For the most part of my life it was unimaginable, the Conservatives were never seen to be a popular party in Scotland and have always came behind Labour and the Scottish National Party, but no more. Over recent years the Scottish Conservatives have been on the rise. In the recent local council elections the Scottish Conservative Party gaining 164 council seats, giving them a total of 276, and in the 2016 elections to the Scottish Parliament they pushed Scottish Labour into third place, and became the main party of opposition in Holyrood.
In the 2016 Elections the Tories under Ruth Davidson gained seats in the South of Scotland, the Scottish Borders, the North East of Scotland and Edinburgh. But the party gained more ground in the local elections, and saw Conservative councillors elected in areas such as Ferguslie Park in Shettleston, Ravenscraig and other parts of the east end of Glasgow.
But what has caused this rise for the Scottish Conservatives? Why has an area such as Ravenscraig, where John Major’s Conservative Government closed the steelworks in 1992, and left many unemployed, elect a Conservative Councillor?
Many are claiming that it is because of the issue of independence.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) in Holyrood are the biggest supporters of Scottish Independence, and support a second referendum on the issue, and the battle was on for a party to be the biggest opponents of Scottish Independence. The Scottish Conservatives have attempted to take this position. There main campaigning tool was that they would provide effective opposition to the SNP Government and oppose a second referendum on independence.
It is argued that this stance has brought more opponents of Scottish Independence to the Conservative Party in recent years, and could continue to do so.
But will this electoral success be repeated in the General Election this June?
Although the Conservatives have seen a rise in Scottish politics, it doesn’t mean that they are the most popular, there are still a number of issues facing the ScotTories. One will always be Theresa May and the Conservative Government in Westminster, any policies introduced by the Westminster Government could impact the Conservatives in Scotland, one such instance is the rape clause. The policy introduced by the Conservative Government in Westminster says that for a woman to be exempt from the two-child tax credit cap, she must prove that the third child was conceived as a result of a rape. Ruth Davidson has not condemned the policy and has been criticised for this by other parties in Holyrood and the public. Thus showing how the actions of a Conservative Party in Westminster, can have a large impact on the Scottish Party. It can also be argued that the Conservatives austerity policies will also turn people away from the Conservatives.
Then of course there is the elephant in the room… Brexit. As the Conservatives under Theresa May have been heading the negotiations so far it is reasonable to assume that the result of these negotiations will impact the Conservatives north of the border. So far, the UK Government has pursued a hard brexit and will remove the UK from the European Single Market. Depending on how the Scottish people feel about how the Conservative Government is handling the Brexit process will have an impact on the election result for the Scottish Conservatives.
These issues could reduce the rise of the Scottish Conservatives.
Overall, the rise of the Conservatives in Scotland has happened, but will this rise be replicated in June?