Can David Cameron be trusted?

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by Hazel Lewry

David Cameron has now thrown down the gauntlet to Alex Salmond, stating he should “get on and put the question”.  Mr Cameron was referring to holding an early referendum on independence.

While at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Mr Cameron stated Mr Salmond was trying to create an “unstable” relationship between Scotland and the UK.  The fact that it took Scotland to make up “the United Kingdoms” appears to have escaped David’s recollection, perhaps they don’t teach real history at Eton.

The Prime Minister’s calls were made following the First Minister’s plan to hold a referendum towards the end of the present five-year Holyrood parliamentary term after a “proper debate, consideration and a white paper”.  This would certainly appear a reasonable approach to the subject of the independence referendum.

The Scots electorate have been treated to decades of anti-independence rhetoric from what was the only credible opposition, Labour.  However Scots have yet to get an in-depth balanced airing of the pro-independence arguments.  These are a requirement of proper debate, educated voting and therefore are a foundation of democracy.

With support for independence already nudging ahead, the result of a Scots enlightenment though proper debate over independence has the potential to be startling.

Mr Cameron went on record with the BBC, referring to the First Minister: “If he’s going to endlessly sort of militate and make things unstable in terms of Scotland’s relationship with the United Kingdom then I think better to get on and put the question, find the answer and then I hope get on with building a strong United Kingdom.”

Mr. Cameron’s cognitive abilities appear lacking here, it’s Westminster policy that’s holding Scotland’s green energy levy.  It’s Westminster policy that has Scots producers penalized for generating energy.  It’s an odd world where standing up for your rights is “picking a fight”.  

A spokesman for the First Minister quite rightly said the question of when to hold the referendum was “clearly a matter for the Scottish Parliament and Government”.

Additionally Mr. Salmond’s representative noted: “That is the platform the SNP stood on in May, and which the people of Scotland gave us a resounding mandate to deliver.”

The First Minister’s spokesperson added that the immediate focus at Holyrood was to get an effective Scotland Bill giving real economic levers to Scotland in order for Holyrood to prevent Westminster policy from derailing a pending Scottish recovery.

Against this backdrop David Cameron appears to be a man who blows with the tides, certainly not a trustworthy man with respect to referendums.

On Friday, December 18th 2009 David Cameron was reported in Tory Home under the headline “Cameron rejects early referendum on Scottish independence”.  Mr Cameron did say the referendum would be at a time of Alex Salmond’s choosing, but at that time the SNP were trailing in the polls by around fifteen points.

Now Mr Cameron not only wants to dictate the tune he appears be accusing the SNP of playing a melody he doesn’t like.

Mr Cameron isn’t above changing his position on referendums.  Call it the Nick Clegg strategy, saying one thing to get elected then doing the opposite once in office.  We need only look to Mr Cameron’s position on the EU when he called for, literally demanded a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as they were having in Ireland.  He even tabled a Bill to that effect in Westminster, as reported by the BBC on June 2nd 2009.

The Telegraph reported this week that he had reneged on that promise.  Mr Cameron will not now permit democracy to be used in this dis-United Kingdom on such a matter of overwhelming constitutional importance.  The article followed a press conference in which he claimed a “referendum is no longer possible.”

Mr Cameron, democracy is always possible.  A referendum is democracy in action.  All that would be required is notification to the EU that the government of the UK was holding such a referendum pursuant to its election pledges.  David Cameron should attempt to earn some credibility, he should keep his word.

In this reversal David Cameron appears to have forgotten his own words of May this year: “A progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain and from judges to the people.  We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.”   It is always possible to hold a referendum, even if it’s only “advisory”.

The inference is clear, the UK Prime Minister is certainly not a man of his word, he is not to be trusted.

Then we in Scotland had the pleasure of Mr Cameron’s statements of November 2008, where he was called for honesty in the state of the Union.  He was quoted then as saying; “I believe we should be honest about the problems our Union faces.  It’s not just that the SNP are running Scotland; it goes deeper than that.  There is no doubt that the number of people who see themselves as British – ahead of Scottish, Welsh or English – is in decline.”

Cameron followed this up with: “It is in fact about identity.  You see it all over Europe, all over the world.  People are seeking a clear identity; often a more localised identity.  Just look at the rise of Cornish nationalists.  I think we shouldn’t fight that.”  He then continued about “Britishness”.

Now he promises to fight for Westminster’s undemocratic dictatorship over Scotland with every fibre of his being.

There is little honesty in this Union.  We Scots find it almost impossible to discover accurately how much revenue we generate, and even his Scots commander in chief Ms Goldie is telling him and middle England that Scots pay in more than they get out.  England would be poorer without us.

This brings us back to the referendum.  The prime reason to call it early is to hope to avoid proper debate.  This is because as even the independent Unionist championing sites such as “One Dynamic Nation” demonstrate, under open debate the argument for continuation of this Union simply falls apart.  If it did not the site moderators would have posted every comment that wasn’t abusive or profane.  They would have encouraged healthy debate.  

The secondary reason for a quick un-debated referendum is the hope for a quick Unionist win, a win on a two part referendum that would promote the status quo.  Under such circumstances expect Scotland to quickly feel the full impact of “Austerity”, there would be no shield.  Claims of “lost mandate” would be levelled against the SNP.

A few words to scratch the surface of the character of the UK Prime Minister.  And this is the individual who will tell us we should follow him in a continuing Union?

David Cameron: would you buy a used car from this man?