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Devolution and the Scottish ConservativesBanal Activism, Electioneering and the Politics of Irrelevance$
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Alexander Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719079696

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719079696.001.0001

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A Tory-free Scotland

A Tory-free Scotland

(p.18) 2 A Tory-free Scotland
Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

Manchester University Press

This chapter provides an account of the destruction of Scotland's Conservative Party at both the national and local levels during the 1997 general election, when Scotland became ‘Tory-free’. It begins with an historical overview of Conservatism in Scotland and, in particular, Tory opposition to devolution and the Scottish Parliament during the 1980s and 1990s. The chapter then explores the impact of the 1997 general election on local politics in Dumfries and Galloway, which continued to be regarded by many activists as ‘natural’ Tory territory despite the apparent ‘absence’ of Conservatives from local and national politics. These impressions were strengthened when two Conservatives from the area were elected via the mixed-member proportional system through the Regional List to the Scottish Parliament. Ironically, this was achieved despite their unsuccessful attempts to secure the region's two constituency seats. What is paradoxical here, then, is that the very electoral system and institution which they had opposed now helped Tories north of the border to reclaim some of the political ground that they had previously lost, allowing them to return to the proverbial political map.

Keywords:   Scotland, Conservative Party, devolution, general election, politics, Conservatism, Dumfries, Galloway, Scottish Parliament

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