When I was secretary of state for Scotland in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet there was a lament one often heard from Labour and SNP politicians. Poor Scotland was doomed to live under a Tory government because of the way the English had voted.
There is a splendid irony that since Theresa May lost her majority at the last general election, poor England has been forced to continue living under a Tory government because the Scots in 2017 increased the number of Scots Tory MPs from one to 13. Without these additional seats, May would not have had a majority in the House of Commons even with the support of the Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland.
The reason why the Scots then bucked the trend elsewhere in the UK and transformed the Tories into the main opposition party to the SNP was that the Scottish electorate refused to be preoccupied by Brexit, either for or against.
That may again be highly relevant in the current general election. What is certain is that the case against breaking up the United Kingdom is considerably more powerful even than it was in 2015 or 2017.
Nicola Sturgeon had made clear in 2017, as she is making clear now, that if the SNP advanced further in the general election it would use that to demonstrate that Scots demanded a new referendum on independence, despite the SNP having been roundly defeated in the 2014 independence referendum.
Then as now a substantial majority of Scots, including a significant minority of SNP voters, did not want another referendum; the first one having divided families, communities and Scotland as a whole in an increasingly bitter way. Many felt that the SNP would continually demand further referendums on independence until, eventually, it won one. They would not be referendums but have become “neverendums”!
Although the SNP appears strong today there is no consistent evidence that the Scottish public as a whole are any more enthusiastic for another independence referendum than they were two years ago.
It is true that 62 per cent of Scots voted to Remain in the EU referendum. But, contrary to SNP hype, this does not demonstrate that there is a fundamental North-South divide in the United Kingdom. After all, the other part of the UK where 62 per…