The 'politics of metropolitan power', Local Government and the 'politics of support' in Scotland, 1979-1997
This thesis analyses the Conservative Party's electoral demise in Scotland from 1979 to 1997. This subject has already been extensively explored elsewhere. However, whilst acknowledging the validity and importance of what might be described as the canon of traditional reasons given for the Party's problems north of the border, this thesis identifies and explains the importance of a previously undervalued dynamic in the Scottish party political process. The central argument of this thesis is that the role of local party politics in Scotland has a significant impact on General Elections. The hypothesis under consideration is whether the Conservative Party found it particularly difficult to recover in General Elections subsequent to notable losses in levels of Local Government representation north of the border. Thus, the more qualitative aspects ofthis thesis establish why this might have been the case. This extra aspect of the party political system in Scotland is developed through a series of studies that analyse primary and secondary sources and the results of an elite and Local Councillor interview programme. These studies assess what Conservative Governments in London were hoping to achieve with their policies, how Local Government in Scotland reacted and what effect these dynamics had on the electorate north of the border. After a case study on Stirling that examines how the matters in hand impacted upon a specific community, the Conclusion is then informed by a study of General and Local Government Election results from across the whole of the UK from 1979-1991. This thesis is not a comparative study of Local Government in Scotland and England. However, as the results in Chapter 1 demonstrate, the Conservatives did seem to find it much more difficult to recover from Local Government representation losses in subsequent General Elections north of the border. This suggests that the variable under consideration is a significant addition to the canon of reasons for their electoral demise in Scotland.