Posted tagged ‘Conservative’

Let’s Move The Conference Season to Somewhere Practical

September 27, 2008

I’m currently in Birmingham, having attended a few meetings on Friday, and flying back up to Edinburgh tonnight. I’m not staying for the party conference, but I do want to make one observation. The area around the ICC in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party are holding their conference, is awash with police every 10 yards, barriers at every junction, and generally making this party of the city a bit of a headache for locals.

Irrespective of who is paying for the policing and associated paraphernalia (I seem to recall Labour’s Conference this year cost around £5 million in policing, does anyone have concrete numbers?) it seems to be a rather large waste of money to get (a) all the party in one place and (b) get some pretty pictures for the television. For parties that are hoping to spend our money, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought out the box and did it a little differently?

With all the military bases in the country either mothballed or half-empty as troops are in foreign theatres, why not hold the conferences in these establishments? A number of them are close to good transport links, there’s clearly enough accommodation for all the attendees, the various Mess Halls can handle catering and evening entertainment, and the policing/security should be much reduced. Disruption to residents would be minimal, and both (a) and (b) above would still happen. In fact I doubt those on TV would really notice the difference.

And there’s something nice about the image of having everyone behind barbed wire…

Scottish Conservative MPs After the Next Election

May 12, 2008

Yes that’s plural. In all the fun of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party vs The Labour Party (which does sound like a divorce decree nee The War of the Roses), it’s worthwhile considering who the main beneficiary will be at the upcoming General Election. On a UK level, it’s looking more and more likely that this will be portrayed as a ‘how many seats can Cameron’s Conservatives win?’ contest, and if (a) this will get them to a majority, and (b) how big that majority will be.

The scottish view of the party is going to be very interesting. I don’t yet think that the Tories are in any place well suited for a revival across the country. Political wounds specifically from The Poll Tax and The Miner’s Strike still occupy prominent places in the Scottish mind, especially in the central belt, and as the people who were deeply affected by those policies reach the age group where they are more likely to vote, the likelihood of them switching to a Conservative for a ‘protest’ vote is minimal.

In my mind, the SNP will pick up most of the protesting voters. But that doesn’t leave the Conservatives out for the count. The short answer, I think they’ll reach 20% of the votes and I think there are a handful of potential constituencies that are worth watching in the run up to polling day.

Dumfries and Galloway – (Labour majority 2,992)
If any inroads are made, even a whisper, then it will be in this seat. As far south geographically as possible, this is a straight fight against Labour.

Stirling – (Labour Majority 4,767)
Michael Forsythe’s old seat (and he can still cause a chill to run down our spines) is another straight fight against Labour, with the total Labour vote holding at around 15,000 in the last two elections. The depth of the collapse of Labour in the central belt will determine if this stays red or goes blue. A seat that also declares quite early on Election night, so a good indicator to fortunes.

Edinburgh South – (Labour majority 405 to the Liberals, 3897 to the Conservatives)
A pretty ugly fight in 2005, with dodgy bar graphs, claim and counter claim from the opposition parties eventually allowed Nigel Griffiths to sneak through the middle and win a wafer thin majority over the Liberal Democrats. I’ll be interested to see just how much effort is put into this seat by the respective campaigns.

Edinburgh North and Leith – Labour majority 2153 to the Liberals, 6628 to the Conservatives).
Adjoining Edinburgh South, this constituency presents the Liberal Democrats with a question – it’s 6th on their list of target seats, and the Conservative candidate is some distance back. But Edinburgh South is well within reach, albeit as part of a three way fight. A collapse on the Labour vote hands this to the Liberals, a Conservative resurgence turns it blue.

Perth and North Perthshire – (SNP majority 1521)
Here’;s a might interesting constituency, and one of the few direct SNP/Conservative match ups in the electoral landscape, with Labour out the fight. If the vote holds up here, it’s going to be a good ight for the Conservatives, but I think we’ll see a swing to the SNP and a hold.

Ochil and South Perthshire – (Labour majority 688 to the SNP, 4624 to the Conservatives).
This should be out of reach for the Conservatives, I’ve got it flagged up as a firewall. I very much doubt that this would become blue, but if it does then Labour would be looking at a very long time out of office. This is more likely to return to SNP hands, which is still pretty damaging to Labour both in Westminster and in the knock on effect in Holyrood.

Want me to put a number on it? They’ll win Dumfries, Stirling and one of Edinburgh South or Edinburgh North (depending on how the Liberals campaign in those Edinburgh seats). To take the Perthshire seats would mean a genuine liking of the Scottish Tories, as opposed to a Get Gordon Out vote, so I think that’s unlikely.

Final tally, three or four seats.

Added 10pm, May 12th:
Welcome to readers from Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen post (and thanks Iain, for the link). You can stay up to date with The Scottish Sketch by subscribing to the RSS feed or bookmaring the site (scottishsketch.wordpress.com). Thanks for your time, hope to see you around in the near future.