While Scotland votes today, some observers are looking ahead at the consequences for the established Westminster parties, and particularly the Tories, where voices of discontent are already being heard over the potential further devolution of powers to Scotland, and the mentality suggesting that they are getting something that decent (and of course hardworking) English people are not.
But let us look first at the outcome that appears the most likely – that the “silent majority” ensure there is a No vote, and this is upwards of 55% of the poll. All parties will try to claim credit for saving the Union, but the one that will garner the lion’s share of that credit will be Labour. So that will be Fair Play to them, then. But it will be grim news for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps.
Cameron being saved from having to walk the plank by Her Majesty’s opposition would be only slightly less humiliating than seeing a Yes vote and having to resign as a result. He would be facing Mil The Younger across the dispatch box, knowing that his opponent was keeping him and his increasingly fractious coalition on life support until next May’s General Election – and no longer.
That will be worth a dig at every PMQs in the intervening period. And it would be even worse if the Yes campaign wins: Cameron would become the PM who lost the Union. Despite claims to the contrary, or that Miliband should be the first to go, Dave would be almost certain to resign – and thus precipitate a bloodbath of the kind that only today’s Tory Party can serve up.
While the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie tells “If Cameron resigns in event of Yes vote the cabinet will aim to unite around a successor to avoid likelihood of damaging leadership race”, not all those Tories in the Cabinet will agree on who that successor should be. For starters, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, will assume the job is his.
He would not be the only one so to assume: Theresa May would be another. Philip Hammond would fit the John Major role. And, outside the Cabinet, the likes of Liam Fox, despite the idea being beyond delusional, would see the chance to get his hands on the job for which he is manifestly totally unfit (as with any Cabinet level position). Unity – what unity?
Dave’s position is by no means secure even in the immediate term in the event of a No vote: already, the likes of Claire Perry are questioning what is seen as an unduly favourable settlement for the Scots. All it needs is something EU related to crop up – and there is plenty of scope on that front – and the in-fighting for which the Blue Team has become infamous will break out once again.
Win next May? Remain in one piece until next May would be more realistic.