Friday, 23 March 2012

Cameron to MacTories - get off your knees

David Cameron is just off stage at the Scottish Tory Party conference in the Walker Hall, Troon.

Anyone who's been to one of the early stages of the solo competitions at the Royal National Mod will recognise what the atmosphere was like - a foosty municipal venue, in a provincial seaside resort, filled with loyal but desultory devotees of an inevitably declining pursuit.

Maybe that's a bit unfair to the Mod, I actually like attending the Gaelic music festival and the standard of performances is getting better year by year.

In contrast Cameron's appearance today was lacking, as if he was tackling a prescribed song without much enthusiasm.

On the referendum he seems to have fought Alex Salmond into an early stalemate on the date and the number of questions.

Urging the SNP leader to "stop dithering and start delivering" on the vote he had one good gag - "I thought we were going to be watching the movie Braveheart, it turns out it's more like Chicken Run".

He said he remained "open minded" about the transfer of more powers to Holyrood. I leave it to Kremlinologists to determine if this a step down from his pledge of "considering" what further powers can be devolved when he visited Scotland last month, or just a different phrasing?

His most important message was to the Tories themselves - time to get off your knees.

"I say its time we stood up even more strongly for what we believe in," said Cameron, referring to the state of the Union.

"Not everyone will agree - but those who do will follow your lead. That's what we've done on the Union. For years we shied away from the subject, scared of saying anything, worried that it would be taken the wrong way."

"Now we're the ones on the front foot - asking for that referendum, looking for the challenge."

Certainly the assertion was brave but his analysis of why people who would otherwise be expected to support the Tories don't simply missed the point. In Scotland they have an alternative anti-Labour vote - it's called the SNP.

Still, the Tories claim to be clawing back support in Scotland. Since the kick-ass new leader Ruth Davidson was elected in November 2500 lapsed and new members have joined the party. That brings the Scottish Tories up to 11,000 members.

The SNP is, of course, streets ahead with its pound for the party membership scheme bringing in over 20,100 members.

The number of members of the Scottish Labour Party is a secret, but its reckoned to be a lot less than 18,000. That's less people than go to the Royal National Mod each year.

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