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11 January 2012 2:16 PM

A joint platform for the PM and Miliband?

Today's PMQs show of unity in opposing Scottish independence raises the question: could David Cameron and Ed Miliband appear on a platform together to keep the UK together?

Neither side is ruling it out. The PM's aides point out that he appeared alongside Labour big beast John Reid during the AV referendum campaign, and say the independence campaign will be fought on the same lines.

Labour sources say Miliband will do "whatever is necessary and effective" to make the case for keeping the union together - though they point out that appearing on a platform with Cameron could actually be counter-productive.

For what it's worth, I doubt it'll happen as it would bolster the SNP's case that Westminster politicians are trying to dictate to Scotland.

Not quite peace in our time, then.

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse


09 May 2011 5:00 PM

The Tory case for Scottish independence

Alex Salmond's stunning SNP victory in Scotland has inevitably sparked debate about an independence referendum.

Accepted wisdom is that the Tories - officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, remember - would oppose a breakaway bid. Indeed, David Cameron vowed to fight with "every single fibre" to protect the UK within hours of the SNP's sweep to power.

But a senior Conservative has just suggested to me, perhaps mischieviously, that things could change by the time a referendum comes around.

What could possibly have prompted such a suggestion? Sheer political calculation.

"An independent Scotland would be the death of Labour in Westminster," the Tory said.

"Without all their Scottish MPs they'd never be able to form a Government down here. And there's a growing feeling on the doorstep that if the Scots really want to break away, then to hell with them."

Does my scheming source have a point? Labour won 41 Scottish seats in last year's general election, while the Lib Dems took 11, the SNP six and the Tories just one.

Subtracting that from the overall arithmetic would leave Westminster looking like this:

Conservatives 306
Labour 217
Liberal Democrat 46
DUP 8
Others 14

In other words, the Tories would currently enjoy a 21-seat majority in a slimmed-down, Scotland-free Parliament.

Could it be time for Unionist Tories to have a re-think, or will patriotism trump party advantage?

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse