At the 2010 General Election the Conservative party won one seat in Scotland. This is generally held up as an example of Scotland’s contempt for Tory neoliberal policy and our nations social democratic ideals but conveniently ignores another statistic: how many voted Conservative across the country.
Over 412,000 people in Scotland opted for the Tories as their party of choice, 16.7% of the vote. How many of those will choose to support independence?
It’s a difficult question to answer because we are not voting for a political party but if I were a Conservative I’m pretty sure id be inclined to vote no.
The grassroots element of the Yes campaign have been the single most exciting and invigorating aspect of this debate. Ordinary people finally realising that this is their future and they can, by their involvement, affect the result. It seems unlikely that this new found confidence and democratic participation will fade any time soon as the customary reluctance of ordinary Scots to engage in the political arena has been superseded by an intense need for change. The thrust has focused on developing a fairer, egalitarian society based on principles of social democracy. The online campaign can be confrontational and adversarial; Westminster parties often the subject of disparaging memes, aggressive language and a typically blunt Scottish ‘did ye, aye?’ attitude which leaves no room for compromise. The Tories fare worse than most in these exchanges so how would you as a Conservative voter view the prospect of an independent Scotland?
I’d imagine not with much confidence.
This, to me, is the essence of the whole progression to independence. No matter how staunchly Yes we are, we can still barely grasp the incredible potential to change anything we want. We still think in terms of the current political system and ideologies, ideologies which force people to choose sides depending on their income, upbringing or social status. ‘No More Tory Governments Ever’ is a popular refrain in support of independence but it presupposes that a truly Scottish Conservative Party – or whatever they wanted to call themselves – would be the same as a Westminster Tory party and would be unwilling to adapt and embrace the new political landscape. The truth is that Scottish Tories would have to adapt, just as Labour and the Lib-Dems would because independence would be a rejection of those same parties and their neglect for the needs of the people of this country. How quickly they themselves realise this will determine their success in 2016 but it is not inconceivable that a Conservative party could actually make themselves electable in Scotland in the future. We cannot fear such an event because it would reflect the very democracy that we seek to attain.
One of the main driving forces in the Yes movement is the lack of representation in a union which can safely ignore Scotland, 8.4% of the UK population. It’s unacceptable that we should do the same to double that number of our own citizens. Independence brings a wealth of possibilities for every political belief; our parliament lends itself to diversity and Conservative voters should be reassured that their concerns and needs can be met in the new Scotland.
It has been said that a 3% swing could clinch the vote; persuading even a quarter of Scottish conservatives that independence can work for them would see us over the finishing line.