Following their ‘wipe-out’ at the 1997 General Election, Scottish Conservatives
worked from the assumption that they had endured their own ‘crisis’ in
representation. The material consequences of this ‘crisis’ entailed losses of
!nancial and other resources, knowledge and political legitimacy. This article
describes how some Conservative activists addressed this ‘crisis’ in the period
leading to the 2003 local Government and Scottish Parliament elections. Their
efforts to render the secret ballot transparent in order to discern the voting
intentions of potential supporters both demonstrated and re!ected their efforts
to manage this crisis. Despite legal constraints, they constructed an imaginary of
thousands of local voters’ preferences through a variety of discursive
instruments, which allowed Party activists to disaggregate the electoral roll in
order to apprehend a new whole – the Conservative electoral base. This, in turn,
enabled a Conservative politics of self-knowledge, as a form of empowerment
for these activists.
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