The Orange Vote

 Jason is an editor of Tory Hoose. He read Divinity at The University of Edinburgh and is a former member of MSP and Conservative Association staff. He currently works in Local Government and is reading a Masters degree. Jason stood in the Coatbridge and Chryston seat near his home area in Glasgow in the 2011 Holyrood election and stood in the Craigentinny/Duddingston Ward in the 2012 Local Government elections in Edinburgh. He is currently the Chairman of Edinburgh South West Conservative & Unionist Association. Read more from this author

Today being the 322nd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne brings one to think of the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland and its relationship with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

It can be said that Orangemen and woman have contributed to Conservative and Unionist successes in the past – for example it could be argued that when seven out of fifteen seats were won in Glasgow in 1955, this was certainly down to the influence of the Order. Subsequently, with both the Order being marginalised in wider society (as well as the Party) it does not hold the position and influence it once had. Indeed when the Order recently expressed that it is ‘dismayed by the dismal failure of our national church, the Church of Scotland, to exert influential leadership in matters of faith and morality’ – a sentiment that a large number of bodies would agree with – the Church of Scotland merely dismissed the Order as being ‘out of date and out of touch’ without acknowledging the severe issues the Church faces or any credibility that the Order may hold. The concern here for the Conservatives is that for many in the Order, Labour has become the Unionist party of choice as it has more power in terms of votes cast to attempt to keep the SNP out and I dare say that the Anglo-Irish agreement still leaves another bitter taste from the 1980’s

It is true that many members and sympathisers of the Order still continue to support the Party, but should we do more to reach out? The Orange Order claims that it stands for ‘civil and religious freedom’ and for the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and I believe that this echoes core Conservative beliefs too.  Given that Orangemen and women are members of a mainstream organisation and are found in a variety of churches in our country, perhaps this is another area where the Party can try and re-engage its ever declining core vote.

  • Paul Cochrane

    1st Glasgow Labour, now Edinburgh Tories? Have you no shame? “The Orange Order claims that it stands for ‘civil and religious freedom” is a statement that does not bear serious scrutiny.

  • Dan Phillips

    Given their line on the Church of Scotland, that it has failed ‘to exert influential leadership in matters of faith and morality’ is a not particularly veiled reference to the status of homosexuals in the church and to gay marriage I wonder what the price of such wooing would be?

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  • Charles Patrick O’Brien

    I have been thinking and dagerous as it is I will persist.I have been
    thinking about the British thing and how some of our southern neighbours
    have this claim that we Scots don’t embrace being British,may I say the
    English establishment only start this British thing when they want to
    use the other people of this island,as there are so many cases when its
    always England never Britain until a Scot is winning or a Welsh person
    has won,it came to me that it is done in so many “little” ways.Even
    using the comedy programs like “Dad’s Army” the intro had England
    emblazoned across the south coast,yes that is part of England but were
    was the rest of Britain then?I have noticed this on numerous occasions
    and my wife always says ach “its only” whatever and not important,but as
    I continued thinking .Its like have just one little brick.its only one
    but when you get a thousand you get enough to build a wall,and that is
    what has been done all these little bricks have built the wall to

  • paul graham

    Have to agree with the sentiments of Paul Cochrane and Dan Phillips. The Orange Order has a shamefully out-of-date attitude to equality and cultural freedom. The only “civil and religious freedom” they are interested in is their own. When it comes to Catholics, Muslims, Roma Gypsies, Homosexuals, or anyone who doesn’t conform to their ideals, their attitude is one of intimidation and contempt. Members of their organisation have been involved in hate crimes, terrorism, sectarian rioting and even murder. Is the conservative party really planning on marketing themselves as akin to these prehistoric dinosaurs?

  • redcliffe62

    Most religions have little respect for those who have other beliefs. Only their religion can be right.
    That is why multiculturalism is a tough gig.
    How can you respect something which you think is inherently wrong?
    The riots in Belfast and the pervading dark shadow cast over Scotland from those who identify with such matters really disappoints me.
    When I worked in Glasgow people asked if I supported Celtic or Rangers, i.e. what my religion was, a question I was never asked as an opening salvo anywhere else.
    This is endemic, and all parties need to stop seeing the Orange Order as a vote grabbing opportunity and more for what it is, a religious group who have little time for others.
    The fear to question some of the aspects in case it annoys those on the extremist periphery of the Order tells me this will carry on for a lot longer.
    I say that as someone of the same said religion, but without the bigoted views and historical baggage on my shoulders.
    A brave Tory party would say that they disagree with some aspects and it is time to move on in Scotland from the mad marching seasons that poison local communities.

  • JPJ2

    My abiding memory of the Orange Order and its dedication to religion is seeing Bellahouston Park in Glasgow after one of their “religious” meetings-it was a sea of empty beer cans.
    I advise all political parties to allow the influence of the Orange Order to fade away, rather than to allow it to poison society in Scotland

  • Bob Leslie

    If the Conservative Party truly wants to be identified with thugs and bullies, I can recommend no better course than that suggested by the woefully ill-informed Jason Lingiah. I speak as one brought up in religion as taught by the Church of Scotland and the bigotry exercised by the Orange Order “in defence of the faith” had no part in that upbringing. They’re not a sect, they’re a gang – and they and their “traditions” should have no part in modern society.

  • Hazel Lewry

    “Given that Orangemen and women are members of a mainstream organisation and are found in a variety of churches in our country, perhaps this is another area where the Party can try and re-engage its ever declining core vote.”
    For one thing, there is nothing “mainstream” about this declining organisation. Furthermore, if any of them do go to church on a regular basis, (I’ve known several members, so my doubts are well founded) that church will be protestant. Not a “variety” as you claim.
    Your party must be extremely desperate for supporters if this is the well down which you wish to fish.
    Carry on like this and you will alienate every right thinking person in the country.
    Scotland needs Conservatives… but – oh, dear me, this is desperation personified.
    What you need to show is dedication to Scotland. Not some political relic. True Scottish Conservatives, caring for the needs of the Scottish people and cutting the ties to Westminster will find their numbers increasing, without resorting to thuggery.

  • Henry Christian

    I cant believe you’re being serious here Jason. As things stand turkeys would flock to the polls to vote for Bernard Matthews if he was standing against a Scottish Tory and to change that you suggest cosying up to the bigots and bampots in the Orange Order?

    Do you really think that would help? It is certainly not the sort of organisation I would want to be associated with.

  • Howard Price

    Articles like this summarise why theTories are dead in Scotland.

    We need a few more.

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  • Tamas Marcuis

    Linking yourselves to the Orange Lodge probably the most derided organisation in Scotland !
    Are you insane?
    No knee jerk claim that I’m catholic – I’m Jewish.