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Scottish Tories Set For Divorce 4 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Scotland, Scottish politics.
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Scottish Conservatives are set to break free from London, according to Fraser Nelson at the Spectator and ConservativeHome. The Conservative Party will represent just England and Wales (possibly Northern Ireland as well) whilst the new party – possibly called the Scottish Unionist Party – will represent Scotland. This takes the party back to its pre-1965 golden age when the Scottish Unionists polled strongly, as shown in the table.

Scottish vote shares

As unionist as I am, this is the right decision. Moving to a system similar to Germany’s CDU/CSU is a big step in removing the number one problem facing Tories North of the border – namely being perceived as being in the pocket of the London party establishment. The issue of “Scottishness” should be solved by this new and fully independent party.

The two big questions, as identified by ConservativeHome, are whether Scottish members will still be able to attend party conferences, and will Scottish members be able to vote for the main Conservative leader. They believe the answer will be yes to attending conferences, but no to voting for the leadership. I believe the answer should however be yes to both, although it sadly probably won’t be.

This is because both parties – Conservative and Scots Unionist – should form one block within Parliament to share resources, work together as opposition, and of course form government. In short, permanent coalition, as before the parties formally merged. There will be differences in manifestos I imagine, and both parties will be sepperate, but working together will be vital. 

But if Scottish members are blocked from electing the overall Conservative leader, and Scottish MP’s blocked from standing, we’re swapping the “un-Scottishness” for being a permanent junior partner. The “leader” of the Conservatives in Westminster is more than just leader of the Conservative party, but leader of the opposition or Prime Minister. Therefore, if the Unionists are to be part of that opposition or government, a joint leader must be elected.

As such there should be an elected Scottish Unionist leader in Westminster, given maybe the role of [Shadow] Scottish Secretary, just as Labour elects a Deputy Leader. Then the overall Conservative & Unionist coalition leader (currently David Cameron), elected across the entire UK. There could also be elected Welsh, Northern Irish and English Secretary positions if members wished.

Separating the parties is a good idea, but a joint leader is needed. If you look at the German CDU/CSU, they jointly vote to select their candidate for Chancellor, and the same must apply to the CON/UNI set up.

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