Thursday, 23 February 2012

Behind the Speakers chair.

Forget the ritual shouting at Prime Ministers Question time. When it comes to the vex question of Scottish independence there will be a great deal of talking between the two combatants behind the Speakers Chair. Indeed if recent speeches are anything to go by, the talking has already begun.

Cameron in his recent speech in Scotland said “There are the practical reasons for the Union to stay together.  The United Kingdom helps to make Scotland – and all of us – stronger, safer, richer and fairer.”

Milliband “economically we are stronger together.” 

So the line is emerging from both sides of the political divide that “we’re all stronger together.”
An unusual degree of unity between Labour and Conservative. All members of the two largest UK parties singing from the same hymn sheet. Hmm, are they?
For sure David Cameron doesn’t want to see the Union break up on his watch. After all the official title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist party. 
But there is another view gaining momentum within the Tory party, the party should forget the Unionist bit. Let the Scots leave if they want to. The departure would offer real advantages so some Conservatives reckon. 
So with Cameron girding his loins like some mediaeval monarch for the war of the Union, he may find his own troops talking insurrection and unwilling to become foot-soldiers under his Unionist banner. There is a growing feeling that getting rid of the Scots and down the line the Welsh might not be such a bad thing.
The Conservatives Party is a toxic brand north of the border. There ain’t any gain politically for the Tories in keeping the Scots in the Union.  Lets face it, backbenchers are not very interested in high principles, low politics is their game.
So in the fight with the wily Salmond, Cameron will have to look elsewhere for support. 

Enter stage left, the Leader of the Opposition. 
Now for Labour there is that  happiest of convergence, low politics and high principle. 
Why? Well, should young Ed ever hope to become prime minister he really needs the Scots in the game. Well Scottish Labour Members of Parliament to be precise.
OK, Labour have had majorities in England alone, but not often. No, on many an occasion its the Scots and the Welsh that have given Labour that comfortable majority so that they get their programme through the Commons with ease.
Take the current party breakdown of Scottish representatives in Westminster, 41 Labour, 11 Liberal Democrats, 6 SNP and only 1 isolated Conservative. 

You can see why Mr Milliband might want to stop Alex Salmond’s ambitions. For his party to lose 41 backers at a stroke would make it even less likely that the keys to Number Ten will be handed to him. 
So Cameron and Milliband will enter into a marriage of convenience to campaign for the Union. But they’ll have to show more animal cunning than they’ve showed to date if their partnership is to succeed. 

If the objective is to keep the northern celts on board real constitutional change is required. Yes, real Home rule in a Federal stage is the only long term answer for both Edinburgh and dare it be said, Cardiff too. 


  1. "Yes, real Home rule in a Federal stage is the only long term answer for both Edinburgh and dare it be said, Cardiff too."

    The implications of that is far too high a price for even Cameron to pay for preservation of the Union. It would destroy everything the Tories stand for and everything they benefit from.

    I suspect it'll be a case of trying to call Salmond's bluff and crossing the fingers.

  2. Interesting piece, as always. But you forget that politicians rely upon voters for their own seats, governance notwithstanding.

    The Labour party may well be alarmed by the thought of an independent England. But if this is what the English electorate want then so be it. Ed Milliband realised this quite some months ago. David Cameron has always known it.

    As for the 'Celtic' wish for constitutional change, isn't this just the latest in a very long line of wants. The only difference this time is that such a wish and more will most certainly be granted.