Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence

Murdo Fraser’s pledge to disband the Conservative party in Scotland, formally announced today, lays bare the high wire act he is now playing, reports Ed Jacobs.

With a new poll showing support for Scottish independence outstripping opposition, Left Foot Forward’s Ed Jacobs warns that it is time for all supporters of the Union to wake up to the very real prospect of an independent Scotland

As Murdo Fraser today formally announces his bid to take the helm of the Scottish Conservatives, with a pledge to disband the party north of the border in favour of a new centre-right grouping free from control by London, the high wire act he is now playing has been laid bare for all to see.

New polling for the Herald by TNS-BMRB has revealed the proportion of Scots in favour of independence is now marginally ahead of those who would reject it – 39% outlining support against 38% who reject the notion. Twenty three per cent said they were unsure of how they would vote.

Responding to the results, Chris Eynon of TNS-BMRB, explained:

“For now, the ball is rolling in favour of the SNP and independence. However, a lot can change over the next two to three years.

“It does provide a stark measure of how attitudes towards independence per se have moved since the SNP first came to power in 2007. The decline in opposition is reflected more in a shift to ‘undecided’ than to ‘support’, which is perhaps not surprising. It would be a major change to move from opposing to supporting independence over a short period.

“What this does suggest is that resistance is being challenged and more people are being encouraged to reconsider their opposition to independence.”

The results are once again likely to reignite tensions within the Scottish Conservative party over the wisdom of Murdo Fraser’s call for a breakaway centre-right party, not least given Glasgow MSP and rival for the leadership at Holyrood, Ruth Davidson’s, clear condemnation of the move.

She said:

“I am proud to be a Scottish Conservative and Unionist. This is a destabilising distraction that will be welcomed by no one more than Alex Salmond.”

It comes as one Conservative MP in Wales has argued the Scottish Conservatives have simply been too slow to realise the extent of their problems.

Responding to Fraser’s announcement, Jonathan Evans, MP for Cardiff North, argued:

“After we lost the general election in 1997 and then lost the Welsh devolution referendum, I was invited to write a paper on the direction of the party in Wales – as far as the Scots are concerned, they simply never got round to doing that. Very soon after the referendum we started to think about these issues. I wrote the paper. Very many things arose from that, including our decision to re-brand as The Welsh Conservatives.

“Contrast that with the situation in Scotland where the party remained in denial after 1997. They never went through the process of making the party identifiable in Scotland and have never been seen as sticking up for Scotland. Under David Cameron they have started this process. They have been talking to us in Wales about what we did and what we are doing to learn those lessons.

“If you ask me whether the answer is for them to scrap the Conservative name then I would say definitely not.”

But perhaps the most sobering and clear message is for Labour. The Scottish Conservatives, if Fraser is elected leader, will no longer be a credible champion of the Union whilst the Lib Dems remain tarnished goods in Scotland. For Labour, today’s polling should be a clear wake-up call that tackling independence has to be a priority and a priority for a new, strong leader with the authority and credibility to take on Alex Salmond.

As an editorial in today’s Herald argues:

“What today’s poll from TNS-BMRB demonstrates is the urgency and importance of remedying this situation. As Professor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University writes in The Herald today, there was a widespread feeling after the elections in May that millions of people voting SNP did not necessarily mean that those millions supported independence.

“But the fact that TNS-BMRB has reported majority support for independence should act as a warning against such complacency. If we are indeed sleepwalking into independence, as some more passionate commentators have warned, this poll could be the first wake-up call.”

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26 Responses to “Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence”

  1. Oliver Lewis

    Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence: writes @EdJacobs #Scotland

  2. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence

  3. Meghan Russo

    Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence: … bid to take the helm of the Scott…

  4. traquir

    Supporters of Union must wake up to real prospect of independence.
    Fear now on the other foot as BritNats cower #sp4

  5. Owen O'Donnell

    Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence: writes @EdJacobs #Scotland

  6. Leon Wolfson

    No, at the time there was no majority support for independence. But that was before the Tories ham-handed government has driven many Scots into the pro-independence camp, and that’s even with the insulation of their own choices on Universities, the NHS and legal issues.

    How do you think the left-wingers *south* of the border feel? I’m far from convinced that the Conservatives, for all their party name, would feel anything but joy at “losing” left-wing Scotland.

    For myself, I’m a third-gen immigrant, and Britain – not England – is my home, as far as I’m concerned. If the Tories get away with this and their other plans to ensure their constant re-elections, I will end up leaving.

  7. Joshua Staley

    Supporters of the Union must wake up to the real prospect of independence: As Murdo Fraser today formally announ…

  8. Bob Walker

    You don’t actually think the Scots will vote for independence, do you? When push comes to shove, they’ll vote to stay. I guarantee it. In fact, I’d be prepared to bet my house on it. This is very much a non-story.

  9. Ivor Cornish

    I know many people in Scotland who regard the Scots Nats as the only credible answer to the right wing policies which the Labour Party pursued whilst in office which are the same as policies, in accelerated format, that the Lib Dems are helping the Tories push through.
    i.e the complete sale of what remains of civil society, and hence the trashing of any democracy.
    The English will one day wake up to find that there will be only ‘hands-off’ government, whose only function will be to ensure that business functions and this countries ‘subjects’ fall into line. Henceforth we will treated as customers for all of our needs with few if any places where we can shop. If business does not see a profit in providing what we cherish as part of a civilised society it will perish. Welcome to the final take over of our lives by multi-nationals.

  10. Matthew

    Calm down Ed, first this is a TNS poll. The same company that had Labour on a 10% lead going into the Holyrood elections. The figure is also within the margin of error and the poll is at the time where the SNP are in the post election honeymoon period. Calm down dear, if it stays the same for the next couple of years and better polling firms back it up then you can panic.

  11. Charles Addison

    @Leon, why not move up here Leon. An independent Scotland could make use of you.

  12. BDaf

    Ed…you write you are a third gen immigrant as if thats some sacred tag. Do you know anything about the history of Britain? Its a democracy fought for by many radicals and renegades…none of our so called freedoms were made by the elitist state…if the majority of scots want to leave so be it.

    I would prefer a federalised state that can also make peace and draw in the irish….as the British isles is an ancient entity…BUT it is not the anglo dominated consumerist society it has become. In fact the true british cultures hang on in parts of wales and cornwall, you may not have been taught this by state school?

  13. Charles

    The truth of the matter is very simple, Scots have had enough of being second class citizens in there own country, consecutive Westminster governments over the last 30-40 years have ensured that the Scots are ready to take back what is rightfully there’s!.
    Tories are not welcome in scotland ever since the days of thatcher and scots will never forget what that old crone did!?, and cameron and the condem party will insure that Independence is sought after!.
    As for polls, yep, they are not be taken seriously but what is to be taken seriously is the very real fact that Scots gave an overwhelming answer to westminster in may when it voted in Alex Salmond and the SNP to govern scotland!.
    So the short of it is this, westminster should be very afraid of the real prospect of scotland gaining it’s Independence, for once it has, it will rightly claim it’s sovereignty to the oil revenue that wesminster has being squandering since the McCrone report was first hushed up and locked away from scots eyes!?.
    Personally speaking, i look forward to the day scotland has it’s independence, for we will then be able to break away from the shackles of serfdom that have benefited England for the last 300yrs that most Scots never wanted in the first place!.

  14. Dave Citizen

    The way I see it, this is a matter for the people living in Scotland. If they choose to go independent then good luck to them. If it doesn’t work out they can always seek others agreement to join up again.

    What I haven’t heard from those who so kindly warn of us about “sleep walking into independence” is a set of solid reasons why the peoples of Scotland and England should keep the union: it certainly doesn’t look that obvious from where i’m standing.

  15. jamie

    I think Scottish labour should really wake up and realise their problems. Scottish labour should under go a similar discussion as the conservatives are. The current review seems cosmetic at best. Labour lost a lot of support at the hollyrood election because they were seen as being too controlled by London and not being left wing enough. The snp have had some populist policies (free perscriptions,no tuition fees,no bridge tolls) and they have worked. The snp are centerist party but on many issues have been to the left of labour.

  16. robert the crip

    Yes I do think the Scots will vote for independence, labour believed they’d wipe the SNP off the face of the planet because as they put it they were labour.

    Go for it Scotland…..

  17. DavidG

    Given the way the Tories are ruining, sorry, running the country, I can’t help thinking good luck to the Scots, and any chance they can take the North East with them while we’re at it? I was born North of the Wall, even if still in England, and while I might live in Kent nowadays, I see policies coming out of Edinburgh that seem more British to me than those coming out of London. Is Scotland proposing to leave the Union, or has Cameron’s Union left Scotland?

  18. Leon Wolfson

    @6 – Because the industry I work in – games – has been ignored by Labour and then devastated by the Tories, Charles. What work I can get is teaching it, seasonally, in London.

    I’m also not interested in working in the centre of the industry in Scotland, Dundee (mostly, no Jewish Community). I have and am applying to the companies in Glasgow and Edinborough, but there are not many of them…

    I’m more likely to end up as a computer tech in Israel, rather than working in a field where I can use my skills as a designer.

  19. Charles

    @Leon Wolfson. That is a very sad view to take, that because there,(in your view!?), is no jewish community in Dundee!?, a quick check via the net and you will be surprised!.
    But then isn’t that always the way of foreign nationalist’s!?, they segregate not integrate!! with the naturalized communities!!, what’s up, Scots no good enough for you!?.
    And there wont be many opportunities in either Glasgow Or Edinburgh, until people like yourself improve your thinking!!?.
    Mind you, Better off without you leon, at least a scots kid is guaranteed 1 less foreign nationalistic viaing for what little jobs there are in our industries!?, roll on the pc fascists comments of racism!?

  20. Leon Wolfson

    Ah so, you’re an Anti-Semite.

    Thanks for that. You the same Charles as @6?

  21. Mr. Sensible

    I fully support the union, and hope that Scottish voters vote to keep it if ever the SNP can find the courage to get on with it.

  22. Charles

    @ Mr Sensible, I believe Alex Salmond has said he would call for a referendum by 2014-15.

    @ Leon, Typical of your faith to believe someones anti something!!?.
    At which part in any of my writings did i mention anything about anti-semite!!.
    Dry your eyes pal!, but i ‘l tell you what i am anti something about!, anti-nazism!, which is what Israel is using to force on the Palestinians to summit to Israels will!!?

  23. Leon Wolfson

    @17 – You’ve expressed very clearly anti-semitic sentiments there.

    You can scramble to deny it all you like, but your bigotry is plain and unfortunately for you can’t be edited. No intolerant enemy of civilisation like you is my “pal”.

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