Saturday, June 5, 2010

Can Richard Cook revive the Scottish Conservatives? (Part Four)

Policy development

To close my analysis of Richard Cook's bid to become Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, I endorse his views on improving the methodologies utilised to collate ideas for policy across the Conservative party in Scotland.

My biggest worry is that will the MSP group at Holyrood and David Cameron's team in London really listen? Will they really take the policy forum that Richard wants to bring back to life seriously? Its certinaly a good idea, because we do need an active policy forum after all. Many of the good ideas that will win votes come from the grassroots and therefore the grassroots must be listened to.

George Kynoch has been an absolute pleasure to listen to at the various Conservative party events that I have attended in the last few months. But, without disrespect, in his letter of appeal for votes to retain the position of Deputy Chairman, he states that he has got Scottish members and David Cameron's team in London's relationship repaired professionally and financially. That is a positive step, but some Conservatives in Scotland now ask the question that could provoke a potential disagreement amongst members: Should the Scottish Conservative party break away from the party south of the border and be an independent Scottish centre-right party?

I don't know what Mr Kynoch makes of this but this is a prospect that the party faces in the very near future. Some believe that this is inevitable if the party is to win back seats and voters in Scotland. I think this is the best solution if we are to get our vote back up. There still would be a professional relationship between the party in Scotland the party south of the border, but policy would be different. That is the only way that the Conservative party here should evolve if the future of the United Kingdom is to be secure. The dynamic of the Union has changed considerably over the last ten years. There are still people in the party who just don't get that. They must accept this now, otherwise Alex Salmond will have things his way.

Also, one other unattractive feature of the personality of the party in Scotland must go immediately - self-pity. Kynoch, in his letter, also states that although the campaign at the previous General Election was one of the most well supported in years, the party could not compete against the blantant lies and tactical voting of our opponents.

Of course its wrong for any of our opponents to lie (take note left-wing parties (Labour, Lib Dem and SNP). Of course its cheap to utilise tactical voting to keep another opponent out (which is why I see Alternative Vote as a good thing in a way so that you can rank candidates rather than vote for one only, but I still don't support AV just because of that). Of course Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP take the voters of Scotland for granted and deceive them. But, our Scottish Conservative party are letting them get away with it, election after election! That must stop! George Kynoch is right to highlight those points, but the big wrong he has done is that he has coated himself and the party with self-pity. Not good enough. You don't win elections that way.

On the other hand, Richard Cook has outlined his vision for a radical change in the Scottish Conservative party. As David Cameron once said, "change to win".

We have to change to win. That is why I voted for Richard Cook this week and that is why I urge every Scottish Conservative party member to cast their vote for Richard Cook.

Can Richard Cook revive the Scottish Conservatives? (Part Three)

Conservative Future Scotland

This was the third area Richard focused on in his series of thoughts on his website. Undoubtebly, my point of view will be colourful and controversial.

First of all, I am very greatful for the appreciation Richard provides for CFS. Its lovely to see that CFS members are making a difference for the better in the life and soul of the Scottish Conservative party. But CFS still has many problems it must correct if its to become a better and stronger part of the Scottish Conservative party.

CFS has many talented people within the organisation. It has many active members, it has many members who like to be observants of the activity around them and it has also have many non-active members. Some even go on to become Conservative party candidates themselves at election time. But personally, CFS needs to have stronger influence on the life of the party and that influence is not as high as it should be. Why? Because currently, CFS doesn't feel like a cohesive unit. There are those branches that do actively participate in the life of the whole organisation and there are those branches that do next to nothing or where we hear very little from. I will not name names on here because I think that's just unnecessary but there are certain parts of the country where we hear very little from or where certain branches don't represent themselves at national events. Its sad really, because its their loss and a hinderance on CFS.

But then again, if you flip the coin onto the other side maybe those inactive branches or members have their reasons for not wanting to take part in the national activity of CFS. Sometimes they have other things going on in other areas of their own lives. That you cannot challenge and I accept that.

But the biggest problem in CFS is communication. Now I know many may challenge that. I'm not suggesting people don't talk to each other in the organisation, because that's not true. But some in CFS seem to have difficulty in even making the slightest bit of communication with their fellow members on Action Days. Certain groups of people tend to keep themselves to themselves and not actually mix with their fellow members. This is not good for relations between branches in the organisation. There are some branches that communicate well with each other and tend to get on well and form most of the activity in CFS but there are some branches who just don't want to communicate at all. You send them an e-mail or try and telephone one of their representatives or members of their committee to build good relations and either they don't reply or ignore your communication. That sends a very bad impression.

There are also some members of some branches turn up to events and they make a minimal contribution to the life of those events. That's not good enough. They create a bad impression and create unnecessary dissent about the fact they don't mix with their fellow members across the country. We need a CFS that involves EVERYBODY, not just a few branches. There is no place for stuck up attitudes and adopting shy attitudes. They are barriers to much needed cohesion within the organisation and those barriers must be broken. Whoever becomes the new committee of Conservative Future Scotland needs to address those problems and immediately.

I also think the website needs improvement, despite the efforts made in the past year to update it on a regular basis, which is good by the way. I'm not trying to demonise anybody or sound unappreciative. They really should look to the Conservative Future website (England and Wales) for inspiration. It has many features and regular blogs, links, maps of where branches are and even a regularly updated calendar of events.

CFS has played a major part in the campaigns of many candidates for our party. And it will continue to hopefully do so. But Conservative Future Scotland as a whole needs to improve and reform if it is to remain an influential part of the life of the Scottish Conservative party.

Can Richard Cook revive the Scottish Conservatives? (Part Two)

In Richard's next post he talks about his intentions for the Scottish Conservative party to play a bigger role in social action projects in some of the poorest areas of our country.

I think we must continue to take positive action, as a party, to improve communities through social action projects. Its not enough to just do it in the final few months before an election so that we can show off that we only cared for that period of time. We must continue to deliver for some of the poorest people in our country and must inspire them to voting for proper change, i.e. voting Conservative, in order to start making their lives more fruitful and rewarding for their future. Labour are complacent when it comes on relying on votes from some of the poorest sections of society. Its as if they expect it and they take those votes for granted. Coming from a party who their last PM doubled the income tax rate for the poorest in society from 10p in the pound to 20p in the pound. That is simply wrong and insulting.

But if Labour are punishing the poor then first of all why as a party are we not condemning Labour's lack of compassion for them and secondly why aren't we reaching out to those people and looking to meet those people's needs? In some constituencies in Scotland, on the campaign trail, our party didn't even bother campaigning in some specific areas because they were too frightened to go to those areas and make the effort to send a message of hope.

What's more, and I mentioned about this in an earlier blog post, but our messages were wrongly communicated. They were too generic. They were too focused on saving the Union and condemning the SNP's independence plans. They were too patronising, talking about "taking your needs" to Westminster. Well what are they? Its not good enough saying we'll take your needs to Parliament; a candidate or party should be setting out an agenda based on the aspirations of all the people.

I think one of the problems with politics now is that we have too many politicians who don't have the guts to be frank and honest with the electorate and say what they believe in, why they believe in what they believe in and how they want to implements their policies in Government. To an extent, they have listened to the people more in some areas, but need to do better in others. But that does not mean they just shy away from outlining their real opinion in public for fear that they may lose voters over their stances. That's why a lot of Eurosceptic voters denied David Cameron a majority in the House of Commons by voting for UKIP in marginal constituencies where the Conservatives lost crucial seats by majorities that were less than the number of votes for UKIP in those cruical seats.

We need to be more honest about reviving our economy. That means, campaigning for more tax varying powers in Holyrood and then after that campaigning for tax cuts across the board. Why? Because tax cuts will eventually lead to increased revenues and therefore more money for the public sector. The more you tax, the less tax receipts you receive. Why are we running away from that policy? Its a great policy. Its simple, yet effective. Lets champion more simple policies like those because it will win us votes and make a difference for the better for the people of Scotland.

I know this post was meant to focus much on social justice but to be honest it went further than that.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Can Richard Cook revive the Scottish Conservatives? (Part One)

Richard Cook, who was the Conservative Westminster candidate in East Renfrewshire in 2005 and 2010, has launched his bid to run for Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives as I mentioned earlier this week. You can read his new website by clicking here but meantime lets have a look into his rationale of thinking.

Modernising the Scottish Conservative brand

Richard is right in stating that Scottish Conservative candidates lost because the Scottish electorate felt the brand was still toxic, even though there was a positive reaction towards David Cameron. He also believes that the leadership of the party is not an issue. This is where Richard and I disagree. Annabel Goldie has had five years to implement the similar changes that David Cameron implemented south of the border. Our leader in Scotland has done some good things but hasn't done enough and as she is the main public profile of the Conservative party in Scotland, she can't avoid some of the blame for our shocking performance on election night. I still Annabel Goldie should step aside.

I have a suggestion as to what the new brand name should be for the Conservative party in Scotland. I think the party in its current brand can't limp on any further. We need to adapt policies that endorse One Nation Conservatism - like policies that focus on social justice mainly and economic policies that stimulate economic growth like tax cuts for Scottish business'. Therefore, I believe we should be re-branded from the Scottish Conservatives to the Scottish Reform Party. After all, we are a party of reform and we must prioritise Scotland's needs first before the UK's as a whole. The Welsh Conservatives have achieved that well, hence their victory in 8 seats.

Inevitably, policy in Scotland will have to be different to elsewhere in the UK. The dynamic of Scotland's public sector and economy is slightly different and much of our policy should be based on reform. Reform of education, reform of the NHS, reform of economic policies. The private sector needs to be given a chance to flourish in Scotland and currently, although our own party has managed to deliver cuts in business rates for small business' in Scotland through the budget, that is only scratching the surface. We need to do much more.

The electoral college system is a great idea because of its economic benefits and dynamic. I'm with Richard on that. I also think we have a lot of talent, particularly from Conservative Future Scotland, who could go on to become candidates particularly at the next Scottish election in 2011. We need to encourage them to become candidates and that will help modernise the image further of our party in Scotland.

To be quite honest and controversial, I think some of our MSP's in Holyrood are letting us down majorly. Last week at First Minister's Questions, not a single Tory MSP asked a question to the First Minister. That is simply not good enough and I hope that was a one-off.

I also believe that the Scottish Conservatives should back Alex Salmond's proposals for an independence referendum simply because I'm confident the people of Scotland will turn down independence for a more secure future in the Union and the issue will therefore be put to bed for a generation. For us to reject such a proposal would just show contempt for democracy and I believe we should not be frightened of the ballot box and give the people of Scotland their say.

Because my analysis is very long, I'm going to break up my thoughts into different blog posts so more from me later!

Scotland still has a problem with racism and...

Who's "we'll" Iain? I don't share your toxic opinion even though I'm also Scottish. I also do not want to ever share your opinion and completely condemn your opinion which is not just wrong but is filled with sickening hatred, contempt and prejudice. 

Iain Emerson does not speak for the people of Scotland as a whole but in truth he only speaks for what sadly is a significant group of people (hopefully not a majority north of the border) who will be going out to pubs, clubs, entertainment hotspots and friends homes to cheer and celebrate when England are losing or when England lose. There's one simple word to describe this: sad.

If you go onto YouTube you will find evidence of people north of the border celebrating on the streets of Scotland's major cities at specific times when England lose or get knocked out of major tournaments. The one example that comes to mind is a series of videos featuring drunken bigots celebrating on Union Street in Aberdeen when England are knocked out of the last World Cup.

Those yobs dislike the English because simply they are not Scottish. They dislike the English because they feel "their country is being invaded". They dislike the English because they're jealous of the fact that England is the bigger country, the main constituent country of the United Kingdom and has more money and resources. Is it any wonder Scotland still has a problem when it comes to prejudice against other people? A friend of mine thinks its just down to xenophobia. To an extent, that is true but I think this anti-English prejudice exhibited by some up here is racist.
There was also a recent case when a shop in Aberdeen was selling a t-shirt with the phrase "ABE" printed on the front of them (standing for Anyone But England). Again that is offensive. But its not just the fact its offensive, it sums up the big problem that still continues to smear Scotland's reputation as a country. The "them and us" attitude that is still exhibited by people up here. The self-pity, self-defeatist and even in some parts stuck up attitude that exists amongst many people in Scotland. Is it any wonder I want to get out of my own country and head down south in the future? 

I can reassure my friends from England and people who are from England reading this that as a Scotsman, I will be supporting my fellow Britons and cheering them on and hoping like the whole of England that Fabio Capello's men lift the World Cup and clinch England's first World Cup since 1966. As former Shadow Scottish Secretary, David Mundell MP, once said (at the Scottish Conservative conference in Perth earlier this year): "The great thing about England winning the World Cup this year is that we will not have to hear 1966 again!"
And if England do win then be reassured that I'll be loving the press coverage of England's victory, even if it does go on for weeks. COME ON ENGLAND!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I got very angry tonight...

...with a left-winger's comments for passionately stating that he wanted PR so that the Conservatives would never get back into office and that the centre-left would continue to govern this country by implementing their socialist principles. The nature of this person's comments was sickening.

I tried hard not to respond but I couldn't resist getting the ball over the net and putting it on his side of the court. He said:

"Any system that permanently keeps the Tories out of power gets my vote.
As the great Nye Bevan said, our aim should be the total eradication of the Tory Party.

That was the dream of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell as they planned the New Labour project in the 1990s.

Blair spoke of the defeat of the "forces of conservatism" in his 1999 speech.
The 2010 election, which we lost thanks to the treachery of the Liberals, was a setback - but I believe our goal is near. With PR, we can ensure a permanent centre-left majority that will implement the final stages of radical, consensual, universal scientific socialism in this country.

History teaches us that progress can never be stopped despite setbacks.
Together we can build a future fair for all once capitalism and the forces of conservatism have been eliminated for good."

I responded:

"The centre-left are totally responsible for allowing this country to put itself in the economic and social mess that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been left to deal with now. Your cheap, cynical and shambolic politics in wanting PR to keep the Conservatives out is an absolute disgrace and your attitude crystallises the disgusting attitude Labour politicians have for the ordinary man and woman in our country. Do you know why David Cameron was such a breath of fresh air at PMQ's yesterday? Because he answered the questions with honesty and never gave textbook answers. He will govern this country and treat everyone with respect and treat people like people. He will not go down Labour's route of treating people like numbers on a state database. Socialism is the reason why the UK has been held back for decades and the centre-left's democracy-phobic, anti-aspirational economic policies and complete disregard for the ordinary people of this country is going to be exposed by this coalition and then people will wake up and find out why Labour can never be trusted with running a country for at least a generation."

I am sick and tired of activists and politicians who continue to drop down to such lows and make statements which are half-baked and lack any credibility. The left NEVER learn do they?

Sir Alan Sugar, YOU'RE FIRED!

I can say with passion that I am no longer engaged with the BBC's hit television programme The Apprentice.

This show, once a watchable, proper business orientated programme has now turned into a Big Brother style trash TV programme which only seems to focus on the cynical, backbiting nature of the contestants. Frankly, most of the contestants turn out to be delusional two-faced phonies. They make me sick. They smear the reputation of business and popular capitalism. Most entrepreneurs don't behave in the way those idiots do. They ought to hang their heads in shame, especially when they end up watching themselves on television (or maybe even not - goodness do they come to common sense after all?!).

Most people find it entertaining to watch them. Frankly, I see those contestants' behaviour as provocative in the sense that I end up shouting at the television and deride them for what utter crooks they make of themselves.

And as for Sir Alan Sugar, or Lord Sugar. His decision to back Gordon Brown by becoming a Labour peer in the dying days of the immoral Labour Government made me lose lots of respect for the man). How can any business person back a political party that says no to aspiration for entrepreneurs and yes to more unwelcoming taxes? That is not a winning formula for economic growth and bringing a country out of recession. Sir Alan's lost it. And I think he must accept that his programme's reputation as a watchable, moderate and respected business orientated programme has dipped dramatically. So on this basis, Sir're fired.