Scottish Conservatives – the autopsy starts now

Make no mistake about it, the Conservative Party's failure to gain any seats in Scotland was a hammer blow.

Make no mistake about it, the Conservative Party’s failure to gain any seats in Scotland was a hammer blow, particularly given William Hague’s confident prediction before the election that his party was heading for a “breakthrough” in Scotland. Following Lord Heseltine’s assertion that in opposition, “there will be no depths to which they [the Labour Party] don’t sink”, he would do well to look at the panic that his party north of the border now finds itself in.

A report in The Times suggests that Conservative MSPs could find themselves subjected to a limit of serving two terms at Holyrood in an effort to introduce “new blood” to the ranks of the Tory party in the Scottish Parliament. The report quotes one senior party official as saying:

“It is something that has been suggested and it is being looked at. The problem will be in getting it through. It is not something the MSPs are likely to support.”

And, sure enough, Conservative MSPs have reacted angrily to any hint of such a proposition, with the former leader at Holyrood, and the party’s coordinator for its election campaign in Scotland, David McLetchie, saying:

“I don’t think term limits should be introduced for any one party because the implication would be that somehow our members are not as good as the others when, member for member, we have the most effective group in the Scottish Parliament.”

Writing in the Telegraph, Alan Cochrane’s advice is clear:

“In terms of changes, the Scottish Tories need to do one thing and one thing quickly: they’ve got to decide who’s in charge. There are currently three people calling the shots. There’s Miss Goldie, leader of the party at Holyrood. There’s David Mundell, the solitary MP, and now Minister of State at the Scotland Office and there’s Andrew Fulton, the Scottish party chairman.

“All three vie for the ear of those who really control things – Prime Minister David Cameron and his henchmen at Central Office in London. If a camel is a horse designed by committee then the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is an organisation designed either by a sadist or an imbecile; either way it doesn’t work.”

Meanwhile, the arch-Thatcherite, Lord Tebbit, has some helpful advice for his comrades in Scotland:

“What Scotland needs is a Right of centre Scottish Unionist Party, and for my party to pack up north of the border.”

And writing in the Scotsman last week, Brian Monteith the former Tory MSP has simply concluded:

“It is time for Cameron to give Scottish Conservatives a decent burial.”

Meanwhile, the Scotsman has reported that the Conservatives in Scotland are having to dramatically downsize and move from their plush Edinburgh HQ after one of the party’s major donors north of the boarder, Lord Laidlow, stopped paying the rent on the building. It has since emerged that Laidlaw is to give up his seat in the House of Lords so that he can maintain his status as a tax exile. Under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, MPs and Peers will be required to be domiciled in the UK for the purposes of paying tax.

Meanwhile, as the Conservatives in Scotland embark on a prolonged bout of navel gazing, writing in the Guardian, Gerry Hassan has some advice for progressives in Scotland:

“The simple mantras of the 1980s, of “Tory cuts” and “no mandate” no longer suffice, and have been used too long to disguise the threadbare nature of much political thinking north of the border. All Scotland’s parties, and Labour and the SNP in particular, are going to have to find new, more sophisticated slogans and themes.

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