In his article Cameron rightly argues that more cooperation between the governments at Westminster and Holyrood is required. He envisages a constructive and engaged relationship with whichever administration happens to be in place in Edinburgh.
“If we win the next election at Westminster, we would govern with a maturity and a respect for the Scottish people. I would be a Prime Minister who would work constructively with any administration at Holyrood for the good of Scotland, and I would be in regular contact with the First Minister no matter what party he or she came from.”
Not only a worthy sentiment, proposing to oil the attritional interface between national government and devolved government in Scotland (attrition which benefits nationalists), but an impeccably unionist sentiment, by most sensible interpretations. How can the proposition to increase active involvement from Westminster and Whitehall in the government of Scotland be anything other than a unionist proposition?
Importantly, cooperating with Scotland’s government does not entail anything less than wholehearted opposition to the nationalist designs of Alex Salmond’s SNP. Seeking to benefit Scotland and deliver more effective government, within the constraints of the constitutional vandalism which has already irreparably been visited upon the United Kingdom, is a more effective means of protecting the Union than reflexive opposition to everything Holyrood proposes. In his interview, David Trimble argues forcibly that the SNP is failing and that its momentum will inevitably be lost. He suggests that for Scotland, “exhausting the SNP alternative is probably a necessary rite of passage."
The Conservative leader is equally forthright rebutting nationalist claims,
“If elected, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the SNP will not be able to split up the UK. I want to be a Prime Minister of the whole UK. That's not because I'm some kind of megalomaniac, it's because we have so much in common and we have done so much together.”
There is no discernible fissure between the unionism outlined by Trimble, a unionism wherby, “there is only one sovereign parliament in the UK, end of story. Power devolved is power retained”, and the vision articulated by his party leader. Both men seek to conserve the constitutional apparatus which Labour has not managed to inflict damage upon. Both men wish to see the United Kingdom work as best as it possibly can.
It is worth reflecting again on the rationale which has led Cameron to build a UK wide Conservative and Unionist force, encompassing Northern Ireland’s Ulster Unionist party. It is a rationale which the Tory leader applies to Scotland in his article,
“We are now the only major party to field candidates in all four parts of the UK. Across the water in Ulster we are building a new force in Northern Irish politics, by combining with the Ulster Unionists to create a modern, moderate centre-right force. Scotland too needs a force that promotes conservative values – the family, enterprise, and a strong country – and that stands up for the UK at the same time.”