Monday, September 29, 2008

Conference Diary: Monday 2

Last night's fringe on the future of Scotland under a Tory government, organised by Policy Exchange went very well indeed. The room was absolutely jam packed and I reckon there were well over 125 people there. I won't rehearse the arguments here, but suffice to say that there was not a lot of love towards Alex Salmond in the room. Alan Cochrane, Scottish editor of the Telegraph put a trenchant case for the Union and even suggested the repeal of the Scotland Act.

The room seemed to be split on the desirability of that, with an equal number of people wishing to continue with the current devolution settlement, and even some who wanted to see the Scottish Parliament and Executive getting further powers. David Mundell, as you might expect, said the party would only support a referendum, on further powers if it was approved by the Scottish Parliament, but it would argue against it. The party did, however, support the Calman Commission, something Alan Cochrane clearly views with disgust. He warned Conservatives not to be wooed by Alex Salmond, who he alleged was playing the Tory Party for all he was worth.

I have never been at a fringe where there were so many people who wanted to ask questions.


Anonymous said...

Ian Dale

You are an absolute pest. I have a thousand things to do but your beastly blog is more compulsive than The Wire so they don't get done.

Early mornings are fun, aren't they? Once you get that first foot on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Can't repeal the Scotland Act shorely? I'm not surprised it was heaving - the electoral maths are akin to plate techtonic shifts. It's incredibly difficult to fight Alex Salmond - he's the cat who got the cream at present.

Anonymous said...

Salmond is NOT unbeatable. Why he's had a relatively easy time of it so far is:-i) Lyinglabour (scottish division) are s*it and have no policies that grab anyone's attention- even their own; ii) we are relieved Lyinglabour and the Limplibbies are not in coalition doing things TO the electorate instead of for; iii) most sane people realise the union is 'done for' and would like to move forward (i'm no Scotsnat but i want Scotland to f'k off asap from the Union); iv) if the SNP are going to go down the sh*tter it will more than likely be down to themselves- either Salmond will be caught bullshitting one too many times OR their 'bampot' division will resurface;they have been relatively silent, and this cannot last, the SNP bampot's gob is always bigger than the brain.

Anonymous said...

'Evenly split'?! There were no more than a handful who supported repeal of the Scotland Act. The only smaller group were the five, was it?, or six who you managed to get in support of an English Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cochrane is an idiot. I sometimes wonder if he is a real person or just some guy at Telegraph HQ in London writing on thing he has no experience of. Abolishing the Scotland Act! I can't imagine any other single action which would so quickly spark calls for an immediate independence referendum in Scotland. And he calls that defending the Union.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Mundell and Goldie are feeble and useless. They are suckered by Salmond because he flatters them. Mundel is not seen as serious by DC and frankly he is only interested in his constituency and his ...well lets no go there. Goldie is lazy and politically stupid.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree the Union is done for. There is an enormous amount of postive feeling for the Union both in Scotland and England but it needs to be mobilised and the way to do trhat is to show to both countries ie to England and Scotland that it does have future.
( the Union is essentially that of England and Scotland, I am aware of Wales and Ulster but they are not to the fore in this )

This can only be done if it has a logical and accepted constitutional basis and, after Blair, it no longer does.
The key lies not in Scotland where they now have their own national parliament and budget
(which is what they wanted to have within the Union way back in 1707)
but in England .

England is getting very tired of the whole thing because it is now so patently anti English. Not just the Barnett Rules but the complete absence of any national expression of England (unlike Scotland) and the direction of all our affairs by the British state which is now being perceived as increasingly lacking legitimacy.
England is much more anti Union than Scotland which is why the British media take care not to have polls on the Union in England if they can head them off.

Iain, this is not a sustainable situation. The inertia of the ruling class/state gets away with it for long while as it does in most states in history after the flame goes out but in the end reality catches up and something political happens. Witness Metternich 1815-1848, the USSR and Scotland in the 70's and 80's.

If the Tories are genuine and really want to keep the Union
( and their present line begs the question of whether in fact they have already written it off)
then they had better do something about English discontent and that means an energetic programme of English constitutional reform.
We need what Scotland has ie our own parliament, government, first minister, civil service, budget
ie run our own affairs.

It is perfectly possible to do within a confederal/federal type British Union but the political will has to be there and that implies a change from the present rather intellectually thick lack of awareness of how the Union came about
( despite the SNP type propaganda it was Scottish driven and also by a tiny group of early British politicians spanning both countries- the English were either never that interested or just plain against it)
and what the potential of a federal arraingement can bring the distorted British state.

Time is getting on and there is still a complete blank on the whole question from the British political class!
(see also the soviet political class circa 1987)

In a while,after he has done with Labour, Salmond will turn snarling on the Tories and the Tories have to have the policies and the knowledge base to deal with him.

Wistful dreams of abolition of the Scottish parliament are hopelessly unrealistic. Heading off Salmond with clear proposals for England is very realistic.

Anonymous said...

The big problem for the SNP is what happens post Salmond. he is the biggest beast in the Scottish jungle but more important, the only big beast in the SNP.

Sturgeon is basically a 'weegie Councillor cum social worker, McCaskill is a bit of jack the lad,a Lithuanian-bar owning football hooligan, John Swinney's previous tenure in the leadership saw the SNP significantly drop, Ewing's got there because of his name, the rest aren't even "household names in their own home"

Anonymous said...

Most right wing parties play the patriotic card to pick up votes.

The problem for the Conservatives in Scotland is that they are patriotic for the wrong country and cannot use a call to Scottish Patriotism to differentiate themselves from Labour and the Lib-Dems, who are also strident British Nationalists in Scotland, as that would place them side by side with the SNP.

Anyway, nobody in Scotland pays any heed to Alan Cochrane's venomous hatred of the SNP in the Telegraph or to the scribblings of his equally British Nationalist wife Jenny Hjul in the Times.

King Athelstan said...

What I can't glean from all this is exactly where the tories stand on the status of England, my country, and what they intend top do about growing English resentment.

Anonymous said...

Whilst not a majority of the room, the largest group were of those who wanted to repeal the Scotland Act. This was very clear!

Anonymous said...

If we are "subsidy junkies" as you English like to call us, why won't you give us independence?

Why not shake off us "leeches" ?

Could it be our oil, whisky, tourism revenues and contribution to the UK's armed forces are worth more to YOU English than you are worth to us?

Scotland will be independent soon, deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Had to laugh at Osborne announcing a Council Tax freeze---a straight copy of what has happened in Scotland between the SNP and Councils.
But NOT Tory Party policy in Scotland!!!!
Did they tell Annabel Goldie in advance? Would love to have seen her face....
Agree with dougthedug about Cochrane(and his wife).
Watch out for his next anti-SNP rant--the Scottish Govt. is looking at proposals to allow Councils to increase Council Tax for 2nd home owners from 90% to "whatever", to produce money for affordable homes (apparently in Wales Councils can charge 200%)

Cochrane makes money out of writing about his wee hoose in the Angus Glens--watch the fur fly!

- said...

I rather like Alan Cochrane!

I does seem, does it not, that the 'devolution experiment' as it has been called has failed to some extent. All of what it claimed to deliver, it has failed in doing so, and also given a platform and position to separatists. I don't want it, but I can see the political reality that it is far from on the way out. Either way, it was a bad move from Labour.

I should very much have liked to have been there. Alas, other commitments, and the time it takes to get down to Birmingham.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10.56

You are right. Repealing the Scotland Act would spark a call for an immediate independence referendum and so it should. A semi-detached Scotland may be good for Scotland but it has no merit for England. If Scotland wants out, fine, we will wish you luck as we wave you goodbye ( please don't forget close the border firmly behind you). What is not acceptable is the present asymmetric devolution settlement, still less the devolution plus, likely to be recommended by the Calman Commission.

King Athelstan said...

Dunfesterin, the sooner the better, You'll have to take our first minister with You. The restoration of democracy won't come soon enough. I note that Northern Ireland is withdrawing prescription charges leaving the English to pay them alone, £7.10 per item now, how much in 2 years? Cancer patients may be excused,such thin gruel he feeds us. Who speaks for England? When will we be heard?

Anonymous said...

"restoration of democracy" - maybe you have short memory considering the great polls at the moment but may I remind you that in 2005 Labour won the most number of English seats and the PM was an English MP.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6.10

A majority of English seats, but Labour polled fewer English votes than the Conservatives. Further, Tony Blair is a Scot, though he hides it well and sits for an English constituency.

Even if neither of these things were true there would still be a democratic deficit. An essential element of democracy is reciprocity. If you get to vote on what I do, I should get a vote on what you do. Between the English and the Scots that condition is no longer met.

King Athelstan said...

Ooooh! I consider myself reminded thank you. As for the grinning one Hes no Englishman to me. In any case I suspect those, low percentage if I remind myself, who did vote Liebour have felt the cold steel of the knife in their backs now. As for the First minister of England He comes to us courtesy of the voters in Kircaldy.Hes never been elected anywhere else, and He never will be.

Anonymous said...

Re Dunfesterin (2.04 p.m.)

Re the Excise Duty on Whisky. Are you suggesting that all such receipts be handed over to an independeent Scotland. Were separation to come about, an Independent England would be able to tax whatever products it so wished. It would be no more under obligation to hand over such dutires collected to an Independent Scotland as it would be duties on wine to an independent France. Scotland of couse could tax whisky as well but only on its own consumption (few countries tax their exports)and I don't regard Scotland a subsidy junkie. The main subsidy jnkie in the UK is London which justifies the spending on transport, the olympics, higher pay for civil servants etc because of its statues as a capital.