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Whatever Happened to Tory Scotland?

Edited by David Torrance

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Explores the history and ideas of the Scottish Conservative Party since its creation in 1912

You might not believe it now, but the Scottish Conservative Party played a significant role in the politics of Scotland during the last century. The party governed Scotland and the UK for much of the 20th century. But their support has nosedived from a majority of votes and seats at the 1955 general election to just a single constituency and 17 per cent of the vote in May 2010.

This collection brings together academics, writers, commentators and analysts of Scottish politics to address the nature of the Scottish Conservative Party: its standing in Scotland, its influence on the Union, its role in the Scottish Parliament and why it fell so out of favour with the Scottish electorate.

Key Features

  • Divided into 2 parts: The Rise and Fall of Unionist Scotland and In the Political Wilderness
  • Includes contributions from leading academics and political commentators including Richard Finlay, Colin Kidd, Catriona Macdonald, James Mitchell and Alex Massie


Notes on the Contributors
List of Tables
1. Centenary Blues: 100 Years of Scottish Conservatism, David Torrance
2. Patriotism, Paternalism and Pragmatism: Scottish Toryism, Union and Empire, 1912-65, Richard Finlay
3. More than a Name: the Union and the Un-doing of Scottish Conservatism in the 20th Century, Margaret Arnott and Catriona M. M. Macdonald
4. Smithians, Thatcherites and the Ironies of Scottish Conservative Decline, Colin Kidd
5. 'It’s only a Northern Song': The Constant Smirr of Anti-Thatcherism and Anti-Toryism, Gerry Hassan
6. The Wilderness Years, David Torrance
7. Why no Tory revival in Scotland? 8. John Curtice
9. Refashioning Welsh Conservatism – a lesson for Scotland?, David Melding AM
10. The Press, national identity and the Scottish Tories Alex Massie
11. 'Handbagging' the feminisation thesis? Reflections on women in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Antje Bednarek
12. Conservative Unionism: Prisoned in Marble James Mitchell and Alan Convery

About the Author

David Torrance is a freelance writer, broadcaster and journalist, reporting on the Scottish Parliament for STV, and contributing political commentary to a wide range of publications including The Scotsman, The Herald and The Times.


This is a small volume that fills a large gap in the literature … We should all care about what happened to Tory Scotland. It is an issue that transcends party or tribal rivalry and poses fundamental questions about our political culture.

- Scottish Review