The Party that Died of Shame
Marathon to Snickers. Jif to Cif. Ulay to Olay. Such have been the shifting sands of corporate re-branding. But it doesn’t always work out.
In fact rebranding failures are legion. British Steel changed its name to Corus, complete with new logo, but that didn’t stop its sale to the Indian group Tata. Xerox introduced a new logo in 2008, but that didn’t keep the company’s stock from falling almost 15% since then. The Royal Mail spent £500,000 on branding consultants who recommended rebranding to company to Consignia. The new name was so poorly received that Royal Mail had to revive their old name.
The move by the Tory Party to try and wipe the slate clean smacks of desperation and a complete misunderstanding of the reason for peoples hatred of everything they represent. It will likely lead to the party splintering but there’s room for some optimism in all this. Though the move is a brutal admission of failure it could succeed if it can appeal across the right-wing and conservative Scotland. But, like the American dilemma it needs to decide is it McTernan or SubRosa? Are they economic conservatives or cultural ones (whatever they’re called)?
This new party could draw in the right of the failed Labour Party, people like John McTernan – uber Blairites excited by Iraq and dedicated to deregulation and privatisation, fan-boys of PFI and arch ‘modernisers’. This approach would clean up and collect all of the thrusting un-reconstructed Thatcher-Blair-Brown boys and gals – the sort that swept Cameron to power (ish) but never made a mark in Scotland. This is the sort of lark the off-the-leash corporate ‘Scottish’ CBI and chums could get right behind. Everyone who rails against ‘the public sector’ could froth at the mouth at the prospect of such an entity. Think of it as Archie Stirling’s Scottish Voice 2.0 (ASSV2).
Of course, there is a small problem with this grouping and the depth of the pro-business Tory consensus as imagined by Murdo, Archie and all. Despite the hijacking of enterprise bodies for political ends this week, as lapped up by the MSM the reality is quite different. As a commentator on the Scotsman pointed out: “Scotland has 296,780 business enterprises – up 1,400 in a year and up 17,290 since the SNP came to power; a performance during a recession that exceeded the performance of the previous three years when times were good. You would think that CBI Scotland, whose Director gets so much media attention, would have a fairly big percentage as members. Well the figure is 90.”
The other option is to emerge as a sort of UKIP meets the Daily Mail summer camp, where oldies with a grudge against ‘foreigners’, chip-on-the-shoulder cabbies and the dark underbelly of British nationalist Golf Club Scotland could hang out under some glossy PR, draped in tartan. Perhaps some right-wing nationalists, the rump of Tartan Tories might be attracted to this heap? Let’s call them – hurtling back – and thinking of them as the new tories with old hatred – New Unionist Democrats (NUD). We can imagine the launch with smart new livery at a Hydropathic Hotel near you.
Despite this fork in the road (it’s difficult to imagine Ruth Davidson surviving in 1950s style NUD) we know that one thing that will unite them is a commitment to the Red White and Blue. Any sense of independent thinking will be a shallow one because a deep-seated allegiance to Queen and Flag will remain.
Their position on the Union is clear and – though the new-found commitment to devolution is touching, it does seem, how shall we put this, a little behind the curve?
It has about as much relevance as Wee Willie Rennie’s Blueprint for Scotland.
But the reality is that it’s the ideas behind the Tories that have been rejected by civil Scotland. The move will shine on in media outlets unwilling to report the latest MORI polls which suggest that re-branding the Tories in Scotland is a useless and thankless task, unless it is, as some have dubbed it, a tacit acknowledgement of the coming independence. If it is this then it could be deemed a wise idea to create a minor irritant party to the right, grist to the mill of a new Scotland.