How to solve the Scottish problem for Mr Brown

As Gordon Brown must be fed up with Alex Salmond and the Scottish National party running rings round him, fomenting English dissent with the Union, I suggest the following advice to the Prime Minister:

To :Prime Minister
From :Senior Political Adviser

I understand your reasons for turning down a referendum on the EU Treaty, even though I still think it would have boosted your ratings and made you appear different to the age of spin under Blair. I have been thinking how you could at one and the same time show you are concerned about what people think, and deal with the Scottish problem created by Alex Salmond’s persistent campaigning against the Labour government from his platform in Edinburgh.

The one good thing in the opinion polls for us in Scotland is the way support for independence has fallen sharply. As Salmond is about creating the conditions for Scottish independence, his biggest failure so far is to see support for such a venture falling rather than rising, the more he does as First Minister. I suggest you take advantage of this by giving Scottish people a referendum on independence.

We could present this favourably. We are listening to the wishes of the Scottish people. We would be giving to the First Minister what he says he most wants, a vote on the Union, at a time when he least wants it. We would call his bluff.

It should be easy to secure a "Yes" vote for the Union in Scotland – it would be far more difficult in England at the moment. All the main parties apart from the SNP would line up with us, and the polls allow plenty of leeway for a poor campaign for the Union. Once we had secured it, it means the issue of Scottish independence is off the agenda for a generation, and Alex Salmond will go from hero to zero in three short weeks. It should create internal dissension within his party, and lead many of them to ask what it is all for if they have already lost the hearts and minds of the Scottish people on the main thing that matters to them. Thereafter we would be free to adjust the financial settlement between England and Scotland to some extent, blaming Salmond for any cuts that had to follow in Scottish spending. He would not get another term as First Minister, and his minority government may even break up before the end of their term.

It still leaves us the problem of England, but it would mean English nationalists could no longer look forward to the early exit of Scotland from the Union which many of them favour. My advice on that remains not to wind the English up more by pressing ahead with strengthened regional government which they hate. Indeed, why not as part of the efficiency reviews look at ways of reducing the cost and intrusiveness of regional government in England to show them you understood the meaning of the North East referendum result? At the time you thought the Blair/Prescott combination had really messed that up, so why not accept the verdict of a very Labour part of England on that issue?

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7 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2007 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    On the eve of the North East regional assembly referendum, all
    parties agreed to abide by the result. Three years later regional assemblies are still in operation (with Conservatives sitting on them)and being payed for by council tax payers. Could some one explain in what way all parties abided by the result?

  2. Posted November 18, 2007 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    He'd choke on his porridge if you really sent that.

    You know what I'm going to say, though. Why are the Scots getting so many referendums and the English aren't allowed a single one? Let us speak now. This marriage is over and the longer it is left, the messier the divorce will get.

  3. Posted November 18, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Yet another referendum for the Scots would lead the English to demand one of their own.

    reply: It might – but it is unlikely Brown will grant us one. We need a change of personnel at westminster so it is not so anti English.

  4. Posted November 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    For a man who claims to be a democratic Conservative, and an intelligent one at that.
    I cannot understand why both Mr Redwood and his party, fail to move on and see that this continued "votes for the scots" "let scotland decide" mentality not only alienates both himself and his party from England and the English.
    But, mirrors the complete contempt of the no mandate pm and his no mandate govt from HM opposition for the people of England.
    Mr Redwood, your party used to be the party of England, it used to stand for something, now it is lead by a redundant mirror clone of blair, and is still bleating for a union that technically ended in 1921, and terminally ended with the scottish govt.
    You cannot have one country with two gov't,s
    Scotland has decalred itself a govt, time for England to do the same , and remove the signatories to the scottish claim of right from OUR Westminster Parliament forever, including those from within your own party.
    Remove England from the EU, and watch England become the world leader it always has been.
    Somehow I dont think the tories, have the stomach to face such facts, and other parties will come into their own do the right thing the the tories are so spineless in facing.

    Referendum now on
    English independence
    How to remove England from the EU

    reply: Please read the blog intelligently. It is written as if by an adviser of Brown from the Labour point of view! It is not my view nor the Conservative view.

  5. Posted November 18, 2007 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    It would put independence off the agneda for a generation(except possibly in England) but I suspect this would help not hinder the SNP.

    The SNP got in on the sensible grounds that they were going to run the place better than thenumpties of Scottish Labour. Labour did indeed run their election on the threat of independence. With that off the agenda non-Labour unionists would have no problem voting for them. The fact is that the SNP, while somewhat schizoid on free enterprise, have put forward a more progressive agenda (lower business rates & corporation tax than England) than our Tories.

    Under PR there is an electoral niche for a free market party & the SNP have occupied it because the Tories refused to. The solution is obvious.

  6. Posted November 18, 2007 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    That memo should be cc'd to Cameron also.

    The English question needs to be answered, but there is now also a British question – what is the Union for ?

    Defence of the union has tended to be negative and fear based.

    the opportunity for the Conservatives is to be radical and determine the future of the UK for the next 200 years as a federated state of the home countries.

  7. Posted November 18, 2007 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    The conservatives are pretty much dead in Scotland. Probably due to the Scottish sense of 'Social Justice'. Though on the ground, not many people believe in the SNP. According to Scottish girlfriends…

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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