Book

Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Alexander Smith

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719079696
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703052 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079696.001.0001
Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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This book is an ethnographic study of devolution and politics in Scotland, as well as of party-political activism more generally. It explores how Conservative Party activists who had opposed devolution and the movement for a Scottish Parliament during the 1990s attempted to mobilise politically following their annihilation at the 1997 General Election. The book draws on fieldwork conducted in Dumfries and Galloway – a former stronghold for the Scottish Tories – to describe how senior Conservatives worked from the assumption that they had endured their own ‘crisis’ in representation. The material consequences of this crisis included losses of financial and other resources, legitimacy and local knowledge for the Scottish Conservatives. The book ethnographically describes the processes, practices and relationships that Tory Party activists sought to enact during the 2003 Scottish and local government elections. Its central argument is that, having asserted that the difficulties they faced constituted problems of knowledge, Conservative activists cast to the geographical and institutional margins of Scotland became ‘banal’ activists. Believing themselves to be lacking in the data and information necessary for successful mobilisation during Parliamentary elections, local Tory Party strategists attempted to address their knowledge ‘crisis’ by burying themselves in paperwork and petty bureaucracy. Such practices have often escaped scholarly attention because they appear everyday and mundane, and are therefore less noticeable. Bringing them into view analytically has important implications for socio-cultural anthropologists, sociologists and other scholars interested in ‘new’ ethnographic objects, including activism, bureaucracy, democracy, elections and modern knowledge practices.

Keywords: devolution; Scotland; politics; party-political activism; Conservative Party; Scottish Parliament; Tories; Conservatives; elections; bureaucracy

Book.  256 pages. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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Table of Contents

Banal activism in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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A Tory-free Scotland in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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Dispelling Doonhamers: naming and the numbers game in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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The politics of irrelevance in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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Counting on failure: Polling Day and its aftermath in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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Return of the lesser-spotted Tory in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

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