Several decades ago, and even up until the recently astounding Scottish General Election in May, many would have said that the Tories are dead in Scotland. Many continue to stand by that statement, particularly as the SNP continues in its sweeping of Scottish constituencies, one of Europe’s most powerful leaders at its helm.
But despite the Nationalists’ seemingly infectious causes, it is evident that support for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is rising. A more centrist, but still right-wing party, the Scottish Tories are still seen as very subordinate to their colleagues at Westminster.
But the reason for Tory votes in the recent election is not austerity. Instead, it is unionism. If newly installed British Prime Minister Theresa May is to see success, she must reduce the threat of Scottish independence. As the only decisive force against independence, the Scottish Conservatives have seen an unprecedented influx of votes, and may now solve the unionists’ problem.
Conservativism, once a complete taboo on Scotland, now looks markedly less of a target for hostility. The rise of the Scottish Conservatives has seen its leader – the female, young, gay, and formerly working-class Ruth Davidson – receive acclaim from voters, journalists, and more importantly, Westminster MPs. Throughout the EU referendum, Davidson continually impressed even English voters. Checking on the SNP, and presenting the case for a strong a British Union, the safety of the Union – and a possible career move for Davidson herself – is in her own hands.
If Theresa May strategises intelligently, a strong representative of the Conservatives in Scotland could help the Tories portray their focus on issues north of the border favourably, and to their advantage. If Theresa May uses this opportunity, saving the United Kingdom could be one of the hallmarks of Theresa May’s premiership.