Alex Massie Alex Massie

The Scottish Tories have a chance to make themselves relevant at last. Will they be bold enough to take it?

Like everyone else, I’ve often been mean about the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party. I recall suggesting they were the worst, most useless political party in the world. Fushionless and quite possibly beyond redemption.

But hark this shipmates, something is afoot and there are, titter ye not, modest grounds for modest optimism in Tory circles. After what was, I think it fair to say, a steep learning curve in her early days as leader Ruth Davidson is coming into her own. She has a poise and a stature that was not apparent even a year ago. The party’s recent conference in Edinburgh was a success and her speech her best since becoming leader.

Why, the Tory vote has even been nudging upwards in local council by-elections. A thin reed upon which to trust your life, perhaps, but drowning men have few options and must make the best of whatever’s available.

But, actually, the Tories are not drowning. Not any longer. They have not made much progress but they have made some. Not, true, in national elections but they are better positioned now than at any point in recent years.

Thanks to Alex Salmond, with an assist from Johann Lamont. The independence debate has galvanised the Scottish Tories. That’s the subject of my column in The Times today.

Nearly twenty years of craven self-abasement won the Conservatives few friends and little respect but they need no longer, like Uriah Heep, be “ever so ’umble”. They have a cause to fight for and a chance to be part of the national conversation. They can be out and proud at last. This is progress. Real progress.

Next month Lord Strathclyde’s commission will deliver the Tory response to the independence gauntlet thrown down by the SNP. It is a chance the party cannot afford to miss.

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