Scottish Conservative Party Conference visits Ayrshire
The Scottish Conservative party over the past 20 years or so has seen a large decrease in the vote. This decrease came to the tipping point in 2010 when David Mundell was the only Scottish Tory elected to Westminster. Our electoral success did not improve the following year when we saw a catastrophic drop in the vote at the Scottish Parliamentary election; this was a disaster for the party as we lost the upcoming star Derek Brownlee as well as another couple of constituency seats.
However- During the middle of 2011 the party announced there was to be a leadership election to replace the well loved Aunty Bella. The process gave members and candidates the opportunity to talk frankly about the future of the party with Murdo Fraser speaking of the breakup of the party and starting a fresh. In November the members spoke loud and clear, they elected Ruth Davidson Glasgow regional MSP as their new leader.
Ruth does have a number of qualities which have to date made her a breath of fresh air for the party. We have seen over the past few months 2,000 new members join the Scottish Tories since the time of the leadership election, the first of the policy review papers sent out to members, appointment of Jackson Carlaw as Deputy Leader, the appointment of the regional convenors, strategic approach to the local government elections through John Lamont MSP and Cllr Simpson, the appoint of a policy officer at central office, and a completely new press team. I am extremely pleased to hear we are cutting down the Tree and hopefully Toryhoose will keep up-dates on the development of a new logo. These are fantastic achievement in only five months, however there is more.
During Ruth’s first conference as Scottish Leader in Troon, Ruth announced the appointment of Lindsay Paterson, Cllr Neil Benny, Cllr Douglas Ross, Maurice Golden and James Reekie, to the positions of Vice-Chair. Their portfolios will become clearer in the coming days however it is expected Cllr Benny will focus on Youth related matters, James focusing on social media, and Lindsay Paterson leading promotion of woman in the party. Ruth also during her closing address to conference appointed Chairman of Edinburgh North & Leith, Iain McGill to sit on the Policy Board. Iain will sit alongside Ruth, Struan Stevenson MEP, John Lamont MSP and Jamie Lindsay a former Scottish Office Minister.
These appointments are a welcomed addition to the top ranks and really do pave way to the generational change Ruth speaks of. I hope this continues especially when creating the candidate’s board and electing candidates for the key seats of Westminster and Holyrood elections.
Scottish Conference this year not only had an enormous turn out by members and supporters; it was also lively, engaging, and professional. For that I want to quickly say thanks to the hard working central office team , Provost Pat McPhee, John Scott MSP, Jackson Carlaw MSP and Ruth for giving us all a very enjoyable conference (If I missed anyone, I apologise). Although the success didn’t stop there: The Prime Minster – David Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May, Co-Chairman – Baroness Warsi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner – Lord Trimble, Secretary of State for Wales – Cheryl Gillan, Leader of the House of Lords – Lord Strathclyde and other MP’s and MSPs all visiting and speaking at our conference. For the few years I have been attending Scottish Conference I have never seen so many senior Tory politicians at our event.
To close, I just wanted to say how positive it is to have a young, passionate, dynamic and driven person to lead the party in Scotland. Listening to Ruth Davidson’s address today was uplifting and showed the country we are back in business. A lot has been done, however a lot more still needs to be done. I am hopeful that when the next round of Westminster elections comes round we will, due to Ruth’s leadership, elected more Tory MP’s to join David Mundell on the green benches. Today’s speech was, as a non Tory from a charitable organisation said to me, “powerful, clear in message and statesman”.