|Written by Cameron Grant|
With the departure from the Commons this week of the last Scottish Secretary of the Thatcher era and the writing off late last week by Holyrood of historic poll tax debts, Scotland has been quietly witnessing the passing of the final vestiges of Thatcherism.
These tales of an era that brought with it the decline of the modern Tory party in Scotland could have caused internal friction and grief in the not too distant past. But in reality, there’s something of a confident buzz about today’s Scottish Conservative party as it heads into the General Election campaign.
Not only has it emerged from September’s referendum on the winning side in a national election in Scotland for the first time since 1955, it has arisen refreshed, revitalised and emboldened, with real (though some may say optimistic) hopes that it can add to its lone Westminster representative by targeting pro-union SNP voters in the North East and disaffected Lib Dems in the Scottish Borders.
Add to that a series of combative Holyrood parliamentary performances that it claims have resulted in significant concessions from the Scottish Government in areas including the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). Then take into account the spirited manner in which the party’s leader, Ruth Davidson has taken to holding Nicola Sturgeon and her government to task and you begin to see why, for the first time in well over a generation, Scottish Conservatives have reasons to feel good about themselves again.
In fact, Ms Davidson is doing so well that the bookies had her as one of the favourites to succeed Malcolm Rifkind in the Kensington seat he will shortly vacate. But in a show of confidence, the Scottish Tory leader quipped on Twitter that she doesn’t “fancy a demotion to (the) Commons from Scottish leader”.
But, with polls continuing to bob around the mid to high teens, it’s also clear that the party has some way to go until it can realistically reclaim the power base it held a little over a generation ago.
Latest poll (What Scotland Thinks “poll of polls”): SNP 45%. Labour 29%. Con 15%. Lib Dem 4%. Others 7%.
Cameron co-founded 3x1 in 2001. He has 25 years’ industry experience and is a past chair of both the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations Consultants Association in Scotland.