Is the Unionist argument finally maturing?
David Cameron declared today that:
“Of course it is possible that Scotland can stand alone – that is true”
Could this be the beginning of the end of the Unionist scare stories about Scottish independence?
Have the Unionists begun to realise that their constantly negative ‘can’t don’t’ attitude is a turn off to Scottish voters?
If so, nationalists may for once have a real fight on their hands.
It seems that the Conservative leader has realised the correct argument for the Unionists to take:
“I don’t think we’d ever succeed in saving the Union by frightening Scots to say you couldn’t possibly make it on your own.”
In other words, ditch the negative agenda and promote a positive one.
Of course many parties in Scotland support independence:- the Greens, the SSP, Solidarity and of course the SNP. There is also an independent MSP – Margo Macdonald – that supports independence.
Such is the size of the SNP, they are the main drivers for Scottish independence. They are the dominant party of Scotland:- in Government at Holyrood, on the rise in Westminster, and have the largest number of councillors compared to any other party. They have a clear voice to the Scottish public.
The Conservatives though have currently 17 MSPs in Holyrood and 1 Scottish constituency MP in Westminster. They don’t have a great platform in Scotland.
So can they persuade the other Unionist parties – Labour and the Liberal Democrats – to follow their positive agenda?
I doubt it.
Labour are so far stuck in a negative agenda that their MPs and MSPs should be kept in a darkroom! Witness Jim Murphy’s Arc of Insolvency slur towards Iceland, for example.
And the Liberal Democrats with their federalist ambitions are hardly the best bedfellows for the Conservatives.
The three have just about managed to keep the Calman Commission afloat, all paddling in different directions! Without Kenneth Calman at the helm it would have perished on the rocks a long time ago. And even the Calman Commission is looking into more powers for the Scottish Parliament, so its more of a soft nationalist approach in any case.
So if the Conservatives alone argue for a positive case for the Union, their voice will just confuse with Labour’s negative case for independence and the Liberal Democrats case for federalism.
In short, the voters will switch off to the Unionist message.
Leaving the clear SNP positive message to take centre stage.
I have previously argued that unless the Unionists argue with a coherent message, then it would always lack ‘stickiness’. Something that the independence message doesn’t lack.
‘Stickiness’ is the vital quality before achieving the political Tipping Point; the backing for Scottish independence amongst the voters. And if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book you’ll realise that the Tipping Point is usually well before a majority; its just an equilibrium point – after which the product or message reaches everyone.
The course is clear for Unionists. To save the Union both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have to follow the Conservative’s lead.
And have a grown-up debate on the matter.