It’s time to make the positive case for the Union. Will you join us? Sign up here!
Whatever way you cut it, it’s been a difficult couple of years for the Union and the Covid-19 crisis has only exacerbated some of the existing rifts.
Nowhere is the situation more critical than in Scotland. Just before Covid arrived on British shores, opinions on Scottish independence were split down the middle (as measured by YouGov polling) with 51% in favour and 49% against in January. Fast forward to August, and YouGov has just recorded the largest ever lead for Scottish independence with 53% in favour and 47% against.
The rest of Britain
Just as worrying as this rise in Scottish support for independence is the rise in support from the rest of Great Britain. Whilst an increase from 26% to 30% between December 2019 and May 2020 (as measured by the YouGov biannual tracker poll) may not be of huge concern, it is perhaps indicative of a gradual decline in the willingness of the rest of the UK to preserve the Union.
This has, in part, come about from a doggedly determined and well organised campaign machine behind the SNP. They dusted themselves off after the resounding defeat in 2014 to form a consistent narrative to gradually win over Scottish opinion and erode English willpower to fight for the Union. On the surface, it’s a simple strategy but it has undoubtedly been effective.
In the eyes of the SNP narrative, everything that goes wrong is the fault of the English dominated Westminster Parliament. This is contrasted with the perceived competence of the ‘Scotland first’ government in Holyrood, standing up for Scottish interests against the English Tory Government (Ignoring the fact that many of those same MP’s come from Scotland and Wales).
They have played this to great effect during the Covid-19 crisis, often mirroring the English timetable but with a slight delay and a slightly different slogan. The result has been to articulate their case that a gungho Westminster government hasn’t been aligned with Scottish interests during the pandemic, and they will make the case that the same is true for a raft of other key policy areas where Scotland would be better going it alone.
The Unionist Case
By contrast, the unionist case has been deflated and at times complacent since the 2014 referendum. Many Unionists saw 2014 as the end of the argument, and quickly turned their attention to other policy areas - such as Brexit. The departure of Ruth Davidson as a razor sharp critic of Nicola Sturgeon as FMQ’s also cleared the field for the SNP to pedal their narrative unchallenged.
Our New Leadership
While we have a dynamic new leader in Douglas Ross, coupled with the return of Ruth Davidson which is hugely welcome, there is no escaping the fact that every Unionist now needs to stand up and be prepared to fight for the Union. Continued complacency could well lead to our cherished union falling apart after over 300 years of joint trials and successes together, in the face of a tribal, insular “better apart” narrative that airbrushes our long shared history.
That is why we are launching “Love Our Union”. The time has come for each of us to play our part in proactively getting out across the UK to make a positive and visible case for the United Kingdom. This doesn’t just mean Scotland either. It is critical that England continues to show continued support for the Union, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland mustn't be forgotten in our efforts to reverse the tide in Scotland.
We are proud that Conservative Progress is launching this campaign.
We will be setting out an ambitious programme of events, campaigns and visible displays of support that you can take part in over the coming months. We would also love to hear from you if you have any ideas or would like to play a part in this grassroots led, UK wide campaign.
We can't wait any longer
The time to stand up is now. With Scottish elections rapidly approaching in 2021, we cannot afford to sit back and wait for the SNP - potentially with a large majority in Holyrood - to turn their narrative into concrete plans to deliver and win a new referendum that breaks up our Union. It’s incumbent on all of us to stand together and make the positive case heard far and wide.
We’ll be helping lead the charge with MPs, MSPs and other interested organisations, and a lot of exciting details are to follow.
Will you join us? Sign up to support our campaign here!