Phoenix parties – the strange death and resurrection of centre-right parties

Murdo Fraser MSP has made an attention grabbing pledge in his bid for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives. If he wins the election in October, he will wind up the party and start again. He argues that the Conservatives are a toxic brand north of the border, and that Scotland needs and deserves a new centre-right political alternative free from the emotive baggage of the 80s and 90s.

It is hard to argue against the charge that the Scottish Conservatives have seen better days. In 1955 they reached a high water mark, taking 50.1% of the vote and exactly half (36 out of 72) of country’s MPs. Their share of the vote receded decade by decade, falling below 40% in the 60s, 30% in the 70s and 25% in the 80s.

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