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?