Alex Massie

Is David Cameron going to be the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?

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Could David Cameron be the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? Clearly we're getting ahead of ourselves here, but... Some regular commenters will hope so since this would, depending upon your political preferences, either be the long-awaited national awakening or an opportunity to put the uppity Jocks in thier place and see how many bannocks that butters.

I'm indebted to Joan McAlpine for alerting me to Jackie Ashley's column making exactly this case. Not making it persuasively but making it nevertheless. Now, granted, Ashley's piece appears to be a curious mash-up of SNP and Labour talking points designed to suggest that the only patriotic vote is a Labour vote but that actually gives her article some value.

Regular readers will know that I think David Cameron should meet Alex Salmond half-way. There should be a referendum on independence and it should happen soon and be a simple Yea or Nay question. There's a perfectly respectable case for independence and an equally respectable, and patriotic, case for maintaining the Union.

Sentient people appreciate this. Sadly, though hardly surprisingly, such people seem to be in short supply in the Scottish Labour party. How else to explain Jim Murphy's proclamation that "Labour's campaign - Vote SNP, Get Tory - will put this issue centre stage between now and the General Election."? There are many things that could be said about this, but the first is that this is stupefyingly ignorant. As J Arthur Macnumpty points out there are actually only three seats in which this could be considered somewhat true.

Anyway, a referendum won't be the end of the world. If I were an SNP strategist I'd like the idea of a referendum a whole lot more than a referendum itself. The notion that, as Ashley argues, a euro-sceptic Tory party that's also squeezing budgets north of the border, is enough to be a game and constitution-changing breaker seems mildly far-fetched to me. At the moment there is no majority for independence and I rather doubt that Cameron* is sufficiently horrid as to change that calculation.

We resisted several offers of Union - some of them peaceful! - for some time. I think that we're also likely to resist the offer of independence. But for as long as Fat Eck is the only one calling for the people to be given their say he has a decent, even reasonable, case.

Again, as long-time readers know I'm pretty agnostic on the independence question. There's an intellectual case to be made for it for sure, but there's also a sentimental case to be made for the Union. And, for sure, vice versa. It's possible that these positions have switched positions in the time since our faithers were young laddies.

But, yes, Cameron should support a referendum. What, apart from the country, does he have to lose?

*Caermon's Unionism is instinctive, I think, because he's also the kind of Englishman who probably considers himself British, not English. After all, his father was born in Huntly. Cameron, as befits his name, is pretty Scottish too even if he, sensibly, never mentions this. So yes, Tartan Raj scorekeepers, Dave is, sort of, one of us too. Gotta problem with that?

PS: You should also read Joan's column on Iain Duncan Smith (born in Edinburgh! When will Olde England be free of these meddlesome Jocks?) and Easterhouse and Welfare Reform. I hope her conclusion is too pessimistic and suggest that you should think it is too.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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