Monday, 24 May 2010

Does Scotland Need a New Political Party?

Michael Forsyth has criticised the Scottish tories describing them as a marginalised force. His comments also included other brutal truths such as 'the membership and the constituencies have been allowed to atrophy'.

The tories only have one Scottish seat in Westminster and I doubt if they will ever make a comeback here north of the border. In the Scottish parliament their representation is due to the voting system and not the fact that they were elected by the public.

Since the general election I've been wondering if Scotland needs a new right-of-centre party. The SNP, labour and the libdems are all left of centre and anyone in the middle ground or slightly to the right has nowhere else to go other than the conservatives. Why didn't people vote for them?

Maybe this explains it. There are people who feel the SNP's determination to be 'in' the EU is a mistake. I come into that category and, like the blogger, I would much prefer the issue to be debated using examples such as Norway and Switzerland's connection to the EU as alternatives to full membership.

Many right-of-centre people support independence for Scotland and they're torn between voting tory or SNP. The SNP is the only main non-unionist party in Scotland. Maybe it is time for a new party to replace the tories. One which is sceptical of the EU yet supports independence and with a right-of-centre agenda.


RantinRab said...

It may surprise many, but I am a supporter of independence. As a nation and as a person.

But I intensly dislike the SNP and would never vote for them. I'm sure there are thousands more like me.

Scotland needs some pro independence balance. And quick.

james said...

"There are people who feel the SNP's determination to be 'in' the EU is a mistake. I come into that category."

I thought we -- as part of the UK -- are already 'in' the EU.

Quiet_Man said...

@James, were Scotland to gain independence, you'd have to apply for membership as the UK as a whole has membership and Salmond has already been told that this is not a "given"

cynicalHighlander said...

Since the SNP are the only viable vehicle to gain independence we and others are stuck with them until that goal is achieved even though we don't endorse a majority of their other aims.

Mr. Mxyzptlk said...


Right of centre........thats so you..


'I intensly dislike the SNP '

Rab you intensly dislike everybody

RantinRab said...

Medication time Niko...

Clarinda said...

The Scottish Democratic Alliance which evolved from the Scottish Enterprise Party (I think) may be well worth a look? Having found myself in the purple patch of your 'Political Compass' graph the other day (half way between the Dalai Lama and Mr Sarkozy?) - I too will be looking for a political home after Independence.

subrosa said...

I know quite a few Tories here who are supportive of independence Rab so your situation doesn't surprise me.

subrosa said...

Sorry James, I didn't make myself clear. I meant the SNP's policy of staying in the EU should/when Scotland gains independence.

subrosa said...

That's right QM. Thanks.

subrosa said...

I don't know CH, I think there is room for a party to replace the tories who will never return here really.

subrosa said...

Oh Niko, you flatter me. And I posted the result of a questionnaire which said I was left-ish libertarian leaning.

subrosa said...

The SDA's popped up out of the blue Clarinda. Haven't seen it around before.

There is no mention of the EU and that's troubling because that needs to be discussed long before independence don't you think?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

With you all the way on this, Subrosa. This wish to embrace what is after all a failing idea - the EU - with its tanking currency, is madness. I never understood the desire of the SNP to make Scotland independent, only to fly into the arms of a monster that will take it all away again.

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Scotland needs a centre-right political party able to win quickly. The only way to see this is for the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party to:

1. Adopt a new name,
2. reorganise so that it is independent of London GHQ
3. Have an elected single leader

Only then can we start winning. It isnt so much a 'new' political Party so much as a restoration of the old pre-merger Scottish Progressives movement :)

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
subrosa said...

If the SNP said they would hold a referendum on the issue that could make a difference WW, but as you say, their present policy may well not be good for the country in the long term.

subrosa said...

Dean, that's like me saying I'm going to call my iMac a pc now. No point in changing the window dressing. Far too late for that.

james said...

"I meant the SNP's policy of staying in the EU should/when Scotland gains independence."

But why would a Eurosceptic Scottish nationalist voter care about the SNP AFTER independence is achieved?

After Scotland gains its independence, then you can vote for a Eurosceptic party.

All Seeing Eye said...

is due to the voting system and not the fact that they were elected by the public.

Not really sure that you mean this the way it's written. Is it a point that the Conservatives don't get many FPTP places? But the other way is also "elected by the public".

Okay, a silly way, but still a way.

workinprogress said...

The Scottish Tories have had more coats than the Forth Bridge, but they are still essentially a Unionist party and I don't see that changing pre-Independence. Of course, once Independence comes they'll jump through hoops and pretend that was what they wanted all along.

UKIP are basically the BNP in blazers and, as their recent NEC showed, it suits them to actually remain in the EU as that is where all their party finance comes from. They're quite happy to get MEPs under PR at the Euros and to go through the motions at other elections, but they have no real intention of rocking the boat.

Other than that, the only anti-EU pro-independence people I know about are some of the more frantic far-left parties who would say anything to get a vote.

If you are against being subsumed into the EU and pro Scottish independence, then there really isn't an option for you at the moment.

subrosa said...

That's exactly my point james, there isn't a Eurosceptic party in Scotland.

The issue needs to be discussed before independence not after. The standard of our preparation will define how well and quickly we adapt.

subrosa said...

Sorry ASE, I sometimes forget not everyone knows the Scottish Parliament's voting system.

There are two systems - the FPTP system then the Additional Members System (AMS).

We have 129 MSPs and of these 73 are elected via the FPTP method. The remaining 56 are nominated via a proportional representation system - AMS.

Scotland is split up into 8 regions for the AMS vote. Each region has 7 MSPs.

With me so far?

Each party elects their AMS candidates and it's the ones from the top of these party lists who get into the Parliament.

The public has no influence whatsoever with AMS candidates. They are purely party candidates.

Hope that's understandable.

That is why there are Tories in the Scottish Parliament because of the AMS. You're correct insofar as they so very seldom win a seat on the FPTP.

subrosa said...

That's it in a nutshell workinprogress. Well said.

Billy said...

What is the point of having another political party.

The existing parties in Scotland have hardly any members left. The two biggest, SNP and Labour, struggle to find people to put out leaflets etc and the rest are in an even worst position. They are strong in only small pockets around the country.

In a lot of places Independents can have more people out helping them than there are working for the political parties.

subrosa said...

I don't think the SNP struggle Billy. Nobody asked me to do anything during the election and I would have been willing. It's apathy on behalf of the party leaders not the people.

Maybe we need a hoard of independents then - under an umbrella of some kind.

james said...

So you want a new centre-right party to rise up and win Scotland's independence from both the UK and the EU?

I think Scottish nationalists need to devote most of our attention and energy to gaining Full Fiscal Autonomy as a realistic step towards any kind of independence.

Because if we don't gain FFA then issues like future EU/UN/NATO membership will always be a distant fantasy. pressuring to be out of the EU before scotland has even gained fiscal autonomy is like putting the cart before the horse. There are so many other obstacles before we decide to cross the EU bridge or not.

also, this EU membership question should probably be decided by a referendum- not by one single party.... so Eurosceptic SNP supporters like myself or yourself can still have a vote on the matter and let the nation decide.

workinprogress said...

Interesting points James and I don't materially disagree. But you make the assumption that all Scottish Nationalists support the SNP. I and many others find it impossible to hold our noses enough to vote for the party the SNP has become.

A second Nationalist party, free of the nannying and socialistic inclinations of the SNP will strengthen the case for Independence. What chance does the SNP have of carrying the vote for a referendum at the moment? None. Because the only right of centre party in Holyrood is implacably opposed.

The SNP cannot deliver independence alone because it alienates too many people.

subrosa said...

That's right James and the reason is there isn't a party centre-right which has any capability of doing that.

Of course FFA is the most immediate issue but, as I've said previously, the EU is a subject which has to be resolved before independence not after it. People want the opportunity to decide themselves and yes, a referendum is the way to do that.

Knowing there was a Scottish party which was EU sceptical would attract people. At present they have no choice.

But I agree, FFA must be the priority. The way I see it at present is that Westminster will not consider further fiscal powers while the oil flows.

subrosa said...

The SNP are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now wip. They want to look capable in government (which they are) and need to pacify the 'slowly slowly catch the monkey' base of the party.

james said...

the Scottish Enterprise Party (today as the Scottish Democratic Alliance) has already shown that an anti-EU centre-right nationalist party would be far less appealing than the SNP.

obviously there's no party in the world where I agree with everything they say or do. For me - to put it one way - the SNP is the least worst option. labour is too corrupt and incompetnent, tories are too exclusive and lack any new ideas,

and the lib dems are wishy washy/flip floppy - they try to be all things to all people - which I hope will be cruelly exposed now that they are in government.

In other words, the SNP is the only credible vehicle for independence.

And i don't assume all nationalists support the SNP. ironically, there are snp supporters i know who dont even want independence.

I understand there are lots of people who want complete full independence right now or as soon as possible. But I'm afraid that with the intense propaganda from the British establishment and the generally pro-unionist media - the majority of Scots will in the forseeable future be too risk averse to independence. I suppose that puts me in the gradualist camp.

subrosa said...

Just briefly James, I accept your comment.

I live in an ex-tory voting area so I hear tory thoughts.

I'd be interested to know where you get your evidence for a right-of-centre Scottish party which didn't agree with Scotland belonging to the EU.

Of course I'm aware some SNP supporters don't believe in independence. Their reasons baffle me as to why they support the SNP but it's their choice.

How can you say the SNP is the only credible vehicle for independence when there is no other. It's a bit like saying the bus is the only form of transport.

james said...

The next two largest pro-independence parties are the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party. They are not credible options.

subrosa said...

True James, but do we need a party which would prefer to be only friends of Europe and would be determined to push the independence agenda forward?

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