Counting on failure: Polling Day and its aftermath

Alexander Thomas T. Smith

in Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719079696
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703052 | DOI:
Counting on failure: Polling Day and its aftermath

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This chapter describes some of the methods devised by the Conservative Party's local strategists in Scotland for assessing their ‘progress’ on Polling Day and at the election count that followed in order to ‘audit’ their campaign. Senior Tories drew on personal experiences of business and management in the running of their election campaign and then mimicked new organisational elites, such as the bureaucrats and civil servants tasked with running the elections locally, as they sought to audit their own campaigning practices. The various strategies employed by local Conservatives to ‘read’ what was happening around them produced some surprising – and potentially unsettling – results. This was partly because they were unable to predict the outcome of the elections in the light of all sorts of diverse factors, such as the weather. The methodological failure of senior Tory Party strategists to anticipate and effectively account for their electoral failure in turn reinforced their marginal status by rendering redundant their attempts to generate knowledge about themselves and a local political culture they deemed hostile to Conservatism.

Keywords: Scotland; Conservative Party; elections; Polling Day; election campaign; bureaucrats; civil servants; political culture; weather

Chapter.  11519 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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