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Could Cameron Survive Scottish Independence?

Frederic Legrand [1] / Shutterstock.com [2]

Iain Martin remarks [3] on reports that Scottish independence would trigger a Tory revolt [4] against Cameron:

A group of Tory MPs is preparing to remove David Cameron if Scotland votes Yes, the Independent reports today. The excellent James Cusick writes that the Tory leader will face a challenge because he will have lost Scotland and ended the United Kingdom, which on a Prime Ministerial CV counts as something of a blemish.

Martin allows that there is a “certain logic” to this, but rejects it for the reason that someone will have to lead the rest of the U.K. in negotiations with an independent Scotland and it may as well be Cameron. That’s a fair point, but I suspect that confidence in Cameron would be so shattered after a ‘yes’ vote that no one would want to entrust this task to him. If Scotland votes ‘yes’, as it may do, Cameron will get the blame for agreeing to an up-or-down referendum, and he’ll become the convenient scapegoat for frustrated unionists. There is already enough discontent with Cameron in his own party that independence would just be the last straw. According to the original report [4], anti-Cameron maneuvering is being driven by more than just the Scottish issue:

Backbench unrest over the UK’s relationship with the EU means the Scotland issue will be combined with other anti-Cameron grievances. One MP expected to be the leading figure in the revolt if the PM tried to stay on after a Yes win, said: “This isn’t a coup d’état, or a sinister plot. It would be the consequences of a catastrophe. There would be a flood of anger.”

There is a sense in which it would be unfair to pin a failure by the ‘No’ campaign solely on Cameron, since unionist efforts on the referendum have been pretty uniformly unimpressive [5]. Nonetheless, Cameron is the prime minister and is bound to be held responsible if part of the country separates itself. That is especially true when independence has as much support as it does is in part because many people in Scotland never want to be governed by Cameron’s party again. Considering how overwrought some unionist fears for their country without Scotland are, it seems unlikely that the same people fretting about Britain’s supposedly diminished role in the world [6] are going to accept the leadership of the man that presided over that outcome.

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7 Comments To "Could Cameron Survive Scottish Independence?"

#1 Comment By collin On September 5, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

So does this mean that Obama is ‘good leader’ since Puerto Rico voted to become a state in 2012?

Of course the chances of Puerto Rico as the 51st state are somewhere between 0 to 1% the next five years.

#2 Comment By Sean Scallon On September 5, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

Actually it will be Cameron’s party which will be responsible for Scottish independence if it happens. Perhaps the negotiations should be led the Lib Dems.

#3 Comment By cumlazaro On September 5, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

Key issue is that Cameron rejected possibility of ‘devo max’ on ballot which would undoubtedly have been most popular option. [7] By doing so, he played a high risk strategy -that Scots would avoid independence if forced to choose between independence and status quo. If that strategy fails -and it might- he’ll pay the price.

#4 Comment By Derek Leaberry On September 5, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

Labour has too much to lose if Scotland becomes independent so they will be quietly pushing a no vote. I would be surprised if independence draws more than 47 %.

As for Cameron, the Tories are stuck with Mr. Modern until the political bloodbath of 2015. With their coalition of bureaucrats, lifestyle lefties, minorities, Scotland, Wales and urban prols, I wouldn’t be surprised if Labour holds the Prime Ministership deep into Charles III’s reign.

#5 Comment By HeartRight On September 5, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

Derek Leaberry says:
September 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Labour has too much to lose if Scotland becomes independent so they will be quietly pushing a no vote. I would be surprised if independence draws more than 47 %.

Labour is not quitely pushing a no-vote, Labour is spearheading the campaign against secession.

Cameron does not dare to show his face north of Hadrian’s Wall – knowing that this would be utterly counterproductive. That man is compelety unsuitable to lead our country – in what he proclaimed to be ‘the fight of my life’, no less.

Today, Labour is the only One Nation party, and – despite being more right wing than Cameron – I shall probably support them.

To paraphrase the Kohl campaign in Germany 1990: It’s about the United Kingdom


#6 Comment By cecelia On September 6, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

they have ignored this – both labour and tories for years acting as if the Scots were fools and the whole movement a joke. They dismissed it as “braveheart” nonsense and thus failed to see it for what it was. Gordon Brown – the logical choice as someone to deflate the movement – actually made it worse. Until the latest poll they were complacent and now they are suddenly realizing this is for real and could happen. Incompetence among all concerned in Westminster.

At no point did it ever occur to anyone in Westminster that sitting down and talking to Scottish people about what were the issues for them and then trying to solve those issues might be a good strategy.

#7 Comment By arrScott On September 8, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

If Yes wins, it will be a defeat on possibly the most significant political question of Cameron’s premiership. He should face a leadership challenge in that event, and ought probably be removed. Heck, in most parliamentary systems, it would be assumed by all, including the PM, that such an outcome would require him to resign. That’s one of the chief advantages of the parliamentary model – accountability is real and often swift.