David Blackburn

Scottish Tories won’t oppose AV

Scottish Tories won’t oppose AV
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Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, made an odd admission at a fringe event last night. Asked how she would campaign against AV next May, she disclosed that there wouldn’t be a concerted campaign because ‘people have already made-up their minds’. I’m told that David Mundell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, sat in impassive agreement while the audience raised its collective eyebrow.

Conservatism hasn’t scaled Hadrian’s Wall for twenty years. Representation is thin because residual loathing for Thatcher and Major runs deep. Loud partisanship against AV may incite the hostile populace to vote for it out of spite. Discretion looks the better part of valour.  

There is another reason for relative silence. AV would suit the Tories in Scotland. Tim Montgomerie recited the arithmetic for Scotland on Sunday recently. At the last election, the Liberal Democrats won 11 MPs with 465,000 votes; the SNP won six MPs with 491,000 votes; the Tories gained only one MP from 412,000 votes, which suggests that their support is too disparate to return a troupe of MPs even if Goldie’s inept operations were remotely proficient.

So, is Goldie’s stance local positioning or yet more incompetence? I plump for the former, although that may prove the triumph of hope over experience. It will be intriguing to see if Conservative Associations in England’s and Wales’ inner cities demur from the party line.