2007 - 2021

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.

Comments (17)

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  1. Siôn Jones says:

    It seems to me that this is an acceptance of the inevitability of independence, and the Tories are positioning themselves for the first elections to the Free Scottish Parliament.

    1. Andrew says:

      Do not become complacent, by rebranding the conservatives/torys there will be some who will go back to them if only because they are no longer called that, this might seem like a minor problem, but remember that this referendum might go to just a few votes, so take nothing for granted and remember this…………..We are in the fight of our lives to gain or own freedom as well as that of our country, when the referendum is done with and the people,”i hope have grasped the thistle” then and only then can we relax, not bfore.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        Not being complacent, I think there’s an undercurrent of reactionary feeling abound

  2. Is everybody missing something that only Murdo can see or is this really just the pointless exercise it appears to be? No one that doesn’t already vote tory is going to vote for them just because they’ve re-branded, their policies will be tory, their allegiance in Wasteminster will be tory, There will be some who will go to UKIP, some UKIP may go to them and others will stand as Independent tories, The whole thing will be a mess, it’ll do them no good, of course that is good news for Scotland. As for a name for them, Conservative Unionists (Northern Territories) will do I think.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      The opportunity to wipe history clean is compelling Dougie, but am doubtful it will work. Yours is the best name suggestion so far. Have you contacted Murdo with it?

    2. thomcross says:

      Conservative Unionists (Neo-Thatcherite Scotland)

      Amild tweek on Dougie’s

  3. Disagreeable Weasel says:

    Since ‘Conservative’ is likely to be considered the most toxic part of the lot, the rebranding will have to omit any mention, so Dougie’s excellent suggestion will, sadly, not be acceptable.
    Perhaps Murdo would feel more comfortable with a name spelling out precisely the types he wants to attract to his new party: Nice Young Affluent Families For Scotland (NYAFFS).

  4. Carandol says:

    Dougie, meh word – ffit a thing tae say 🙂

  5. Frankly says:

    If you’re regressive, the thing to do is clearly to call yourself Progressive, as the Unionists (i.e. the Tories) used to do in alliance with the Liberals in Scottish local-government politics, once upon a time. Let them be the Scottish Progressive Party, therefore. Or neo-progressives, making them the Scottish Neo-progressive Party. Then they could be known as the SNP. That might work. It has a kind of a ring to it.

    No. Better in the end to call a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel . . . and a dead parrot a dead parrot: http://tinyurl.com/3l9wk3r

  6. Donald Adamson says:

    Dougie Kinnear,

    “Is everybody missing something that only Murdo can see or is this really just the pointless exercise it appears to be?”, probably the latter, although there is the chance that Murdo fancies himself as the Sarah Palin of Scottish politics. In which case, there is surely only one name that would be appropriate – ‘The North British Tea and Scones Party’.

  7. Scottish republic says:

    The Conservatives have really already branded themselves as ‘Scottish Conservatives’ since Thatcher’s time.

    Officially calling themselves Scottish won’t make anyone in Scotland like them more.

    I can’t say Tory without wanting to hiss, or Conservatives without wanting to bark.

    Adding one more word in front of Tory or Con just makes for longer periods of hissing and barking.

    Oh, did I mention I hate Tories? I also am fairly rare in strongly disliking Annabelle’s school marm talking down to other politicians or naughty ‘boys’. Just thought I’d mention that.

  8. The reason I so enjoy Scottish politics (other than it gives me someone new to hate beside our own Republicans and the CIA) is the Scottish sense of humor. You’re much funnier than Americans even when you’re just hating on the poor benighted Tories.

  9. James Morton says:

    Their problem is not the brand, but the message. If they keep turning up to the fight waving the wrong flag then they’ll get beaten. If they stand against independence and use the old arguments that they used when they tried to de-rail devolution, they’ll get beaten.
    Why? Because they are not popular. Their politics is not popular and there is no desire for a new right wing party except from the right wing. They are largely ahistorical – you’ll see what I mean when you see them go on and on about 1955 and that time they had 50.1% of the vote. But they then forget the rest of their history in that they could never hold on to that electoral bounty. In fact, I think it safe to say you can count on the fingers of one hand how many times they polled higher than 30% from about 1830’s onward. That doesn’t say popular party to me.
    I think it will split them in two – the old tories who will keep plugging on to gain another westminster seat or three, growing old and dying out all the while, and the new progressives, who will be called out on what makes them progressive – and you know what most Scots would say?
    “Smells like a pile of Tory to me”

  10. bellacaledonia says:

    A useful link brought to my attention from Calum Cashley where those figures on the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland are taken from, see here (thanks Calum):


  11. Ray Bell says:

    I have never voted Tory, and never intend to, but I consider this part of the evolution of Scottish politics. If the Conservatives do it, maybe the other two Brit parties will. Scottish Tories have always been more old school, i.e. more of the patrician laird, rather than the Thatcherite stockbroker… more tweed than pinstripe… and they feel alienated by Thatcherism. Scottish Thatcherites are thin on the ground (Michael Forsyth is one of those few), and it’s a bit like the Old Labour/New Labour split.

    The idea’s been doing the rounds for a while, and I got to hear about something similar several years ago. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Bavarian Solution”, since in German politics, some of the parties are semi-/completely autonomous of the main parties in Berlin, but maintain a kind of alliance with them. It might be the sensible option for the Tories, but it does remind me of the cosy traditional set up between various Northern Ireland unionists and the Conservatives at Westminster, which maintains the status quo in NI, and provides voting fodder for the Conservatives.

    The real problem still facing us is Labour. Labour has done as much damage to Scotland as Thatcher ever did. Labour’s poisonous legacy includes spending most of its money on Central Belt (esp Glasgow) projects, giving large amounts of revenue to advertising companies for no good reason, letting sectarianism fester (and in some cases encouraging it), not to mention keeping certain run down areas poor, in order to keep its vote, talking Scotland down continually etc etc. That’s a depressing legacy, and sometimes they are as right wing as the Conservatives.

    1. Ray Bell says:

      p.s. Names being floated about are Progressives and Unionist Party. The name “Scottish Unionist Party” is already taken. Progressive has been used by Scottish Tories in the past, mainly in council elections.

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