Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond

Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, is calling for the total disbandment of the Conservative party in Scotland. The SNP is delighted.

SNP leader Alex Salmond can see his treasured dream of independence come a little bit closer this morning as news emerges of Scottish Conservatives toying with an act of political suicide. 

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the paper’s Scotland Editor, Alan Cochrane, has reported that Murdo Fraser, currently the party’s deputy leader at Holyrood and the favourite to succeed Annabel Goldie as leader in Scotland, will, on Monday, launch his leadership campaign.

His clarion call: the total disbandment of the Conservative party in Scotland, favouring the establishment of a new, independent centre-right party.

In a move apparently supported by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, Fraser will unveil his plan under the slogan:

“A new party for a new Scotland.”

Arguing that the Conservatives north of the border have become a “toxic brand”, he will explain:

“If I am elected as leader of the party, I will turn it into a new and stronger party for Scotland.  A new party.  A winning party with new supporters from all walks of life.

“A new belief in devolution. A new approach to policy-making. A new name. But, most importantly, a new positive message about the benefits of staying in and strengthening our United Kingdom. A new party. A new unionism. A new dawn.”

In his initial reaction, writing for the Spectator online, Fraser Nelson has outlined his support for the move, explaining:

“When I did my tour of duty in the Scottish Parliament ten years ago, the Tory MSPs joked they’d rename themselves “the effing Tories” because that’s how they were known. The sad truth is that even then, it was out of date.

“People have stopped even hating the Tories in Scotland – it’s more pity now. Voting Scottish Tory is no longer seen as a giant evil, but as a harmless perversion – like cross-dressing or cricket.

“I know people who are avid Tories in London but vote SNP in Scotland – despairing at the utter uselessness of the party in Scotland.”

While many on the right may see this as an appealing option, a chance to create truly Scottish conservatism, free from the legacy of Thatcher, Murdo Fraser’s move will serve only as a gift to the SNP’s campaign for independence.

In the likely event of Fraser winning the leadership, the fact will remain that the Conservative and Unionist Party would no longer be able to speak for the union. How would that tally with David Cameron’s commitment to the union?

For someone with the communication skills of Alex Salmond it would take little to exploit the idea that if the Scottish Conservatives feel that their association with London is damaging to their prospects, why then should Scotland be tied to that same London?

While the Advocate-General for Scotland, the Lib Dem Peer and former deputy first minister, Lord Wallace, has predicted Alex Salmond will not go for complete independence, the Lib Dems’ abysmal failure at the devolved elections in Scotland rules them out of leading any campaign against independence.

It will be for Labour, and now Labour alone to lead a credible campaign against the breakup of the union.

Speaking to Left Foot Forward, a spokesperson for Scottish Labour said:

“This is a brutal admission that the Tories are still a toxic brand in Scotland. People haven’t forgotten  what they did last time – and they’re furious with what they are doing now.

“David Cameron is less popular here than even Margaret Thatcher was. What Murdo Fraser doesn’t  seem to understand is that it is his right-wing policies that alienate people, not his internal party workings.”

Arguing that the developments do not make independence more likely, the spokesperson added:

“What binds our countries together so strongly is not the Tory Party, but out shared history, culture and future. The vast majority of scots are against separating Scotland away from the rest of the UK.  Separation remains a minority sport.”

While Labour will continue to argue that the UK enjoy ties far stronger than a UK-wide Conservative party, it is because of Scotland’s alienation and lack of a shared identify or vision with the current UK Government that independence remains a very real threat. 

Minority sport it might be, but given the absence of a credible, big beast from the Labour party to take on Alex Salmond, it is a sport that he will continue to play at every turn.

And as SNP MSP, Stuart Maxwell, concludes:

“Scotland wants a parliament that is working hard to build a better future, to create jobs and grow the economy.

“While opposition parties spend their time in internal leadership wrangles the SNP will next week set out a positive programme for government that will address the concerns of voters across Scotland and take this country forward.”

Although the announcement by Labour’s deputy leader in Holyrood,  Johann Lamont, that she intends to run for the leadership is a sign of a contest beginning to get going, for all her skills and abilities, many will be asking Johann who?

If Alex Salmond and the SNP are to be beaten, in the absence of credible Liberal Democrat or Conservative parties in Scotland – particularly after Murdo Fraser’s latest ideas – it is time for Labour to wake up, smell the coffee and get a leader with the profile, communication abilities and stature needed to show Scotland and the SNP that for Labour, Holyrood isn’t second fiddle to Westminster.

Labour in Scotland needs to show that getting a Labour Scottish first minister carries equal weight to getting Ed Miliband elected as prime minister, that saving the union is now their number one campaigning priority in Scotland. The consequences of not doing so could be immense.

With recent polling showing a continuation in the SNP’s honeymoon since May’s elections, Murdo Fraser’s big idea is a gift to the SNP and the independence movement.

It is now beholden on Labour to come up with a clear, progressive case against it with a leader that can lead a credible anti-independence movement.

So far, little progress has been made in this direction.

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31 Responses to “Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond”

  1. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  2. Political Planet

    Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, is calling for t…

  3. James Asser

    Good piece > RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: writes @EdJacobs1985

  4. SYATS Role-Play Site

    "Voting Scottish Tory is no longer seen as a giant evil, but a harmless perversion – like cross-dressing or cricket." (

  5. traquir

    Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond.
    BritNats continue to aid independence via collective incompetence #sp4

  6. paul barker

    Surely even Labour hacks must compare the Courage of The Scots Tories with the ridiculous sham of “Refounding Labour” ?

  7. adam fairley

    Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond.
    BritNats continue to aid independence via collective incompetence #sp4

  8. Stephen W

    I completely agree that all the unionist parties in Scotland need to wake up and smell the coffee and treat Holyrood as of equal important to their operations as Westminster. If the union is to be saved.

    I really don’t think that establishing a separate centre-right party in Scotland is opposed to these measures. As long as it is solidly unionist, it would hopefully be able to speak for the union much more strongly and with more weight than a party tarnished and ignored for being a branch of the UK Conservatives.

    The Conservatives provided the first boost for Scottish nationalism in the 80’s by being seen to ignore Scotland and its needs. But it was labour that deliberately whipped up nationalist, anti-english sentiment for anti-tory purposes, regardless of the damage it did to the union. It was Labour that took Scotland for granted and allowed Salmond to win in 2007 and it was Labour that couldn’t even beat him in 2011 in near perfect circumstances.

    As for the Lib Dems, they are even more of an irrelevance north of the border than the Conservatives.

    All the unionist parties need to pull their socks up. But at least Murdoch Fraser is trying to do something radical to help solve the problem. Where are the other party’s radical steps?

  9. David Wilson

    Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond.
    BritNats continue to aid independence via collective incompetence #sp4

  10. George McLean

    Murdo could re-name the Party the Conservative and Unionist New Tartan Spartans.

  11. Trakgalvis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  12. Alex Brodie

    Good luck to Murdo and his “New, Improved Scottish Conservatives – Now With Added Scottishness!” idea.

    He’s going to need it.

  13. Jason Kay

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond – Have to agree…

  14. Home Rule for England

    David Cameron needs to wake up and admit that the Union is finished. England voted Conservative at the last British election and yet got a coalition government. Most English people want England to declare independence, so how much longer are we English going to have to listen to all this tedious waffle about what Scotland wants or doesn’t want? Independence for England! Let’s do it!

  15. Alex Brodie

    Maybe he could call it the : “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Tory!” Party?
    Worked for butter!

  16. 45apl

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  17. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond

  18. AltGovUK

    RT @leftfootfwd: Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond: writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  19. Dave Citizen

    Why would left leaning people automatically oppose Scottish independence? Seems to me that the people of Scotland have taken the lead in working towards a better social model: we might learn a thing or two if we stopped trying to take control all the time.

  20. Black Guardian

    The Poll Tax was trialled first in Scotland.

  21. Alex Brodie

    Black Guardian – yes, you’re right. There is only one name for Murdo’s new party that will really resonate with the Scots: THE POLL TAX GUINEA PIG PARTY

  22. Matt Thomas

    Scottish Tory suicide is a gift to Salmond (Via @leftfootfwd )

  23. David Torrance

    Left Foot Forward's take on Murdo Fraser's 'Grand Design'…

  24. Tory Hoose

    Left Foot Forward's take on Murdo Fraser's 'Grand Design'…

  25. Frank Gallagher

    Sounds to me like a Volcanic Political Eruption is emminent in bonnie Scotland! I suggest the new Murdo Fraser Party adopt an innovative name, such as the ‘WC Lavatories’ (The Whacky Conservative Lava-Tories)

  26. gadgie

    The Poll tax was brought in first in Scotland at the behest of Scottish Tories who saw no reason to wait for England to implement it.
    Malcolm Rifkind a few years ago, whilst safely sitting in an English seat apologised to Scotland, but never apologised to England for the Poll tax.

  27. Alex Brodie

    “Malcolm Rifkind a few years ago, whilst safely sitting in an English seat apologised to Scotland”

    We Scots gracefully accepted Rifkind’s apology – then promptly annihilated his party at the polls. To this day the Tories have one Westminster MP in Scotland. Labour are next.

  28. Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence | Left Foot Forward

    […] Fraser today formally announces his bid to take the helm of the Scottish Conservatives, with a pledge to disband the party north of the border in favour of a new centre-right grouping free from control […]

  29. Richard McHarg

    Ultimately, it is for the Scottish people to decide their future, not for any Unionist cabal to say what is required. Tell the truth and let the people decide. What do the Unionists have to fear? Are they worried that decades of lies will finally catch up?

    As for a new Labour leader at Holyrood; Johann “Who” would be wonderful. I’m absolutely certain she’d tear Alex Salmond apart on a daily basis! Just kidding!

  30. Look Left – World unites to remember the day time stood still | Left Foot Forward

    […] Sunday it emerged that the leading contender for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives, Murdo Fraser, was […]

  31. Look Left – It’s the economy, Osborne | Left Foot Forward

    […] following Murdo Fraser’s plans for a new centre-right part in Scotland, so to in Wales, one Conservative AM called for greater […]

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