticus said...

Fraser Nelson is one of the most intelligent political commentators in Scotland, and has some good ideas about public sector reform. (but then, I do admittedly come from "the right wing of Scottish politics".) I'm not quite sure what you meant by irritable vowel syndrome!

Thanks for commenting on my post - sorry for taking so long to get back to you. You might find my latest post worth commenting on.

Richard Thomson said...

Hi Marcus - thanks for stopping by.

I'm beginning to warm to Fraser Nelson at the Spectator, but to my mind, he left much to be desired during his stint at the Scotsman. He started out as a loyal Blairite, and now seems to be positioning himself as a Cameronista - there seems to be something of the magpie tendency about him in that he's attracted to the stardust and glitter, rather than having much in the way of firm principle. However, I'd never doubt his contacts with the Tory hierarchy, which is why I'd give a fair bit of credence to his story about a possible breakaway Scottish Tory party.

Irritable Vowel Syndrome - that's just my idiosyncratic and occasionally inappropriate sense of humour, or perhaps lack of one, at work. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it :-)



Anonymous said...

I can tell that you have put a lot of work into your blog. Good job.

Please don't spoil it with low level snide remarks about people's afflictions (Vowel syndrome).

It says a lot more about you than it does about Mr. Nelson.

I'm all for good natured humour. The remark, however, showed an extreme lack of class.

From reading your very informitive blog I feel you are way better than that.


Richard Thomson said...

Point taken, Keith, although I wasn't mocking any 'affliction', nor would I.

It was intended as throw-away one-liner, but clearly was one which was open to misinterpretation. My bad, as they say over the pond.