February 24th 2012
David Cameron is in Scotland today. His spinners are keen to say that he’s not so much making the case against independence but, instead, the case for the continuation of the United Kingdom.
He previews his speech in an article for today’s Scotsman. The PM emphasises four big benefits for Scotland if it stays part of the UK:
Alex Massie has written a thoughtful analysis of Mr Cameron’s arguments at The Spectator, which I recommend.
I forget who wrote it but Cameron’s role is essentially the one of bad cop. He and Coalition ministers need to play hardball so that the terms and timing of the independence referendum are not dictated by the SNP. The campaign itself must then be fought by politicians who are popular in Scotland – Alistair Darling, Annabel Goldie and Charles Kennedy have been proposed by David Torrance.
Finally, however, let me mention an additional role for Cameron. If Scots feel the English are unhappy with the Union and unhappy with the constitutional settlement this could be a factor that could tip the referendum result towards independence. Who wants to be part of a Union with someone who doesn’t like you much? English and Welsh resentment at unfairnesses such as the Barnett formula and the way that Scottish MPs can vote on issues that only affect the English (but not the other way round) is currently far from boiling point. That might change, however, as the whole question of the future of the UK draws closer. One can easily imagine newspapers and politicians talking about ungrateful Scots and fleeced English regions. Cameron should nip this in the bud now by reviewing the Barnett formula and moving towards English votes for English laws. I fear he won’t.
Originally published by Conservative Home