Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 16:25 UK

Cameron says Scots could go alone

David Cameron in Glenrothes
Mr Cameron said he was confident the Union would be saved

Tory leader David Cameron has admitted that Scotland could "stand alone" after independence, but said it would be "better off in the United Kingdom".

Mr Cameron was speaking as he visited Glenrothes, in Fife, ahead of next month's by-election.

Elsewhere, the SNP highlighted free bus travel, while Labour pointed to differences between their economic policy and that of the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats accused their rivals of "petty squabbling".

Mr Cameron conceded that his party had little chance of winning the seat, where Labour won a 10,664 majority at the last Westminster election, but pledged to win the fight to save the Union.

I don't think we'd ever succeed in saving the Union by frightening Scots to say you couldn't possibly make it on your own
David Cameron
Tory leader
The Tory leader was the highest-profile political figure to take to the streets of the constituency, where he launched a staunch defence of the Union.

"Of course it is possible that Scotland can stand alone - that is true," he said.

"I just think it would be better off in the United Kingdom. Better off for all of us.

"I don't think we'd ever succeed in saving the Union by frightening Scots to say you couldn't possibly make it on your own.

"That's not the way I approach it. The Union to me is about generosity - we're stronger together because we share so much together."

Mr Cameron said he believed the Conservatives would "win the case" for the Union through "taking a generous attitude rather than a small-minded one".

'Always challenging'

He also vowed to work with the first minister of Scotland if the Tories win power at Westminster.

Mr Cameron added: "I will work with anyone in the Scottish Parliament and administration who wants to further the benefits and conditions for the people of Scotland."

He visited Glenrothes with Tory candidate Maurice Golden and Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, using part of his time to meet local business representatives.

The Glenrothes seat was made vacant by the death of Labour MP John MacDougall. The by-election will take place on 6 November.

Acknowledging the odds against any Tory success, Mr Cameron said: "As much as I'd like to sweep the board in Scotland at the next election, I know it's always challenging.

"But I will do everything possible to keep the Union together and to make sure that a Conservative government in Westminster, if elected, would act at all times in the interest of the Union and the interest of the Union in Scotland."

The Tory government abandoned pensioners in the last economic downturn and was happy to use unemployment as an economic tool
James Purnell
Work and Pensions Secretary
Asked if his wife would campaign in the town, as Gordon Brown's wife did on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: "Don't hold your breath."

SNP candidate Peter Grant highlighted free bus travel for the elderly and called on Westminster to bring in a fuel duty regulator to stabilise petrol prices.

"More and more people are using the bus as an alternative to paying high petrol prices," he said.

"While the SNP is expanding free travel services, Labour are looking to increase taxes on those who have to drive."

Labour brought in Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell to bolster its campaign.

Mr Purnell said: "David Cameron's visit to Scotland today just highlights the stark difference between Labour and the Tories.

"The Tory government abandoned pensioners in the last economic downturn and was happy to use unemployment as an economic tool. We are helping pensioners, and helping people get back to work."

The Liberal Democrat campaign took former party leader Charles Kennedy to a bagpipe manufacturer, JT Shepherd and Son, in Cardenden.

"The SNP are full of hot air and Labour have run out of puff," said candidate Harry Wills.

Mr Kennedy said voters faced a choice between Mr Wills, who he said would "fight for Fife", and Labour and SNP candidates who were "more concerned with petty squabbling".

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