Home > Union > A Reply to David Cameron’s speech on the United Kingdom

A Reply to David Cameron’s speech on the United Kingdom

Cameron came to Scotland today and gave an impassioned speech on why he believes in this United Kingdom.

It was a welcome change from his previous forays into the independence debate. He was positive about Scotland and Scotland’s contribution to the UK. He talked about how solidarity that the UK had, that we would lose if Scotland left. Yes, that’s right Dave Cameron went all Labour on us.

It was an impassioned speech and no doubt the Prime Minister believed in every word but it left me with questions and doubts.

Cameron spoke passionately about us being stronger together as a United Kingdom. He talked passionately about the solidarity it brings and the benefits it brings to all when you have 60 million people standing by you. Yet as Mark Pack points out, Dave can’t see that the same reasons he talks up the UK with are the same reasons why the European Union is so valuable.

I’ve talked to many Tories and UKIPers about this, and the only answer they can come up with is that the Uk is older and is therefore somehow better. Thats not true. The UK needs reform as does the EU but the UK isn’t better because its older. The older generation isn’t better than the younger because they are older. They have more experience but experience doesn’t equate to being better.

I would love to know what Cameron’s answer to this would be.

In his speech, he talked about Scotland and England’s shared values, shared identity, shared history. Yet his government amongst the huge education reforms that they are making, aren’t making provisions for our shared history to be taught in England. Cameron is happy for the vast majority of the English to remain ignorant of how the UK was formed.

In other nations, it is pretty much unthinkable to have a large swathe of its citizens not knowing how their country came to be. Yet in the UK, we are happy to let it slide that the English, 80% of the population aren’t taught about the Union of the Crowns and the Union of the Parliaments. In Scotland, we need to change our history curriculum so its less biased and focuses on how the whole UK was formed not just how Scotland formed a Union with England.

Cameron talked of his love of devolution and decentralisation and talks of wanting a settlement that works for everyone, yet his government is devolving power to Scotland, devolved powers to Wales and is setting up the West Lothian Commission without thinking about the possible negative impacts on the rest of the Uk.

I believe devolution in Scotland has some negative impacts on the rest of the UK as well as in Scotland (although a lot is positive for Scotland). The negative impact is biased towards England because they have no assemblies or their own parliament. This government has set up the West Lothian commission to solve it. What if that has negative consequences on rest of UK? Solve those issues on a case by case base, that has negative impact on the other nations etc. etc. Isn’t it better to have some joined up thinking on this?

If Cameron wants to find a solution to how to best govern this United Kingdom, why doesn’t he set up a commission to find out the answer to that question.

Finally, Cameron talks about continuing the debate on devolution after the independence referendum. Well, Mr Cameron, I don’t believe you on that score.

There was a devolution referendum in 1979, which only failed due to a threshold and stalled the debate for a generation thanks to your idol Lady Thatcher. The 97 referendum whilst successful, there hasn’t been much debate on where we go from here other than independence from the SNP. No side has really pushed for further devolution faster or a different vision. Even the LibDems have been fairly silent.

In May of last year, you took the side of No to AV, a large section of that campaign had a Yes to PR, No To AV. I believe Cameron himself said that people who want PR should vote No so they can start fighting for something they believe in. Yet when the No vote was announced, Cameron, himself said that it was a Yes vote for FPTP and had killed the debate for electoral reform for a generation.

So unless you can give me and Scotland a cast-iron guarantee, I simply won’t believe that the debate will carry on. In fact the only guarantee, I’d except is a question on the ballot paper asking Scots if we want change to the current constitutional settlement but not independence.

Even after Cameron’s speech, I’m left wondering what is Cameron’s vision for the UK! Does he have one? I’ve got empty rhetoric, nothing else.

It is time, that the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems set out their vision for what a future UK would look like. If they can find one.

  1. February 16, 2012 at 17:23

    Good post – I think you are right. We need to think about the constitution of the whole of the UK, not just treat it as The Scottish Question. I don’t think Cameron is visionary about anything – he just loves a crisis, and thinks leadership is managing one crisis to the next. The nearest we get to vision is the Big Society, which few understand.

    • February 16, 2012 at 18:11

      Well then for Cameron it might be good news that he is just storing up trouble for the future leaders of this country when it comes to the UK. Since I was 12, I’ve always believed the fate of the UK, was in Westminster’s hands. I questioned whether Westminster was bold, radical or clever enough to see that it could stop the potential of Scottish Independence. I fear its not.

  2. wafflycat
    February 16, 2012 at 18:38

    Cameron is as too many on the right (Tory, UKIP and many who believe *their* country is better than any other; irrespective of what country that happens to be) as regards Europe and ‘others’: arrogant & xenophobic. Got to remember that Jonny Foreigner can’t teach us anything. Heavens no!

    • February 16, 2012 at 19:29

      I see no xenophobia in UKIP those types go to the BNP/EDL. Of course I want my house, street, city,county, country to be the best in the world, I expect every one in the world to want the same for theirs – I expect this not because of differences, but because of similarities.

  3. February 16, 2012 at 21:43

    I broadly agree with what much of what you say about devolution weakening the UK, and cameron being clueless, but I am just surprised that you don’t recognise the genuine and solid differences between the union of the UK and the European Union.

    I would put ‘Corpus Juris’ near the top – the very principles of justice that we know understand and respect in this country are completely alien concepts to our European neighbours. Things that are core to the hard won principles the people of england won through magna-carta, glorious revolution, Putney debates, bill of rights etc – They really do do these hings differently on the continent – differently and much, much worse.

    • February 16, 2012 at 22:18

      What a lot of nonsense Paul! Modern UK law is now overwhelmed by statute law, while French, German and other European legal practice is becoming more an more precedent based, and well, like Common Law. Legal practice is converging, and frankly its only lawyers (like you?) who care about the diminishing differences. And as for you picture of history – it sounds distinctly English to me…not much to do with our neighbours north of the border. and its not as if the French et al have not had there own hard-won victories. Grow up!

    • February 16, 2012 at 22:23

      I think it has weakened it but that doesn’t mean devolution or some federalised state can’t work.

      I know there are differences but the principle behind the two unions are much the same. I want to see reform to the EU just I like want to see reform to the UK, the difference is I’m for both unions. I don’t pick and choose. I think we can be better off together in the UK if its reformed and I believe we can be better off in the EU, if its reformed.

      The English and the Scots legal systems are also quite different as I’m sure your aware. In fact the Scottish system is unique, in that it’s the only system in the world that has a “not proven” verdict. I’m very much in favour of that verdict.

      The EU has a problem, in the lack of democracy and the fact that it likes to over-extend itself as well as the policies its allowed to legislate on or overrule the member states.

      To me, you either believe in the power of unions or you don’t. You either believe that people standing together, collaborating, innovating together etc. can be stronger than individual nations going it along or you don’t.

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