David Cameron is Gordon Brown’s nightmare – we know this. But there’s worse. His visit yesterday shows a distinct lack of passion for the Union – and we know where that leads. Forget the cold showers – it’ll be an outburst of pragmatism.
The Union is in the Tory DNA – is it hell. DNA takes millions of years to evolve. History may link the Tories and the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland – pragmatically. Tory policy can and does change on the whim of a boy wonder. When Goldie smugly says that the ‘Conservatives and Unionists are pro-union – it’s in the name’, she betrays her ignorance of the roots of her own ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’. The Liberal Unionists who broke away over Irish Home Rule in 1886 in reaction to Gladstone’s conversion to the Irish cause, later merged with the Conservatives. Goldie generalises from the specifics of the Irish question to include the Scottish question. It may work for her but Scotland is not Ireland. And, if she does want to bring Ireland into it, maybe their success as an independent state with far more influence in international forums than Scotland ever achieves in it’s role as North Britain, might undermine her own ‘objective’ position.
Meanwhile, the underlying electoral logic remains overwhelming. If the Tories ‘respect’ the ‘yes’ vote of Scots in a referendum for Indpenedence, as Cameron proposes, they will conveniently dispose of 40 Scottish Labour MPs for the cost of one Tory – and look at the quality/threat of some of those MPs – Handy! You also get to resolve the West Lothian question and you get to laugh as Gordon has to choose to further his commitment to ‘serve’ in the Scottish Parliament or find a seat in England (oh the humiliation!) so he can still play with the big boys.
For now, being your voice in the Scottish Parliament is perfect. Keep your head down and let the Nats and Labour trash each other – it’s a win/win game. The time for grand magmanamous gestures will come soon enough, in the meantime, just sit back and keep on the pragmatic espousal of domestic policy, keep on eating the bread and butter pudding.