Alan Convery
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Devolution, party change and the Scottish Conservative Party
in The territorial Conservative Party
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Having established the wider UK context in which it operated, this chapter now turns to examine the post-devolution Scottish Conservative Party. It finds that while the Scottish Conservatives did adapt organisationally to the external shock of devolution and the Scottish Parliament, they spent the following decade trying to repeat the same pre-1997 political strategy. Contrary to some assumptions in the literature about sub-state party demands for autonomy, the Scottish party in fact had more autonomy than it wanted or needed. This chapter finds overall that the potential for party change beyond constitutions and management charts was for the Conservatives in the gift of a leadership (Goldie and McLetchie) that chose not to attempt radical change. Faced with a significant section of the party which remained hostile to devolution, the party leadership instead concentrated on more ‘banal’ issues of everyday parliamentary business, policy-making and campaigning, giving the impression of progress without much internal struggle.

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The territorial Conservative Party

Devolution and party change in Scotland and Wales


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