Saturday 6 August 2022 08:19 AM Liz Truss's vow to 'ignore' Nicola Sturgeon is the verbal warfare the SNP ... trends now

Saturday 6 August 2022 08:19 AM Liz Truss's vow to 'ignore' Nicola Sturgeon is the verbal warfare the SNP ... trends now
Saturday 6 August 2022 08:19 AM Liz Truss's vow to 'ignore' Nicola Sturgeon is the verbal warfare the SNP ... trends now

Saturday 6 August 2022 08:19 AM Liz Truss's vow to 'ignore' Nicola Sturgeon is the verbal warfare the SNP ... trends now

When I was prime minister, I decided one evening to have the leaders of all Scotland's main political parties over for dinner at my house in Fife. The idea was to show – literally – that my door was open to them.

It wasn't as ground-breaking an event as Sidney Poitier's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and it didn't go perfectly. But nor did I expect it to. The then First Minister Alex Salmond used the occasion to launch his usual demand for independence.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Green party leader Patrick Harvie was, unknown to me, not saying much but instead live-tweeting from the dinner table, giving his social media followers a very partial account of what was going on.

But I was happy nonetheless that I'd taken the initiative.

I felt as prime minister that it was important to offer the leaders in the devolved parliament the hand of co-operation. And that applied particularly to the leaders of the pro-independence parties.

If we really believe in it, then the UK Government should always want to work with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Irish Government even if, in Scotland's case, the administration is run by people who make no secret that they get up in the morning with the sole aim of tearing the UK apart, writes Gordon Brown

If we really believe in it, then the UK Government should always want to work with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Irish Government even if, in Scotland's case, the administration is run by people who make no secret that they get up in the morning with the sole aim of tearing the UK apart, writes Gordon Brown

I wanted to show, even if it was knocked back, that the offer of co-operation remained. And to be clear: if we are to hold the Union together, it is the duty of the UK prime minister above all else to lead by example.

For this is what the United Kingdom should be about. If we really believe in it, then the UK Government should always want to work with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Irish Government even if, in Scotland's case, the administration is run by people who make no secret that they get up in the morning with the sole aim of tearing the UK apart.

I know Mail readers will need no reminding, but it is worth repeating the stakes if we get things wrong.

Of course, to begin with, Scots would themselves face an uncertain future outside the Union. No credible observer disagrees that the newly independent nation would have huge questions to respond to but few answers when it comes to the currency, the border with England and the public finances.

But this goes much wider than Scotland. Unless we solve the Scottish question, there will be no Great Britain, no United Kingdom, and no British army, no British navy and no British airforce.

Unless we solve the Scottish question, there will be no Great Britain, no United Kingdom, and no British army, no British navy and no British airforce

Unless we solve the Scottish question, there will be no Great Britain, no United Kingdom, and no British army, no British navy and no British airforce

And our national stories would have to be told in very different ways. No longer, for example, able to repeat with the same conviction and current meaning Shakespeare's line about this 'sceptered isle' – written in the 1600s at the moment when the crowns of England and Scotland were united – without admitting that the island that so courageously stood together and alone in the early 1940s had become the island that split apart in the 2020s with our presence at the United Nations and in all international organizations, diminished in the eyes of the world.

The SNP is planning to revive its independence campaign this autumn in the hope it can have a referendum as early as next year.

Opinion polls show the country is divided evenly. It is therefore an extremely sensitive time in which the UK Government should and must play a careful and thoughtful role.

It makes it all the more concerning therefore that, in the Conservative Party leadership race we have seen over recent weeks, they have often struck the wrong note.

It makes it all the more concerning therefore that, in the Conservative Party leadership race we have seen over recent weeks, they have often struck the wrong note. That was evident most obviously on Monday evening when the woman most likely to become the next prime minister, Liz Truss, decided to launch an attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

It makes it all the more concerning therefore that, in the Conservative Party leadership race we have seen over recent weeks, they have often struck the wrong note. That was evident most obviously on Monday evening when the woman most likely to become the next prime minister, Liz Truss, decided to launch an attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

That was evident most obviously on Monday evening when the woman most likely to become the next prime minister, Liz Truss, decided to launch an attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

'I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore her,' declared Liz Truss to cheers from Conservative Party members at a leadership hustings. 'She's an attention seeker, that's what she is.' 

Leaving aside whether you agree with Miss Truss's assessment or not, the problem is that a likely future PM of the UK was announcing she did not propose to work with, or perhaps even meet, the elected Scottish Government. 

Rather than focusing the argument on how best to co-operate with Scotland in the interests of the United Kingdom moving forward together, Miss Truss had instead launched into precisely the kind of verbal warfare that the SNP craves.

A Tory leader promising to 'ignore' the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland and deriding her as an 'attention seeker' is the stuff of the SNP's fantasies.

The two candidates are right to say no one wants a referendum in the midst of an economic crisis but saying nothing more than 'No' over and over again is unlikely to attract any new converts from previous or prospective Yes voters or the battle for hearts and minds

The two candidates are right to say no one wants a referendum in the midst of an economic crisis but saying nothing more than 'No' over and over again is unlikely to attract any new converts from previous or prospective Yes voters or the battle for hearts and minds

It makes it all the more concerning therefore that, in the Conservative Party leadership race we have seen over recent weeks, they have often struck the wrong note. That was evident most obviously on Monday evening when the woman most likely to become the next prime minister, Liz Truss, decided to launch an attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

It makes it all the more concerning therefore that, in the Conservative Party leadership race we have seen over recent weeks, they have often struck the wrong note. That was evident most obviously on Monday evening when the woman most likely to become the next prime minister, Liz Truss, decided to launch an attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

This is what they think can unite Scots, and not just nationalist Scots, under their anti-British banner.

And as the SNP prepares this autumn to respond to their action in the Supreme Court in pursuit of that second referendum, we can expect Miss Truss's words will be emblazoned on every Nationalist leaflet, used in every Nationalist speech, and paraded from doorstep to doorstep as the perfect example of English insults and insensitivity.

These comments only cemented a pessimistic view about the standard of debate within what is the Conservative and Unionist Party about the future of Britain.

Tax cuts, immigration, crime, defence, Ukraine and Brexit have all been pored over in minute detail.

Even the sartorial choices of each candidate have been discussed, with sombre BBC political journalists examining the significance of Rishi Sunak's designer suits and Miss Truss's £4.50 earrings. Yet, when it comes to the most existential question of all – whether our 300-year-old Union can or will survive – there is very little imagination and positivity on display.

Despite boasting of her time at school in Paisley, Liz Truss has said no more than that she intends to 'deliver' for Scotland. The question is: What does she plan to deliver?

Mr Sunak's apparent willingness to come to Scotland more than Boris Johnson ever did and to fund projects with Scottish councils is welcome. But as a strategy for the Union, it barely scrapes the surface.

For unless you can show the practical benefits of extending the hand of co-operation to the elected Scottish Government –even if the offer of friendship is rejected – then the UK Government is setting itself up in competition to Edinburgh, a battle London will lose.

Simply by-passing the elected Scottish parliament and Government is not a way to solve the big fractures at the heart of our Union. It is a way of avoiding them.

Instead of positive policies that would move things forward, the fire of all candidates has been almost entirely concentrated on opposing another referendum.

The two candidates are right to say no one wants a referendum in the midst of an economic crisis but saying nothing more than 'No' over and over again is unlikely to attract any new converts from previous or prospective Yes voters or the battle for hearts and minds.

Mr Sunak's apparent willingness to come to Scotland more than Boris Johnson ever did and to fund projects with Scottish councils is welcome. But as a strategy for the Union, it barely scrapes the surface

Mr Sunak's apparent willingness to come to Scotland more than Boris Johnson ever did and to fund projects with Scottish councils is welcome. But as a strategy for the Union, it barely scrapes the surface

As with Miss Truss's comments on Monday evening, it all suggests that when the leadership candidates think about the Union, they don't see any votes in it apart from with their predominantly English membership and so don't think about how to protect and improve it.

But it is precisely when it is hardest and least politically

read more from dailymail.....

PREV Saturday 6 August 2022 07:34 AM Mother's bid to be first person with stoma bag to swim across Channel after ... trends now
NEXT Monday 1 August 2022 12:03 AM Keir Starmer faces crisis as unions' revolt grows over failure to back strikes trends now