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

Spectator source English/ Scottish Conservative split

Found the source of the ‘Conservative Party to Split’ story - main/ cover story in this week’s Spectator. But note : Annabel Goldie has denied it.

However, the Spectator is an important Conservative magazine and to have given the story such prominence must be a bit more than ‘idle speculation’.

No sign yet on of any speculation about impact on D and G Tory vote at which has speculated on D and G situation e.g.

Any analysis of these 2 seats should take account of the very different character of their rural areas. Much of Dumfriesshire - particularly the south - consists of large mixed farming units, while in general Galloway has hill farms in the east and dairying in Wigtownshire. While prosperity has declined to very low levels in Scottish farming, Dumfries has always been a much more prosperous county. Also, the influence of Hector Monro was enormous.

The town of Dumfries - the Labour stronghold - is in the D&G Westminster seat. The rural parts of the Dumfries Holyrood seat are in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale. David Mundell ran Labour a close second in the 2003 elections in Dumfries - Labour holding on because they managed to increase their share of the vote at the expense of the SNP. WHich is what they did in Dumfries and Galloway in 2005. Doubt this will happen this year which is why the Tories might well take it.

As well as Scotsman article, also pieces in Guardian,,2050475,00.html

And Telegraph, but lost the link.

Also on a few blogs

Revealed: the Tories’ plan to separate Scotland from England and Wales
Fraser Nelson

For the son of an Aberdonian stockbroker, David Cameron has had an uneasy relationship with Scotland. It is a land of massacred Conservatives, even less hospitable to his party today than it was during the great Tory wipe-out ten years ago. In his visits north of the border, the Tory leader has not so much tried to lead the remaining Scottish Tories to victory, but to check their pulse. In London, there is serious concern that the patient is not responding.

No clear protocols exist for declaring a political party dead, but the Scottish Tories offer a few clues. Some of its candidates, for example, have been campaigning for the Scottish Parliament elections on 3 May using only their own names, knowing that the word ‘Conservative’ is a liability. With only four weeks to go to voting day, the Conservatives have dropped to a mere 11 per cent in the polls. Strip out staff members and their blood relatives, and this is as close as a supposedly national party gets to rock bottom.

It is never difficult to distinguish between Francis Maude and a ray of sunshine, and the party chairman — as ever — is warning against false optimism in Scotland (not much of that about, it must be said). But, I can reveal, he has gone one further. Mr Maude’s officials have been secretly drawing up the outline of a ‘velvet divorce’ with the Scottish Conservatives, which would give the Scottish Tories a new name, a distinct identity, and make the Conservatives officially as well as in practice a party exclusively devoted to seeking power in England and Wales. However benignly it was presented, such a split would, in effect, mean the final Tory retreat from Scotland, a historic fissure in British Conservatism, and the death of a party defined in many minds by its One Nation Unionism.

But the harder one examines the situation, the clearer it is that there is little left to salvage and little face left to save. As Sir Malcolm Rifkind puts it, being Conservative in his motherland is now seen as ‘something done by consenting adults in private’. The party is no longer hated, as it was in 1997 (when its share of the vote was 18 per cent), nor even pitied, but simply ignored. Voting Tory is seen as a harmless perversion, like Morris dancing or cricket. A despised party could at least repent. But there is no hope for a forgotten party.

Those involved in the secret break-up plan describe it as a win–win situation for Mr Cameron. Should the new Scottish party slide into extinction, then he would not be blamed. In the event that the new movement triggered a centre-right revival in Scotland, and started sending MPs to Westminster, they would sit and vote with the Tories. And — in strict historical fact — the proposal is not, in fact, a betrayal of Conservative heritage at all, but implies a return to the pre-1965 arrangement when the Scottish division of the party was independent and …

Article continues - 2034 words….



Post a Comment

<< Home