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!

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