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Rising Tory, Hidden Danger: David Cameron is Doing Too Much Too Well

7 May 2014

The British economy is growing. Not before time you might say. Be that as it may, there is a breath of summer in the air after a long winter. The quickening recovery has the Tories in jauntier spirits than for some time. The polls are closing. The Conservatives are within the margin of error and though the odds may remain it is no longer utterly fanciful to think they might remain the largest party at Westminster next year. What ho and what larks, good news is all around.

Except in the north. Always the contrary north. A chill wind blows from North Britain and the message it bears should warn David Cameron he’s being used by his enemies.

Scottish nationalists endlessly carp that Unionists are obsessed with Alex Salmond. A vote for independence is not, per se, a vote for Mr Salmond. Being immune to his charms need not dampen your enthusiasm for independence. September’s referendum is not about personalities, you see.

Except when it is. Mr Cameron is Mr Salmond’s unwitting – indeed unwilling, too – accomplice. A tool to be used by the nationalists to remind voters that the referendum is a choice between independence and more, long, bleak years of Tory rule. Cameron or freedom?

The more it looks as though the Tories might win in 2015 the happier the nationalists are. Vote No and Get Dave, they say. According to Joan McAlpine, if Scotland votes No it is certain – not possible but certain! – the Conservatives will be returned to power in 2015. And lord knows what whirlwinds of spite and revenge will be unleashed on Scotland then. A new era of Rough Wooing, that’s for sure.

Now McAlpine’s weekly epistle in the Daily Record is nothing more than propaganda, of course. Being so, it is interesting less for the claims it makes than for what it reveals about the mindset that spawns these claims.

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As she puts it:

[I]f the worse happened and we inexplicably bottled it and voted No, who will be most triumphant?

There is absolutely no doubt David Cameron would be crowing. A very posh crow, admittedly, maybe more of a strutting peacock.

He would be the Prime Minister who saved Blighty and, my goodness, would he milk it.

The UK General Election would be in the bag for the Conservatives. They wouldn’t even need the Lib Dems to prop them up and they’d have seen off Ukip as the party of true Brits.

It would be one in the eye for all those Labour politicians who soiled their hands campaigning with the Tories for a No vote.

They will be sidelined in the land of hope and glory-ism that the Tories will orchestrate if the worst happens.

You may object that no evidence is produced to support the claim that a Unionist victory in 2014 will somehow guarantee Cameron a victory in 2015 but if you do you will be missing the point. The assertion, if repeated often and loudly enough, matters more than the fact it’s based on nothing more than a hunch or a fear.

It is, of course, possible that Cameron could leverage a successful defence of the Union and use it to assist his party’s fortunes next May but there is a great gulf separating could from will. It is all utterly unknowable.

Nevertheless we will hear much more of this. The more Tory prospects improve in England (and Wales) so the prospect of a Tory government in Westminster will be used to send Scots scurrying for the comforts of independence. It’s all part of the positive case for independence, don’t you know?

Fair enough. All’s fair in love, war and politics.

Since the referendum struggle is, at least in part, a battle to enlist disenchanted left-leaning voters in west and central Scotland you can see why the nationalists are cheering Cameron on (though pretending to be appalled, natch). Hope, you see, can only spring from hopelessness and the prospect of a Tory win in 2015 can be used as a kind of cattle prod to shock voters into voting Yes in 2014.

It might just work, as well. Which leaves one to wonder, hypothetically, what Cameron would do if presented with this choice: win in 2014 or win in 2015? That is, would he consider a Labour victory in 2015 a price worth paying for a Unionist victory this September?

As I say, that’s not a question he can reasonably be expected to answer but it’s one to which it would still be interesting to know the answer. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

It’s true that the Nats would spin these lines even if the Tories were 15 points behind Labour on September 18th but nevertheless a Tory recovery in the UK polls is not entirely good news. Every piece of silver has its cloud, if you will, and a stronger Tory party this summer complicates the job, even if only at the margin, in Scotland this September.

In this respect, if only this, Dave may be doing too well, too soon.


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Show comments
  • Sholto Douglas

    Why do you want to keep Scotland? It has become England’s Sicily, not only a drain on the English taxpayer, but a rock solid Labour heartland.
    They want a more ‘caring’ (read socialist) state. Well it’s the easiest thing in the world to be a socialist when someone else is paying. Independence will rid England of this burden, and give the Scots a lesson in reality. May be a bit presumptuous of me as I live in Australia now, but I would sooner live in a prosperous England than a Britain always at risk of a return to socialism and the poverty and decay that entails. Next stop Wales.

    • Wessex Man

      I and many many more English don’t want to ‘keep’ Scotland, it’s not a possession, it’s a full blown country, I merely want my full blown country to have it’s own parliament rather than be the only Country in the world that doesn’t!

    • Denis_Cooper

      Except that your premise that England is subsidising Scotland is incorrect.

  • Tina Forde

    Alex, do you like your job? Or do you despair when you read BTL.

  • asalord

    Please please please England: vote for Nigel this month and vote for Dave in 2015!
    It just gets better and better.

    • Hello

      Scotland isn’t going to vote for independence. In the meantime, though, it is doing a bit of navel gazing by accident, it’s slowly realising that it’s dislike of the Tories is irrational, a tool for manipulation. Something the SNP are keen to highlight, because they’re tactically minded. But Scotland knows that the Tories are like the SNP, they’re just politicians. And when you chaps lose the referendum, Scotland will move on. The Tories will poll above 30% in Scotland again.

      • ChuckieStane

        At last someone who believes Richard Keen…or are you Richard Keen?

  • Wessex Man

    Is there no end to your fantasies, what boom? go and ask people in the streets and shops if they think there’sa boom and they’ll laugh you! Have you got a new contract here at The Spectator that states you have to spill this nonsense night and day, what does Mrs Massie think of you up all night every night toiling away at your Tory propaganda?

  • flippit

    Conservatives will win in 2015 because Miliband’s moving further to the left and just touching on bonkersdom and we will all worry about the economy taking a dive again with Labour. The Scots seem to want to move more and more to the left,so there needs to be a yes vote in September to get it over with and we all move on. Politically we are in irreconcilable positions North and South, we’re going to have to acknowledge that sooner or later. Cameron definitely doesn’t need to go, if Scots vote yes, in fact it probably won’t do him any harm.

    • allymax bruce

      Scotland will vote ‘Yes’ in 2014, and David Cameron’s Conservatives will win the 2015 General Election; this is the scenario that ‘must’ happen, for The City to ‘realsie’ its own future. rUK will revert to greater ‘Regional Assemblies’, where UKIP will destroy the Labour Party, and a functional ‘One-Nation’ rUK with Conservative values will reign for the near future.
      Take my word for it, when Scotland votes ‘Yes’ in a few months, David Cameron’s Conservative Party are a certainty to win the 2015 G.E.; The City will make sure Prime Minister David Cameron will have the safest job in politics.

  • Frank

    Dave doing too well? Ha ha ha.
    Also, why would Dave suddenly be a shoe-in in 2015 “if he saves the union”. Does anyone in England care?

  • George O’McEnglish

    ‘doing too much too well’…..perhaps the sane thing to do would be to vote for him…?

  • CraigStrachan

    But won’t the Scots also notice the hard-won economic recovery, and want it to continue? A No is a vote for stability and continued recovery. A Yes is a vote for economic dislocation.

    • flippit

      Anything good and SNP gets the credit, anything bad and Westminster gets the blame.

    • asalord

      Hilarious. Nice one, Craig.

      • Wessex Man

        Did you really make him laugh Craig?

        • CraigStrachan

          A nervous laugh, perhaps.

  • Jonathan Burns

    The general election isn’t until 2015 after the 2014 referendum. The Tories are likely to get a stuffing in the European Elections only 4 months before the referendum.
    Likewise during Thatcher’s time the Tories came second to Labour in all her general elections but ahead of the SNP.

  • Jonathan Burns

    Vote UKip to keep Cameron out and Scotland part of the UK.

    • Wessex Man

      Vote Ukip to save England!

      • asalord

        England votes ukip – Scotland votes for independence.

        • Wessex Man

          and goodbye goodbye and fare thee well, as England will.

      • Wyrdtimes

        UKIP as silent on England as the LibLabCon

  • Denis_Cooper

    You’ve forgotten to factor in your usual conventional wisdom that the rise in support for UKIP will make it more difficult for the Tories to win in 2015; on which basis those Tories who wish to save the Union should vote UKIP not Tory …

    Vote UKIP and save the UK.

    • flippit

      I don’t believe many of us will vote for a single issue party at the general election, there’s too much at stake. Farage’s charm, which is considerable, will be beginning to wear off by then.

      • Wessex Man

        It’s not single issue no matter how many times you carp on that it is.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I shall vote for Nigel at the General Election. The Tories will have to change at the top and they are not going to do that.

      • Denis_Cooper

        What is at stake is whether we have the right to both possess and govern our own country, a right which UKIP upholds but all of the three old parties deny.

      • John Ruddy

        It doesnt need to be many of us. There were 20 labour held seats in 2010 where the margin over the tories was less than the UKIP vote. I expect that number to increase in 2015.

      • timinsingapore

        Farage? Charm? I think the world must be going mad. He and Salmond are about on a par when it comes to extreme charmlessness. On a ‘how irritating?’ scale of 1-10, they’re both somewhere around 11. They’re both the kind of people whom I imagine shouting in a purple-faced fury out the window of their Jaguar because you haven’t given way in a narrow country lane …
        (I wonder if Milliband can drive?)

  • Reconstruct

    So presumably the corollary is: ‘We might stay, but only if Britain has a Labour government’.

    Doesn’t play so well for the other 92% of the population, does it?

    • flippit


  • RavenRandom

    If the Scots go then the divisive 70s class war socialist (see Isabel’s story) Miliband is unlikely to ever be PM and economy destroying Labour will have to drift right if they ever want power again.
    But that’s short term. A benefit now for the destruction of the UK. Some Scots are thinking in a short term way now, “I don’t like the Conservatives” a short term gain against a profound change the loss of the UK.
    Humans are pretty short term, sweeties now, no teeth tomorrow. Debt now austerity tomorrow.

    • Kaine

      Actually a ‘Yes’ vote would destroy Cameron’s leadership, as the leader of the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’ who oversaw the end of the Union. It is doubtful whether the Tories would recover from the infighting in the few months until the election, or that the party would be in any shape to fight a campaign.

      After that you get eternal hung parliaments, the party of the North, Wales and Cities against the party of the South & Shires, with enough spoilers to keep majorities small or at bay entirely. At which point PR becomes inevitable.

  • Bluesman_1

    Opinion on this is divided.

    In a Dundee pub on Saturday I did ask the question of the Most Scottish Person present. The answer was (I paraphrase and Bowdlerise), “what? vote for that fornicating Himmler – no chance.” I asked, did you not mean Himmler’s boss? “No, that fornicating vagina is not good enough to be the Furrier” (I think).

    On the other hand I did help an elderly relative to complete their postal vote – the second rate furrier.

    • asalord

      Ah’ll Albert Speer.

      • Bluesman_1

        Then Telemachus called out “Go Balls”.

  • you_kid

    If I was you I would close the comments on this one.

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