David Cameron must be pretty pleased with himself. Having poked a stick into the Scottish independence hornet’s nest, he not only buried hapless Ed Miliband’s ‘relaunch’ (great timing), he sent a husk of hares running in all directions and the ‘sleekit’ Salmond into a right tizzy.
And almost without exception every commentator and politician has been focusing on the ‘what if’ scenario of an independent Scotland. From the ownership of ‘Scottish oil’ and ‘Scottish bank debt’ to fiscal powers and currency. The chatter has been deafening.
Up until last Monday, only about 30% of Scots favoured independence. Cameron’s ‘unwelcome, out-of- the-blue, ‘interference’ in Scottish affairs will have nudged a few into the independence camp. Enough to sway a vote? Maybe not, but it’s put the frighteners on. A break up of the Union is possible, more so than it was at the beginning of last week.
So what is David Cameron up to? He professes that he doesn’t want to see a break-up of the Union. That might be so. He says he wants a simple ‘yes’ / ‘no’ question on the independence referendum ballot paper. Should we believe him? Probably not.
David Cameron didn’t pull Scottish independence out of the hat as a diversionary tactic, it’s part of a well thought through strategy by the Conservative party. The outcome they want is for the Scots to accept ‘devo-max’, nearly independence, but not quite. It would satisfy most SNP supporters who realise that full independence is never really going to happen and placate those Scots who fear an end to the Union.
But the beauty of ‘devo-max’ for the Cameron and the Conservatives is that it would mean there would be no Scottish MPs in the House of Commons. No concern to the Conservatives as they only have one. (There may be Scottish ‘senators’ in a reformed House of Lords). But getting rid of 47 Labour / LibDem Scottish seats would be like winning the lottery for the Conservatives.
Everybody seems to have taken the Tory bait. Let’s hope suspicious minds prevail.