Features

David Cameron is betraying Scotland's Unionists

A no in the referendum should mean no. Thanks to the political geniuses in London, it will instead mean 'Yes, but...'

30 November 2013

9:00 AM

30 November 2013

9:00 AM

With trademark grandiosity, Alex Salmond unveiled his white paper on independence this week as if he had retrieved it from the top of Mount Sinai. ‘This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published,’ proclaimed the First Minister. It was yet another reminder of an inexorable law of politics: the larger the document, the weaker the content. The American declaration of independence managed to fit on a page. The SNP’s plan for a separate Scotland is so bald that it needs to conceal its nothingness with 650 pages of flannel.

You can look in vain in its pages for any sign of any policy that will make Scotland a better place. There will be more welfare, universal childcare, milk and honey. And income tax will not rise. To read the document is to realise the extent of the nationalist fantasy. It does not explain how any of Scotland’s (many) problems can be remedied by granting more powers to its Edinburgh political establishment. Opinion polls show Scots (especially the young) are deeply unpersuaded. The average result of polls this year so far has shown 33 per cent ‘yes’ and 50 per cent ‘no’. It was similar last year. The SNP’s position looks irretrievable.

And yet the mood of many Scottish Unionists is sombre — in some cases despairing. They want to save their country, and keep Britain strong. Yet it is no longer Alex Salmond they fear but David Cameron. The skeleton haunting the impending Unionist victory feast is so-called ‘Devo Plus’, or ‘Devo Max’ — the extension by the Westminster government to Scotland of sweeping new devolved powers, possibly covering everything except defence, foreign affairs and monetary policy. Devo Max is so close to the SNP’s ambitions it was a constitutional option in its 2007 white paper.

Incredibly, some such Devo Max settlement is now the official policy of the Conservative and Unionist party — the irony of that title is not lost on Toryism’s supporters north of the border, though many must now be described as erstwhile supporters. They have been betrayed too many times to retain their allegiance to the Conservative party.


The history of Tory betrayal of Scottish Unionism goes back to 1968 when Edward Heath, without consulting his Scottish party, delivered the ‘Declaration of Perth’, committing the Conservatives to devolution. It was the first of the Tory ‘modernisers’ who sold out the Union by going high-handedly over the heads of his Scottish supporters; the similar conduct of David Cameron today has a resonance of that initial betrayal. At that time it was Labour that defended the status quo. By the time Margaret Thatcher ended the Tory commitment to devolution Labour had changed tack; the devolutionist genie was out of the bottle and it was Labour that eventually delivered a Scottish parliament via a referendum in 1997.

The conventional wisdom then was expressed by George (now Lord) Robertson when he declared that devolution would ‘kill nationalism stone dead’. Instead, Scottish Unionism is confronting the possibility of the biggest constitutional upheaval since 1707 — more accurately since 1603. Only the common sense of Scottish voters seems likely to avert that catastrophe.

The so-called Unionist parties’ response to the SNP challenge has been one of abject cowardice. When Alex Salmond led a minority government they were too craven to call his bluff and use their parliamentary majority to hold a referendum, which would have buried separatism for a generation. After the SNP won an overall majority at the Scottish election in 2011, the UK government’s response was to pass the Scotland Act conceding more new powers (over income tax, stamp duty and land tax) to Holyrood.

By March this year, the Scottish Conservatives were launching a drive for Devo Plus, or possibly Devo Max, clearly on the instructions of David Cameron and George Osborne. It is the Chancellor, moonlighting as Tory modernism’s political strategist, who is driving the lemming stampede towards extravagant devolution. That is alarming on another front: a Chancellor of the Exchequer who does not realise that two fiscal systems are incompatible with the integrity of a unitary state does not inspire confidence. The additional absurdity of this made-in-Downing-Street devolution plan is that the one victory over the SNP that David Cameron could previously claim was excluding a second question on Devo Plus from the referendum ballot paper.

The canard that tax-raising powers would make the Scottish parliament ‘accountable’ is discredited by the history of local authority taxation in Scotland. Before the 2008 economic slump, out of four million Scottish electors only 2.3 million paid income tax. That figure is unlikely to have increased in the current economic climate. The insanity that is Devo Plus would allow spendthrift socialists to bleed wealth creators in the interests of their client constituency. Now Dave and George are bringing Devo Plus back from the dead and, in doing so, throwing a lifeline to Alex Salmond.

With Devo Plus excluded from the ballot paper, voters’ minds should have been focused on the stark alternatives: the status quo or unaffordable independence. Defeat would have left Alex Salmond on the ropes, his party split amid bitter recriminations, his leadership untenable. Instead, after losing the referendum he will be able to tell his supporters: ‘I am sorry I could not deliver full sovereign independence — that was always a mountain to climb — but I have secured from our frightened opponents 90 per cent of what we want: de facto independence, minus flag and anthem.’

The coming defeat of Salmond should be the time to strengthen Britain. How tragic that, instead, a frightened Cameron wishes to throw Scottish Unionists to the wolves.

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Show comments
  • ChuckieStane

    The referendum is a straight choice as to where power lies. Everything else flows from that. It is Westminster and the union (with whatever powers Westminster chooses devolves) or it is Holyorood (with whatever powers it chooses to share). Cameron represents the former yet he cannot stand up for what he declares to believe in for fear of losing. He says he will not enter the debate because it is a matter for the people who live in Scotland only to determine Scotland’s governance. Following this line can only logically mean Scotland should be independent.

    • Keith D

      Dave wont stand up for anything because the man has no principles.
      I think a huge factor in this referendum is largely unspoken at the moment and it would serve the Coalition well to pay heed to it.

      Never mind the economic debate, or division of resources, a real incentive for Scottish Independence is this…..
      People in the UK have no faith in the troughing members selling us down the river at Westminster.
      We know they dont have our interests at heart.

      The difference with Scotland is, they have the opportunity to remove themselves from its perfidious influence.

      I think the SNP policy in government, you know, complying with the electorates wishes, is a great example I wish Dave would follow.

      • Eric McLean

        Well said.

        Westminster is an elitist, archaic, self-serving and corrupt institution

        ……that looks after London, Establishment, Banks, Politicians and the Elite…

        … to the detriment of the regions, industry outside of Financial Services, working man, families, health services and social justice

        Thats it in a nutshell. Don’t like it? Read it again. You better get used to it. There are more and more people in the UK thinking the same.

    • scotcanadien

      Cowardice in the face of the enemy my boy. He should be shot at dawn.

  • Iain Hill

    Pearls of wisdom. Perhaps Bailie Warner could point me towards the party supporting spendthrift socialism. That’s the one for me!

  • allymax bruce

    “The so-called Unionist parties’ response to the SNP challenge has been one of abject cowardice”
    Yes. Don’t forget the ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ Imposing sneer!
    Let’s take a look at Holyrood today, and all you will see is the Unionist Parties jumping up and down like demented junkies, screaming for their next fix of hate-speech.

    • Zeus

      If Scotland is ‘better together’ with rUK then why all the negative stories form the NO campaign? Where are the facts, plans for future spending and priories? Where is the love? There are none as they want, to quote Burns, English gold which in modern parlance is public sector MP pensions.

      • allymax bruce

        Zeus, I agree.
        It’s plainly obvious, the Union has nothing to offer Scots & Scotland, but more poverty, oppression, sneering abuse, and impoverishment of our race.
        And you’re absolutely right about ‘where’s the love’; all we need to do is look at the sneering Labour Party at Holyrood. All they do is sneer fear, & smear, all on spurious premise, making a mockery of our Scottish Hoyrood Parliament; and all so they can get their Westminster shilling blood-money. Or maybe even a title like Herod McConnell? I mean, take yesterday’s demented junkie performance from Labour’s Neil Findlay; what a state he was in! Jumping up & down, demanding interventions, pointing at Patrick Harvie in a threatening manner, like a monster-possessed, that Findlay was furious about ‘online comments’! Labour’s Neil Findlay reckons they are ‘vile & disgusting’; but Patrick Harvie rebuked the imbecile! I wonder who Findlay was referring to? I suppose Findlay means like Gordon Matheson Labour GCC leader; or, maybe Findlay is talking about another Labour politician Frank McAveety’s outstanding ‘performance’ IN Holyrood! Maybe Findlay is talking about John Prescott? There’s been so many Labour ‘indiscretions’, it’s basically take a guess as to which Labour malefactor he’s talking about! But that doesn’t stop the Labour politicians turning Holyrood into a hate-fest against the majority ruling party; the SNP. It wouldn’t be so bad, but nobody actually voted for Neil Findlay; he’s a List MSP! Like his other Labour misfits that nobody voted for Kezia Dugdale, Jenny Marra, etc that was ‘parachuted-in’ to a highly responsible Scottish Parliament position, by his crooked Labour Party! Good-old Neil Findlay, nobody voted for him, but he feels it incumbent upon his sense of ‘Labour duty’ to shout, act, and conuct himself like a demented junkie in our Scottish parliament! Ahh, nice.

        • Swiss Bob

          and impoverishment of our race.

          Well you’ve convinced me with that argument.

          Except for one small thing, the Scots are of exactly the same genetic material as the rest of the Brits and that includes the Irish.

          NB Before approx 1950.

      • Sanctimony

        What is this rUK ? Please ex[lain.

        • Zeus

          Rest [of] United Kingdom – you need to keep up with modern parlance 🙂

    • Pochy

      Not even Better Together would stoup to your caricature. Nobody saying Scotland size is a problem, nobody is insulting the intelligence of the average scot (just its government.) And the UK recognizes scotland’s (fledgling) wealth. It raises questions on will that wealth be sufficient for its paradise it plans to make.

      • allymax bruce

        I’m nobody’s bitch; as neither is Scotland Westminster’s bitch. Insult me, and I will insult you back.

        • Pochy

          what does you being a somebody’s bitch have to do with my comment?

          • allymax bruce

            Jesus rebuked his most favoured Disciple Peter, by calling him ‘satan’; “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:22-23). Now, that’s quite a ‘vile & disgusting’ rebuke/smear for Jesus to go at Peter with. So why did Jesus feel it necessary to speak so harshly to him? Obviously Jesus loved Peter, but he was willing to rebuke him in the lowest terms; because Jesus wanted Peter to understand Love is void of ‘shame, fear, blame etc’. Thus, if Faith in Jesus, & belief in God is to be achieved, no room for shame, fear, smear, or deleterious emotion can exist; So, let’s look at what all this nonsense of ‘shame’ is then! I recently wrote a treatise on this subject; ‘Scotland’s Calvinist Persecution Complex; a treatise on shame’. Scotland’s legacy, set in religious ‘stone’, dogmatic Calvinism, legal, law, social, ethical systematic values of culture, has kept us ‘frozen in time’; a time of which Thomas Carlyle suggests that was the dialectical knowledge belief tools available for that time; 19th century. Scotland, (because we have been ‘kept in this union’, for Westminster’s benefit), is basically suffering from a self-imposed arrested development of social conscience; we even give same-sex marriage a hard time, but that’s only because our reactions are a manifest product of instituted religion; dogma. Dogmatic perspectives of our social arrested development; we, Scotland, must begin to look at Modern ways to think, live, and build upon, and break out of this horrendous constraining Union with Westminster; it’s doing us real harm!. Even Jesus talks of this; Matthew 23:1-6. All this nonsense about being shamed etc, only works to facilitate our subjugation, oppression, and impoverishment by the elite rulers Westminster!

      • Eric McLean

        You watch out for UKIP man. Peace man. They comin’ for you.

    • Pochy

      Its all about the statistics you trust, Holyrood Fiscal Commissions (which don’t outright support independence) or the Scotland Analysis (written by civil servants.)

  • scotcanadien

    The above is the biggest load of bullsh1t I have read in a long time. Who is this idiot Gerald Warner? I’ll tell you. His ‘real’ name is “James Gerald Warner of Craigenmaddie” a ‘journalist’ in the Scotsman. I don’t know where he picked up the Craigenmaddie but have you ever heard of such pretention? Nothing more needs to be said about his views except they are mainly wishful thinking, lies, misinformation and outright disinformation, aka, lies again.

    • Sanctimony

      Or even pretension, perhaps …

    • The_greyhound

      He got you nicely rattled.

  • cheesy pasta

    So you are claiming that you have read this monster from start to finish and its all nonsense are you?
    Sorry not buying. Yon coda not possiboy have gone through all 600 odd pages this quickly.
    This is just a knee-jerk knocking piece of the worst kind.
    and as for “no means no” what are you suggesting; that despite getting an increasingly large chunk of the Scottish vote at every election that the SNP just fold their tents and go home if they lose?
    Maybe we should take that approach with UK elections; just hold the one and then not bother ever again.
    What do you reckon?

  • dalai guevara

    IS SCOTLAND A NATION STATE OR IS IT MERELY A NATION?

    that is the question here, nothing else.

    Germany is a nation state, they are in the EU.
    Montenegro is a nation state, they are not.

    Conflating one question with another is a willful attempt to obfuscate. No means yes, yes means… well we don’t know? Haha! There can be no doubt that people like Alistair Darling (or you Gerald) have only one purpose – to obfuscate facts, not clarify them.

    • James M

      IS SCOTLAND A NATION STATE

      ## No. Neither, for the matter of that, is England. The whole UK has been crocked by the EUSSReich (may it collapse, and that right early).

      OR IS IT…A NATION?

      ## Yes.

  • JR

    No wonder there’s no real Tory support in Scotland. The Party itself doesn’t seem to care much. The only people I can admire in all of this are the Scottish Tories themselves. They really are fighting against it all. We should go up to Scotland and support them!

    • Eric McLean

      What are you going to do? Post their leaflets round the schemes and estates?
      Maybe hand them out at the shipyards in Govan?

    • Eric McLean

      The reason most Tories don’t care is that they are beginning to realise that their world will not change much with Scottish Independence. They will still have their House of Lords, OBEs and garden parties. Their wealth will not be affected.

      • Jambo25

        When do Scottish centre rightists (I won’t use the term Tories) make the realisation that they are not going to make a real comeback in Scotland until there is independence or at least some form of Devo Max? As long as their identified with the London based Tory Party they are toast.

        • Eric McLean

          They are beginning to realise. I talked to a few Scottish Conservatives and there were two things I noted.

          1. They are terrified of Labour getting back in in Scotland

          2. They are beginning to see that they might well have a place in Scottish politics again after a YES vote.

    • justejudexultionis

      No, we should ask them to leave.

  • allymax bruce

    For Zeus (QC).

    Where’s the love … Yes for the Love of Scotland
    by allymax

    her life is bitter cold and bleak
    the abuse now more she can take
    mustering the last her sense of worth
    she makes herself pretty in prospect hope
    Face-to-face Her image has grown
    Her Spirit even now Gracious and Known

    incomes the nastiness abusing her part
    sneering derision turns her love dark
    dancing like devils dancing with delight
    smearing fearing sneering into the night

    But Blessed is She reviled by them
    persecuted tormented but abideth again
    Her greatest of ease abideth in Love
    Faith in His Hope from Heaven above

    living in dust from a fallen curse
    Her Whelp of Nation will thrive alone
    biting the heels of the abusive one

    Last Post Productions
    All Rights Reserved to allymax

  • ayemachrihanish

    dalai Guevara – et al. Scotland is a Nation State who’s Parliament reconvened 12th May 1999. Scotland is Not a region.

    Therefore, as every EU Premier knows – Scotland is a full EU participant
    state who’s Parliament has already reconvened. Respectfully go figure what that
    means!

    So, that bit’s already done. Hence EU won’t consider Scotland being
    out the EU because, as an existing nation state, Scotland already
    meets all membership conditions – and we – like everyone from the
    British Isles are EU citizens.

    The only question is – come the continuation negotiations – what future
    benefits do an Independent Scotland bring to the EU table?

    Need a clue?

    Why not ask The Governor of the Bank of England – who is today saying he
    would welcome the opportunity to enter discussions on SG plan to create a
    sterling currency union – think (a) balance of payments (b) UK debt and the
    massive interest repayments.

    As said, go figure – get better informed! Have a positive vision for the future.

    • dalai guevara

      Well done, excellent stuff – you are expanding on my point, not opposing it.
      Now who is it that ‘needs told’ to have a positive vision of the future?

      • ayemachrihanish

        Hahaha – you reference Matt the geography teacher!!

        The International Court of Justice deals with territorial integrity.

        Try “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th day of March 1707, is hereby reconvened.”  
        Winnie Ewing opening address at the first session of the Scottish Parliament in 12th May 1999.

        In Law – any prohibition by the British Nationalists regarding Scotland’s declared wish for independence of the UK will be crushed by the The International Court of Justice.  And any first year International Law student will tell you that! As for Matt the geography teacher – best he goes back to colouring in his sticker books!!

        Come on you’re a Citizen NOT simply a Tax Payer for a corrupt Westminster elite – demand social progress and equality not suffocating austerity – bankers bonuses and aircraft carriers with no planes – FFS waken up!!

  • Charlie East-West
  • RLock

    “Conservative and Unionist” refers to the union with Ireland. Tories seem to have forgotten this.

  • jdmank

    What a risible story, First suggest the devo max option was taken off the table by Cameron (snigger) to shoot Salmond’s fox then complain loudly that it is back on the table as if the offer is real, the offer IS NOT REAL lets be clear about this, there is no offer of devo max there never was,
    do you really think the Scots button up the back?
    this is nothing more than a smoke screen to persuade Scots to vote no then the wreckers move in and dismantle everything the SNP have achieved in a few short years,
    here’s how it will really pan out,
    vote no and 4 billion comes off the block grant at a stroke, (already in the public domain),
    the SNP (certainty) government reelected in 2016 will be forced to abandon all their policies removing free prescriptions and charging for university tuition Having no choice but go down the privatization route for the Scottish NHS possibly even be dragooned into selling off Scottish water making Scotland pay the same price for a resource which is plentiful in Scotland so it can be tanker-ed south to support Thames water in avoiding to go to all the trouble of fixing the leaks that drain away more water than is used by the hard pressed public.

    At which point the bitter together brigade will move in and paint the SNP as the reason for all the hardship and the public will be stupid enough to believe it
    so they take back their (rightful) place ruling over a vassal country, which is fed the subsidy junkie story just to make sure the sweaties don’t get above emselves.

  • chris_xxxx

    There’s a simple choice. Does Scotland want to become independent? A simple yes or no.

    If no, then that’s it. No ‘devomax’ or promise of additional powers going to the Scottish parliament.

    Make up your mind Scotland. I’m getting to the point, that I don’t care if they go. No more whining about being controlled from London.

    • Eric McLean

      Why is a desire for real democracy whining? I wish you well with the political mess you have in Westminster at the moment. LibDemCon versus Labour? You don’t know who to vote for. EU? Immigration? Borrowing?

      I seriously hope UKIP eats a huge bite of votes out of all of you.

  • dougthedug

    “Incredibly, some such Devo Max settlement is now the official policy of the Conservative and Unionist party”

    For those readers in England who have not been immersed in the ins and outs of the Scottish independence campaign please read Gerald Warner’s article but keep in in mind when reading the rest that the above quote is total nonsense.

    1. The Conservative Party have promised no further powers to Scotland in the event of a no vote

    2. The Labour Party have promised no further powers to Scotland in the event of a no vote.

    3. The Lib-Dems have promised, ” a move towards Fiscal Federalism for Scotland, including further transfer of tax powers as set out in the Scottish Liberal Democrats policy paper ‘Federalism: the best future for Scotland’.” In practical terms the report means funding will still be by the Barnett formula or whatever replaces it and if Scotland wants more money it can hit its own population with big income tax rises.

    The only thing that is certain is that Scotland’s Barnett formula calculated budget will be cut by £4 Billion after no vote. The All-Party Parliamentary Taxation Group report, “Achieving Autonomy – what the independence referendum means for Scotland’s fiscal future.”, includes a recommendation that would see Scotland’s budget cut by “as much as £4 billion” a year.

  • Swiss Bob

    I think the Westminster Govt should follow EU practice, make the Scots keep voting until the right result is achieved.

  • Analysis108

    The helicopter crash in Glasgow effectively removed the referendum debate on independence on the first weekend since the publication of the white paper, it will probably be this single factor that curtailed the intensification of that debate and perhaps will result in the vote no in the referendum.

  • Peter

    Well said. Quite right in every respect Gerald. It all went wrong when Mr Heath opened the floodgates of prejudice in 1968. Not perhaps the first ignorant Englishman to think he knew all about Scotland. But certainly the start of a long line of leaders of both parties who surrendered policy in this key area to feeble minds. Unionists have sold Scotland down the river by half heartedly and in fear supporting devolution. I speak as one – albeit born in England in 1942 – who spent his whole childhood and university years in Scotland from 1947 to 1965. And indeed I loved it, and the great Scottish traditions. But apart from a few romantics like the MacCormicks, you were considered a nutter to be a nationalist when I was at school. Of course on the ground, if you picked up the stones, there has always been a tribal undercurrent as there is everywhere – even between regions of England. We are human and therefore have tribal DNA after all. But we should rise above it. It is nothing to be proud of. At school aged 4, I was assailed for being English, and soon changed accent. I still have a Scottish accent today. Don’t tell me about the vectors of this nationalism. They are all bad. We have been under a united crown since 1601, and a united kingdom since 1703 or whatever. So it’s folly to be even thinking about splitting up the UK, where so many of our citizens have roots in every component part. It will make many of us us foreigners in our own country. Let’s have a more rational discussion about it – not just whose up and whose down. Of course its not helped by the fact that legions of the better educated are now dependent on the public sector for employment. So the new factor since the war is the attraction of a local public sector trough to so many of the opinion former. So many of those who should know better have changed sides since the war.

  • JackBlack1

    Well hopefully Scotland will get Independeance, becaus then the Labour party is buggered considering most of its members are scottish and we can have a decent conservative government

  • Karen Scott Hansell

    As a transplanted Scot in California trying to keep up with what’s going on over there, I’m detecting a lot of rhetoric and propaganda. This article in particular seems especially biased and very condescending to the Scots in general. I feel like saying “F*ck off you assholes.” I invite responses.

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