Since Alex Salmond's storming victory in the Scottish elections last Thursday, every other party leader has now announced their resignation. First off was the doomed Iain Gray of the Labour Party, followed by the Lib Dems' Scottish leader and today, the announcement by the Conservative leader in Scotland, Annabel Goldie, that she is standing down too. Salmond's managed a clean sweep.
As far as the Scottish results go, Labour ended up the most disappointed party. Once all powerful in Scotland, they have finally had to face up to their frailty in the face of well organised, fresh and determined opposition. The Lib Dems probably expected a pasting and weren't disappointed. As for the Tories, although Ms. Goldie says she was relatively happy with the Thursday vote, despite losing two MSPs, that happiness can only be from a base of what are consistently low expectations for the Tory performance in Scotland. The Scots' vote for the SNP certainly indicated a determination to be clear of English associations, but not necessarily to move towards greater independence. The Conservatives have, since the days of Margaret Thatcher, been toxic north of the border and a succession of Tory leaders in Scotland have failed to turn around the fortunes of a decidedly minority party when it comes to Scottish affairs. As with the Labour Party, ambitious Tories prefer to make their way at Westminster rather than the provincial backwater of Holyrood, but this tends to leave the main parties - especially one as small as the Conservatives - with a dearth of talent. It isn't just talented leadership that's missing, though. The Conservatives have yet to find a way of exorcising the Thatcherite demon that causes it so much pain in the north. Since the Scots can't all be genuine left-wingers - can they? - there must be room for a distinctively Scottish right-of-centre party, and if the Conservatives aren't careful, they may find one emerging that isn't them. Perhaps, indeed, the best thing they can do is to dissolve themselves and reform under a wholly different banner - a bit like the old Academy Schools used to do. Or will the Scottish electorate see through such a ruse?!