David Cameron: Speaking on the importance of the Union at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Monday, December 10, 2007.
"On May 1st, our countries marked the three hundredth anniversary of the Act of Union.
Two days later, the SNP, who want to break apart that Union, took office in the Scottish Parliament.
I passionately believe in the Union and the future of the whole United Kingdom.
It may have started out of convenience…
England, at war with France, needed a secure northern border.
Scotland, financially unstable after the failure of the Darien scheme in Panama, needed economic respite.
But what should inspire us – and continues to inspire me – is what came after.
Together, we turned a small, off-shore European island into the one of the most powerful countries known to the world.
In the 18th century, the Union helped create the sense of possibility that inspired the titans of the Enlightenment.
In the 19th century, what was Europe’s first common market brought unparalleled prosperity to both our countries.
And in the 20th century, we not only remained stable in the face of…the totalitarianisms that were the scourge of mainland Europe…but we confronted them side by side.
STATE OF THE UNION TODAY
But so much for the past. It is my desire and duty to help shape the future.
And the future of our Union is looking more fragile - more threatened - than at any time in recent history.
The SNP now promises to deliver independence within ten years.
At the same times there are those in England who want the SNP to succeed, who would like to see the Union fracture.
They seek to use grievances to foster a narrow English nationalism.
We must not allow the legitimate and affectionate doubling up of patriotic pride…
…English and British…
…Scottish and British…
…British and proud of it…
…to be pushed aside by a coarse and casual nationalism.
We must confront and defeat the ugly stain of separatism seeping through the Union flag.
BETTER AN IMPERFECT UNION THAN A BROKEN ONE
This is where I stand, here in this great and beautiful capital, an English politician in a Scottish city saying clearly today and for all time that Britain comes first.
For I believe that we are stronger together.
Stronger together: Scotland and England……more, much more than the sum of our parts.
And in every part of these islands I want people to hear me when I say this.
That if it should ever come to a choice between constitutional perfection and the preservation of our nation, I choose our United Kingdom.
Better an imperfect union than a broken one.
Better an imperfect union than a perfect divorce.
One part of the challenge to our Union is the need the people feel today for a clear identity. You see it all over Europe, all over the world.
But in this search for identity, here in Great Britain we have the best possible start.
Not just English; not just Scottish; not just Welsh; not just any regional or religious identity.
That is because being British is one of the most successful examples of inclusive civic nationalism in the world. We are a shining example of what a multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multi-national society can and should be.
And the challenge now is to renew that sense of belonging by creating a positive vision of a British society that really stands for something and makes people want to be part of it.
A society in which we are held together by a strong sense of shared history and common values and institutions we cherish.
A society which encourages active citizenship, not a passive standing on the sidelines.
A society which people are not bullied to join, but are actively inspired to join.
STRONGER, SAFER, RICHER, FAIRER…TOGETHER
That means saying loudly and proudly: together, we are stronger.
Britain is one of only five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
We have a seat at the top table and arcountries can only dream of.
So yes, together we are stronger.
It means saying loudly and proudly: together, we are safer.
Scotland and Wales punch above their weight in Britain's armed forces….and Britain punches above its weight in the world because of the expertise and bravery of those armed forces.
So, yes, together we are safer.
It means saying loudly and proudly: together, we are richer.
The City of London overtaking New York as a global powerhouse……Edinburgh’s role as a great financial centre.
So yes, we are richer.
And it means saying loudly and proudly: together, we are fairer.
The NHS is the best of British……created by a Welshman and benefiting from the skills of doctors trained in the great medical schools of Scotland.
Stronger. Safer. Richer. Fairer…together.
It’s vital we get this right.
And, so often, Gordon Brown gets it wrong.
He approaches the question of national identity like a brand manager trying to launch a new product on the market,…or a spin doctor seeking to revive the reputation of a failing government department.
So we have citizen’s juries – focus groups – to decide what it means to be British.
We have a competition to come up with a motto for Britain.
We have the attempt to replace the National Anthem.
And in one of the Prime Minister’s earliest, most embarrassing, misplaced and trivialising forays into this territory, we see the poverty of imagination that instructs British people to put a flag on their lawn.
He talks about values but Britishness isn’t just about values - liberty, fair play, openness - are general, unspecific, almost universal.
They are virtues which could be as easily associated with Denmark, say, or Holland.
Britishness is also about institutions, attachment to our monarchy, admiration for our armed forces, understanding of our history, recognising that our liberty is rooted in the rule of law and respect for parliament.
Just a s people seek identity in this new world of freedom, so they seek opportunity.
We are on the brink of a new, post-bureaucratic age
But when you look at our Government, they’re stuck in the bureaucratic age: still top-down, still old-world, still centralised.
No wonder so many people both north and south of the border are frustrated.
Frustrated at not being able to afford a new home or get a mortgage.
Frustrated at the state of their public services.
Frustrated about a gridlocked transport system.
Frustrated about paying so much tax but seeming to get so little in return.
And that’s the thing about frustration is: it’s easy to blame your neighbours.
But what we should be doing is blaming Labour.
So, to those in England who are angry about rising council tax, angry about the rising cost of living, and angry when they look across the border and hear about no prescription charges and free social care, I say this.
Don’t blame the Scots.
Don’t blame the Union.
It’s not because of the Union that your aspirations are not being met.
It’s not because Scotland is taking and not giving.
It’s because your Government is failing and not delivering.
The same goes for Scotland.
I know you have great aspirations for your country.
To become a model for success based on a competitive economy and the skills and talents of your people.
To follow the examples of Ireland and Scandinavia and deliver prosperity and high living standards for all.
But again, it’s not because of the Union that you’re being held back…it’s because of the Labour Government.
That’s why I believe you voted in the SNP earlier this year.
It wasn’t a vote for independence – recent polls show that.
It was a vote against Labour, a vote for change.
But real change will only come when we change the Government of the United Kingdom
And today, it is the Conservative Party that is offering a message of change, optimism acourse, when it comes to the rise of separatist sentiment, some would seek to blame constitutional and economic arrangements.
I do not believe this represents an adequate explanation: after all, issues like the West Lothian question and the Barnett formula have been debated in one form or another for decades.
But that does not mean for one second that we can afford to ignore them today.
It is essential that we seek answers to any unfairness in the Union, and to questions of accountability, justice and democracy.
It is a sign of Labour’s weakness and irresponsibility that they prefer to sweep these questions under the carpet, pretend they don’t exist, simply because they are difficult.
I want my Party to be better than that.
So yes we will take part enthusiastically in the Constitutional Commission, and I applaud Annabel Goldie for her courage and determination to do that.
And we will, after due consideration, bring forward our proposals on these matters.
But we will address them in a calm and considered way.
We have not leapt on the Barnett formula bandwagon.
We have not sought to exploit these matters to foster a sense of English nationalism.
And we never will, because we believe in the Union and we will never do anything to put it at risk.
And that applies to the Conservative party’s whole attitude to Scottish affairs..
I recognise the impression that was left by my Party in Scotland after the 1980s.
You will not be surprised to hear that I reject the view that overall Conservative rule was bad for Scotland.
Look at how financial services are thriving in Edinburgh.
Look at the cultural renaissance of Glasgow.
And look what oil revenues have brought to Aberdeen.
But I know there is still a reluctance to openly support the Conservative Party in Scotland.
So let me say this.
Consider all our Party’s history, not just the recent past.
It was a Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, who set up the Scottish Office.
It was a Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, who elevated the Scottish Secretary to full Cabinet rank.
And it was the Conservative Party after the war that stood up for Scotland’s identity, and the life of Scottish businesses, against the attempts at nationalisation and centralisation by Labour.
We are a party of the Union and as long as I lead it that is how it will stay.
And to the people of Scotland, I make this guarantee.
I will carry out my duty to nurture and support the Union whatever my Party’s political standing in any of the Union’s constituent parts.
I will fight for every seat in Scotland just as I will throughout the United Kingdom.
But whatever the outcome of the next General Election in Scotland, a Conservative Government at Westminster will govern the United Kingdom, including Scotland, with respect.
Whoever is Scotland’s First Minister, I will be a Prime Minister that respects and listens to the voice of the Scottish people.
And I will work tirelessly for consent and consensus so we strengthen the union and stop separatism.
So I say to Alex Salmond, if you think you can succeed in your separatist agenda because there’s a Conservative government at Westminster, think again.
We will not play your game to break up our United Kingdom.
And we will not stop fighting to meet Scotland’s needs.
I want a Scotland where young people can fulfil their ambition of buying their first home.
I want a Scotland where businesses can innovate and create the jobs, wealth and opportunities that are so vital to local communities.
I want a Scotland where first-class health-care is the right of all, and not just a few.
I want a Scotland of opportunity, responsibility and security.
But I don’t just want this for Scotland.
But for all of the United Kingdom.
So let us scrub out the stain of separatism that is starting to disfigure our land.
Let us search for practical and reasonable solutions to our cons
But let us do so in a spirit of unity and purpose that will see Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland move forward together into the twenty-first century with confidence and pride.
Stronger together; weaker apart.
Stronger together: let us keep that precious idea forever in our hearts."
There's an interesting piece in today's Scotsman from David Torrence:
The political scientist Michael Billig identified a phenomenon he called "banal nationalism", where nationhood is so deeply and subconsciously taken for granted that it does not require coherent articulation. But the same critique can be applied to the contrary constitutional position. Indeed, it is "banal unionism" which now pervades British political discourse, from Gordon Brown's woolly push for "Britishness", to David Cameron's bland assurances that he is Prime Minister "of the whole United Kingdom".
This is surely inadequate, and simply betrays the incoherence of Mr Cameron's constitutional narrative, or indeed the lack of any narrative at all. Despite a degree of legwork in opposition he has, in common with most UK governments, adopted a suck-it-and-see approach in office. So now the coalition takes one position on Wales (parity with Scotland), another on Northern Ireland (a consultation on corporation tax), and yet another for Scotland (some new powers). Such inconsistency allows Alex Salmond to challenge and exploit, not least over corporation tax. But if Mr Cameron is serious about campaigning "to keep our United Kingdom together with every single fibre I have", as he said in the wake of the election, then he and others need to start thinking holistically, strategically and, in the short term, tactically. The response from the Scotland Office over last week demonstrates that none of these things is presently the case.
If I was being unfair I would point out that David Torrence himself is guilty of non-holistic thinking because he fails to mention England in his list of inconsistencies. The real glaring constitutional inconsistency is the status (or non-status) of England in our multi-national union. If Cameron wants to take on Salmond he needs to articulate a new understanding of Britishness that allows the different nations of Britain to sit comfortably in Union.
To address the lack of holistic thinking, David Torrence suggests a UK-wide constitutional convention. This is something that I would support, but not if it is simply a means for Westminster to silence "what Iain McLean called the "two mad men in the attic", the West Lothian Question and the Barnett Formula." The people of England must be consulted over their answer to the wider English Question, we should not be denied what was offered to Scotland, namely a national parliament and government that is accountable solely to us and governs in our name.
As Tim Montgomerie points out, David Cameron has avoided antagonising the Scots (personally I would have inserted the word 'unnecessarily' before antagonising):
If Cameron enjoyed Miliband's discomfort at the collapse of Scottish Labour, he won't relish the prospect of going down in history as the prime minister who presided over the end of the Union. Despite pressure from some quarters in the Conservative camp, the Tory leader has carefully avoided antagonising the Scots. He has opposed the idea of an English parliament and any review of the Barnett formula, which determines the funding allocated to the devolved administrations.
But in doing so Cameron has antagonised the English, as the Sun's YouGov poll on Scottish independence illustrates (see attached). More people in England and Wales (41%) support Scottish independence than oppose it (40%), and 54% think Scotland benefits more than England and Wales from the Union (£4.5billion is a lot of money).
My earlier suggestion that the referendum on Scottish independence would in itself be the transformational event (rather than the result) looks like it needs revising. The mere prospect of a referendum in 2014 (on the anniversary of Bannockburn and timed to coincide with Glasgow's Commonwealth Games) appears to have focussed minds on the left and the right. About time too.
We can only hope that the cross-party "Stronger United" group, trailed by Marcus Booth, takes on board these views, and isn't just a Gordon Brown-esque "Britishness" campaign that extols the tired old trope of Westminster sovereignty - power devolved is power retained - in an era 'whose leitmotif is the sovereignty of the people' [Bogdanor].
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, defended the principle of Scottish popular sovereignty in Parliament yesterday, when he rejected demands that the English should have a referendum on the future of the Union:
"I think it is right to say that any nation within the UK, in a sense, if it seeks to express a view about its own future, that that is primarily their prerogative to do so.
"It's equally right to say that that debate and the outcome of that debate has a knock-on effect on the rest of the UK. But do I think that, therefore, this parliament should somehow try to pre-empt that debate in Scotland? That's a separate debate.
Clegg also informed the constitutional reform select committee that he had delayed plans for a commission into the West Lothian question.
I thought that Alex Salmond's victory speech was very good, it showed humility and avoided triumphalism, by which method he managed to make Cameron's Unionist grandstanding seem rather shallow:
I believe the SNP won this election because Scotland wants to travel in hope and to aim high. Scotland has chosen to believe in itself and our shared capacity to build a fair society. The nation can be better, it wants to be better, and I will do all I can as First Minister to make it better. We have given ourselves the permission to be bold and we will govern fairly and wisely, with an eye to the future but a heart to forgive. - Alex Salmond's victory speech
Which stands in contrast to the bullish Bullingdon Boy.
“I know you [Mr Salmond] think a Conservative government at Westminster will ignore what Scotland wants and needs and that you will use such claims to promote your separatist agenda.
"Well, think again. We've got the vision. We've got the ideas And we've got the ambition. And to the people of Scotland, I make this guarantee. Whatever the outcome in Scotland of the next General Election, a Conservative Government will govern the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, with respect. Whoever is Scotland's First Minister, I would be a Prime Minister who acts on the voice of the Scottish people, and will work tirelessly for consent and consensus so we strengthen the Union....We can be the force that delivers on progressive ideals. - David Cameron's Stronger Together, Weaker Apart speech to the Scottish Conservative Party
David Cameron is now being urged to live up to his pledge to 'act on the voice of the Scottish people' by ignoring the wishes of the SNP Government that the people elected in order to stage an immediate referendum on independence, with government ministers hinting that the timing of the referendum may be taken out of the Scottish Government's hands despite Salmond's insistence that David Cameron promised not to interfere on the vote.
To complicate matters further, Prof Hazell of the Constitution Unit has reiterated his view that Scottish independence requires two referendums:
The final step is the second referendum, asking the people of Scotland if they want independence on the terms which have been negotiated. The first referendum, if passed, would give the Scottish government authority to demand independence, and compel the UK government to enter into negotiations. The SNP have said a second referendum would not be necessary.
Negotiations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government (acting on behalf of England) on how to end the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and how to divide the spoils (and debts) of Union, would no doubt raise a few English eyebrows. Given that David Cameron has ruled himself out of being PM of England with the words "I don't want to be prime minister of England", we in England can only hope that there is someone in office who does want that role come the negotiations. Heaven forbid that we have some Unionist buffoon dishing out sweeties in return for Scottish concessions.
In Our Kingdom's excellent Scottish Spring series, Gerry Hassan said that a referendum on Scottish independence 'will have many unintended consequences'. One consequence will be the rise of English nationalism, and for a political strategist like Alex Salmond that prospect should be an intended consequence because it is likely to be the biggest prize. The very nature of the United Kingdom will be irrevocably changed by a Scottish referendum because the English will become intensely aware of the multi-national-ism of Britain and their own Englishness. Scales will fall from English eyes. The old anglo-centric, Anglo-British, post-imperial imperialist idea of the British state, which sees England as the centre and Scotland as a satellite rather than a partner, will be shaken to its core. And I think that a new English understanding of Britain as a multinational, consensual, union of partner nations, will emerge. This is what is needed if the nations of Britain are ever to sit comfortably and flourish in union; the monotheistic British nationalism of the political establishment in England must be replaced with a unionism based on pragmatism and mutual respect.
I agree with Brian Barder that the adoption of federalism by one of the Unionist parties would change the context of the debate.
The mere adoption by a major political party of federalism as a long-term aim for the whole of the United Kingdom would transform forever the whole context in which a Scottish independence referendum would be held. What alternative is there, other than the disintegration of our country?
But I think, and hope, that the Scottish referendum and the step-change in attitudes that follow will be the catalyst for the adoption of a federal model: the referendum itself, rather than the result, being the event that opens the way for constitutional reform.
Whatever the outcome, I'm fairly confident that we will never again see an incumbent of Number Ten saying that he doesn't want to be prime minister of England and referring to English nationalists as "sour little Englanders". Bring it on.
David Cameron's Speech to Scottish Conservative Party Conference, Friday May 23, 2008
"It's great to be here in Ayr. This is a town with a special place in the hearts of Conservatives. Ayr was ably represented for so many years by that great Scottish Tory, George Younger. It is also the home base of one of our Party's most redoubtable fighters, Phil Gallie. And it was the scene of a famous by-election victory in 2000 when John Scott won the Scottish Parliamentary seat from Labour.
"Down south it's taken us a bit longer to get the hang of by-elections. But I think you'll agree that in a seat that was labour for 30 years, in the north of England where they said we couldn't win, with a Labour campaign that threw every bit of dirt, class war and scare tactics at us, after the Prime Minister brought forward his entire legislative programme and a mini budget to spend 3 billion of your money to try and save his own skin.
"After all that, when we ended our by election drought - as we did last night in Crewe and Nantwich - we did it in some style.
"I've been keeping a close eye on what's been going on in Scotland. There's certainly a fight going on. And here's the tale of tape as I see it.
"In the blue corner, there's Annabel Goldie. The best performer in Holyrood, unwavering and unstinting, leading a strong and united team, dedicated to standing up for the best interests of Scotland and Scottish people.
"They got extra police, cuts in business rates and more drug rehabilitation. That's the Conservative Party - and Conservative principles - in action.
"And then, in the red corner, there's Wendy Alexander, not exactly steady on her feet …. quite liable to knock herself out.
"First she opposed a referendum on independence. Then she did a u-turn and said "bring it on." Then Gordon Brown u-turned on that u-turn. Then Wendy Alexander u-turned on Gordon Brown's u-turn on the first u-turn.
"You still with this? I'm not. You don't know whether to laugh - or cry. Knowing Wendy, she's doing both.
"So that's it. That's the bout. It's Solid Goldie versus Bendy Wendy. If I was the referee, I'd stop the fight right now.
"This would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Labour think they're being clever. What they've actually done is put the Union under greater threat.
"To play games by calling for a referendum right at the moment when people would take any opportunity to give the most unpopular Government in living memory a good kicking, isn't clever, isn't good politics, isn't defending the Union. It's absolutely reckless - and we should have no part of it.
"And that's what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the future of the Union. And I want to talk about the future of the Conservative Party. And I want to show how these two things are inextricably linked.
"We - the Conservative Party - are a party of the Union and a part of the Union - and we've got to play a leading role in defending the Union - because, heaven knows, Labour won't. And I want to explain what playing our part means. It means continuing what we've started - changing our Party so we can change our country. It means setting our minds to the great challenges both England and Scotland face. Above all, it means recognising that the Conservative Party is at its best when it's talking about - and acting upon - our country's future prosperity and future progress.
"But to start, we've got to be completely frank. The simple truth is that the Union between England and Scotland is under attack as never before. Whether we like it or not, the ugly stain of separatism is seeping through the Union flag. And it's up to serious politicians to put their cards on the table.
"Let me make it one hundred percent clear: I am passionate about the Union. I don't want to be the Prime Minister of England. I want to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - all of it, including Scotland.
"I absolutely believe we are stronger together, and weaker apart, and I will do anything and everything to keep our two countries as one. And that means addressing one-by-one the deeper questions that are fuelling separatism.
"Now, there are some would simply blame constitutional and economic arrangements between England and Scotland. 'Sort out West Lothian, renegotiate Barnett, and everything will be fine' they say. Sorry, I don't think that's an adequate explanation for the separatism we're seeing today.
"The West Lothian question and Barnett Formula have been around and been debated for decades - don't tell me it's only now that they've lit the separatist touchpaper. Of course, that doesn't mean we should ignore them. It's essential that we find answers to any unfairness in the Union - and to questions of accountability, justice and democracy. And unlike Labour - who sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away - we will take those questions seriously. I am confident it will be possible to develop an arrangement whereby, when the House of Commons considers matters that affect only English constituencies, it is English MPs who have the decisive say.
"But let me say this: if it should ever come to a choice between constitutional perfection and the preservation of our nation, I know my choice. Better an imperfect union than a broken one. Better an imperfect union than a perfect divorce. My answer is simple: I choose the United Kingdom.
"The Union is in danger for other reasons too. There is, of course, the question of identity. The number of people who think themselves British - ahead of Scottish or English - is in decline. People no longer look to the Union flag for their sense of belonging - they look to the cross of St.George or the Saltire … if anything at all.
"It doesn't have to be like this. Being British is one of the most successful examples of inclusive civic nationalism in the world. We can be a shining example of what a multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multi-national society can and should be. And the challenge now is to renew that sense of belonging.
"It's vital we get this right. As so often, Gordon Brown gets it wrong. He approaches the question of national identity like an advertising exec. So we have citizen's juries - focus groups - to decide what it means to be British. We have a competition to come up with a motto for Britain. And we have the attempt to replace the National Anthem.
"It all goes to show: Gordon Brown's view of Britishness is mechanical, not organic, it's something to be redesigned, repackaged and relaunched by Whitehall, not something which lives in our hearts.
"He talks about British values - liberty, fair play, openness. He's right, but these are general, unspecific, almost universal. What the Prime Minister's response lacks is the emotional connection with the institutions that define Britishness. These institutions are the vital part of what it means to be British.
Our armed forces.
"I have to say to the Prime Minister, you don't stand up for Britishness when you weaken our Army by destroying the Scottish regiments. And you don't stand up for Britishness when you undermine our Houses of Parliament by passing more and more power to Brussels without giving people the referendum you promised. Britishness is a matter of instinct, not calculation, and the sooner we have a Government that is willing to stand up for, and take pride in, that instinct then the sooner we can fight the forces of separation.
"But let us also acknowledge this truth. We will serve neither our Party's interest - nor the Union's interests - if we think this is enough. The Conservative Party is, and always has been, a party of the Union. Its fortunes are wrapped in ours. When we succeed - the Union succeeds. In the 1950s, when the Conservative Party was at its strongest in Scotland, the Union was at its strongest.
"But when we fail - we weaken the Union. You know what I mean. I don't want to stand here and talk about the mistakes that were made in the 1980s - I've said it before and that's all in the past. But let's recognise - for the strength of our Union - that it's vital that we succeed again now. And I'm one hundred percent clear about how our Party has always succeeded - and will succeed.
"Yes, we're a party of the centre-right - of enterprise, of families, of self-reliance, common sense and practicality. But that's not enough. We really succeed when we're the party of everyone - rich, poor, young, old, urban, and rural. And most of all, we really succeed when we're the party of the future - the party of progress.
"Just think about it: when has our Party served Britain best? It's when we have relentlessly pursued progressive ideals. We're the party of Wilberforce, who brought down slavery. We're the party of Peel, who took on vested interests, repealed the corn laws and brought cheap food to everyone. We're the party of Disraeli, who spoke of One Nation, stood up for the poor and cleared the slums. We're the party of Churchill, Macmillan and Eden who took on fascism across the continent, and built and sold homes to create a property-owning democracy. And we're the party of Margaret Thatcher, who rejected decline, refused to live in the past and who freed up our economy and stood up for aspiration for all.
"And that spirit, that determination, that drive to be on the side of progress, on the side of freedom, on the side of giving everyone the opportunity to make the most of their lives is what should fire us in the 21st century too. Not only because it will make our Union stronger - by joining everyone into a shared purpose of fighting our social ills. Not only because it is the right thing to do - because a country where someone's life story is written before they are even born is a tragedy for us all. But because history - because social, technological and economic change - is on our side.
"We have both the will - and the means. In the twenty-first century - the century of opportunity, of the information revolution, where people have and want more power and control over their lives - progressive ends will best be met through conservative means.
"Let me explain what I mean. Take fighting poverty. No one can deny Labour's sincerity when it comes to erasing poverty from our land. And it would be churlish to say they haven't achieved anything. Giving low paid people more money through tax credits has helped lift many out of poverty. But for too many it's been about taking people from just below the poverty line to just above it - and when there's 600,000 more people in severe poverty now than there were in 1997, it's clear Labour's methods have run their course.
"What we've got to do now is get to grips with the persistent causes of poverty - not just the symptoms. We've got to tackle head on the family breakdown, the drug addiction and the debt which traps people into a life of deprivation. And how can we do that? Through Conservative means.
"Using our tax system to help make Britain the most family-friendly place on Earth, so young kids get the best and most loving start in life. Reforming our welfare system so people out of work really get the help they need to get off benefits - and yes, some pretty tough sanctions so that anyone swinging the lead can't live a life on welfare if they're able to work. Tackling the causes of poverty means sorting out our prisons so we focus not just on sentencing but also rehabilitation, giving people the chance to move away from a life of addiction, poverty and crime to one of hope and opportunity. And it means recognising that in all these areas; voluntary bodies, charities, social enterprises - they aren't the third sector - they are often the first and best sector….
"See what I mean? Progressive ends. Conservative means.
"What about the key progressive aim of protecting our environment? As Conservatives, this comes naturally to us. Passing on an inheritance to future generations is what we're about. So how are we going to do it? Of course, there's a role for government to set the framework, establish the targets for carbon reduction and lead by example - especially internationally. But leave this to Labour, and you'd think this was it. The truth is, real environmental transformation will only come when we harness the Conservative means to that progressive end. Setting a price for carbon in our economy. Creating a market so our best businesses and best minds come up with the products and services that will transform our environment and our economy. Creating incentives and profits for innovation and research - so we lead the green revolution like we did the industrial one a century and a half ago. When Conservatives look out from Aberdeen, we don't see depleted North Sea oil fields we see the ideal location for Carbon Capture and Storage, so we secure our energy supplies, protect our planet and lead the world in the new technology.
"See what I mean? Progressive ends. Conservative means.
"And what about the most fundamental progressive ideal of all? Equal opportunity and real social mobility. The idea that no one should be imprisoned by the circumstances of their birth. The idea that you can go from the very bottom to the very top. We all know that outside the home the real engine of social mobility are schools.
"And again, let's not dismiss Labour's record. Our schools needed investment and they gave it. But the approach that says - it's just money plus endless central direction has run its course. The Chief Inspector of Schools told us this much in plain terms, education standards have stalled.
"So what's the answer? It's time to open up the state monopoly to new providers, to new ideas and new pioneers - so that people with a passion for giving children the best opportunities can set up new schools. It's time to recognise that every child is different so they should be taught according to their ability, with setting in every school. It's time to make every Headteacher the captain of their ship, so they can really create disciplined and ordered learning environments.
"See what I mean? Progressive ends. Conservative means.
"This is why it's so exciting to be a Conservative right now. Not because we're doing well in the polls - though, of course, that's good. Not because we've got the strongest team in Parliament - though, of course, we have. But because we're coming up with the plans to help with the cost of living, to take up the fight against crime, and to really reform and improve our public services. Because we're leading the intellectual agenda. Because we're winning the battle of ideas.
"And it's absolutely vital that we lead that agenda and win this battle in every corner of the United Kingdom - including right here, in Scotland. At the moment, Scottish people have no choice.
"On the one side is the establishment Labour Party, offering big state solutions and endless interference into peoples' lives. And on the other side is the disestablishment SNP, making up for rhetoric on the dismemberment of the Union what they lack in intellectual coherence on any other subject.
"What Scotland is crying out for is a strong, sensible and moderate centre-right party. A Party that says yes, we're for the Union - for England and Scotland together as one. A Party that says yes, we back families, we'll take the fight to crime and we'll always remember that it's your money, not ours, that we're spending. But also a Party that stands up for progressive ideals, like tackling poverty, unlocking social mobility and protecting our planet. We can be that party. For the sake of the Union - we must be that party.
"So, to Alex Salmond, I say this. I know you've got a plan. I know you think a Conservative government at Westminster will ignore what Scotland wants and needs, and that you will use such claims to promote your separatist agenda.
"Well, think again. We've got the vision. We've got the ideas And we've got the ambition. And to the people of Scotland, I make this guarantee. Whatever the outcome in Scotland of the next General Election, a Conservative Government will govern the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, with respect. Whoever is Scotland's First Minister, I would be a Prime Minister who acts on the voice of the Scottish people, and will work tirelessly for consent and consensus so we strengthen the Union.
"As we already are with the Calman Commission, we will work to see how the devolved settlement can be improved upon so it builds on what we have, takes it forward and continues to deliver for the people of Scotland.
"So after we've just won our first by-election victory in a quarter of a century. In a constituency which had been Labour for sixty years and in which no one gave us a hope. At a time when people said that the Conservatives couldn't do the North.
"Now is the time for us - the Conservative Party - to stand up and say there really are no no-go areas for us anymore. Right here, in Scotland, we can be the force that defends the Union. We can be the force that delivers on progressive ideals. We can be the force that makes Scotland - makes the United Kingdom - stronger, richer and fairer. We can be. We must be. And, together, renewed, rejuvenated, reinvigorated by our great success this year, we will be.
Yesterday Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards asked David Cameron whether "reform of the Barnett formula, as advocated by the independent Holtham commission, will be a cornerstone of any wider changes to how the Welsh Government are funded?"
This was Cameron's reply:
We are looking at a Calman-like process for Wales; we think that is right, and we will make some announcements and proposals. Let me just say that because the spending reductions in Wales are less than the spending reductions in England, we will find at the end of this Parliament that the difference in spending per head in Wales will be even greater than it is today, so I do not accept the contention that somehow people in Wales are being unfairly targeted with cuts; they are not. They are getting a better deal than some other parts of the United Kingdom.
Alun Cairns MP recently summarised the Barnett Formula:
At the moment, Wales receives £113, which will drop to £112, for every £100 that is spent in England; Scotland receives £120; and Northern Ireland receives £124. Holtham concludes that Wales needs £115, which is marginally more than it is currently being awarded; Scotland needs £105, which is a significant reduction from its £120 now; and the figure for Northern Ireland is not far from what it already receives. That is the first needs-based assessment that has taken place. If that is not accepted in general terms, it is certainly an exceptionally useful starting point of where the needs lie.
So yes, Wales does do better than other areas of the UK. But it would be more correct (and more honest) to say that Wales does better than England.
Hat-tip: Western Mail
The English Standard (23rd April, 2017) reports on David Cameron's volte-face:
ENGLISH Conservative leader David Cameron conceded yesterday he was “wrong” when leading the 2013 campaign against establishing the English National Assembly.
Mr Cameron led the Just Say No campaign in the last referendum but is now backing the ‘Yes’ vote in Thursday’s poll to extend England's devolved powers.
The prospective First Minister told an event hosted by Yes for England that his fears about what devolution would mean for the UK had proved unfounded and he had deep regrets about his "I do not want to be the prime minister of England" statement of 2008 that has haunted him during the campaign.
He said: “It is a long while ago, the nation has moved on a long way, politics has moved on a long way and we now have an Assembly, and I think everybody in England, virtually, would accept that the main show in town is to make sure the Assembly works effectively and delivers for the people of England.
“Back in 2013, I was concerned that the Assembly would be divisive, would be used as a means of perhaps fragmenting the Union long-term.
“I was wrong then. It’s fairly clear that opinion in favour of independence has remained absolutely static as it has for 30 or 40 years poll after poll after poll, and the evidence on the doorsteps is people don’t want independence.”
People wanted the ability to run their own affairs regardless of their political beliefs, claimed Mr Cameron.
“It is no surprise that I don’t agree with a lot of what the Assembly Government has done – I don’t agree with most of it – but I do think it’s important that England should have the ability to decide on domestic issues in England,” he said. “Therefore I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Assembly that wouldn’t be put right by a change in government.
“So it is my strong belief that we do need these additional powers, we do need this next level of decision-making in relation to powers that we’ve already got to ensure we can effectively do the job.”
Based upon Nick Bourne's Road to Damascus.
Over the past few days, following on from David Cameron's speech, you may have noticed the occasional news report or opinion piece on the Big Society and the 'Big Society Bank' that will fund it. You would be excused for thinking that this affected the entire UK, after all there was nothing in Cameron's speech to indicate otherwise, and nothing in the BBC report either. But as I have pointed out before, it is limited to England.
You have to hunt pretty hard to come by this information, but news of the territorial extent of this policy has leaked out to the public:
A Big Lottery Fund spokesperson said:
“We look forward to discussing with Government the precise nature of BIG’s role in using England’s share of dormant accounts funding to support the Big Society Bank. We understand the government will shortly issue the Big Lottery Fund with the formal directions we need to take this work forward.
So if it's just England's dormant bank accounts that are being plundered by Government, why doesn't Cameron say so in his speech?
In Cameron's speech there were no utterances of the words 'England' or 'English', there were six mentions of the phrase 'our country', three mentions of the phrase 'the country', and the usual references to 'our public services', 'our communities', etc.
When listening to Cameron, we must assume that "England is the country, and the country is England", and that anything he says relates to England unless he explicitly states otherwise (as is the case with the Conservative website, which is by default English).
David Cameron's latest swipe at multiculturalism is to be welcomed, just as long as it is a swipe at state, doctrinal, multiculturalism and not an attack on freedom and individualism. However, it does raise some interesting questions. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, as its name suggests, an intrinsically multi-national and multi-cultural state, and so far David Cameron has failed to understand this, as Andy Mycock points out:
Though Cameron claims the Conservatives are not about to enter a ‘my flag is bigger than yours’ contest, he follows a long tradition of party leaders who believe they are the natural patriotic party of the Union. However, it is clear that he is hindered by an enduring Anglo-Britishness which fails to acknowledge the complexity of debates across the UK concerning identity and citizenship. While Cameron derides Brown, it is striking how similar their constructions of Britishness are. Cameron draws on a narrative that is almost identical in its emphasis on British values, institutions and history.
David Cameron believes that one of the criteria upon which we should judge the liberalism of an organisation is "Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government?". But don't expect Cameron and the the British government to look at themselves and extend the principle of self-government to the people of England, because Cameron is only interested in strengthening British identity. If you happen to live in the self-governing parts of Britain (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) there's little need to listen to, or care about, what Cameron has to say on the subject of British identity, you probably won't be affected by it.
"We've got David Cameron as Prime Minister now. A wet lipped buffoon who looks like he should be playing a trombone in a fucking Lurpak butter advert!" - Frankie Boyle
Yesterday David Cameron gave a speech on public services in England without once mentioning the word 'England'. Instead we were treated to 18 instances of the phrase 'our public services', 4 instances of 'our country' and 2 mentions of 'our schools' (not to mention 'our schools and hospitals', 'our universities', 'our teaching hospitals and universities', 'our children', 'our health outcomes', 'our society', 'public services in our country' and 'our Foundation hospitals'). He managed to mention the word 'Britain' 4 times but to his credit he spared us the moralising guff about 'Britishness' and 'British values' that would have cluttered up a Gordon Brown speech.
So, Mr Cameron, instead of this:
Some of our Foundation hospitals are bringing the very best care to the people who need it most.
City Technology Colleges and Academies are transforming education results in some of our poorest communities.
Why not say this:
Foundation hospitals in England are bringing the very best care to the people who need it most.
City Technology Colleges and Academies are transforming education results in some of England's poorest communities.
Would it be so very fucking difficult to mention England when it is England of which you speak?