Coffee House

Cameron and Salmond: We shall not be moved

5 September 2014

In the past two days, both David Cameron and Alex Salmond have denied that they will step down if their side loses the Scottish independence vote. The Scotsman reports Salmond saying:

‘No. We will continue to serve out the mandate we have been given and that applies to the SNP always. It applies to me – all of us.’

And yesterday David Cameron took special care to not to produce an easily-repeatable soundbite on his own position, while trying to remove the possibility that voting ‘Yes’ would result in his resignation. This could have been a gift for the SNP, who have made the campaign as much about getting rid of the Tories from Scotland as Scotland being a more equal, nicer country than the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister said:

‘It’s very important to say no to that emphatically, for this reason: what’s at stake here is not this prime minister or that prime minister or this party leader or that party leader; what is at stake is the future of Scotland. It is for the Scottish people to decide: Do you want to separate yourself from the United Kingdom or separate yourself from the United Kingdom?…

‘It’s very important for people in Scotland to realise the consequence of their vote is purely to and simply about Scotland and its place in the United Kingdom. We shouldn’t try to tie up into this vote the future of Alex Salmond or the future of me or anybody else…

‘In this case, this is about the future of Scotland. It’s a desperately important question, I care passionately about it. As I said, it would break my heart if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom. But I absolutely believe it is right to give people in Scotland the choice.’


This is why, as Alan Cochrane argues forcefully in today’s Telegraph, Ed Miliband’s decision to seize on Ruth Davidson’s comments that a Tory victory next year was not ‘likely’, in order to make his own political point, was so unhelpful – because it contributes to the SNP narrative of Scots vs the Tories, rather than to a debate about the long-term effects of independence.

But the stakes are naturally much higher for Cameron than they are for Salmond, and if the narrowing of the poll lead for the ‘No’ camp leads to a very narrow ‘No’ vote on 18 September, then Salmond has every reason to say he has succeeded anyway, claim a moral victory and stay on to argue for the best possible deal for Scotland within the United Kingdom. Only a resounding ‘No’ vote would be enough to damage the First Minister, whereas a narrow ‘Yes’ vote would still mean curtains for Cameron.

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  • benbecula

    The only grounds for Cameron’s resignation was his agreement to have one. Just because the SNP became the biggest party in the local election didn’t allow SNP a mandate to hold a referendum.

  • Jacques Strap

    Well Salmond is rather fat, so it must take alot to get him moving….

  • you_kid

    Let’s not beat about the bush – if Cameron loses Scotland he is out. The political power shift will be seismic in favour of Ukip in rEngland. This should be good fun for all. Now please Ukip apostles, calm down, we are not there just yet!

  • ManOfKent

    Indeed in this case I think Isabel is right. Unless the Nop vote is a resounding 2:1 dismissal of independence effectively closing down serious discussion of the issue for a generation or more. Salmond is safe, He has led the SNP to situations way beyond the wildest dreams of those who first made him leader. He’s led them to be the ruling party in Scotland and to a hair’s breadth of independence. If as I suspect no win a fairly close ballot the SNP fight for independence will continue. Although I would not be surprised if Salmond did decide to step aside of his own accord in the period after the election and let someone else in the party take up the cause.

    For Cameron to lose the vote would be the crowning failure in a procession of failures in terms of his party or parts of it. People forget it is the party who decides who the leader is and for the Tories to lose Scotland would be the ultimate humiliation. The knives would be out for him even more than they are now. There is no question that he would be under immense pressure from all sides to resign. Given the Tories have removed leaders for far lesser failure and indeed removed the most successful PM in modern history over an ideological issue I cannot see how Cameron could remain Tory party leader and if he is not Tory Party leader he cannot be Prime Minister.

    After what political party would want to be led into a general election by the man who lost the Union.

    • Hysteria

      Indeed – the logical somersaults by the political classes over the ME, Ukraine and Scotland are worthy of a gold medal!

  • kyalami

    Of course Cameron shouldn’t resign if there is a Yes vote. I’ve been deeply disappointed in Cameron but there’s absolutely no reason for him to resign over this.

    A truly bizarre suggestion.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Are you confident in Cameron’s negotiating skills to be sure he will look after our interests in the divorce settlement?

      • kyalami

        Good question.

        I think he’d be no worse than Miliband or Clegg. That may not be much of an endorsement, though.

        • Blindsideflanker

          We would need someone with a science background to zero in on detail, someone who has an MBA, and someone who has been a corporate trouble shooter, a tall order of a position to fill , but gosh I think there is such a person, David Davis.

          • kyalami


      • John Harper

        Absolutely not! Cameron will cave into any demands from salmon especially when you consider the calibre of the negotiating team like to be put in place. None of the three main parties will stand up for Ruk,
        It is all to easy they need to tell salmon that the people want a referendum on key issues that would stop salmon in his tracks.

    • Makroon

      Darling should “consider his position” though.

      • ManOfKent

        Darling’s job (as Campaign manager) is finished anyway when they vote and if they vote Yes he loses his day job automatically in 2 years time..

    • ManOfKent

      Why is it bizarre? Do you really think having a man who cannot sell the benefits of this country to some of its own people is a desirable choice for Prime Minister?

      Not much chance he can sell it elsewhere if he can’t sell it at home. And if he can’t sell that what does that say about his ability to sell his party to the country (especially given his poor previous track record)?

      Cameron will be the Prime Minister who lost the Union. That will be his ‘crowning glory’, his legacy. He will be weighed down with that ignominious achievement for the rest of his life just as say John Major is ever tarnished with Black Wednesday or Blair with Iraq. There will be no hiding place from it. He will be viewed around the domestic and international political scene as even more of a failure than he is now.

      There is plenty of justification for the Tories (and it will be their choice ultimately) to get rid of him. If they decide he has to go, Cameron will not get a say in it!

      • Holly

        You can only ‘sell’ something to someone if they want to buy it.
        If you MAKE someone buy what they do not want, they will forever dislike it.

        For as long as I can remember the Scottish have moaned about ‘Westminster’, forgetting they are just one part of the UK.
        It was the Scottish people who elected the SNP, which took them another step closer to where we are today.
        Did they elect the SNP to get them the referendum, or to get rid of Labour?
        IF it was for the referendum, I think they will vote for independence.
        IF it was to get rid of Labour I think they will vote to remain part of the UK.

  • asalord

    “It’s a desperately important question, I care passionately about it.” says Cameron.

    That’s why he has finally decided to passionately debate one-to-one on television with Scotland’s First Minister. Oh, wait…

    • Makroon

      If you enjoy knock-about, smart-Alecry, go to Salmond’s famous “talks to the people”, George Galloway’s latest rant, or even one of Farage’s “community meetings”.
      Failing that, check in to numerous “shock Jock” smart-Alecry on radio or television.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Why should he you ignorant oaf. Scum like you would simply accuse him of meddling in Scotland’s affairs.

    • Barakzai

      Oh wait, indeed. If Cameron did ‘passionately debate’ then the Caledonian Whinging Fraternity would be frothing GTF abuse at Cameron’s interference.

  • Holly

    Was Liz Jones right to be angry on the radio?…
    YES 72.73% (496)
    NO 27.27% (186)
    Total No of votes 682.

    Maybe the presenter should be fired…

    • Makroon

      I am really surprised that nobody seems to have noticed the consistent BBC bias in favour of a “Yes” vote. Presumably, the BBC hierarchy also think this is a handy way of “removing the Tory yoke”.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        They will be disappointed then when Westminster loses 50 plus socialist nutters including 41 Fascist Labour MPs.

    • Wessex Man

      I’m sorry Holly, you are going to elaborate about Liz Jones on the radio, please make allowances for an old fella.

  • magpie5

    Salmond should resign after his defeat on sept 18th , but he won’t , simply confirming what a shameless, cynical opportunist he actually is
    Scottish IndepenDUNCE is the dumbest idea I’ve heard in years and this referendum can never be over quick enough for the passions to dissipate and for folks to go back to their normal lives , and for it to become merely a footnote of history

  • Holly

    Why do people like your good self, start talking silly like this when the public are asked a question, and demand reprisals when the public don’t answer the way you want?

    Why should Scotland voting ‘yes’ have any bearing on who the UK’s Prime Minister is?
    The rest of the UK should be the one’s who decide the UK Prime Minister’s fate, not journo’s, or the MSM. Not Salmond, or the Scottish people.
    The UK electorate.

    IF Scotland votes ‘no’ they too will get their say on this.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Because he presided over the break up of the UK, because he set the terms of the referendum ( Scottish nationals living in England, or else where , should never have been excluded), because Cameron has stated he would find it demeaning to be PM of England, because Cameron would be a completely and utterly useless at negotiating the best terms of separation for us.

      • realfish

        So what would the response, north of the border, have been if Cameron had said to the Scots, ‘No…you can’t have the referendum that you voted for’?

        And just who are these Scots NATIONALS (?) living in the UK and across the world that should have had the vote…Scots born? Scots heritage? People like me whose family moved south in the 1800’s, eat haggis or like a drop of Laphroaig? Self selectors?

        • Blindsideflanker

          I didn’t say that, I challenged the terms of the referendum that Cameron permitted.

          As for your silly second point, I would suggest it would be people who view their primary identity as Scottish.

          We have Scottish friends, living and working in England who if the Scots in Scotland vote for independence will be made state less. They are Scots they should have been included in their country’s referendum vote.

          • asalord

            They will be able to hold a British passport or a Scottish passport, or both. They certainly will not be “stateless”.

            • Hysteria

              Not quite – I identify as British, and my country is the United Kingdom. So if a tiny proportion of the total population vote to secede , then they will have taken my country away. I don’t think I am alone in this view. And BTW – is a key reason IMHO that Cameron’s position will be untenable in the event of a “yes” vote.

          • con

            salmond ‘set’ most of the terms of the referendum and cameron agreed to them. the one he wouldn’t agree was the third option of devo max.
            salmond wanted the voting age lowered to 16 and only scottish people living in scotland to have the vote.
            why should cameron resign if the scots vote for yes? salmond, like most nationalists won’t resign whatever happens – not in the dna of his sort.

            • Blindsideflanker

              Who is supposed to be the Prime Minister of this country?

          • realfish

            Not a silly point at all. It’s a point that would have had hundreds of lawyers turning their £ meters on.

          • Wessex Man

            surely they would still be subjects of the UK?

      • Holly

        The referendum question is on whether the Scottish people wish to remain part of the UK.
        It is NOT about the UK’s Prime Minister, that is why I deliberately did not name him.
        It is NOT about him, or Salmond, and neither will be ‘in charge’ forever. It is about whether Scotland wants to remain part of the UK or not.

        The question is BIGGER than both Salmond and Cameron.
        Neither should have to resign if the answer is ‘not to some folks liking’.

      • flippit

        “presided over the break up of the uk”? That’s why he has to go? Think about that a while. The Scots have been edging away for decades. They voted in a majority nationalist government at Holyrood. Nothing to do with David Cameron. He did the right thing to allow the referendum and not to set the terms, that was for the SNP to do. And why should those who have left Scotland get a vote? The armed forces, yes, but other ex-pats? No. They’ve left it behind, gone to pastures new and their heritage didn’t ensure they put their resources in the country. Anyway, Cameron absolutely doesn’t need to step down. I hope the Scots vote yes and we focus on ourselves. We will still be the 6th largest economy in the world. There’ll be a lot of time-consuming disentangling, but we’ll soon get in the groove. We’ll be better off in the short and the long run.

        • Wessex Man

          Well the bonus is Scotland gone but do we really want Cameron in England, why not make him emigate to Scotland after all his proud of the Scottish blood that pounds through him!

        • Hysteria

          The corollary is why should non native recent immigrants get to vote?

      • Wessex Man

        Well given how much he hates England, we should hang draw and quarter him and make the Fat Controller pay for it.

        • Chris Morriss

          Perhaps given Salmond’s size, we should consider smaller chunks than quarters?

          • Wessex Man

            Well given the Fat Controller’s girth yes. I meant Cameron though.

      • jazz606

        “…( Scottish nationals living in England, or else where , should never have been excluded).”

        I’m amazed that no one has yet managed to challenge this because it is so unjust.

        • benbecula

          True, which is why I’ve binned my polling card.

    • ManOfKent

      Firstly, the electorate do not choose the Prime Minister. We do not run a presidential system. He or she is chosen by their party. We choose our local representative and the group of representatives (i.e. the party) who have a majority of representatives form a government.

      When Thatcher was replaced by Major and when Blair was replaced by Brown the electorate had no immediate say in the matter and indeed could not change the party’s choice. They could only reject the party.

      Now you seem to be saying that if the Union is lost then the electorate should have their say and that is what will happen. We will vote 8 months after the Scots have taken that decision (Scotland IIRC will have to wait a little longer). Again trhough the choice will be whether we as a collective reject the party not whether we reject the individual leader.

      It is entirely up to the political parties who they choose to lead them into the elections and choosing the man who would have lost the Union may not be the smartest of ideas as in Cameron’s case it would headliner a procession of achievements that no political leader would want on their CV.

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