Anthony Eden: the last Tory Prime Minister to get Scotland's backing/Wikimedia
32) No more Conservative rule
“Scotland elected one Tory MP in the last general election yet still there is a Tory government in power.” Katie Sutherland, National Collective
Scotland's tradition of voting against the Conservative party isn't a recent fad. In the 45 elections between the 1832 Great Reform Act (and the foundation of the party) and today, MPs who would go on to sit on the Tory benches have won most votes in Scotland on a total of five occasions, the last of which was 49 years ago.
In each of these occasions, most of these MPs stood not as Conservatives, but for a separate Scottish led sister party “the Unionist party”. In three of the elections (1918, 1931, 1935), they were standing as a part of a “national government” coalition ticket during a major crisis. In the other two (1951, 1955), they only secured their winning vote share once their ballots are added to those from their allies in the National Liberal Party – a split from the Liberals.
Whilst, eventually, a different right of centre party might emerge in Scotland, independence almost certainly means never again having to live under a Conservative government.
Disaster for the Tories
“conservative parties are rooted in specific circumstances, particular traditions – if that vital context disappears then so does our purpose. What’s the point of the Conservative and Unionist Party without a Union?” - Peter Franklin, ConservativeHome, 7 April 2014.
“David Cameron will resign if he loses Scotland” says Benedict Brogen in the Telegraph “A Prime Minister who allows the break-up of the United Kingdom cannot suffer such a statement of no confidence and continue in office. That much is understood in Downing Street, where a gnawing doubt about the referendum gets worse by the day.”
Unlike Brogen, I have no special knowledge of what Cameron will do – he himself has said he won't go, though the fact he had to comment at all is telling, and it is the kingmakers who would make such a call, not the king. But we can be sure of this: if it is a yes vote, it'll be a political earthquake across the UK – the sort of event from which governments rarely emerge intact. As things stand, there seems a good chance Labour will lose the next election (though, who knows?). If Scotland votes yes, Labour might lose some MPs, but the Tories will have lost the confidence of the country and the historic British state they exist to run.
This is much longer term than the next election. As Peter Franklin says on ConservativeHome, right wing parties are built around particular national circumstances. You can't disentangle the historic success of the Britain's Tories from the unchanged nature of Britain's constitution and the long shadow of empire across our self image. Scottish independence would begin to change those things and, as Franklin puts it: “would be a disaster for Labour, but a death blow to the Conservatives”.
34) The Labour Party & the lack of hope
“we are going to have to keep all these cuts” - Ed Balls
If there was a genuine prospect of real change within the current British State, perhaps independence wouldn't be worth the hassle. But it's not the Tories who are guilty of there being no hope – they play the appropriate democratic role of a right of centre party. It's Labour.
A yes vote doesn't guarantee a fairer country, but it offers a chance of it. Look to the current Labour leadership: they are promising to attack young unemployed people; apologising that, whilst they were imprisoning children for being a) foreigners and b) in Britain, they were too soft on migration; they insist that they will match the Tory's cuts – and remember that this is the incarnation of Labour led by the candidate chosen by the left of the party.
A yes vote offers at least offers a opportunity to win change. The best hope if it's a no vote is a Labour government; and that gives no hope of change at all.
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