Monday, September 05, 2011

Committing Suicide In Order To Survive: The Scottish Tories Come Up Nuts, Slice After Slice

I noted with some excitement the news in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph that the Scottish Conservatives have decided to embrace the inevitable and disband due to lack of interest. I paraphrase slightly, but one must congratulate the Conservative leadership candidate, Mr Murdo M McMurdo (or thereabouts), whose ruse this was, as the doings of the Scottish Tories have not been newsworthy since approximately 1974, when that great man of the people and Bullingdon old boy, His Worthiness Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr (aka Ancram), 13th Marquess of Lothian, accidentally won the Berwickshire and East Lothian seat. Mr McMurdo (or thereabouts) must be encouraged that he has received the enthusiastic support of Conservatives in England for this proposal, and I am sure his Scottish colleagues will fall into line, just as soon as they have worked out the electoral benefits of advertising the party's now-fatal unpopularity.
Changing the name of a party is never an easy business. The Labour Party was branded "New Labour" by Mr Tony Blair and his cohorts, to demonstrate that it no longer represented the working man, and would bring a bluey-whiteness to even the most heavily stained unmentionables (again, I paraphrase slightly). And the Social Democrats enjoyed a brief honeymoon, before mutating into the Liberal Democrats, who were less social, but not noticeably more liberal. While Mr Nick Clegg has, by a quirk of the electoral system, gained access to the corridors of power, he stalks them with the purpose of an angry janitor rather than a seasoned spinner of the political roulette wheel.
But name changing is all about marketing. Mr David Cameron's Conservatives, who were briefly green but are now as blue as the bruises on a rioter's cranium, are still represented by a logo showing a leafy green tree, largely because the image of Mr Michael Gove stamping on a child's face forever played badly in focus groups. The Scottish Tories have the same logo, and it is entirely without impact, appropriately enough.
I suppose one must congratulate Mr McMurdo (or thereabouts) for his optimism. But I fear that history will reflect harshly on his initiative. By suggesting that politics is no more than a matter of branding, he reduces his principles to the question of snake-oil, and how to sell it. Did British Steel do better as Corus? For how many minutes was The Post Office called Consignia? Shouldn't a true Conservative be resigned to the principle of referring to a Snickers bar as a Marathon, whatever it says on the wrapper?


Wintermute said...

I like your term 'branding', KE.

It is redolent of medieval times when treasonous politicians, who concocted sophistries for an uneducated citizenry, were dealt with in a correct and condign manner.

Wintermute said...

If I did not know better, KE, I might have thought that you attached some importance to the elaborate and risible swindle called Parliamentary Democracy.

Wintermute said...

Scottish Tories may seem an unimpressive bunch who are unable to sum up a political debate.

However, those of us who remember that delightful Tory Scotsman, Willie Whitelaw will doubtless recall his mastery of that lost art, viz., "There we are, there it is and there you have it".

Paul Richardson said...

I have to say, I enjoy this blog enormously. The writing is exquisite, and even when some of the particular references elude me (being American), I can nonetheless appreciate the way you put things - form above content, I suppose. Anyway, don't think you're writing in a vacuum - you aren't. Keep up the good work.
Full disclosure: I'm of Scottish descent - my mother's father was born in Glascow, and served in the Black Watch (I'm told) in WW1.

Wintermute said...

I remember the erstwhile Earl of Ancram. A decent Edinburgh advocate whose Catholicism did not preclude his taking up drinking for Lent.

I seem to remember his family escutcheon's featuring the name Ker and thinking, with regard to the lost consonant - "How very singular."

Kirk Elder said...

Thank you, Mr Richardson, and apologies for not noticing your comment until now. The "simplified" Blogger set-up continues to baffle me. Thank you also for your comments, Mr Wintermute. They are always appreciated.