Sunday, 28 September 2008

Going to the Tories

The excuse for the train delay on the way back from the Labour conference was a good one - sniper on the tracks taking potshots at the train drivers - but there’s been no explanation for today’s delayed 08.36 conference express from London to Birmingham for the Tory bash. Where is Trains Minister Tom Harris when you need him?

Everyone on the conference circus looked a bit jaded as they stood waiting in Euston station for the platform to be announced. Only one more lap of the four week Whacky Races to go.

I only realised, after a former Scottish journalist kept me up arguing until 6am last week, how highly trained the Highland Light Media Infantry are for this lark. Years of reporting the National Mod, the annual Gaelic cultural festival, have left us robustly equipped as journalists to cope the rigours of late night drinking, conspiring, politicking and working all at the same time. Mind you, the singing is better at the National Mod.


I’ll be interested to hear what the Conservatives have to say about Scotland. I see the irascible Holyrood commentator Alan Cochrane is on the panel at a fringe debate tonight with blogger Ian Dale and David Mundell MP discussing the future of the Union under a Conservative government.

Cameron has his own Scots in exile close to him, Michael Gove and Dr Liam Fox, but strangely neither seem to have much of Caledonian hinterland to call on so how good their advice to the leader is I don’t know. The Conservatives are still a tarnished brand in Scotland and there are still very few winnable seats for them. In fact there are more winnable seats with an hour's driving time of Birmingham, venue for this week's conference, than there are in the whole of Scotland. If you were Cameron where would you concentrate your resources?

If it wasn’t for Irvine Laidlaw’s funding in the last few years, he gives about £200,000 and pays for the party spin doctors, the Scottish Tories might be in deep trouble.

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