The Scottish Conservatives, 1997–2001
From disaster to devolution and beyond
in The Conservatives in Crisis

William Hague's four years of leadership of the Conservative Party coincided with a revolution in the political opportunity structure of Scottish Conservatism. The Scotish Tories were wiped out at the 1997 general election, their worst electoral performance of all time and their lowest share of the vote since 1865. The party's constitutional position was heavily defeated at the devolution referendum of September 1997, so that Conservative opposition to a Scottish Parliament became an anachronism and devolution was set to become a reality. The party made no great strides in terms of electoral success, but settled into the Scottish Parliament and sought to carve an opposition role for itself in the new devolved Scotland. The 1999 Scottish election was a unique and ironic experience for Scottish Conservatives. Despite an uncompromising Unionist stance at the 1997 election, Scottish Conservatives demonstrated a more pragmatic and cautious face in dealing with constitutional issues.

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The Conservatives in Crisis

The Tories after 1997

Editors: Mark Garnett and Philip Lynch

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