David Cameron's unConservative fight for the union
The PM is currently speaking to the Man of the Moment (or 2010s so far), Alex Salmond in Edinburgh. His preceding speech (read it here) provided a decent rallying call for those in England and Wales who believe Scottish independence is a very bad idea. “Our union isn’t some antique imposition. It’s living, free and adaptable,” said the PM, although he also cited the historical contributions made by Scots to the health, wealth and safety of Great Britain. In the following Q&A Cameron said he would be happy to work with Labour figures such as Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. He’s also happy to admit that the Conservatives don’t exactly enjoy the best brand reputation north of Berwick.
So we could be for an unusual team forming to maintain the union. An image of Brown and Cameron campaigning together boggles the mind. But the fight to see off the SNP will see the prime minister maintain a coalition which may not feature his own party too prominently.
Unionist Conservative MPs exist still, but the hunt for them among the ranks of the current Parliamentary Party takes much longer than it used to. And it’s even harder to find them among the 2010 intake. From conversations with a range of Tory MPs, I’m finding plenty who will describe themselves as undecided, but who are not upset by the idea of an independent Scotland. One experienced hand said to me that: “the party will fall behind the PM but more out of loyalty than any enthusiasm for unionism.” Much will be written about the disappearance of unionism as part of the Conservative psyche. As in other areas, this Conservative PM may fight to keep Scotland, England and Wales together, but without his own party backing him with its full energy. What a curious time for politics.