David Cameron is the SNP’s best weapon

Kevin McKenna, in today’s Observer:

Last week, Alex Salmond chose to voice what everyone else in Scotland knows instinctively: that David Cameron is the best weapon the pro-independence movement possesses. He could have gone further. For in any photograph where Cameron is joined by George Osborne and their Downing Street fag, Nick Clegg, the SNP tally men can notch up another, say, 5,000 votes in favour of separation. Indeed, faced with such a photograph of smug, ill-earned indolence and privilege, most of us would gladly take refuge in a political and cultural union with Uzbekistan.

21 thoughts on “David Cameron is the SNP’s best weapon

  1. Gary says:

    I don’t think you can accuse the SNP of flip-flopping on independence. Playing it down for electability, sure, but devolution was always a stepping stone to full independence from their point of view.

    We’re living in interesting times.

  2. Stephen says:

    Yeah, that’s what I meant! Downplaying etc. Honest. ;-)

    Interesting times yes, but I suppose Cameron is gambling on the fact that most Scots, if pushed, would say the time isn’t right yet, and so he’s going to push them now instead of waiting till they think the time is right.

  3. Gary says:

    Yeah. That’s why Cameron doesn’t want the Devo-max option in the referendum: odds are, that’s what the majority would vote for. But this could backfire: you can imagine it being spun as the tories/english trying to sabotage our referendum. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in recent years, it’s that you should never underestimate Alex Salmond.

    The conspiracy theory, btw, is that Cameron wants shot of us: without the Scots, Labour would be unelectable pretty much forever.

  4. Gary says:

    I honestly don’t have an opinion, but I do think the state of the opposition parties means you could replace Salmond with a small dog and the SNP would still get a majority. The others are hopeless.

  5. Stephen says:

    I can see the attraction of the conspiracy theory. But I’m not sure that Cameron (or indeed anybody) would blithely accept the breakup of the union on his watch, even for that.

  6. Squander Two says:

    I don’t understand why that’s a conspiracy theory. Why is it that the Conservatives are so devoutly wed to the one thing that’s done most to keep them out of power?

  7. Squander Two says:

    I don’t think Scotland will have a proper right wing — or a proper broad political culture — until after independence. As long as you have competition between different parties who get to spend money but don’t have to raise it, they’ll all campaign on the “And a pony!” platform. While the Union stands, Scotland is on the list of countries whose problems are explained by Dambisa Moyo. That’s no good.

  8. Gary says:

    The official line is that Cameron is devoted to the union with every fibre of his being. Although that might just be because he doesn’t want to be remembered as the PM who let the UK break up.

  9. Gary says:

    I’m not convinced the lack of a proper right wing is a bad thing, sir ;-)

    > they’ll all campaign on the “And a pony!” platform.

    Yeah. I think, too, that part of the problem is that the real power has remained in westminster, so until fairly recently the more gifted members of the scottish political class have headed south. I think Salmond’s a superb political operator, but it also helps that he’s operating in a field of pygmies. If that isn’t too generous a description of the SNP’s opposition.

    I don’t know what I think about independence. I’d like to think we might actually get some substance now, such as proper investigation of the SNP’s no doubt wildly exaggerated sums and the other side’s arguments that we’re all subsidy junkies who’ll end up homeless within thirty seconds of full independence. I doubt we’ll get that, but I am famous for my sunny optimism.

    Incidentally, I read a blog the other day suggesting that the forthcoming council elections will be a good predictor of the referendum result. If Glasgow council goes SNP in May, the blogger suggested, it’ll be new-passports time within a couple of years.

  10. Gary says:

    The more I read about independence, btw, the more I realise I know fuck-all about what it actually means in practical terms. Who’ll control the money? What happens to our armed forces? How much of the north sea money are we legally entitled to, and how much of it’s left anyway? If we’re independent, will we get our potholes fixed at long last? That kind of thing.

  11. Squander Two says:

    > I’m not convinced the lack of a proper right wing is a bad thing, sir

    Can’t find the direct quote from Tony Benn anywhere — surprising, as it’s something he comes out with all the time — but there’s a good paraphrase from Dan Hannan here:

    But it is worth reminding ourselves of Wedgie Benn’s key argument. The idea that all the politicians should get around the table and work together might sound warm and cuddly. It might elicit a moronic round of applause whenever some dolt suggests it on Any Questions. But such a doctrine has been the justification of every dictatorship in history. Governments desperately need oppositions to keep them on their toes.

    Every time two politicians agree with each other, that takes choice away from the electorate. When politicians from supposedly different parties work together, that is the corruption of democracy.

  12. Squander Two says:

    There is a strong argument that Scotland don’t get much of the oil under normally accepted international practice. Whether that’s the same as international law, I don’t know. International law is much misunderstood, anyway: it’s more like civil law than criminal, so who gets how much of the oil would be purely up to the negotiations between Scotland and the UK come secession.

    I don’t want to give the impression that I do nowt but read Dan Hannan, ’cause I don’t, but by sheer coincidence up he pops again in this thread. What he said was that, looking at the countries with big fat oil supplies, he could think of few worse fates for the Scottish people than that an independent Scotland get access to the North Sea oilfields. Far better to make your money out of ingenuity and enterprise and all that stuff, because you need freedom for that. Would you want to live under a government who have a guaranteed revenue stream no matter what they do to the economy? Oh, and we’re back to Dambisa Moyo again.

  13. mupwangle says:

    Is it not the case that international waters generally follow the line of your borders? The map that I saw a few years back shows the oilfields divided about 60/40 in Scotland’s favour. The majority of the money came in during the 80s and it’s been on the decline since.

    >>Who’ll control the money?

    The Scottish Government. Money will stop coming in from the UK government entirely. Currently Scotland gets about 10% of UK revenue despite population being about 8% and contribution to revenue is much lower, but infrastructure costs are higher due to the size and topology. Mind you, Wales should be proportionally even higher for the same reasons, but it isn’t. Biggest customer of Scottish exports is England.

    >>What happens to our armed forces?

    They are the UK armed forces. Scotland would need it’s own. Arguably the scottish regiments would become part of it and the navy have a lot of resources there, so might transfer. In any case, the infrastructure (bases, etc) is there are always people who like being shot at. (The added benefit is that they wouldn’t be stationed in NI or anywhere else the UK is currently fighting)

    >>If we’re independent, will we get our potholes fixed at long last?

    Isn’t that the councils responsibility? Again it depends on finance. If the council tax freeze is lifted then you get the potholes filled. MIbbe. But your council tax will go up. Your (and soon my) council tax is significantly higher than it is here.

  14. mupwangle says:

    I think by convention there is a split of assets (other than natural resources since you can’t move them) based on proportion of population. Don’t think there are any rules though.

  15. Gary says:

    > The map that I saw a few years back shows the oilfields divided about 60/40 in Scotland’s favour.

    I’m sure the SNP says we’re due 95%. Bit of a difference there :)

    > The Scottish Government.

    No, you misunderstand me. I meant the currency: do we join the Euro? Keep the pound and let the bank of england control it?

    > Isn’t that the councils responsibility?

    Yep. The freeze is a vote winner, but councils are cutting all kinds of stuff. Like road repairs.

  16. mupwangle says:

    >>Bit of a difference there :)

    It depends on who draws the line. :-) There’s one that goes East from Berwick. Another that goes NNE, another that goes NE from Berwick up to about level with Dundee then goes East. Undoubtably, since Scotland isn’t a sovereign nation so it isn’t defined, there are more. Some lines go through the oilfields and some don’t. Also all the oilfields don’t have the same reserves.

    >>do we join the Euro? Keep the pound and let the bank of england control it?

    Both are options. The last thing I heard the SNP say was that in the short term they would keep Stirling in some form (mibbe just a more formal version of what we’ve got now) and then look at it in the future. I doubt they’ll go for the Euro at the moment. They also want to keep the queen as titular head of state, so stamps will still have the queen’s head. As for the military – they might do what Ireland do (cheekily) and have a small armed forces and hope that NATO step in if they get attacked without actually joining NATO.

    I’m pretty uninformed about all this too (I bet you most people are) but I know that there are some pretty serious implication in this for the whole of the UK. Loads of people down here are of the opinion that Scotland should just fuck off if they want to (they know about the barnett formula and the west lothian question) but they’re not seeing the big picture. Things like – if Scotland get independence then there’s a very good chance that Trident goes and England don’t have anywhere to put it. How does the smaller UK fit in the EU and UN? Scotland don’t have automatic acceptance to the EU so both countries will have to pay for border controls. Like most things, the reality is pretty complicated and it’s going to be won or lost on soundbites.

  17. Hunnymonster says:

    >> Scotland don’t have automatic acceptance to the EU

    On the basis that it’s a “new” country? Nor would the rump UK have automatic entry – or alternatively both would be accepted as successor nations.

    As for the Euro – a newly independent Scotland could easily do what Sweden has done – adoption of the Euro is mandatory, but to enter the Euro you need first to enter the ERM – which is optional – the Swedish position is therefore “ok, then we won’t join the ERM thanks”

  18. Gary says:

    From the papers today, Westminster says we’re due 8% of the oil money; Salmond says it’s 90%.

    I do hope this doesn’t get too ugly. There’s enough anti-Scots sentiment down there and anti-English sentiment up here already.

  19. mupwangle says:

    Scotland is entitled to 8% of the UK’s current wealth (and debts), by convention due to population. If the official terratorial waters include any of the oilfields, however, it is entitled to all of it. Even by the most england friendly maps, it’s less than half.

    I’ve been asked about a dozen times about it this week. It’s starting to get annoying.

    I think both here and in Scotland there are 4 camps. The smallest is the group of people who truly understand all of the issues. Most of these people are polticians, economists or academics. There are the Scots who are all “FREEEDOMM!” and worshipping Mel Gibson and the English who genuinely believe that Scotland does not contribute whatsoever to the UK economy and should just fuck off. That leaves the rest of us who know that it’s a really complicated issue that most of us don’t understand and, even if we did, we couldn’t predict exactly how it’s likely to pan out either way. Unfortunately, much like the referendum on “Alternative Vote”, so much propaganda from both sides will be chucked about that the amount of understanding will actually decrease.

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