By Martin Kelly
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has signalled his intention to monitor and assist in the organisation of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In a surprise announcement, the Tory party leader confirmed plans to bring his entire UK Cabinet to Scotland next year in order to hold a meeting and, he said, to “take stock” of the organisation of the Games.
“Later this year I’m going to be bringing the whole of the United Kingdom Government cabinet to hold a cabinet meeting in Scotland,” he said.
“I think that would be a good moment for the cabinet as a whole to take of stock of where we are with the Games and anything else we can do to help the Scottish government and the authorities around the Commonwealth Games to deliver a real success.”
Mr Cameron’s use of “we” and his insistence that the UK Cabinet will be monitoring the progress of Glasgow 2014 comes despite Westminster providing none of the funding for the games. The half billion pound price tag is being picked up, 80 per cent by the Scottish Government and 20 per cent by the City of Glasgow.
The visit by the Prime Minister and his cabinet will take place months before the 2014 independence referendum. The Tory leader insisted he wanted a “clear and decisive answer” in the referendum but again strongly indicated that a No vote would lead to more powers.
“But I’m absolutely clear that if people choose to stay in the United Kingdom, as I hope Scotland will, that’s not the end of the matter. Of course there are always opportunities to get the balance of powers right within the United Kingdom.” he added.
The attempt to associate the Westminster government with Glasgow 2014 will fuel speculation that the UK coalition are trying to dilute the Games’ Scottish identity. There are concerns amongst pro-Union groups that Glasgow 2014 may lead to a rise in Scottish cultural identity in the same way that the London Olympics saw a surge in so called ‘Britishness’.
Next year Scotland will host not just the Commonwealth Games but also the Ryder Cup. The referendum also falls in the same year as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.
MEANWHILE, it has emerged that a pro-independence businessman was granted a private meeting with the UK Prime Minister.
Laurie Clark, owner and managing director of Anglo-Scottish Concrete, said he met the Prime Minister and explained to him why he will be voting Yes in next year’s referendum.
Mr Clark, who is a card carrying member of the Conservative party, said: “I appreciated the invitation to meet David Cameron and the opportunity to tell him why independence is the right option for Scotland and the UK,”
He added: “The Tory-led No Campaign is held back by the fact that Conservative values in Scotland are different to those promoted from London.”
The meeting caused embarrassment and anger from the Scottish Conservatives with a spokesman saying: “This is yet another desperate and contrived stunt from the separatist campaign, who are clearly losing the argument to break-up the UK.”