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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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Making (a) difference: building the political machine

Making (a) difference: building the political machine

(p.52) 4 Making (a) difference: building the political machine
Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

Manchester University Press

This chapter provides an overview of the local Conservative Party's planning for the 2003 local government and Scottish Parliamentary elections, and explores how local Conservatives sought to build a political machine through the coordination of (limited) activist labour, Party bureaucracy and paperwork. This machine was ‘run’ by a Core Campaign Team, which oversaw the deployment of four ‘instruments’ that were vital to the local Party's discursive armoury: the leaflet, press release, survey and target letter. In particular, activists considered their In Touch leaflets to be both an instrument and a building block of their election campaign, as they sought to ‘catch up’ and overtake the superior, ‘well-oiled’ campaigning machine of the local Labour Party. Ironically, the In Touch leaflet betrayed an anxiety shared by many Conservative activists, which was grounded in the assumption that local people considered the Tory Party irrelevant in Scotland and that they were therefore not interested in what they had to say.

Keywords:   Scotland, Conservative Party, elections, political machine, bureaucracy, paperwork, leaflets, Labour Party, election campaign, In Touch

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