The SNP are not the only ones running scared of the Conservatives in NE Fife (Letters, 17.5.2017). As soon as the election was announced, LibDems began bombarding residents with leaflets claiming that only they can beat the SNP.
This may have been true in the distant reign of Menzies Campbell when Conservatives were nationally in the doldrums, but as a Conservative councillor who topped the poll in the East Neuk two weeks ago, I am proof that times have most definitely changed.
Momentum is now undeniably with Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives, and it’s growing.
Since the independence referendum, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has established itself as Scotland’s second largest party, doubling its seats to 31 in the 2016 Holyrood election and replacing Labour as the official opposition.
Lib Dems, by contrast, have seen a steady electoral decline, losing their only MEP at the 2014 European Parliament elections and 10 out of 11 MPs at the 2015 general election. While they hung on to their 5 MSPs at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, their vote share fell and they were pushed into 5th place by the Greens.
At this month’s local elections LibDems received only 6.8% first preference votes against the 25.3% won by the Scottish Conservatives. This gave the Scottish Conservatives 276 seats, a 140% increase on their 2012 total, while the Lib Dems won only 67 seats.
At Fife Council, the LibDems have been reduced to a rump of 7, losing 3 councillors, while the Conservatives increased their number by a factor of five to 15.
The major reason why Scottish Conservatives are winning over voters from all parties is that they form the strongest and most convincing bulwark against Scottish nationalism.
In 2015 Willie Rennie infamously gave Party members a free rein to ‘speak up for independence’; his party has long campaigned for a federal UK which would give the SNP more powers. The LibDem candidate in NE Fife ran the coalition with the SNP at Fife Council in 2005-12 and no one doubts the LibDem’s readiness to compromise with the SNP. They are after all the masters of coalition.
Linda Holt (Councillor for East Neuk & Landward)