Who is the most principled political party leader in the Scottish Independence campaign?

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September 12, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith

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As the leaders of all the UK’s major political parties gathered in Scotland to try and persuade the Scots not to break up the union, I wonder how much of the electorate spotted which of them is the only one who wants the UK to stay together for principled reasons, rather than for their own political gain. For there is someone in amongst the party leaders campaigning for a “No” vote who stands to lose out compared to a “Yes” vote. Can you guess who it is?

It’s not Ed Miliband. If it is a “Yes”, he will lose the 41 seats that Labour a relying on to win the next election. It is quite possible that there won’t even be a vote in Scotland on the 7th May 2015 so that money isn’t wasted electing MPs for the year or so before Independence Day. Or the election could be delayed. Or maybe MPs WILL be elected in a Scotland and then will be lost when independence is settled, leading to another election, in which the loss of those Scottish seats will most probably see the Conservatives win easily, and with a majority. No, Ed Miliband may genuinely want to keep the Union, but he stands to gain politically if it happens.

It’s not Nick Clegg either. He will be desperate for any seat the Lib Dems can win next year, what with his personal unpopularity and the loss of trust in the Lib Dems as a result of them being in coalition. So the 11 seats that the Lib Dems won in 2010 will be extremely valuable to Clegg, and like Miliband he won’t want to lose them due to independence as it could mean the difference between coalition again and electoral wipeout. So, again, Nick Clegg might genuinely want to keep the union. But he gains politically from it staying together.

Just a quick diversion from the “No” campaign and into the “Yes” campaign. Think about what Alex Salmond and his SNP colleagues gain from independence. They can become President or Prime Minister of their own country, with all the pomp and ceremony that will entail. They can set up embassies around the world, they can create a central bank. In fact, Alex a Salmond will be able to claim that he is the ultimate job creator, given the sheer size of the bureaucracy he will create, with new, duplicate jobs for everything that we do in Whitehall, not forgetting the border guards who will be needed on Hadrian’s wall. However much he believes in independence being the right thing for Scotland, don’t forget how much a politician like Alex Salmond stands to personally gain from what he is campaigning for.

So, we are left with David Cameron, and the Conservative Party, and like every good judo champion, I shall use one of the “Yes” campaign’s main moves on them. There is one Conservative MP in Scotland, but Scotland is subject to a Conservative policies. True. But surely then David Cameron’s Conservatives stands to gain massively from a “Yes” vote. With Labour’s 41 seats gone and the Lib Dems’ 11 seats as well, a “Yes” vote could usher in a generation at least of Conservative rule in the rest of the UK. Yet there they are, campaigning for the opposite to happen. Which is what makes David Cameron’s Conservatives the most principled and least self-interested of all the political parties in this independence campaign. Surely that means something?

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3 thoughts on “Who is the most principled political party leader in the Scottish Independence campaign?

  1. Peter W says:

    I think you have overllooked one key component in your analysis. The Conservatives have always had a “unionist” objective. This has typically been more in reference to Northern Ireland, but there is a strong core of “one nation” Conservatives, since Disraeli. The historic implications of a split will break the “one nations” tradition of the Conservatives.

    Historically, too, Labour has had strong Scottish roots from Keir Hardie onwards.Lanarkshire played a key part in the evolution of the Labour movement and the Labour Party.

    I am sure there are political calculations being made daily, by politicians trying to prevent a Yes result.

    However, historically all three parties have roots in Scotland and a break up will have implications for all of them, which shouldn’t be ignored. Better the devil you know …

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  2. So the millionaire aristocrat old Etonian Tory is the ‘most principled’?!? – yes Paul – I’ve never seen such selflessness! Because of course Prime Ministers are totally uninterested in how they will be presented in the History books. I’m sure that little lord Cameron is really very philosophical about the possibility of being the Conservative and Unionist Party Leader who was in charge when the ‘United Kingdom’ began to disintegrate.

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    • You’re probably right about Cameron, but the Tories stand to gain more than any other party other than the SNP from a Yes vote, but are campaigning for a No vote. They are thus the only party campaigning for a vote that isn’t in their short term political interests

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