Why is Cameron a Unionist?

One often hears David Cameron state rather fiercely that he is a unionist – committed to the United Kingdom consisting of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. But why? It makes no obvious sense.

Here’s what one might ask David Cameron. Why is there any political advantage to the Tories in espousing the Union?

Why not let Scotland become a socialist paradise (or a squabble between lefties in coalition) and let the natural Tory majority in England get on with trying to work out how to woo the “poorer” cities to a proper Conservatism? Can the Tories really do well in Scotland when there are three other parties ahead of them in the queue for the vote? 

I can’t see that Cameron need a the union in any way. Labour loves its votes and the party’s top echelons only thrive within it.

Is it a matter of principle? In the case of Northern Ireland, one could say blood has been shed for the union, and it should be honoured. But that’s rationale for a union with Northern Ireland, not anywhere else.

 Maybe one owes it to the Union – as to the Commonwealth – that its soldiers are on war memorials throughout the land. Maybe one owes it to the Union that it has an ongoing role in our military. But the past can be honoured without its being allowed to dominate the present. The British Army could take recruits from all sorts of countries (and does) without a union with them being required.

 Maybe David Cameron is being purely political in understanding that no independence movement will succeed for the foreseeable future. In which case, one might as well garner the scattered support of the UK’s unionists rather than alienate them whilst achieving nothing in exchange for the opprobrium.

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Publication date

29 November 2009