There is ground for cautious optimism that 2017 might just be the Scottish Tories most important year to date.
One might be forgiven for thinking that nothing could top 2016 from a Scots Tory standpoint, the year where the Holyrood election witnessed Scottish Labour lose a social base, and the Scottish Conservatives rediscover one. Yet it also saw a continued Nat stranglehold across electoral Scotland.
Looking ahead to 2017, there are signs that SNP’s talon-grip on the throat of Scottish politics is set to diminish.
For one thing, we should continue to be heartened by the continued destruction of the Scottish Labour party. They’re set to poll badly in the local elections later this year, and evidence suggests the Scots Tories are the primary beneficiary:
“Of those who voted Labour in last general election, around half won’t do so again with most going to the Tories” –Labour source to Herald
Labour decline points to Tory gain in Scotland, the ‘Unionist’ draw proving potent in the faced of continuing Nat supremacy.
But what makes this even brighter is the wriggle the SNP finds itself in as we enter 2017. Not only have they been on the losing side of two referendums over the last three years, but they’ve found themselves on the wrong side of public opinion. A majority of Scots continue to oppose separation, and a majority don’t even wish to be asked ‘indyref’ again. Put simple, the SNP are caught between their peanut gallery supporters and the wider electorate. This pain can be the gap Unionism can exploit.
Theresa May needs to be sure she doesn’t give the nippie sweetie in Bute House an ‘out’. May should keep the SNP on the hot coals: their penchant for absurd constitutional moaning flies in the face of collapsing domestic services, is hurting ‘brand Nat’.
The railways are in chaos, A&E waiting times frightening, education outcomes crumbling and all the SNP want to talk about is the constitution. Ruth should let them. Their misdirected sense of priority shall be their downfall in the end, and the key to the unionist victory. The whole ‘govern without offending anyone’ style of the SNP is now wearing thin. After a decade in power these failures are all on them; and the ‘blame London’/’blame Labour’ routine isn’t washing the linen anymore.
2017 has the chance to be something brighter. And the evidence shows that for more and more Scots, being ‘Tory’ isn’t a dirty swearword anymore. In fact 1 in 4 Scots are increasingly comfortable being one. The Labour-SNP scare-stories just aren’t working. Thatcher myths are ancient history for people my age; the real debate is about higher taxes under the SNP or lower taxes under Ruth. I know which I’d prefer. It’s about moaning for separation under the SNP or focusing on domestic challenges under Ruth. It’s about recreating yes/no dividing lines or letting Scotland move on.