Slugger O'Toole

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Unexpected backing for Scottish Independence?

Fri 6 July 2012, 10:33am

Michael Portillo with a few truths that dare not speak their names on Andrew Neil’s This Week show last night:

On the BBC politics show This Week, he was challenged by host Andrew Neil, who asked: “So for party advantage, you are prepared to break up our country?”

Mr Portillo replied: “No, not just for party advantage. The Scots would be probably a great deal better off if they weren’t subsidised by England.

“From the point of political advantage, the Conservatives have a better chance of being in government if Scotland is not part of the affair. You are continuing to assume the Union is sacrosanct. That is not an assumption I make any more.

It’s not as though he’s not thought about it before:

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Comments (13)

  1. It would only be temporary party advantage. Labour would just inch a little further to the right, or else form a pact with the LibDems. Or loads of Cons would defect to UKIP…

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  2. tyrone_taggart (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher
    “It would only be temporary party advantage.”

    If you are a Conservative then the more conservative your local politics the better?

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  3. tt,

    If the Labour party steals Conservative ideas and thereby gets the Conservatives voted out, how is that a Conservative party advantage?

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  4. Neil (profile) says:

    It’s a point of view that will be shared I would think. The English will eventually tire of the constant demands for money and the perceived lack of gratitude from the various fractious nations. Scottish people opposing spending on English students while paying their own students fees in full that kind of thing.

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  5. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    Andrew is right, it would be short term advantage only, the labels don’t really matter to the voters that matter, ie. the “swing voters” the UK has got that used to changing governments they will do so ever 12-15 yrs at max, so losing Scotland won’t help the Tories enough in 2020 (the split wouldn’t have happened by 2015) but even if they do scrape by in 2015 it will be time for a change.

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  6. Better Together (profile) says:

    This thread is probably instructive of a latent short-termism in attitudes towards the Union. The roundtable discussion under the fold rightly highlights that the Union is a partnership, not a unilateral extension of benevolence from England.

    The complacency of that view must be challenged in the long two-year debate ahead. Scotland’s fiery kirk, political institutions and enlightenment philosophers counterbalanced the stoic moderation of the English, blending into a political system that is pluralist and dynamic. (To speak only of the Anglo-Scots component). The idea that a short-term political gain based largely on an inaccurate premise (most Labour governments have not required Scottish MPs in the mathematical sense) does violence to a very serious discussion.

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  7. tyrone_taggart (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher

    “If the Labour party steals Conservative ideas and thereby gets the Conservatives voted out, how is that a Conservative party advantage?”

    If the Conservatives can move politics to the American model then no matter which party you vote for will be “Conservative” in attitude.

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  8. tt,

    You’re addressing a point I didn’t make.

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  9. mollymooly (profile) says:

    The response to “kill Home Rule by kindness” has always been “kill the Union by bloodymindedness”.

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  10. tyrone_taggart (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher

    “You’re addressing a point I didn’t make.”

    Sorry Andrew if there is sufficient “Conservative DNA” then they would end up like FF used to be in that they could always in government.

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  11. I thought Michael Fry, the historian, talked a load of Anglophobe bile. It was the sort of nonsense that you hear from a half-educated historian in a local pub.

    Portillo’s argument is that the Scots would be forced to face up to fiscal accountability and being forced to ‘stand on their own two feet’ would become a tiger economy. I think that is a considerable leap. It may well be that Slovakia has not done badly after independence but is this really comparing like with like? The argument needs much more explanation as to cause and effect.

    There is actually a surprisingly thin amount of media public discussion about how certain powers would be controlled or exercised if Scotland became independent. Will Scotland have a separate currency or will they share sterling? If the latter, how do you protect the currency from the problems we have seen with the Euro? How should defence be handled? Can the English afford to allow the Scots to ‘do their own thing’ or should the current model stand with each making its appropriate financial contribution. The same question applies to foreigh policy.

    Perhaps Portillo will oblige and ‘flesh out’ those discussions.

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  12. tt,

    You think FF became the party of eternal government because of their policies? Anyway, you’re now making a different argument.

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  13. tyrone_taggart (profile) says:

    Andrew Gallagher
    “you’re now making a different argument.”

    No my original point was:

    “If you are a Conservative then the more conservative your local politics the better?”

    FF stayed in office as so many other people was happy to support it. The same could happen to a Conservative government in a first past the post voting system.

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