THE BEGINNING of this month saw the Scottish Conservatives hold their annual conference in Stirling. The party that was once simply known as the Unionists and commanded 50% of the Scottish vote in the post-war period has seen better days. The 200 delegates were outnumbered two-to-one by an anti-Bedroom Tax demonstration outside of the venue. The party is reportedly in internal turmoil over leader Ruth Davidson’s proposals to look at increasing devolution of powers to Holyrood should Scotland vote “No” to independence in 2014. Many hard-line Tories are reluctant to go down this path. Although they campaigned against devolution and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, it is through gaining seats in Holyrood that the small Scottish Tory band has had its most influence in perhaps two decades. Ironically, the most media attention surrounding the conference was not generated by UK party David Cameron’s address to the delegates, (which reportedly struggled to fill the hall), but by former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling’s speech to a fringe meeting organised by an anti-independence campaign group.
Regarding the Scottish political scene generally, it looks like support for the concept of Devo-Max, a position supported by the NLP, is growing. In the event of Scotland rejecting outright independence next year there could be a real groundswell of support for further devolution as it looks like some people took a tactical view when the referendum question was being formulated of wanting a simple yes or no question without a third option in case it split the vote in favour of remaining in the UK.
The NLP in Scotland has been continuing to work away at generally raising awareness of the party. The current UK wide campaign on the theme of Shop Local has seen leaflets and posters distributed in Paisley, Govan, Dunfermline, Airdrie and Hamilton. This will continue over the summer as new areas are visited and literature distributed.
Later this summer it is hoped that issue two of Caledonian Voice, (CV), the NLP’s paper in Scotland, will be printed and ready for distribution. Since issue one was produced in July of last year, the distribution of CV has been undertaken by a handful of members and supporters who have to fit in sessions of delivering it door-to-door in between work and family commitments. In order to make issue two possible we really need more people to get involved in distributing the remaining stock of issue one. Just about everything we need is in place for issue two but we really need to free the storage space currently being taken up by boxes of issue one! Please contact NLP Head Office if you would like to help with the distribution of Caledonian Voice.