Melanie Phillips

17 February 2012

Mr Cameron reels in Scotland

Published in: Daily Mail

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Whatever one may think about David Cameron’s policies, the general view is that he is an adroit politician. How extraordinary, then, that he should have got himself into such an invidious position with his meeting yesterday with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

The Prime Minister went to Edinburgh to try to broker a deal with Mr Salmond over the referendum on Scottish independence that Mr Salmond has pledged to hold. In order to head off the risks posed not just by the question of all-out independence but also by ‘devo-max’, the half-way house proposal which is likely to be more popular in Scotland but poses in many ways even greater risks to the union, Mr Cameron offered Scotland more devolved powers if the Scots vote not to separate from England.

Not surprisingly, he got a flea in his ear. How could it have been otherwise? First of all, as Alex Salmond rightly said Mr Cameron’s offer of more devolved powers was absurdly vague. How could Mr Salmond possibly have been expected to agree to something so eminently flaky?

And secondly, what on earth was the Prime Minister doing going like a supplicant to plead with Alex Salmond? Going to Scotland made him look weak. Going to Scotland with such a vague proposal made him look even weaker. And now he has upset his own party too by this apparently unilateral offer to give Scotland even more powers, which many may well think would merely weaken the union still further.

How could Mr Cameron have been so politically maladroit?

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

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Melanie Phillips
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