During work I fired some questions off to the Murdo campaign about how exactly his new party would work in relation to the national Conservative Party. To his credit - and my surprise - I received responses fast and (it appears, at least) from the man himself. For those interested I've put the questions and answers below.
Q: Would a Scottish MP be able to lead the whole group, including the sister party, and become Prime Minister?
A: I can confirm that under the new arrangements I will seek to put in place a Scottish MP from our new centre right party which will be a sister party of the UK Conservative Party and take the Conservative whip at Westminster will be able to lead that whole group and become Prime Minister. I often use the example of Alex Douglas-Home: he was elected as the Unionist MP for Kinross & West Perthshire but then became UK Conservative leader and Prime Minister. I would envisage us having similar arrangements to those that applied pre-1965 and comparative to those that exist between the German CDU and the Bavarian CSU where CSU members serve for example as Cabinet Ministers in the federal government.
Q: Would I be able to be a member of both the new party and the Conservative Party? I would love to remain involved with the Scottish Conservatives if they took on your new shape, but I am resident in England at present. The Conservatives allow membership of any party that does not compete against them in an election, would your new party do the same?
A: If I win the leadership contest and the special constitutional conference of the Scottish Conservatives decides to move towards setting up a new centre right party then I would be delighted if you wished to join it. The UK Conservative Party under these circumstances would cease to operate in Scotland and so the new party would not be competing against them in any elections here.
Q: Would you have the two parties cooperate in setting policy for reserved areas? How would that work? Obviously the party would set its own devolved policy, but reserved policy must surely be worked out by some body representing the national alliance of Conservative parties?
A: I would expect the new centre right party to co-operate closely with the UK on policy towards reserved matters in a similar way to how the Scottish party does now, via strengthened policy forums and through our elected representatives. I want to help David Cameron win a majority at Westminster in 2015 and this means Scotland needs to do more than return a single MP to support that government; I genuinely believe that the creation of new centre-right party, building on the current Scottish Conservative Party, gives us the best opportunity to increase our number of MPs at that election and therefore increase our ability to influence UK policy in Scotland’s interests.
Q: By what mechanism would a Scottish party MP become leader of the alliance? Would there be an allied conference of some kind where they were elected? Or would there be a separate position of 'allied leader' with the leaders of the UK and Scottish parties being put to a cross-party ballot of members?
A: Under the current arrangements for the election of a UK leader candidates must be nominated by any two MPs taking the Conservative whip and this would apply to any Scottish MP elected from our new centre right party. If more than two candidates stand, then MPs first hold a series of ballots to reduce the number to two. At this point an all-member ballot takes place and party members of the new centre right party would have a vote in this leadership ballot.
I hope these answers are helpful and thank you for your interest in the current leadership contest.