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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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The politics of irrelevance

The politics of irrelevance

(p.65) 5 The politics of irrelevance
Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

Manchester University Press

This chapter focuses on the apparent ‘crisis’ of irrelevance for the Conservative Party of Scotland, and, in particular, describes the ways in which Tory activists used press releases and letters to local newspapers to campaign on a set of seemingly ‘banal’ local issues. These included opposition to the closure of a local car park, increases in Council Tax and the removal of a roundabout at a busy intersection in Dumfries. The chapter suggests that Conservative activists were often less interested in the content of such issues than they were in problems of form. Local Tories became focused more on logistical and organisational questions – that is, activist methodology in the production of In Touch leaflets, press releases and letters to the editor – than on the issues which formed the content of their election campaign. These instruments were treated as if they were capable of generating electoral effects. Scottish Conservatives hoped that this would be achieved through the promotion of a ‘professional-looking’ campaign which would register in the memories of even the most casual and disinterested of observers.

Keywords:   Scotland, Conservative Party, press releases, letters, Council Tax, leaflets, Dumfries, election campaign, Tories, crisis of irrelevance

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