Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Does Holyrood matter to the Tories?

I learn from Andrew Reeves and Tory Bear that John Lamont MSP has been selected to replace Chris Walker as the Conservative candidate for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk Westminster constituency.

He becomes the second Conservative MSP to seek a House of Commons seat at the next election - Alex Johnstone being the other, in West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine.

I would suggest that John Lamont may have a better chance given that he overturned the Lib Dem majority in the corresponding seat in the Scottish Parliament while Alex Johnstone lost out to the SNP's Andrew Welsh by a considerable margin in Angus.

Both stood as candidates in the 2005 UK election in these respective seats - Johnstone dropping the Tory vote in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine by 2% while Lamont increased the Tory vote in BRS by nearly 7% (and took advantage of that by winning the Scottish Parliament seat in 2007) albeit those figures are notional given boundary changes.

Couple of questions though. What does this say about the Conservative party's commitment to the Scottish Parliament when 2 of their 16 MSPs - that's 12.5% of their representation in the chamber - want to turn their back on Holyrood for a life of moat and duck-pond allowances at Westminster? And what does this say about Annabel Goldie's leadership - that she could potentially lose two key members of her parliamentary group because central office thinks they'd have a better opportunity to win UK constituencies with MSPs as candidates?

Also, Annabel Goldie has been fairly vocal in shouting down Alex Salmond as a dual mandate MP MSP, despite the First Minister's commitment to stand down at the next UK election. If either of the two Tory MSPs were to win a House of Commons seat, where would this leave her ability to challenge Salmond on this?

The bottom line is, I think, that all hands are on deck for the Tories. They are taking nothing for granted despite polls placing them well into 40+% UK-wide. The disproportionate FPTP system means that, even if they dominated the vote (and won over 45%) they still may only have a Commons majority of 20 or 30 seats. Which means that any seats that they can gain in Scotland to add to David Mundell's sole seat at the moment is a much-needed bonus for David Cameron. Selecting well-known, experienced candidates is a means to that end and if it undercuts the Tories in the Scottish Parliament, what does that matter? I mean it's only Scotland, right Maggie?


Jeff 19 August 2009 at 18:44  

Interesting stuff, and you may well have a point but I'll offer up another theory. Given that Lamont is stepping in at reasonably short notice and if Walker had stayed on it would have been a mere 6.25pc, I reckon it's more to do with so few eligible candidates in the party's ranks. In all parties ranks for that matter, there are plenty of individuals of all particular parties standing in diff elections. Perhaps Lamont going for two jobs gives credence to the suggestion mps should be paid more? More remuneration, more talent applying for the jobs?

Anonymous,  21 August 2009 at 13:27  

Is the difference that both Alex Johnstone and Lamont have said that they will stand down as MSP's in 2011, should they win in 2010, whereas the dual MP/MSP Salmond show will run and run for as long as the voters allow?

Surely there should be no problem with people moving from one house to another, as long as they vacate the one they leave? Should we ever get an elected 2nd house to replace the house of Lords, this may become common place. I suspect it would become the norm that MP's would gain election to the HoL replacement or devolved parliament before entering the Commons, just as in America most Senators are former Congressman.

Saltirethinking 24 August 2009 at 17:38  

Does honour matter to the Tories, should actually be the question.
The constituency already had a superb Tory candidate, but nothing must must stand in the way of one young mans ambition and that of his pals in Central Office.
The local Tory Association rolled over and many of the foot soldiers have said goodbye.
Yes,Lamont has a good chance, but so did Chris Walker, and the Tory Party once again becomes the Nasty Party.
At least Michael Moore is clean.

Malc 25 August 2009 at 10:08  


Salmond said he'd stand down as an MP at the next UK General Election. I think he did so in the expectation that Brown would call one quickly when he took over, so that he would only have been a dual mandate MSP/MP for a year at most. As it happens, it will be a full term.

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