David McLetchie’s Tories have benefited from protest votes and abstentions. By the time of the next election, the independents will have made their mark and the firebrands in the SSP will have spent four years persuading the youth vote that all the other parties are staid, middle-aged and out of touch. If the youth vote turn out for the SSP, goodbye Scotland.Certainly we can expect nothing exciting from Labour or the Liberal Democrats. The SNP may well tear itself apart with many of its leftist activists being tempted to switch to the SSP, which appears to be more fundamentalist on the independence question. The problem is, though, the SNP's voters are typically "small c" conservatives in the rural areas and small towns that used to held by the Tories. If the Conservatives would support Scottish fiscal autonomy within the UK, they could well get back many of the voters lost to the nationalists over the past 30 years. To attract younger voters, the Tories need to offer a policy of lower tax and less red tape coupled with a parallel reduction of nanny-state interference in social matters.
The way for the Tories to scupper this is to be passionate, principled and radical. I hope that they can do it, but I am not holding my breath.
Monday, 5 May 2003
How the Tories can do better
Katie Grant calls on the Scottish Tories to be brave: