David Cameron and the Union

The Conservatives have only 1 Scottish MP. Their current electoral good fortune if projected to the next Westminster election may bring them a couple more in Scotland, but it is England where their real targets lie; and where it seems the current revival will push them forward to victory in that election.

What to do about Scotland then? For years it has sent down to Westminster a glut of Labour MPs propping up (or even giving) the Labour party victory in the Westminster election. Any Conservative election victory was in spite of their standing in Scotland not because of it. Although current polls suggest the Labour vote is now crumbling in Scotland, people are switching to the SNP not the Conservatives; making the 20 seat target at Westminster set by First Minster Alex Salmond now look pessimisticly prudent.

The Conservatives are a Unionist party. Yet David Cameron knows if he can get rid of Scotland, the Conservative chances of winning at every Westminster election will be markedly improved. If only he could look as though he is standing up for the union while simultaneously passing policies that lead to its breakup he could be in power at Westminster for a very very long time.

The first step in this process is English votes for English matters. This will sideline the Labour and Liberal MPs. SNP MPs routinely abstain in matters not affecting Scotland anyway as a point of principle. Cameron has already suggested this at the latest Scottish conference.

This will have 2 effects:-

1) To begin to quell any English resentment of Scotland. It will effectively end the griping over the West Lothian Question. Thus Cameron will claim that he is protecting the Union.

2) As all Scottish MPs will now be sidelined – remember that the Conservative party currently has 1 MP out of the 59 Scottish MPs – it means that it will be easier for Conservatives to pass their policies or vote against future Labour governments on English matters.

This answer to the West Lothian Question brings up various anomalies. For instance, it seems unlikely that a Scottish MP could ever again be Prime Minister of the UK. The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be banned from English votes in this setup. Could the Scots be happy to send MPs to Westminster knowing that they were denied the chance ever to be PM?

And once the Scots are excluded, what then of the Welsh or Northern Irish?

Tam Dalyell may very well be right that that devolution and the attempt to resolve the West Lothian Question will lead to the breakup of the Union.

David Cameron. The man who said he wanted to save the Union. The man who proposed policies to break the Union. The man who lessened Labour’s chances of victory in every subsequent General election. The man who could run England for a very, very long time.

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