Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Conservatives to split- Union already dead?

This report from Scotsman 5th April, not 1st April.

Where does all this leave Conservatives in Dumfries and Galloway? Has anyone asked them what they think?

The 'comments' on the Scotsman website are are based on the assumption that the Conservatives are already 'irrelevant' in Scotland - which the London party seem to agree with.

But here in D and G the Conservatives are the majority party - in 2003 the combined Dumfries and Galloway constituency votes were:

Conservative 23 061 (regional list : 20 293)

Labour 17 123 (regional list: 14 529)

SNP 15 164 (regional list 12 807)

Lib Dem 4 241 (regional list 4996)

It is as if D and G was a true blue English 'shire' some how misplaced by history on the wrong side of the Border. [Historically there are good reasons for this, going way back into the middle ages, including support for the Balliols against the Bruces and in 17th/ 18th centuries for the Union against the Jacobites]

And again in the Thatcher/Major years...

If I was a D and G Conservative I would be furious - 'stabbed in the back'? Or 'made redundant ' as part of a rationalisation of the Conservative Party?

But then I am not a Tory ( as the title of this blog indicates). So maybe D and G Conservative voters will just grit their teeth and think of England on May 3rd. And vote SNP...

Logical - if the Cameron Tories want to maximise damage done to Gordon Brown ahead of UK general election in 2009/10. But then, where is the benefit of a future Cameron win for D and G Conservatives? Would such a win not be more likely to break up the Union?

Hmm. I suggest the conclusion is the Union is already broken, and no-one (apart from maybe D and G Conservative voters and Gordon Brown) want to fix it...

Here is the article - have I misunderstood it?

Tories planning cross-Border split for party


London Conservatives in secret plans to split from Scottish arm
Move would allow Cameron to play anti-Scottish card against Brown
Scottish Conservatives would be free to re-brand themselves

Key points
"There have certainly been talks around this issue. We have to wait for the dust to settle after 3 May and see where we are. If we don't at least hold the same number of seats, there will be more of an impetus for change of this kind." - Senior Conservative source

Story in full SENIOR Tories are considering secret plans for a "velvet divorce" between the party north and south of the Border after the Scottish polls in the event of electoral disaster.
Conservatives in London believe that hiving off the Scottish party would allow them to exploit Gordon Brown's Scottishness in the run up to the next UK election.

Officials working for Francis Maude, the Tory party chairman south of the Border, are already looking at the idea of making the Conservatives a party operating only in England and Wales, according to reports in today's edition of the Spectator.

This would allow the Tories in Scotland to adopt a new name, possibly "The Unionists", while giving David Cameron the opportunity fully to play the anti-Scottish card against Gordon Brown if, as expected, the Chancellor becomes Prime Minister.

A senior Conservative source told The Scotsman: "There have certainly been talks around this issue. We have to wait for the dust to settle after 3 May and see where we are. If we don't at least hold the same number of seats, there will be more of an impetus for change of this kind."
David Mundell, the shadow Scottish Secretary, last night refused to deny that the idea was being discussed. He said there were "no plans" to alter the structure of the Conservative Party.
However, he added: "It is inevitable that, after the election, people will reflect on the result. But at the moment, talking about party structures is a distraction - only of interest to those people in the Conservative bubble."

Mr Mundell pointed out that the same idea had been floated many times in recent years before Scottish and Westminster elections. Tories at Westminster are coming to the view that splitting the party could increase right-of-centre electoral representation on both sides of the Border.

At the last general election, Mr Cameron's Conservatives won the largest share of the vote in England and it is largely Labour's dominance in Scottish seats that gives Labour its comfortable House of Commons majority.
And if the Scottish Nationalists win at Holyrood, a resurgence in English nationalism is expected, which could benefit Mr Cameron.

A split would also allow the Scottish Conservatives to re-brand themselves, distancing themselves from the Thatcherite legacy of poll tax and economic decline in Scotland.
It would be formally presented as a reversion to the pre-1965 position where the party was formally separate and candidates stood under the Scottish Unionist banner.

If the move helped the Tories north of the Border and the new party began returning more MPs to Westminster, they would vote with MPs from their sister party in the Commons - in the same way that right-of-centre parties co-operate in countries like Germany.


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