It was as the Scottish Unionist Party that the Scottish Conservative Party, as it is now known, won over half Scotland’s votes and seats at Westminster. This was an emphatic demonstration of the electoral strength that it had demonstrated since its formation.
It was not until 1965 that the Unionist Party was re-named the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, and came under the control of the Party nationally. By then, its electoral fortunes were waning – and have continued to do so since.
Earlier this year, Ruth Davidson wrote on this site about the modest revival that the Party has recently enjoyed in Scotland as a Unionist force during its campaigning for the recent referendum. For the European elections, the Party’s description on the ballot papers was: “Scottish Conservatives – Vote No To Independence.”
Henry Hill writes on this site this morning about the strength of the Unionist vote in the rural SNP heartlands, in which so many Parliamentary seats were formerly Conservative. It is a point he has made many times. He is not alone in arguing that the Tory role in the campaign gave the revival more impetus.
I praised Ruth Davidson’s dynamism in the referendum’s aftermath. Better-informed observers than me have also done so. So have some of the Party’s opponents. John McTernan, Tony Blair’s former director of Political Operations, has written that she “has detoxified” the Tories north of the border.
Since the Party’s main selling-point is that it is a Unionist one, why shouldn’t it now style itself the Unionist Party, and go back to its roots? Most name changes are cosmetic. This one would be authentic – true to its past and its present.
After all, the full name of the Party in both Scotland and the rest of the UK is still “The Conservative and Unionist Party”. All that’s needed in Scotland is to swap the two round.