Good old Tories!

Working-Men’s Conservative Club, Caernarfon

I have news for Nicola Sturgeon. The “Scottish Tories” completely abandoned Scotland’s interests more than half a century ago. Traditional Scottish Toryism ended in 1965 when the whole loy was subsumed into the Conservative and Unionist Party in England and Wales in the name of electoral expediency.

Many people today will find it hard to believe, but there used to be such things in Scotland as Working Men’s Conservative Associations. (The picture shows one in Wales.) Even allowing that this was about 150 years ago, the very concept seems absurd. A bit more recently, in 1931 and 1955, what would now be called Tories managed to win more than half the votes in Scotland.

Difficult as it may be to credit, Scottish Tories used to be seen as the guardians of Scotland’s national identity. Scottish Tories took pride in Scotland’s distinctiveness and were trusted to preserve it. A few Scottish Tories were even involved in the formation of the predecessors of the Scottish National Party.

But these were not Scottish Tories as we understand that term today. These were traditional Scottish Tories – with emphasis on ‘Scottish’. Traditional Scottish Tories – and they still exist – look on those who have usurped that once proud name with disbelief, horror and disgust.

I doubt I would have been a Tory even in the days of Working Men’s Conservative Associations. I probably would not have embraced Scottish Tory politics even at a time when being a working class Tory was viewed as perfectly normal and respectable. But I can at least entertain the possibility of being a traditional Scottish Tory standing up for Scotland’s interests. I do not view the idea of being a traditional Scottish Tory as akin to contracting some horrible wasting disease.

I can regard with equanimity, and even some satisfaction, the prospect of an independent Scotland where traditional Scottish Toryism enjoys a revival. But first we must sweep away the repulsive rabble that is the modern Scottish Tories.

The Scottish Tories represented by Jackson Carlaw, Ruth Davidson and all of that ilk haven’t only abandoned Scotland’s interests. They’ve abandoned every value and principle that once allowed Tories in Scotland to be regarded with respect rather than revulsion.

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