24 Mar 2015
By Ruth Davidson (The London Evening Standard – 24 March 2015)
“For two people whose life mission is to make London the capital of a foreign country, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon seem to have set up shop here in recent weeks.
Having failed to convince Scots of their plan for separation, they’re now trying to convince England that it’s inevitable and – despite the recent referendum result to the contrary – that Scotland now is a different country regardless.
Go on chaps, they urge, Scotland has one foot out the door already, why not just sign the divorce papers quietly and get it over with. It’s a clever trick, but don’t be fooled. I’m also in London today (Tuesday) to attend the last political meeting before the election. And I want to set out a simple truth: the SNP is not Scotland and Scotland is not the SNP.
When Alex Salmond talks of planning to hold a weak Ed Miliband government to ransom as he did on the Sunday TV sofas that doesn’t just scare people south of the border, it scares many, many Scots too. He is simply doing what nationalists have done the world over – attempting to conflate the national interest with his own narrow, ideological one and paint anyone who disagrees as unpatriotic.
It’s cheap, dirty politics designed to send out the message that everyone north of the border is equally Scottish, but some are more Scottish than others.
The majority of people in Scotland want no truck with this version of divide-and-rule. While Alex Salmond may have told the Marr show on Sunday that whoever holds the balance, holds the power – and gloated over votes that have yet to be cast – he would do well to remember that nationalism is still (and has always been) a minority pursuit in Scotland.
The real Scotland – not the oft quoted “progressive consensus” which demands a Nordic way of doing things – is the Scotland that voted No to independence by a clear margin last September. A firm decision made despite three years of relentless campaigning by an SNP government with the Scottish Civil Service at its disposal.
The real Scotland is the one which repeated social attitude surveys show holds similar views to the rest of the UK on difficult issues such as immigration, capping benefits, and holding a referendum on EU membership.
The real Scotland is the one where two thirds of people think the British economy is doing well and will continue to do well for their family over the next year – confirmed by a recent Ashcroft poll of more than 5,000 Scots.
The real Scotland is the one that wishes Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon would stop the endless shuttle visits to London to talk up divisions within the UK and actually get back to dealing with the things they’re paid to address – like sorting out our schools and hospitals.
There’s a reason that people in London and elsewhere in the British Isles bridle when senior SNP members are interviewed on television. It’s because – having failed to sufficiently stoke division in Scotland for separation – nationalists endeavour to annoy the rest of the country into pushing Scotland towards the exit themselves. So the next time you see the SNP preaching about how different Scotland is – think of it as the away fans singing at a football ground.
Yes, they’re noisy. Yes, their chanting can really wind you up. But they are in the minority. The real Scotland contains a home support of far greater number, and is opposed to their separation plans. A home support that wants what it voted for in the referendum – to be an equal partner in the UK with more decisions taken closer to home. It’s what the majority of people in London want, too.”