23 Mar 2012
The following is the text from the speech by Co-chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, at the launch of the Conservatives Friends of the Union last weekend in Troon.
Sayeeda Warsi said:
“As Tory Chairman I spend a lot of my time taking on unions – namely the ones that bankroll Labour’s campaigns.
But today I want to come out and defend a Union.
One which has benefitted us all for centuries.
One which is key to our success as a nation.
And one which we must work flat-out to keep intact:
The Union between Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
That is why I wholeheartedly support the launch of the Conservative Friends of the Union group.
Which couldn’t have a better champion than the dynamic, enthusiastic, vibrant and hugely patriotic Ruth Davidson.
Now we’ve all heard – and will continue to hear – the reasons why we should preserve our Union.
But as someone who prides herself as a campaigning chairman…
…who goes up and down the country every week to argue our case, fight for our cause….
…I want to explain exactly how I believe we can prevent the breakup of the Union.
Some people say this is a debate about one man who is determined to break up the Union: Alex Salmond.
One correspondent wrote to me at CCHQ about his fears about a referendum.
He said: Be wary of Alex Salmond ‘winding people up with the pipes and drums’.
Now I’ve never seen Mr Salmond with his pipes.
But I have seen him banging the drum for division.
And it is our job to drown out this separatist rhetoric with a positive case for keeping the Union intact.
In doing this we should be inspired by last year’s No to AV campaign.
We started off by exposing how terrible the voting system was: complicated, expensive and pointless.
But that alone didn’t win us the argument.
What really clinched it was when we demonstrated how powerful, how precious, our existing system of ‘one person, one vote’ was.
It became a positive campaign.
A ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ campaign.
And as a result the campaign to preserve the UK’s tried and tested system won by a massive margin.
So this campaign needs to be not just about Scotland being worse off without the rest of the UK.
But how Scotland is better off in the UK, and the UK is better off when we are united.
Yes, the easier thing to do would be to pick holes in the alternative – and we certainly will.
But when you’re fighting for something so fundamental, the more mature, more difficult, more powerful thing to do is make a positive case.
I believe in a politics where people vote for something.
We must show people that in voting to save the Union, they are voting for stability, strength and prosperity.
That’s why we are launching the Friends of the Union.
We also need to make clear that the Conservatives are fighting for unity in spite of the electoral boost independence could give the Conservative Party.
Many have pointed out that lopping Scotland off the electoral map could guarantee us future majorities at Westminster.
It would be the biggest gerrymander in history – and we would be the winners.
But Conference, we want what is right for our country.
It’s a bit like our mission to sort out the deficit. It’s about putting aside our party interest to act in the national interest.
And just as we won’t leave future generations with a mammoth debt…
… we also cannot leave them with a collection of weakened nations – nations which once stood as a strong Union.
Conference, we cannot allow Alex Salmond to hijack patriotism.
He says that if you love Scotland, to be loyal to its future, you must support independence.
But we need to make something clear: a person’s loyalty to Scotland is not compromised if they are also loyal to the United Kingdom.
I can vouch for this having spent my life – being English, British, Yorkshire and Muslim – proving that loyalties do not have to conflict and do not have to be divided.
And I have been able to do so because Britain is a place of diversity, of multiple identities.
A place where you can be a proud Scot and a true Brit.
And that is why patriotism does not equate to separatism.
This referendum, like AV, will be all about the communication of the case.
And how I like to explain the independence question is by likening it to a relationship.
If someone says ‘this isn’t working’ it’s natural to say ‘I don’t want you either’.
But, as with a relationship, if it’s worth fighting for then you show them what they mean to you.
It’s the same with Scotland’s place in the Union.
We need to show just what this relationship means to us – Scottish, English, Northern Irish and Welsh.
And that Scotland is better off in Britain and Britain is better off with Scotland.
Campaigning is in the DNA of the Conservative Party.
So too is our commitment to the Union.
We are, after all, the Conservative and Unionist Party.
So let’s get out there and say, show it, and fight for it.”