Scotland’s ‘reluctant Cameroons’

In a report published today entitled 'Cameron's Caledonian Conundrum', 18 per cent of respondents in Scotland were more favourable to David Cameron than the Conservatives as a whole.

The standing joke in Scotland has long been that there are more pandas north of the border than Conservative MPs – of which the party has just one, with little prospect of that increasing in 2015.

Make no mistake about it, the anti-conservative feeling runs right across a nation scarred by Thatcherism and her use of Scotland as a Guinea Pig for the Poll Tax.

It is that same anti-Conservative feeling that Alex Salmond is now seeking to capitalise on as he advances his case for independence.

And yet despite the electoral drubbing the party has faced north of the border, the polling guru Lord Ashcroft has concluded that things might not be so bleak for the Conservatives as first impressions suggest.

In a report published today entitled ‘Cameron’s Caledonian Conundrum’, 18 per cent of respondents in Scotland were more favourable to David Cameron than the Conservatives as a whole. This compared to the 10 per cent who felt more favourable to Ed Miliband than the Labour Party.

Indeed, Cameron’s ratings are higher than Alex Salmond’s, with 16 per cent having said they are more favourable to the First Minister than the SNP as a party.

North of the border, Conservatives are also seen, according to the poll, as the party most prepared to ‘take tough decisions for the long term’. Furthermore, given the heated opposition to the bedroom tax in Scotland, the Conservatives are seen as having the best approach to reforming welfare.

Interestingly as well, whilst 49 per cent of respondents said that the Scottish government had made independence its main priority, just 3 per cent think it actually should be.

In assessing what the results mean for the Conservatives, writing in the Scotsman today, Lord Ashcroft explains:

“Despite the party’s shrinking vote share, there are potential Tories at large in Scotland. As well as the small ‘Tory Core’ – loyal Conservatives who always turn out – I found a group of what I have called ‘Reluctant Cameroons’.

“These people, one in six of the Scottish electorate, are attracted to David Cameron and trust the Tories on the economy, but most say they would not vote Conservative tomorrow.

“Another one in ten falls into the ‘Willing to Listen’ group, who currently lean towards Labour despite preferring Cameron as PM, though many are undecided.

“The Conservative Party holds three main attractions for its target voters: they prefer Cameron as PM; they see the Tories as willing to take tough decisions; and they trust the Tory team over Miliband and Balls to manage the economy.

“At the same time, they see three big drawbacks.

“First, like many in England, they doubt the Tories are really on the side of people like them. Second, they do not feel the party cares much about Scotland, and has little enthusiasm for devolution. Finally, they consider the Tories effectively irrelevant in Scottish elections. Many who would support the Conservatives if they lived in England instead vote to try to keep out whichever of Labour or the SNP they believe more disastrous.”

He concludes:

“If it sounds like a hopeless cause, consider London. In 1997, the Conservatives won just 11 of the capital’s 74 seats, 19 points behind Labour in the popular vote. A city renowned for its liberal tendencies was given a degree of self-government, and promptly elected, then re-elected, an anti-establishment leader from the left. But what happened next?”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

6 Responses to “Scotland’s ‘reluctant Cameroons’”

  1. Jake Church

    Salmond disnae need to use Thatcherism as you stated to capitalise on the independence debate, the tories are defunct then and now, where the fuck you get these creeps that like Macaroon but wouldnae vote conservative,,,, welll?????

  2. Baxter Parp

    Left Foot Forward: Tory Press Releases & More…!

  3. franwhi

    Why is there no diversity of Scottish voices on this site. Every Scottish blog I’ve ever seen on this site is written by Ed Jacobs, Ed Jacobs, Ed Jacobs. Can’t be good for a left wing evidence based blog to have a singular voice on all matters Scottish. Quite colonial IMO

  4. uglyfatbloke

    I dread to think how the data was managed/massaged/selected to get these findings. Come the next GE the tories will lose their only Scottish seat and they have no serious prospects of gaining any except – at a pinch – through Labour and Lib-Dems choosing a tory to keep out the gnats.
    Franwhi…there’s no diversity because most Labour voters in Scotland want FFA, but the Scottish hierarchy does not – and nor does the party leadership.

  5. Alec

    There are 15 Tory MSPs.

    Now, Ed, I do think it’s time you started exercising a moderation control on these threads. I’m all for dealing with opposing views when expressed cogently and in good faith. In the case of the cybernats who pile onto these threads, with only one or two notable exceptions, there is none of this… like Toad of Toad Hall parping his horn on his little motor car as he zooms off, they turn-up, snipe, leave.

    It creates the impression of a groundswell against the title piece, when in fact it’s deliberate thread-wrecking.


  6. Grendal55

    Because David Cameron is a bit less unpopular than the Tories as a whole in no cause for unionist celebration. The Tories continue to be at rock-bottom in Scotland failing to pick up any of the haemorrhaging Lib-Dem vote. Why is comparing party leaders to party popularity even relevant?
    Opinion polls continue to show, even in mid-term that the SNP remains Scotland’s most popular party and attitude analysis demonstrates that left-wing, Scottish voters have swung behind independence in a big way. This is something an organisation called Left Foot Forward should take on board.

Leave a Reply