Tom Peterkin: Cameron playing fast and loose with the Union
Having emerged from a Nick Clegg coalition forged in a rose garden, it would appear that Cameron’s garden could hardly be rosier.
But leaving aside the rather contrived horticultural figure of speech, it is an oversimplification to suggest that everything is tickety boo as far as Cameron is concerned.
When it comes to Scotland, there are many who are questioning the Prime Minister’s judgment – and not just in the usual knee-jerk “kick the Tories” terms that characterises so much SNP and Labour rhetoric.
There are also many people who voted No and who are potential Conservative supporters, who quietly despair at the attitude displayed by the Prime Minister when it comes to safeguarding Scotland’s position in the United Kingdom. These are people who cannot forget that Cameron owes his current success to the 2,001,926 people who voted No last year.
There is no way that Cameron would have survived as Prime Minister if Scotland had voted Yes in the referendum. Cameron’s career would have ended in ignominy as the Prime Minister who had lost the Union. Given the Tories’ toxic status in Scotland, there actually wasn’t that much the Prime Minister could do when it came to saving the Union. Better Together made sure his public appearances were rationed and the heavy lifting was done by Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown. Perhaps then Cameron might have felt some gratitude empathy with the Scottish voters who saved his skin and paused for reflection after last year’s vote. Instead, he pressed ahead with his plans for English Votes for English Laws – a move motivated by his desire to harm Labour, but which re-opens a constitutional can of worms.
Constitutional cans of worms are manna from heaven for the SNP and so it has proved with Nicola Sturgeon’s party making hay – sensing that Cameron’s haste on the issue undermines the stability of the UK.
Similarly, Cameron’s apparent determination to make controversial appointments to the House of Lords plays into the hands of a Nationalist party determined to discredit a Westminster system still rocked by the sex and drugs antics of Labour’s Lord Sewell. It would be a bit harsh to blame Sewell’s excesses on Cameron, but his decision to reward more “Tory cronies” – like the lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone – means his longed-for reputation as saviour of the Union is not as secure as it could be.