Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Cameron 'vigorously opposing' SNP

By Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland news website

David Cameron
Mr Cameron said there were lessons to be learned from the budget

Conservative leader David Cameron said his party will vigorously oppose the SNP, just days after the Scottish Tories backed the Nationalists' budget.

Mr Cameron said he would do everything in his power to stop Scottish independence, if he became prime minister at the next UK election.

But he also pledged to boost relations between UK and Holyrood governments.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland's constitutional future was not up to David Cameron.

And UK Government minister Tony McNulty accused Mr Cameron of trying to grab "cheap headlines".

The Scottish Government's spending plans for the coming year were passed on the second attempt, after Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens earlier combined to reject the 33bn proposals.

No amount of warm words from the Tories will wipe out the memories the people of Scotland have of the damage inflicted on the country during 18 long years of Conservative rule
Spokesman for Alex Salmond

Mr Cameron said the negotiating skills of the 16 Conservative MSPs, led by Annabel Goldie - who voted for the budget on both occasions - helped secure concessions including a 60m town centre regeneration fund, a policy which had also been championed by Labour.

The UK Conservative leader said there were lessons to be learned from the budget experience about running devolution.

Mr Cameron said his support for the Westminster government's bank recapitalisation plan had not stopped him holding it to account since then.

"In the same way, our support for this budget will in no way diminish our vigorous opposition to the SNP and what it represents," he said.

"If elected, I will do everything in my power to ensure the SNP will not be able to split up the UK.

"I want to be a prime minister of the whole United Kingdom. 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."

Mr Cameron also claimed the current UK Government had failed to respect the relationship it needed to have with the Holyrood administration.

He said the Scottish secretary should be having monthly meetings with the Scottish first minister, while Westminster cabinet members and officials should be regularly talking to their Holyrood counterparts.

"If we win the next election at Westminster, we would govern with a maturity and a respect for the Scottish people," Mr Cameron added.

Annabel Goldie
Mr Cameron paid tribute to Scots Tory leader, Annabel Goldie

"I would be a prime minister that 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."

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said Scotland's constitutional future should be decided by the people of Scotland, in a referendum.

"The SNP government will co-operate with any UK administration in the best interests of Scotland," he said.

"At the next election, the way to protect and promote Scottish interests will be to return a block of 20 SNP MPs to support the work of the Scottish Government.

"But no amount of warm words from the Tories will wipe out the memories the people of Scotland have of the damage inflicted on the country during 18 long years of Conservative rule."

Mr McNulty, minister for London and welfare reform, told BBC Scotland's Politics Show there were already "very strong relationships" between the Scottish and UK governments.

"Business as usual and governments working together doesn't really grab the headlines," he said, adding: "I don't really know what David Cameron is on about, other than just trying to get some cheap headlines in Scotland."

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SEE ALSO
Scottish budget approved by MSPs
04 Feb 09 |  Scotland
'I want to be PM of all the UK'
23 May 08 |  Scotland
Tories 'have to be progressive'
22 Jan 09 |  UK Politics
Tory backer Laidlaw stops funding
05 Feb 09 |  UK Politics

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